cole sign

“Henry C. Cole is dead. He was shot while in the act of robbing the Spring Mills at 10:30 o’clock this evening, and his body now lies out on the commons about one hundred yards from the mill.” That was the beginning of a story in the Sept. 24, 1881, edition of the Kokomo Saturday Tribune that chronicled a tale of intrigue. Cole was reputed to have been a gifted surgeon who served in the Union Army during the Civil War and afterwards settled in Kokomo, where he found plenty of trouble. In October 1866, he was accused of shooting and killing a man outside the Kokomo Post Office who he claimed “seduced” his wife. Cole was acquitted on grounds of emotional insanity. Despite that, in the early 1870s, Cole, still a doctor of local prominence, was named the city’s chief fire engineer and later in the decade was elected to the city council. Then in 1873, Cole was put on trial for performing an abortion. He was fined $500 and spent 30 days in jail. Later, the mayor was jealous again and shot and killed a man named Allen in broad daylight. Cole's was viewed as a coward by many people for the way he killed Allen, but his generosity toward poor patients and a promise to "clean up" the town won him enough support to win a bitter election for mayor in 1881. On the night of Sept. 19, 1881, he was accused of stealing flour from a local mill and was shot dead by a sheriff's posse at Old Spring Mills at West Jefferson Street. Cole’s picture hangs alongside those of Kokomo’s other mayors in City Hall. 

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