If you haven’t read George Myers’ front page story from Sunday’s paper, do yourself a favor and stop whatever you’re doing to make time. It’s worth it.
The wild tale culminates in the events of Sept. 19, 1881 when Kokomo’s sixth mayor, Henry C. Cole, was shot dead at age 43 by a Howard County Sheriff’s posse. It’s an almost unbelievable tale, and any further summary wouldn’t do it justice.
The story has come to light once again due to a plaque placed at the corner of North Main and West Jefferson streets in the lot of 100.5 WWKI, or the former location of Cole’s two-story residence and horse stables. A historical marker outlining the strange saga was unveiled March 3 by Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight, Howard County Historical Society Executive Director Dave Broman and Kokomo Historic Review Board member Tom Tolen, an expert in all things Cole. Goodnight, Tolen and other local officials were led to Cole’s story when they were creating a display at City Hall of all of the city’s mayors.
We’re glad to see this historical episode was not lost to the fog of history. It could have just as easily been papered over. It’s not exactly the most flattering story to tell about previous public officials, even one that’s been dead for over 135 years. The unveiling of the city’s newest marker has revived the story once again, and it’s a credit to the current administration that they did.
Facing what has happened in the past is an important part of navigating the future. Simply forgetting it because it doesn’t fit into a neatly-packaged narrative does no one any good. There will be other messy historical incidents that will need to be remembered as time progresses. May they be treated with the same respect as this episode.