Pitt Cooke was the son of Sandusky’s first lawyer, Eleutheros Cooke, and his wife, the former Martha Carswell. He was born on July 23, 1819 in Bloomingville, Ohio, in a building that had formerly served as the Bank of Sandusky Bay. (The bank was never chartered.)
Pitt Cooke was educated at the Norwalk Academy, and he attended college at Kenyon College, where he studied law. After passing the bar, he practiced law in Sandusky, Ohio with Lucas Beecher. Later he was in the forwarding and commission business with William Townsend, until 1849 when Mr. Townsend died in the cholera epidemic. After the Civil War began, he moved east to assist his brother Jay Cooke a banker was a significant financier of the financier of the Union military effort during the Civil War. Pitt continued to work at the banking house of Jay Cooke and Company in New York until 1873, when he moved back to Sandusky, Ohio. An article in volume 17 of the Firelands Pioneer stated about Pitt Cooke, “Few men were more competent or active in business than Mr. Cooke, and as a companion and friend he was always genial and pleasant. He was a man of large heart and warm, generous impulses, and ever ready to assist to the extent of his ability those who were in need.” After the death of both Mr. and Mrs. William Townsend in 1849, Mr. and Mrs. Pitt Cooke took in their orphaned children, who were the younger siblings of Mrs. Cooke, the former Mary Townsend.