Ellis Cook led an active life, participating in many public affairs. His name appears often in the records of Morris county and Hanover, NJ. He appears in the lists of Tavern License Applicants for the years 1749-1761, 1763-1765, & 1778, On a tax list for Morris Co., he is reported owning 77 acres @ 17-10-00; 10 horses or cattle & 8 sheep @ 00-27-04; owing poor tax of 00-11-04, county tax of 00-06-09.5 and Sinking Fund Tax of 00-06-09.5.
He was elected a member of the Committee of Observation for Morris Co. 9 Jan 1775, and on 1 May he was elected one of the delegates for said county, they being vested with power of legislation, and to raise men, money, and arms for the common defense. He was a delegate from Morris county to the Provincial Congress in May, June, August, and October.
He was a member of the Committee of Safety which sat at New Brunswick from 10 Jan to 2 Mar 1776. This committee applied 13 Jan 1776 to have him commissioned a Lieutenant Colonel in the Morris Co., NJ militia, Eastern Battalion and the commission was issued. The Provincial Congress at New Brunswick ordered that 1-06-08 be paid to Ellis cook, Esquire, in full of his account for removing the records of the Surveyor-General's office at Perth Amboy to New Brunswick. He was a member of the Provincial Congress meeting at Burlington 10 Jun 1776 and which adopted the Constitution of New Jersey, 2 Jul 1776. On 18 Jul 1776 he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel in Colonel Thomas's battalion of "detached militia" from Morris county. Ellis was commissioned as a Colonel 1 Feb 1777 in the Morris Co., NJ militia, Eastern Battalion.
His wife died in March 1777, probably from smallpox which at the time was a raging epidemic in the American Army camped at Morristown and in the surrounding area, and there are no further documented military activities. It appears to be ample evidence of how important women were to keeping the home fires burning while their husbands made a revolution and built a country. Ellis resigned his commission 6 Nov 1777.
He was elected a member of the State Assembly for Morris county for fourteen years (1776, 77, 79, & 81-92) and was appointed one of the Judges of Morris county courts, 1793-1795.
In 1784, as an assemblyman he was asked if he knew anything about a certificate of service for Jonathan Dickerson. He wrote a letter to Dickerson explaining what occurred. It seems some members were accusing Dickerson of cheating on his request for reimbursement for serving on the Assembly when in fact the assembly had adjourned for the weekend. Ellis responded that he knew nothing of Dickerson's service during the period in question, but rose to defend his friend by making a motion to determine how many others in the assembly had done the same. As they found that over a third of the House had done so, the matter was dropped. Like a hot rock. Ellis' signature is intact and shown here:
|Letter of Ellis Cook to Jonathan Dickerson, 5 March 1784, MG13, Box 7, Folder 14 of the Marlon Dickerson Collection. New Jersey Historical Society. Trenton, New Jersey.
His gravestone in the Hanover graveyard reads: In memory of Ellis Cook Esq'r who departed this life April 7th 1797 in the 66th Year of his Age.
His will is dated 6 Apr 1797, proved 25 Apr, and states that he was "infirm in body." He provides that his wife Lucy should "furnish my son George Whitfield with clothing, &c., from her right of dower." He devises to son Jabez a tract of land "opposite my dwelling house, bounded by Mathew Ktchel, Samuel Merry, Passaic river, and road, except a meadow; also my tract in Essex county joining Aaron Beach, Isaac Winans and others." Sons Zebulon, James and Ambrose "to share equally all the rest of my real estate, in Morris and Essex counties." To daughters Margaret Kitchel, Matilda Plumb and Rulatte Gregory, L10 each. "My son Ambrose to take my son George Whitfield and bring him up and instruct him in the Practice of Physic, and Ambrose to be paid L25 annually until George Whitfield is 21."
Executors--Aaron Kitchell, Prudden Alling, James Cook.
Witnesses--(Dr.) John Darcy, William Cook, Epaphrus Cook.
The "Inventory of Coll. Ellis Cook Esqr,' 12 Apr 1797 totaled 602-14-04 as appraised by Enoch Beach and David Bedford.
He was born in 1732 Southampton, NY. He married Margaret Griswold Cocker on 12 Jul 1753 and Lucy Ely in 1778. He died on 17 Apr 1797 Hanover, NJ. and was buried there.