A Narrative History of The People of Iowa


HENRY P. COLT, who is treasurer and credit man of the Haw Hardware Company, one of the leading wholesale concerns at Ottumwa, metropolis and judicial center of Wapello County, is one of the veteran business men and honored and influential citizens of this city, where he has maintained his residence more than half a century and where his works and his influence have counted definitely in connection with the civic and material development and progress of the community.

On a farm in Monroe County, in the beautiful Genesee Valley of the State of New York, the birth of Henry P. Colt occurred July 1, 1851, and he is a son of Juda and Emeline S. (Brown) Colt, members of families early established in the old Empire State.  Mr. Colt was reared and educated in his native commonwealth, and at Cameron, Missouri, he learned the trade of telegraphist, he having thereafter continued several years as a skilled telegraph operator in the service of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad and various other lines.  In the spring of 1875 Mr. Colt came to Ottumwa, Iowa in the capacity of telegraph operator for the North Missouri, now part of the Wabash Railroad.  In 1889 he became associated with the First National Bank of Ottumwa, with which he continued his connection twelve years.  He then became associated with the organizing and incorporation of the Citizens State Bank, of which he served of a time as cashier.  In 1893 he was tendered and accepted the position of bookkeeper for the wholesale hardware business of the Haw Hardware Company, with which he has continued his alliance during the long intervening years and of which he is now the treasurer and credit man.  His association with the Haw family in this connection and in the banking business has covered a period of fully fifty years, and this record stands in evidence alike of his ability, his loyalty and his progressiveness as a business man.

Mr. Colt gives his political allegiance to the Republican party, and he and his wife have long been earnest members of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Ottumwa.  In the various bodies of York Rite Masonry Mr. Colt has passed official chairs, including that of eminent commander of Malta Commandery of Knights Templar at Ottumwa, and his affiliations are extended also to the Temple of the Mystic Shrine in the City of Davenport, Iowa.  He has been a member of the time-honored fraternity more than fifty-four years, and in recognition of his loyal service in the Masonic fraternity he was presented, in 1920, with a fine watch, chain and Masonic emblem by fellow members of the fraternity in Ottumwa.  Mr. Colt has been likewise an appreciative member of the Izaak Walton League, and each successive year finds him indulging in a fishing trip of some kind, his piscatorial skill being still in evidence.

On the 28th of December, 1882, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Colt to Miss Carrie J. Nicholson, who was born at Rome, New York, and who was a teacher in the public schools of Ottumwa, Iowa, at the time of her marriage, she being a daughter of John B. and Mary E. (Loomis) Nicholson, both likewise natives of the State of New York.  John B. Nicholson, who gave the greater part of his active life to farm enterprise, was of English ancestry and his wife was of Scotch-Irish lineage.  Mrs. Colt has been a gracious figure in the social, church and cultural life of Ottumwa, has membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution and has been active in the affairs of various clubs in her home city.  Mary S., elder of the two children of Mr. and Mrs. Colt, is the wife of Earnway Edwards, who is an executive in the great Chicago Mail-order house of Montgomery Ward & Company, their home being in the suburban city of Evanston and their two children being Eleanore Virginia and Marjorie Ruth.  Arthur Nicholson Colt, younger of the two children, is a talented portrait artist and was the founder of the Colt School of Art in Madison, capital city of Wisconsin, of which he continues the executive head.  His work as a portrait artist has gained to him wide reputation, and his is the further honor of having served as a soldier in the United States Army in the World war period.  The maiden name of his wife was Mary I. Niles, and their home at Madison, Wisconsin, is brightened by the presence of their two children, John Nicholson and Richard Niles.
WARD W. COOK.  Among the prominent citizens and solid business men of Clinton, one whose varied interests have made his name widely known is Ward W. Cook, president of the Peoples Trust & Savings Bank.  He completed his school period at Clinton, but, losing his father in childhood, early became dependent upon his own abilities and efforts and for a number of years was connected with business houses at different points.  In 1894 he entered his present institution, as bank messenger, and has continued to be identified with this banking house ever since, having been its chief executive since 1923. It is not unusual in America to trace the steps of many a man's successful career back to a courageous, industrious youth, as in the case of Mr. Cook, but it is rather out of the ordinary to find in these men of large affairs a compelling interest in simple things as in the growing of flowers and a delight in their perfection.

