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Cole, Robert S


Posted By: Volunteer (email)
Date: 9/13/2016 at 13:42:46

Robert S. Cole, deceased, a prominent citizen of Henry County, was born in Dearborn County, Ind., Nov.. 23, 1822. His parents were Solomon and Sarah (Remy) Cole. His father was a native of Maryland, born of English parents, his mother was of French descent. Solomon Cole was a practical farmer and teacher, and was a man of superior ability and culture. His family consisted of a wife and nine children, of whom our subject was the third. They came to Iowa by teams, in 1851. The father was a confirmed invalid at the time, and the elder sons took all the responsibility and care of the family. On coming to this county the family purchased 250 acres of land, situated about twelve miles north of Mt. Pleasant. The title of one-half of this property was vested in the parents' name, and one-half in the names of James W. and Robert S., the elder sons. There the sons prepared a home for their parents, and cared for them during the remainder of their lives. They conducted the business of the farm and raised stock until 1849, when they removed to the city of Mt. Pleasant, and engaged in the lightning rod and pump business. Their first order was for $50 worth of lightning rods. The remittance of $50 was lost, but they received the rods. This business was established by J.W. and R.S. Cole. They soon added the manufacture of pumps to their trade, the work being done at Greencastle, Ind. Their venture was successful from the start, and they rapidly extended their line of operations. Two younger brothers, William and John, were admitted to the partnership, and in 1865 they formed and incorporated a company for the continuance of the business, with a paid-up capital of $30,000. They formed a limited partnership with their employees, establishing branch sale stations extending through Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and other States, having in all at one time fourteen branch stations, and employing from 150 to 200 men. At the expiration of the limit of the first corporation, in 1875, they formed a new corporation with a paid-up capital of $200,000. The Cole Brothers built up an immense business, and enjoyed a reputation for fair dealing and good work that marked a new era in the pump and lightning rod business. The elder brothers, J.W. and R.S., were associated in business twenty-five years before they had a settlement. During all that time their business relations were so harmonious and satisfactory that they had no unpleasantness whatever. They had everything in common, and although each of them had families, they had no separate accounts.

Robert S. Cole, the subject of this sketch, was married near Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, Dec. 24, 1846, to Miss Mary Jane Hutton, daughter of Rev. Samuel Hutton, an early and highly respected pioneer of Henry County. Her mother's maiden name was Mary Levi. She was born in North Carolina, and was of German descent. Mrs. Cole's father was born in Pennsylvania, and he was also of German descent. He was a minister of the Baptist Church, and did much preaching in the West. Mrs. Cole was born in Sangamon County, Ill., Sept 27, 1827. Eight children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Cole, five daughters and three sons: Anna E. is the widow of Edward O. Boone and is a teacher in the Indian Territory; she has one child a son, Victor C.; Sarah J. is the wife of William Ridpath, an attorney of Brazil, Ind., they have three children; Laura M. resides with her mother; Hayden R.died Oct. 6, 1876, aged twenty-one years; Wlliam T. married Annie Maxwell, and resides at Council Bluffs, Iowa; Jay S. is engaged in the lightning rod business at Greencastle, Ind.; Mary and Minnie reside with their mother.

Mr. Cole continued to reside at Mt. Pleasant until 1880, when he removed to Council Bluffs, where he purchased the interest of one of their branch partners, and carried on the business at that point until the time of his death, Feb. 28, 1884. After his death his heirs parted with their interest in the business to Mr. Cole's brothers, Jan. 1, 1887.

Mr. Cole united with the Baptist Church when he was a youth, and was a zealous Christian during his life, prompt and liberal in support of the church and of missions, and charitable and kind to the poor and distressed. He was a philanthropist in the broadest sense of the word. He contributed liberally to the erection of the Baptist Church at Mt. Pleasant, and after having removed to Council Bluffs he made a liberal donation to repair the church after it was wrecked by a cyclone. He also took an active part in behalf of the church at Council Bluffs, and was foremost in all good works. A man whose word was regarded as inviolate, he enjoyed an enviable reputation in the community. After his death his widow and three daughters resided in Council Bluffs until July, 1887, when they returned to Mt. Pleasant, to the home which Mr. Cole had made in that city, which they had never parted with, and which is a commodious and comfortable residence.

Submitted by: jrosebee, 2003.
Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Henry County, Iowa
Chicago: Acme Publishing Company, 1888.
Biography of Robert S. Cole, p 542


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