Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Thompson O. Cole

THOMPSON O. COLE, a retired merchant of Great Bend, was one of the first men to make permanent settlement in Barton County. While merchandising has been his chief interest and activity during his residence here for over forty-five years, he has also played the role of a successful farmer.

Though he has lived in America since early boyhood, and is a veteran Union soldier, Mr. Cole was born at Wakefield, England, September 26, 1846. His father, Joseph Cole, whose ancestry is English as far back as it can be traced, was born near Bradford, England, and was a merchant by occupation. He married Mary Bancroft, of Wakefield, the Bancrofts being one of the most ancient families in Great Britain. Having disposed of his interests as a merchant at Sheffield, England, Joseph Cole brought his family to America in 1852, first settling in Marysville, Ohio. He owned a store there, but many years later followed his son to Kansas, and he and his wife both died in this state and their remains rest side by side in the cemetery at Great Bend. Joseph Cole died at the age of sixty-eight. He early took steps to become an American citizen, and in politics was a democrat. He and his wife had four children: Clara, who married D. Bain and died in Barton County; Thompson O.; Udolph B., who died in Ohio; and Kate, who became the wife of E. R. Robinson and passed away at Kingfisher, Oklahoma.

Thompson O. Cole was six years old when brought to the United States, and he received his education in the public schools of Ohio, working during vacations on the farm. In 1864, at the age of eighteen, he was recruited for service in Company K of the Ninety-Sixth Ohio Infantry, under Captain Lewis and Colonel Brown. He joined his regiment on the Mississippi River below Memphis, and saw active service in Alabama, participating in the battles of Fort Gaines, Fort Morgan and Fort Spanish on Mobile Bay. He was in Southern Alabama when the war closed, and during his service as a private was neither wounded nor captured. He was mustered out at Columbus, Ohio, in 1865. After the war he worked on the home farm, and also had some experience in merchandising, which gave him the modest capital he brought to Kansas.

Mr. Cole reached Barton County in the fall of 1872. He was then twenty-six years of age, unmarried, had a limited amount of money, but was full of vigor and hope and enterprise. He entered a homestead three miles west of Great Bend, and while complying with the law in proving up his claim he also opened a stock of groceries on Main Street in the block where the E. R. Moses Mercantile Company now is. His goods, valued at several hundred dollars, were housed in a small frame building which has long since disappeared. He had broken about eighty acres on his claim when he deeded it, and his improvements consisted of a frame house 16 by 18 feet, and a "Kansas" barn. His experience as a farmer there added nothing to his permanent prosperity, and later he traded that tract for the place he now owns northeast of Great Bend. On that farm he spent several years of much practical activity as a farmer and stockman. Mr. Cole now owns in sections 7 and 12 of Great Bend Township 640 acres of land, and the improvements comprise a good residence, barn and other outbuildings. While he had this place under his personal management he was not only a grain raiser but grew stock and also bought and shipped livestock, becoming well known in the Kansas City yards.

The esteem in which Mr. Cole is held is based upon his efficient business record and his quiet and unostentatious citizenship. He served one term on the common council of Great Bend and has always been deeply interested in the cause of public education. He is a democrat, having cast his first vote for president for Samuel J. Tilden in 1876, and having been allied with the party ever since.

In 1874, two years after coming to Barton County, he married Miss Jane Hull, who was born in Illinois in 1854, daughter of an Illinois farmer. Mrs. Cole died after about thirty years of marriage companionship. She was the mother of two sons, Herbert Lee and Claude M. The former is a farmer near Great Bend, and by his marriage with Inez Kellam has two children, named Herbert and Miles. Claude, a graduate of the School of Dentistry at Kansas City, is practicing his profession in Iola, Kansas. He married Susie Moses, adopted daughter of Mrs. George N. Moses of Great Bend. For his second wife Mr. Cole married Mrs. Agnes Thurston, who was born in Delaware, Ohio, her maiden name being Hess. They have a daughter, Agnes, now the wife of Elerick Cummins, of Great Bend.

Pages 2383-2384.