Biography - SAMUEL D. COLE
It is not alone to the lives of the great that we must look for the lessons of life. It will not make a man a great farmer or merchant to emulate the deeds of a great lawyer or general or naval commander. There are more farmers than statesmen, and there always will be, and if it were not so the statesman's occupation would be gone. The life of a successful farmer like Samuel D. Cole of Ottawa, Illinois, is, in detail, important to thousands who will necessarily have to follow in his footsteps more or less closely.
Samuel D. Cole was born on a farm in Tompkins county, New York, March 31, 1821, a son of Joseph and Depsey (Robinson) Cole. His father was a native of France and when young came to the United States, when, after learning and working at the shoemaker's trade, he took up farming in New York, and later in life removed to Indiana, where he died. His mother was a daughter of Andrew Robinson, a well-to-do farmer of Tompkins county, New York, where she was born.
Samuel D. Cole was brought up on a farm, and after he was old enough assisted his father with its work until he attained his majority. He then came west as far as Cleveland, Ohio, where he was employed by a contractor, at teaming, carpentry and any other work there was to be done. He was always looking for a dollar, but he wanted no dollars but honest ones, and was willing to work hard for such. He got ahead a little financially and was married at Cleveland, Ohio, May 15, 1845, to Elizabeth Bell, who was born August 20, 1828, the daughter of Jacob and Sarah Bell, of that city. In that same year he came to Illinois with his young wife, and rented a farm in Vermilion township. In those times this would have been a proposition not without risks to one who, like Mr. Cole, might enter upon it on a cash capital of only twenty-five dollars. It was hazardous, even to that day of small things, but it was a transaction which must be emphasized here as indicating the man's strong, decisive character and unconquerable perseverance. He kept this farm three years and made money on it, and was then able to venture upon the purchase of an eighty-acre farm in the township of Utica, where he began farming and raising stock. He gave much attention to hogs, as he could raise them and get them to market in a short time and turn his small capital over often. As he made money he improved the property and added to it until he had four hundred acres of choice land, provided with buildings of the best class and responsive to the most perfect cultivation. His stock was of all kinds and of the highest grade.
There came a time when it was no longer necessary for Mr. Cole to attend personally to his farming and stock-raising, and he moved to Ottawa, with the intention of living there retired and contented. But he had been too busy a man for too many years to take readily to a life of ease. He secured control of a boat on the canal, which he ran for five years. He then added one hundred and sixty acres to his farm, where he remained ten years, but finally, in 1875, retired from active agricultural life and moved into Ottawa, where he purchased a tract of eighty acres, where his son Charles carried on gardening until 1892, when he sold it to the Terracotta Manufacturing Company and moved to his present home. He owns eight or ten good houses and two store-houses, the rental and care of which demand much of his time; and he also loans money, but devotes much attention to the supervision of his farming interests.
There have been born to Samuel D. and Elizabeth (Bell) Cole six children: Louisa, who died in infancy; Lydia, widow of Alonzo Tate; Julia B., the wife of Bona Cole, a cousin, and living in Chicago; Albert, living on the Cole farm in Utica township; Charles, a gardener; and Sherman, a carpenter, living in Ottawa. Mr. Cole was formerly an old-line Whig, but has been a stanch Republican since the organization of the party. He is a member of Occidental Lodge, No. 40, Free and Accepted Masons, and of Ottawa Chapter, No. 37, Royal Arch Masons. He is widely known as a successful business man and his frugality and industry and their well deserved reward should be a shining lesson to the young men of his acquaintance.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 139-140.