Mr. Cook was born at Dunleith (now East Dubuque), Illinois, September 1, 1866, and is a son of Samuel and Josephine (Williams) Cook, natives of New York State,  Early in life Samuel Cook was taken by his father, also named Samuel, to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was introduced to the wholesale business by the elder man.  Later he went to Cleveland, Ohio, and then came to Lyons, Iowa, where from 1856 until 1866 he was employed as a steamboat clerk, in the latter year going to Dunleith, Illinois, where he entered the lumber and fuel business with Ashley & Cook.  He remained in that community until 1871, when he closed out his interests in Illinois and came to Clinton, Iowa, with the intention of going into the sawmill business, but almost immediately after his arrival was stricken with a fatal illness and passed away six days later, December 6, 1871.  Mr. Cook had reached the age of only thirty-five years, but already was making his way to a substantial position in business life, and had he been spared doubtless would have become a wealthy man, as he possessed great ability and industry, and had established a reputation for high character and probity.  His widow survived him until December, 1918, and died at the age of seventy-eight years.  They became the parents of two sons:  Ward W., of this review; and Ben C., who lives on a beautiful farm in Virginia, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Ward W. Cook attended the public schools at Clinton, where he was graduated from high school, and in 1885, at the age of nineteen years, went to Chicago in the pioneer book store of H. D. Chapman & Company, where he received a salary of nine dollars a week.  He left this position to accept employment with the Drovers National Bank, at the Union Stock Yards, Chicago, and after a year became an employee of the tallow, hide and glue firm of Ira C. Darling & Company, also located at the Stock Yards.  His next connection was with the Eureka Company, of Sterling, Whiteside County, Illinois, and left this establishment to come to Clinton, where he entered the office of the W. J. Young Lumber Company.  In September, 1894, Mr. Cook became identified with the Peoples Trust & Savings Bank, in the capacity of bank messenger, later was advanced to the post of clerk, and continued to gain promotion until he became, in 1923, president of this institution, which has a capital of $300,000, and a surplus of a like amount, and is known as one of the strongest banks in Iowa. Mr. Cook is widely known in banking circles and is a member of the Iowa State Bankers Association and the American Bankers Association.  He is a thirty-third degree Scottish Rite Mason, and a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Clinton Boat Club, the Clinton Country Club and the Wapsipinicon Club.  A man of great public spirit and civic pride, he is a member and constructive worker of the local Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, secretary of the Clinton Airport Company and for the past seven years chairman of the Board of Park Commissioners, and during the World war took a very active part in the drives of the Liberty Loan and War Savings Stamps.  His hobby is the growing of rare iris and peonies, and his garden, covering about three acres, is probably the largest individual garden of its kind in the world and one of the showplaces of the city and state.  His flowers have won medals and trophies at various large exhibitions in this country and Canada, and Mr. Cook is treasurer of the American Peonies Society of the United States and Canada.

On December 30, 1888, Mr. Cook was united in marriage with Miss Mary Sampson, daughter of Albert and Lucetta (Cooke) Sampson.  Mr. Sampson, a pioneer merchant of Sterling, Illinois, where he arrived in 1838, was a direct descendant of Henry Sampson, who came to America in the Mayflower.  Mr. and Mrs. Cook have had three children:  Samuel S. sales and publicity manager of the Curtis Companies, of Clinton, Iowa; Lucetta, a graduate of Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts, who resides with her parents; and Ward W., who died at the age of three years.


~ source: A Narrative History of The People of Iowa with SPECIAL TREATMENT OF THEIR CHIEF ENTERPRISES IN EDUCATION, RELIGION, VALOR, INDUSTRY, BUSINESS, ETC., by EDGAR RUBEY HARLAN, LL. B., A. M. Curator of the Historical, Memorial and Art Department of Iowa Volume IV THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc. Chicago and New York. 1931
~ transcribe by Debbie Clough Gerischer for the Great War