Nebraska Authors

Harold J. Cook

AKA: Harold James Cook

Born 1887-07-31 Cheyenne, WY (USA)

Died 1962-09-29
Agate, NE (USA)

Scottsbluff, NE (USA)
Fairview Cemetery

Grew up on the 04 Ranch (which became part of the Agate Springs Ranch) in western Nebraska and became interested in the fossils, when, as a child, he helped paleontologists dig there. Before he had finished his undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska, the great Henry F. Osborn, of the American Museum of Natural History, who had met him while digging fossils at the ranch, convinced Cook to come to New York, take classes at Columbia University and work at the Museum. Both men agreed the goal was not a degree, but the opportunity to do important work. Harold always intended to work the ranch. While in New York, he took classes from Osborn and other leading scientists, and associated with the likes of Roy Chapman Andrews, W.D. Mathew, and R.S. Lull of Yale University. He became a distinguished paleontologist.

Cook's father was a good friend to Red Cloud, and often invited the Lakota to come down and hunt on his ranch, after they were confined to the Pine Ridge. Cook's memoir includes accounts of Red Cloud and his band, as well as various incidents related to attempts to homestead in the Sandhills region after the Kinkaid Act was passed in 1904. The Federal Government acquired land from the Cooks and established Agate Fossil Beds National Monument on the site of the old 04 ranch in 1997.

Cook married the daughter of Erwin Barbour in 1910. The two had four children but parted, and Cook married Margaret Crozier, the companion of his later years. Harold Cook was the son of Captain James Cook, who founded the Agate Springs Ranch. His memoir Tales of the 04 Ranch was written as a sequel to his father's memoir, Fifty Years on the Old Frontier, 1923. The Cooks were direct descendants of British sea captain and explorer James Cook.


Places Lived

Cheyenne, WY
New York, NY
Denver, CO
Agate Springs Ranch, NE

Author Of

  • Nonfiction


Paleontology; Geology; Natural History; Ranch History


Undergraduate Studies in Paleontology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
Graduate Studies, Columbia University, New York, NY


Consulting Geologist

Places Worked

Agate Springs Ranch (lifelong)
Nebraska Geological Survey, 1906-1926
Curator of Paleontology, Colorado (now Denver) Museum of Natural History, 1928-1930
Custodian, Scotts Bluff National Monument, 1934-1935
Consulting Geologist, 1930-1962


Nebraska 150 Books honor for Tales of the 04 Ranch: Recollections of Harold J. Cook, 1887-1909, 2017


Son of Captain James Cook
Palaeontological Society of America, Charter Member
American Museum of Natural History, Life Member
American Society of Mammalogists
American Association of Petroleum Geologists


Faunal Lists of the Tertiary Vertebrata of Nebraska and Adjacent Areas. with Margaret C. Cook, 1933.
Tales of the 04 Ranch: Recollections of Harold J. Cook, 1887-1909. 1968.
Author of over 50 titles

Contributor to many professional publications including Scientific American, Natural History, Nature, Outdoor Life and and Recreation, and Science

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Harold J. Cook

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