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Charles J. Cole (1843-1922)


Posted By: Karon Velau (email)
Date: 11/3/2022 at 23:59:18

Charles J. Cole
(February 15, 1843 May 6, 1922)

The history of Charles J. Cole forms a connecting link between the pioneer past and the progressive present in Calhoun County. He came to this state at an early period in the development of this region and has witnessed almost its entire transformation from a wild and unsettled district to its present condition when fine farms surround
enterprising towns, in which are thriving industries while all the conveniences and accessories of the older east are also here enjoyed. Mr. Cole has borne his part in the work of development and as one of the honored pioneer settlers he well deserves representation in this volume. Mr. Cole was born in Cass County, Michigan, February 15, 1843, a son of John P. and Sophia (Bates) Cole, who were natives of Vermont, in which state they were reared and married. Subsequently they left New England, taking up their residence in Buffalo, New York, and later they continued their westward journey to Michigan, where the father secured a tract of land and engaged in farming. In their family were three children, two daughters and a son: Marietta J., now deceased; Sarah L., the wife of Muses L. Sherman, of Lake City, Iowa: and Charles J. The father died in Michigan in 1854 and the mother afterward became the wife of Charles Amy, who was a native of Ohio. He had been very liberally educated and was a graduate of three colleges. He successfully engaged in teaching and for a number of years he also followed farming in Cass County, Michigan. In the spring of 1856 he came to Calhoun County, Iowa, and in September of that year he was joined by his wife and her children, the family becoming identified with pioneer life in this section of the state. They located on the site of Lake City and Mr. Amy erected the second building here the courthouse, while his own residence was the third structure in the town. It was built of native lumber and continued the home of the family for a number of years. Mr. Amy became a leader in public affairs and was called upon to fill many offices. In the year 1857 he was elected county treasurer and filled that position continuously for thirteen years a most capable and faithful officer. In 1858 he was elected county surveyor and served for six years, while from 1858 until 1863 he was county superintendent of schools. In 1857 he was appointed post-master of Lake City and continued the custodian of the mails until 1872, retiring from office as he had entered it with the confidence and good will of all concerned. In that year he removed to his farm, where he spent his remaining days. He aided in laying broad and deep the foundation for the present prosperity and progress of the county, his labors being of great value in the early development of this portion of the state. In the winter of 1856 David Reed taught the first school in this county, but the following summer Sarah L. Sherman, a sister of our subject, became the school teacher. Charles J. Cole, whose name introduces this record, obtained his early education in the country schools of Cass County, Michigan, and in the years 1853 and 1854 was a student in the Northern Indiana Normal School at Valparaiso, Indiana. He lived with his mother and stepfather until they removed to Iowa. The journey was made by rail to Iowa City and overland two hundred miles to Calhoun County. The winter of 1856 was the hardest ever experienced in the history of the state. Mr. Cole from practical knowledge knows of the hardships and trials incident to pioneer life as well as of its pleasures and opportunities. During the winter of 1856 five elks were captured, two of which are still living in Bonina Park, Michigan. Mr. Cole has hunted and trapped in the early days of Iowa's development and has killed many elks, deer and also two buffaloes, together with smaller animals, including wolves, wild cats and lynx. Many Indians were still in this portion of the state, but they occasioned the settlers no trouble. Mr. Cole made a business of trapping until 1870, when the approaching civilization rendered that occupation unremunerative. At the time of the Civil war he enlisted as a member of the Second Iowa Cavalry. This was in direct opposition to the wishes of his mother for he was then but a boy. However, he went to Camp Burnside, Des Moines, where he was drilled for four months and was transferred to the Thirty-ninth Iowa infantry, but his father and mother forbade his enlistment in the regular army, for he was a minor, and in consequence he did not get to go south. In 1858 he was one of a party to start for Spirit Lake to help put down the Indian outbreak which resulted in the Spirit lake massacre and thus made one of the dark pages of pioneer history. In 1S70 Mr. Cole went onto a farm where he remained for about fourteen years and in 1884 he again took up his abode in Lake City, where he now resides. Between 1887 and 1896 he conducted an elevator for J. W. Wilson and since that time he represents nursery companies and also superintends the working of men engaged in house moving. He has also practiced law for several years. Mr. Cole was united in marriage to Miss Rebecca J. Parker, a daughter of David Parker, of Cass County, Michigan, hut her parents were natives of Ohio. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Cole have been born eleven children, as follows: James L, a conductor on the Chicago & North western Railroad: Emory D., of Lake City; Carrie, the wife of John Higgins, city engineer in Ida Grove; Lulu, deceased; Margaret J., the wife of Charles Owen, a railroad conductor on the Chicago & Northwestern line, living at Carroll, Iowa; Otis H. of Ida Grove, Iowa: George B., a brakeman on the Chicago & Northwestern road living at Onawa, Iowa; John P., Mary C. and Frank S., all of Lake City; and Hazel S., who has passed away. The family is well known in the county and their friends are many. Mr. Cole has taken quite an active part in political affairs, served as constable for about thirteen years and has been a delegate to many conventions of the party. The greater part of his life have been passed in this locality and his friends know him as a man of sterling worth. [Source Biographical Record of Calhoun County, Iowa, by S.J. Clarke, 1902, p.463]


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