This is embarrassing.
I have lived in Cook County continuously for the past 31 years.
In various spots: Evanston, Barrington, Oak Park, Chicago and now Northbrook.
And in all that time, I have investigated many stories.
Delved into many questions.
Looked up many facts.
Including, on Wednesday, the definition of the word "pozzolanic."
Which has to do with volcanic ash related to the manufacture of cement.
From the Italian town of Pozzuouli, where pumice was found by the Romans.
But one mystery hung in front of my nose.
Almost every day.
For 31 years.
And not only did I not know the answer.
But I—curious guy, usually—did not even pose the question.
Did not wonder.
To my knowledge.
Until last week.
When I met my brother to go to lunch.
At his place of business.
In the Cook County Building.
Usually he's there first.
Waiting for me.
But this time I was early.
A couple minutes.
Just long enough.
To notice this plaque which.
In decades of walking through the building.
I somehow had never seen before.
Answering a question.
I had never thought to ask.
Who was the place named for?
You'd think such a famous place.
We'd all know.
We all know "Chicago" means wild onions
Or at least we're all told that.
Gets the short shrift, as always.
One Daniel Pope Cook, apparently
Lawyer, newspaper publisher, Illinois' first attorney general
Friend of John Quincy Adams
He died early, at 33.
And four years later Cook County was named for him.
Six years before Chicago was voted a city.