Transcribed by Teresa Kesterke from: Biographical Review of Des Moines County, Iowa: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of Many of the Prominent Citizens of To-day and Also of the Past, Hobart Publishing Company, Chicago, 1905.


LaMonte Cowles, city attorney of Burlington, is one of the leading representatives of the Republican party in the first district of Iowa. Absolute fidelity to the interests of his clients, a wonderful capacity for hard work, and systematic preparation of all cases entrusted to his care, have been some of the noteworthy factors in the achievement of his success. It is long since he has had much leisure, and it is fortunate for him that he can find genuine enjoyment, as he does, in the line of endeavor which he has chosen as his special work. Early in life he learned the hard but necessary lesson that “nothing of value can be gained without its equivalent," and therefore when he entered upon the practice of law he brought to bear all of the talents with which nature had liberally endowed him, industry and perseverance being among these.

Mr. Cowles was born in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Sept. 30, 1859, and is a son of the Rev. W. F. Cowles, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal church, who for a half century devoted his time and energies to the work of the gospel. At length he retired from active connection with the ministry, and spent his last days quietly at his home in Burlington, where he died July 16, 1899. His wife bore the maiden name of Maria Elizabeth LaMonte, and was a representative of one of the old Colonial families. The Cowles family was also established in America long prior to the Revolutionary War, the first of the name locating in this country about 1636. Many of the ancestors of our subject were actively connected with the patriot cause in the war for independence. Reverend Cowles served as revenue collector for the fourth district under President Lincoln, being twice appointed to that office, and the papers signed by President Lincoln are now in possession of LaMonte Cowles.

The itinerary of a Methodist minister caused frequent changes in the place of residence of the Cowles family during the boyhood and youth of LaMonte Cowles, who therefore attended school in various Iowa towns. He pursued his more specific literary education in the Iowa Wesleyan University at Mount Pleasant, where he was graduated with the class of 1879, winning the degree of Bachelor of Arts; while later the same institution conferred upon him the honorary degree of Master of Arts. Going to the West he was for four years a civil engineer in the employ of the Union Pacific Railroad Company and the Burlington & Missouri Railroad Company, locating and constructing their lines in Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, and other Western States. Desiring, however, to become a member of the legal fraternity, Mr. Cowles entered the law office of Judge Power, of Burlington, where he spent three years as a student, applying himself assiduously to the mastery of the principles of jurisprudence. Within this time he was admitted to the bar, and afterward entered into partnership with C. B. Jack, a relation that was maintained for eighteen months, when Mr. Jack removed to Salt Lake City, Utah. Mr. Cowles has since been alone in general practice, and is regarded as one of the working members of the bar, preparing his cases with great care, thoroughness, and precision, and presenting his cause with clear and cogent reasoning. He has an extensive and representative clientage largely in the line of corporation law. He is general solicitor for the German-American Life Insurance Company, of Burlington, and general attorney for the General Agency Company, of Burlington. He is also identified with several important business enterprises, having direct bearing upon the material prosperity and commercial activity of the city, as well as providing a source of gratifying income to the stockholders. Political offices that he has filled have largely been in the line of his profession. He was city attorney for two years, afterward referee in bankruptcy for six years, and in 1904 was again elected city attorney, so that he is the present incumbent in that office, and his early election was the popular evidence of the trust reposed in him after a former service in that position.

Recognized as one of the representative Republicans of his district, and one whose labors are of a practical and far-reaching character, Mr. Cowles has been called upon to serve in various positions in connection with the management of the party's interests. He has been chairman of the county and city central committees, and also chairman of the congressional committee of the first district for ten years, acting in that position at the present time. He has done much active campaign work as a speaker in presenting the issues before the public, and his utterances are always clear, logical, and convincing. He has been a candidate for county attorney and for State senator, but the district has a normal Democratic majority of fifteen hundred, and on this occasion he met defeat. He has, however, done effective and valuable service for his party, and following the close of the campaign of 1904 a local paper said of him: "LaMonte Cowles, chairman of the first district Republican committee, finds deep satisfaction in the result at the polls. He had made it his personal endeavor to conduct an effective campaign under conditions which largely eliminated public meetings, street parades, and brass bands. The usual concomitants of a presidential campaign were not in vogue this year. Here, as elsewhere in the United States, the chief reliance of both parties was in organization, leaving political discussion chiefly to the press. Mr. Cowles quietly, but sedulously, conducted the campaign along less spectacular lines, and he has the gratification of seeing Mr. Hedge re-elected by nearly five thousand plurality, the largest ever given a candidate in this district."

Mr. Cowles is a Mason, a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, of the Woodmen of the World, and the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. He was married on the 15th of Sept. 1886, to Miss Hattie E. Kane, who died Nov. 11, 1889, leaving a daughter, Ethel M. On the 24th of November, 1898, Mr. Cowles was again married in Burlington, his second union being with Ida M. Miller, of this city. Their home at 810 North Fifth Street was erected in 1899, and is one of the attractive residences of the city, its hospitality being cordial.

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