William Rufus Cowley, lawyer, a citizen of Columbus, Kan., was born at Halbeach, Lincolnshire, England, April 23, 1843. His parents were Joseph J. and Hannah (Hunt) Cowley, unto whom were born, Maria, Abraham, William R., and Hannah, in England and Charlotte, in the United States. The father came to the United States, in 1850, and was followed the next year by his wife and children. They settled at Hudson, Ohio, where the parents spent the rest of their days, the father dying at the age of eighty-two years and the mother at the age of eighty. The father was a blacksmith by trade and also was a merchant. In his latter days he was a local preacher of the Methodist Episcopal church. William Rufus Cowley was eight years of age when he was brought to this country. He grew to manhood in Ohio, in the public schools of which state he obtained the foundation of his education. In Sept., 1860, then seventeen years of age, he went to Iowa. There he taught school in the winter of 1861-2, and then returned to Ohio and entered the high school at Akron, where he was a student when President Lincoln issued his call for volunteers, in the 100-days service. Mr. Cowley answered this call, enlisting as a private in Company C, Eighty-fourth Ohio infantry, in the spring (April) of 1862. He served 20 days and was discharged at Camp Delaware, Ohio. He then returned to Iowa and taught school in the winter of 1862-3, and in April, 1863, entered Christian College at Oskaloosa, Iowa, for the spring and fall terms. In the winter of 1863-4, he again taught school, then reëntered Christian College, where he remained only eighteen days, when he again enlisted in the war, in Company C, Fifteenth Iowa infantry, under Col. W. W. Bellknap, as a private. His command was attached to the Seventeenth army corps and marched from Clifton, Tenn., to Pulaski, Tenn., and thence southward, crossing the Tennessee river at Huntsville, Ala., and joining the main army of General Sherman at Rome, Ga. Mr. Cowley participated in the siege of Atlanta, and his command followed Hood to Snake Creek Gap and became stationed at Marietta, Ga., where, under the Iowa rule, he cast his first presidential vote, voting for Lincoln. His command was with Sherman on his memorable march to the sea. At Savannah, Ga., Mr. Cowley was detailed to act as sergeant-major of the Fifteenth Iowa infantry. The march was continued to Beaufort, S. C., and thence to Columbia. As the approach was made to Columbia, Feb. 17, 1865, the city was seen to be on fire, evidently having been set on fire by Confederates. The march through South and North Carolina was continued. The battle of Smithfield was the last one in which Mr. Cowley took part. The march continued uninterrupted to Richmond. Va., and to Washington, and Mr. Cowley's command took part in the Grand Review at the national capital. It was sent from Washington to Parkersburg, W. Va., and thence by boat to Louisville, Ky., where Mr. Cowley and his comrades were discharged, but they were not finally mustered out of the service until they reached Davenport, Iowa. On Aug. 6, 1865, Mr. Cowley was mustered out as a sergeant. Sept. 5, 1865, found him again in Christian College at Oskaloosa, his purpose being to become a preacher in the Christian church. He attended college and preached until the end of the school year of 1868, and continued to preach until 1870, but meanwhile he had studied law at Montezuma, Iowa, where he was admitted to the bar, in the last named year. He was elected surveyor of Poweshiek county, Iowa, and served as such one term. In January, 1873, he located at Columbus, Kan., and took up the practice of law. In 1878 and in 1880 he was elected county attorney for Cherokee county and served creditably in this office four years. On Aug. 1, 1875, R. A. Long & Company, lumber dealers at Columbus, employed him as their attorney and counsellor. This company was succeeded by the Long-Bell Lumber Company, which was incorporated under the laws of Missouri, April 10, 1884, and Mr. Cowley was continued as attorney and counsellor for the new organization. He had charge of all the legal affairs of the company for thirty-one years and nine months, until April 23, 1907, when, on the anniversary of his sixty-fourth birthday, the Long-Bell Lumber Company retired him upon a stipulated salary for life, doing so at a banquet in the Baltimore Hotel at Kansas City, when, in the presence of 110 guests R. A. Long, on behalf of the company, spoke in terms of highest praise of Mr. Cowley, concluding with presenting him a check for $2,500. Since his retirement from the practice of law Mr. Cowley has given much of his time to preaching for the Christian churches. He has been a member of the Christian church since January, 1859. In politics he has been a Republican. On Nov. 10, 1867, he married Florence J. Smith, who was a classmate with him in college at Oskaloosa, and their children are: William F., Minnie (wife of Senator Charles S. Huffman), Lawrence L. (a graduate in art and law of the University of Kansas and now prosecuting attorney of Noble county, Oklahoma), and Clare J. (also a graduate in art of the University of Kansas and now a salesman for the Long-Bell Lumber Company, with headquarters at Fort Worth, Texas). Mr. Cowley has a beautiful home in Columbus, and it has been the scene of many social functions and happy hours for his family and large circle of friends. In his home he has a private library of many rare and valuable volumes. No man stands higher in the estimation of his fellow citizens than does Mr. Cowley. What he has accomplished in life, and that has been gratifying success, he has done so by means of appliant effort and the improvement of opportunity. He commenced at the bottom rung of the ladder of life and has forged his way upward to an enviable reputation as a lawyer, citizen, and Christian.Pages 656-658 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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