Harvey Toliver Cook was born in Abbeville South Carolina to Frederick Cook and Sara Cox Cook on April 23, 1848. Dr. Cook was a Confederate veteran and had eight children with his wife Cornelia Agnes Carpenter whom he married on January 24, 1875 (newspaper clipping, undated). A devoted member of the First Baptist Church of Greenville which he would walk to every Sunday, Cook enjoyed his involvement in church activities. Many church members admired him for his loyalty to God and respected his exceptional abilities in the academic world and the spiritual world. Dr. Cook claimed that his father did not force religion onto him but taught him that every aspect of life could be religious. Since Furman University was an active player within the Baptist religious community, Cook did not have to keep separate his career and his faith during his profession at Furman University from 1881 to 1918 teaching Greek, Latin and History (Greenville News, 1).
Cook, like other professors at Furman at that time, manifested conservative, southern tendencies. He hated tobacco, intoxicants, profanity, and unpaid bills. Growing up, Dr. Cook milked sixteen cows a day and did not attend public school. He attended a subscription school where wealthy families paid tuition, while poor families were paid for by the state (newspaper clipping, undated).
Friends and colleagues portrayed Cook as a devoted son of the Confederacy. Dr. Cook’s book, entitled Education in South Carolina Under Baptist Control, highlighted the campaign of delegates who attended the convention to determine whether South Carolina would secede from the Union or not. In this book, he spoke about two of his passions, the Confederacy and James C. Furman (Daniel, 78). Dr. Cook also wrote an article published in The State that spoke of the "burning zeal" that James C. Furman possessed (Cook, 1).
Colleagues loved Dr. Cook's sense of humor. They claimed they could hear laughter seeping out of his classroom throughout the hallways at Furman. Once, Dr. Cook's students decided not to laugh at one of his famous jokes. After telling the joke, the room remained silent. Finally, Dr. Cook realized that his students were pulling a joke on him, and he burst into laughter followed by his students (Daniel, 200).
In his later years Dr. Cook enjoyed gardening and reading classics in original Greek. Dr. Cook remained active up into his death, walking two to three miles a day. He died at the age of ninety-four on February 10, 1943 and was buried in Springwood Cemetery. In his obituary many remembered him for his whole-hearted kindness, simplicity, modesty, and unselfishness (Greenville News, 1).
Cook, Harvey Toliver. "The Life Work of James Clement Furman." The State ( Columbia) 1927: 2pp. Daniel, Robert Norman. Furman University : A History.Greenville: Furman University, 1951.
Greenville News (Greenville) 9 Feb. 1943, sec. Obituaries: 1p.
Newspaper clipping, undated. “Biographical” folder. Box 1. Harvey T. Cook Papers.Special Collections and Archives. Furman University Library.