Despite being named “The French Fork” this beard style originates in the Middle East. The Persians commonly wore their beard split and curled at the ends. Arabic fashion and facial hair trends eventually became intertwined with Greek fashion after borders opened up between the 8th and 10th centuries following the weakening of the Byzantine Empire, this allowed for the trade of goods, fashion, culture and religion. The forked beard had its time in the limelight in Italy during the Renaissance of the 1400s. The forked beard had already been worn by Scandinavian and Viking men historically.
The beard is named after the two-pronged utensil that gained popularity in France in the 1530s. After the Italian Renaissance, this beard style lost popularity but reappeared again on the faces of German nobility during the 1800s and once again spread in popularity.
Gordon H. Cook – 1875 (West Oxford Township)
Gordon H. Cook was one of Oxford’s pioneers and prominent men. Born in 1832, he farmed on Lot 9, Concession 1 West Oxford Township. He first served on County Council in 1869, as Deputy Reeve, and would hold the position of Reeve for West Oxford Township, for a number of terms, over the next ten years. Mr. Cook would be elected Warden in 1875.
Following his municipal political career, he would serve as license inspector for South Oxford for twenty-six years (1876-1903). He was also connected with the Ingersoll, North and West Oxford Agricultural Society. The Woodstock Sentinel-Review declared him as “a man of sterling integrity and fine personality, [who] enjoyed the esteem of a very wide circle of acquaintances in both North and South Oxford (W-SR, FP March 8, 1907). He would pass away on March 8, 1907.