Frances Cook Steen

Maiden Name: 
Variant Names: 
Clara Francis Cook
Francis C. Stein
Frances Stein
Fannie Stein
Robert P. Stein
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Xenia, OH
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
Aledo, IL
Xenia, (OH), 1851-54
Delaware County (OH), 1854-68
Wenona (IL), 1868-75
Aledo (IL), 1875 Lowell (NE), 1875
Lowell (NE), 1875-1878
Minden (NE), 1878-1893
Aledo (IL), 1893-1933
Summerland, British Columbia, Canada
Active In: 
Aledo, IL
Minden, NE
Painting - Oil
Painting - Watercolor
Frances Cook Steen, Mercer Township Free Library, Aledo (IL), 1933
Frances Cook Steen, Mercer County Historical Society (Jim Runyon private showing), Aledo (IL), 2008
Frances Cook Steen, Kearney County Historical Society, (As part of Minden’s 125th Year Anniversary Celebration Program), Minden (NE), 2008
Frances Cook Steen, Greene County Historical Society, Xenia (OH), 2008
Frances Cook Steen, P.E.O. – IL Chapter NW , Sleepy Hollow (IL), 2013
Frances Cook Steen, Essley-Noble Museum, Aledo, IL (2008)
International Organization of Good Templars (I.O.G.T), Wenona, IL (Women’s Deputy Marshal), 1870
Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), Lowell, NE (Founding member of local chapter),1876
Aledo Columbian Club, Aledo, IL (President) 1907-1908
Dino Vlahos, Sleepy Hollow, IL
Wanda Ohaver, Farmington, IL
Other Occupations: 
Published poet

In Search of the Artist

In Search of the Artist is the biography of Frances Cook Steen. Frances was born in Xenia, Ohio on June 6, 1851. Her life spanned from pre-Civil War years until the Great Depression. She died in Aledo, Illinois in 1933 as a result of injuries sustained in a tragic automobile accident.

When Frances was a young girl she was formally trained as a musician. During her early years, Frances, her parents and sisters lived just outside Richwood, Ohio. During the late 1860’s her family moved to Wenona, Illinois and eventually settled in Aledo in 1875. Frances was married in Aledo on December 19, 1875.

Shortly after her wedding, she and her husband moved to Lowell, Nebraska and then settled in Minden, Nebraska. They were the first family to build a house in Minden in 1878 and theirs was the first family to settle in that town! Frances was truly a frontierswoman. Frances first began writing poetry in Minden in the 1870’s.

Frances lived during one of the most interesting time-periods of American history. She witnessed our country torn apart by Civil War. She experienced travel by covered wagon and saw the advent of trains, automobiles and airplanes. She saw the progression of lighting a house with candles and kerosene lamps to the invention of electricity and communications by telephone.

After the tragic death of her husband in 1892, Frances with her three children returned to Aledo in 1893. Frances Cook Steen was a prominent member of the Aledo community in the early 1900’s. Frances became an accomplished poet, composer and teacher of music. She was also a very talented but unknown artist during her lifetime.

After reading her wonderful poetry and admiring her artwork for a number of years, the author, Dino Vlahos, made it his task to honor Frances Cook Steen’s memory and bring her accomplishments to the forefront. It is the author’s hope, that with this book, titled In Search of the Artist, he has accomplished his goal of having Frances Cook Steen receive the recognition she truly deserves.

This is what Phil Aleo, the book publisher, had to say about this biography…. “Frances Cook Steen left this earth nearly eighty years ago. However, her legacy includes remarkable pieces of art in the form of graphic sketches and timeless poetry. Although a published poet, her works have been out of print for decades. Only a few graphic sketches and other pieces of art are left to appreciate.

Because of these developments, Frances Cook Steen never received notoriety, that is, until now. Dino Vlahos came upon one of the few pieces of art, still known to exist. Literally entranced by the detail of these graphite sketches, he began a journey that nearly spanned a decade in research and travel. The results have brought to the surface a superbly talented artist and poet that had been obscured by the passage of time.”

Vlahos, Dino. In Search of the Artist, Dundee, IL: Aleo Publication, 2012