Friday Find – The Butler-McCook House

The Butler-McCook House stands on Hartford’s Main Street as one of Connecticut’s historical gems. Rev. John J. McCook, an eminent Hartford citizen and Trinity College professor, lived here through the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Two of the Reverend’s sons, Anson T. and Phillip J. fought in WWI.

Phillip J. McCook

Phillip J. McCook

The Butler-McCook House and Garden was home to four generations of the McCook family over 189 years. The house was built during the Federal Period in 1782, and the exterior remains true to its original design. The gardens and interior, however, reflect the aesthetic of the Victorian era. The McCook family held a strong tradition of military service; they were known as the “Fighting McCooks” during the Civil War, when Daniel and John McCook along with thirteen of their sons fought in the Union Army. The family boasted several high-ranking military and political officials and mourned several of its young men who lost their lives in the service.

Phillip J. McCook

Phillip J. McCook

Phillip J. McCook was already a seasoned veteran by the time he enlisted to serve in WWI, having already fought in the Spanish-American War. He carried the rank of major during WWI and authored a book reflecting on his experiences in France, “A Bit of the Great War: Confidential to The Squirrels” (a nickname for the 318th Infantry of the Army 80th Division) as well as a memoir titled “Days of My Age.” Both of these reflect events recorded in his journals.

McCook "Bit of the Great War"

McCook “A Bit of the Great War: Confidential to the Squirrels”


Phillip began his “Recollections of and Notes on the German War” on December 17 1918 at a base hospital in Bordeaux, France. At the time, he was recuperating from wounds sustained during the Meuse-Argonne offensive. He would subsequently receive the Distinguished Service Cross for heroic actions that led to this injury. Phillip became a New York State Supreme Court Judge after the war, and when WWII broke out, he combined his judiciary and military careers, working for the judge advocate general’s office in WWII.

McCook's "Recollections"

McCook’s “Recollections”

Philip’s childhood home is now owned and managed by Connecticut Landmarks and many of his personal belongings still remain there. The World War One collection at the Butler-McCook House and Garden contains many of Philip’s personal effects including papers, helmets and uniforms. One of the most interesting finds in this collection is this table, which appears to show the maximum strength of an Infantry Division. It is a hand drawn copy rendered as a blueprint that was drawn by 1st Class Private F.T. Graves in March 1918 under the direction of Colonel J.S. Herron 304th Infantry.


The 304th Regiment was part of the 76th Infantry Division and was made up primarily of Connecticut men who arrived in France in July 1918. Why Phillip McCook might have this document is a mystery. Not only was McCook a New Yorker at that point, he was also attached to the 9th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division, not the 304th. If you have the chance be sure to stop by and see this unique collection. For more information visit the Butler-McCook House & Garden website.