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Fayette County, Iowa  

 History Directory

Past and Present of Fayette County Iowa, 1910

Author: G. Blessin


B. F. Bowen & Company, Indianapolis, Indiana


Vol. I, Biographical Sketches



~Page 618~


James F. Cole, M.D.


The success achieved by the honored subject of this review in one of the most responsible and exacting of the learned professions entitles him to a prominent place in the ranks of those who, by the force of strong mentality, have gained public recognition for themselves and added luster to the communities honored by their citizenship. Dr. James F. Cole, who is distinctively one of the leading the leading physicians and surgeons of Fayette county and as a business man actively identified with a number of important enterprises in his own city and elsewhere, comes of sturdy Scotch-American stock and embodies many of the sterling qualities of mind and heart for which his antecedents have long been distinguished. Ira L. Cole, the Doctor's father, was born June 19, 1830, in Scotland. He was the son of John Cole, who emigrated to America in the latter part of that year and located at Franklinville, Cattaraugus county, New York, where Ira L. grew to maturity. On October 11, 1852, Ira L. Cole entered the marriage relation with Sarah Jan FAY, of New York, and the same year came to Iowa, settling in Cass township, Clayton county, where he entered eighty acres of land, which he improved and in connection with its cultivation devoted considerable time to contracting and dealing in lumber, establishing in 1890 the lumber business at Oelwein now conducted by Cole and King Brothers. At the breaking out of the Civil war he enlisted in Company D, Twenty-first Iowa Infantry, and was with his regiment when it led the first attack on the fortifications at Vicksburg, Mississippi, during the siege of which stronghold he contracted disabilities which eventually led to his discharge. Returning home, he at once began recruiting another company, of which he was elected captain and which he continued to serve until mustered out at Dubuque at the close of the war. Ira L. Cole was a man of fine mind, keen perceptions, practical intelligence and stood high in the confidence of those with whom he mingled. He was called from earth on May 7, 1902, his death being deeply lamented by the community in which he spent the greater part of his life.

Sarah Jane Fay, the wife of Ira L. Cole, was born at Franklinville, New York, where her parents, James and Olive (Rice) Fay, settled many years before. Cyrus Fay, grandfather of Mrs. Cole, was a native of Massachusetts and served with distinction in the war of the Revolution as colonel of a regiment from that colony. Her grandfather on the distaff side was Ezekiel Rice, also a patriot of the Revolutionary struggle, having served as quartermaster sergeant in a Massachusetts regiment during the greater part of the war. The Rice and Fay families were of sturdy old colonial-puritan stock, both names appearing in connection with the history of their respective places of residence besides being identified with many important enterprises of a public and business nature. The Doctor's mother was descended from men of much more than local distinction, it being a well authenticated fact that both branches of her family were represented in the convention which drafted the Constitution of the United States and took an influential part in bringing about its adoption. Four children were born to Ira L. and Sarah Jane Cole, namely: Olive, who died at the age of three years; Harriett, whose death occurred when she was two and a half years old; Benjamin also died in early childhood and James F., the subject of this review, is the only surviving member of the family, the mother dying in August, 1909.

James F. Cole was born in Clayton county, Iowa, on the first day of December, 1862, and received his preliminary mental discipline in the public schools, being the first to graduate from the high school building at Strawberry Point, which was erected in 1877 and which was under the management of Prof. E. G. Cooley, later superintendent of the public schools of Chicago and one of the country's most distinguished educators. After completing his course in the above institution, young Cole entered the Ames Agricultural School, where he pursued his studies for three years and then became a student in the medical department of the University of Iowa, from which he was graduated with an honorable record on March 2, 1887.


Fortified with thorough intellectual and professional training, Doctor Cole, in 1885, opened an office at Strawberry Point, where he practiced medicine during the two years ensuing, forging rapidly to the front the meantime and acquiring more than local note as a successful physician and skillful surgeon. In July, 1887, he located at Oelwein, where he soon built up an extensive and lucrative professional business and where he now takes high rank among the representative men of his calling in the northeastern part of the state, his practice taking a wide range and his financial success being commensurate with the ability displayed in his chosen field of endeavor.


Doctor Cole combines many of the qualities of the ideal family physician, possessing strong character, a warm heart and generous sympathies, and he seldom if ever fails to gain the confidence of his patients, which is one of the first prerequisites to successful treatment. Always calm and self-possessed in the sick-room, he impresses friends with his ability and tact, and the marked degree in which he arouses the love and gratitude of those under his care indicates his thorough mastery of the situation, however grave or critical. In surgery he also exhibits a high order of ability, being especially successful in this important to keep abreast of the times on all matters pretaining to his chosen calling, and to this end he has become identified with various professional societies, among which are the American Medical Association, Iowa State Medical Association, Cedar Valley and Austin Flint District Associations, the Fayette County Medical Society and the Medical Society of Oelwein.  Although devoted to his profession, he manifest a lively interest in public and political affairs, being pronounced and one of the leaders of his party in the county of Fayette. He is now coroner of the county, which position he has held for fifteen years , a longer term than any other person in this position. His counsels and labors have contributed largely to the success of the Republican cause in this part of the state.  He takes a pardonable pride in the prosperity of the enterprising city in which he resides, served six years as a member of the common council, and was chairman of the committee appointed by that body to sperintend the construction of the efficient waterworks system.

Doctor Cole is an enthusiastic believer in secret fraternal work and holds membership with a number of societies founded upon the principles of mutual helpfulness. He stands high in Masonry, belonging to Hebron Lodge No. 374 at Oelwein, Kenneth Commandery No. 32, Knights Templar, at Independence, Iowa, Consistory No. 2, Cedar Rapids, and Elkadir Temple, Mystic Shrine, at Cedar Rapids. He is also identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at Oelwein, being an influential worker in both subordinate lodge and encampment, and for some years past he has been a leader in the Pythian order in the city, besides holding the office of grand chancellor of the state. In addition to the organizations enumerated, he is a member of Eureka Encampment No. 332, Ancient Order United Workmen, belongs to Palm Camp No. 230, Modern Woodmen of America, and is now serving as exalted ruler of Lodge No. 741, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, of Oelwein. His name also adorns the records of Iowa Banner Camp No. 314, Royal Neighbors, Prosperity Homestead No. 90, Order of Yeomen, Camp No. 89, Woodmen of the World, and Lodge No. 199, Modern Brotherhood of America. The Doctor is likewise connected with various business enterprises, being director of the Aetna State Bank of Oelwein, a stockholder in the First National Bank of the city and of the First National Bank of Strawberry Point, besides owning an interest in the firm of Cole & King Brothers, lumber dealers in Oelwein. In his medical practice he is associated with Doctor Leehey, being senior member of the firm, and for several years he has been surgeon for the Rock Island Railway Company at Oelwein.

Doctor Cole has been twice married, the first time on December 27, 1888, to Nellie E. Barclay, daughter of Thomas C. Barclay. She bore him three children and her death occurred on March 25, 1902. Later, January 1, 1903, the Doctor was united in marriage with Mrs. Margaret Torrey, of Oelwein, the union being without issue. Doctor and Mrs. Cole are esteemed members of the Episcopal church of Oelwein and deeply interested in the good work of the same, besides taking an active part in promoting all laudable measures for the public good. Foremost in every enterprise having for its object the moral advancement of the community and filling a large place in the social and intellectual life of their city, the enjoy the confidence and high esteem of all who know them.

~transcribed for the Fayette Co IAGenWeb Project by Ann Borden


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