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As one of the real builders of Malheur County, being a pioneer of the west in a very early day, the subject of this sketch is justly entitled to consideration in the volume of history now being made and it is with pleasure that eye are enabled to recount some of the items of a long and useful career, wherein he has always been a prominent figure in the progress of the County, the welfare of his fellows and in the prosecution of the business in his hand. At the present time Mr. Cole is the president of the first bank of Vale, being an incorporated state bank, with a capital of fifty thousands dollars and half that amount paid up.
Mr. Cole was born in Ripley County, Indiana on March 29, 1832, being the son of William and Sarah J. (Clark) Cole. The father was a native of Virginia, but was taken to Kentucky in a very early day before even any wagon roads were made in that state. There he was raised and married and his first four children were horn there also. He went thence to Indiana, and in 1858 he migrated to Minnesota in which place he died in T862. The mother was a native of Maryland and died in Iowa in 1842.
Our subject was reared on a farm, received a common school education in the primitive log school house, and on April 1, 1856, was married to Miss Malinda, daughter of John B. and Nancy (McLaughlin) Wise. To this union there were born three children, as follows: Leonard, married to Hattie Bond, and living in Huntington, Oregon; Emory, married to Barbara Kennedy, living on lower Willow creek; Eldora, wife of James Moody of Huntington. In 186o, Mr. Cole removed to Scott County, Minnesota, and in the spring of 1864, he went thence on the arduous trip across the plains with ox teams, the journey being completed in good time without serious trouble with the Indians, and the landing point was Boise, Idaho. Until 1868 we find Mr. Cole in that section of the country and then a move was made to what is now Malheur County, and four years later he came to lower Willow creek where he embarked in raising stock. Mr. Cole acquired title to one thousand acres of land, which was known as the J. L. Cole ranch throughout the entire country, and there lie raised large herds of stock. In addition to the stock, Mr. Cole handled a large apiary, having as many as five hundred swarms of bees at one time. They brought a handsome return as he had large fields of alfalfa. In the spring of 1901 Mr. Cole sold his ranch and stock to his son, Emory, and he removed to Vale where he had a handsome residence. He was instrumental in starting the bank above referred to and as its head and manager, he has made a Fine success in this business equal to his unbounded success in his former enterprises. He has a fine two story stone building in a prominent location in the town and handles a large business, having the bank quarters fitted up in fine shape.
On June 18, 1896, Mr. Cole was called upon to mourn the death of his wife. On May 21, 1898, Mr. Cole contracted a second marriage, the lady of his choice at this time being Miss Emily, daughter of William H. and Sarah J. (McLaughlin) Blackwell of Ripley County Indiana, and a relative of his first wife. In politics Mr. Cole is a stanch Republican, and lie cast his first vote for John C. Fremont and has staid with the party since that time. He and his wife are devoted members of the Methodist church, as was also the former wife and they are warm advocates of the faith and supporters of the same. It is of note that when Mr. Cole came to Boise there were no houses there, the town being one of tents and he has always been in the vanguard of the pioneers laboring wisely and faithfully for the advancement of the country and the up building of good industries, while in his walk he has shown forth those qualities of commendable virtue which have made him a light and example in the community, Where today he is highly esteemed and beloved by all, he and his wife being leading members of society.