John Cole Family

John Cole was 19 when he arrived in Ames in 1866.  He was a husky lad who had not been able to attend much school, and had spent three years in the army during the Civil War.  Afterwards, John bought land in the area of 13th and Burnett and continued farming.  The jog in 13th Street at Burnett was caused when John planted a row of trees along the road.  When the city wanted to straighten and pave the street, John refused to let them cut down the trees to do it.  Eventually John turned to brick making and owned a plant at 13th & Burnett and one northeast of town on his father’s farm. He later became a well-regarded general contractor, a business he pursued for 35 years.

Two of John’s four sons, Lew and Ben, and then later Ben and his son Herman, continued in the building business.  Ben passed away in 1939.  John Cole's home at 13th & Burnett was occupied by family members from 1866 to 1967, when the last of John’s daughters died. The house was sold to the First Assembly of God and was demolished to make way for a church.

In addition to Ben, there were three other boys.  William continued to farm on land south of town.  Clarence Dig graduated from the Veterinary Department of Iowa State and was in charge of the Agricultural Experiment Station on the bank of the Skunk River, east of town. It was the forerunner of the National Animal Disease Laboratories.  Lew and Dig were members of Ames High's first football team.

The girls were Elizabeth, Jess, Nell, Catherine (Kate) and Avis.  Elizabeth, Jess, and Kate homesteaded in South Dakota and then returned home to Ames.  Avis taught first grade in Old Central (east of Clark between 5th and 6th) and Roosevelt School for about 40 years.  Nell was a school teacher at the Ray School and Catherine was with the Iowa State Extension Service for many years.  The girls were all active in social clubs of the day.  Catherine and Jess were members of a merry social club called the Bachelor Maids which started when they were in high school and continued until all were quite advanced in years.

There are fourth, fifth, and sixth generations of the Cole family still living in Ames.