JOSEPH H. COOLING, who in twelve years has reached as much prosperity from the lands of Lane County as some of the oldest settlers have gained in thirty years, is a native of this state and belongs to a family that went through the early struggles of the territorial epoch in Kansas. His father is now in venerable years and is still living in the old homestead in Jefferson County where he settled more than fifty years ago.
The father of the Lane County citizen is Mr. John Cooling, who was born in Lincolnshire, England, one of the family of Edward and - (Elliott) Cooling. John Cooling's brothers were Joseph and Henry, and he had a sister Mary. He was the only member of the family to come to the United States. John Cooling had little educational advantages as a boy, his parents being in poor circumstances. He came to America alone in 1853, spending one year in Ohio as a laborer. He then went back to England, but in 1855 was again on American soil and he proceeded directly to the western frontier and to "bleeding Kansas." His location was in Jefferson County and he took up land near where the city of Valley Falls now stands. That has been his home ever since, except during the Civil war, and his ambition for material accumulation was satisfied with the eighty-acre homestead which he first settled. From the improvement and cultivation of that land he was called at the outbreak of the Civil war in 1861 into the Union service and became a soldier in Company I of the Eleventh Kansas Infantry. He was in the army more or less continuously until the end of the struggle. Six months of that time he spent on the plains as member of a party repairing telegraph wires and fighting the Indians. He was in the fight at Hickory, Point, Kansas; was in the skirmish at Kansas City against Price's army, and in the earlier campaigns fought General Cabell's Confederate forces at Prairie Grove, Arkansas, and at the battle of Pea Ridge. All his service was in the western department, and he went through without wounds or capture. He was mustered out at Fort Leavenworth. Just prior to the war he had married, and while he was in the army his wife lived in Leavenworth, where he joined her. Their first child was born in Leavenworth. They then returned to the little farm in Jefferson County, and that has been their home ever since.
John Cooling has always taken an active interest in republican politics. In England he belonged to the Church of England, and he gives his influence and support to church causes. He married Vilena Stukesberry, and they became the parents of nine children, three of whom died young. Mrs. John Cooling was born at Nashville, Tennessee, and came from that state to Kansas, locating with her parents in Salt Creek Valley in Leavenworth County. The children of Mr. and Mrs. John Cooling are: Mary, who married L. K. Clark and lives at Williams, California; Lizzie, who died at Valley Falls, Kansas; Nannie, who has been twice married and lives at Solomon, Kansas; John, of Valley Falls; Sarah, who died in Jefferson County, the wife of William Miller; and Joseph H.
Joseph H. Cooling was born in Jefferson County, Kansas, June 21, 1876, grew up on the old farm and spent the first twenty-seven years of his life there. He was educated in the common schools. About the time he was twenty-one years of age his father gave him a horse. From his own earnings he purchased another, and with the team started out as a farmer. While living in Jefferson County he operated as a renter, and accumulated a small amount of property. His wife had relatives in Lane County, and while visiting them Mr. Cooling decided to make this his permanent home. He shipped from Eastern Kansas a carload of goods comprising three horses, some calves, household goods and some chickens.
He began his career in Lane County, March 5, 1904. Establishing himself an section 12, township 17, range 30, he bought the north half of that section. This land was completely raw and virgin, and had no improvements. The first work he did was to build a fence and a sod house for the reception of his family. This old sod house was by no means without comforts and conveniences. It contained two rooms and the dimensions were 36x18. The roof was shingled, the inside was all plastered, and it was floored with lumber. That sod house served as the home of himself and family until the spring of 1915. They then moved to the modern and convenient eight-room two-story house, which has many of the facilities of a city home, including running water and bath. In the fall of 1908 Mr. Cooling put up a large barn, and as a result of his work and experience in Lane County he can look into the future with an untroubled eye. Of his land he has 160 acres under cultivation.
In getting this homestead Mr. Cooling bargained for his land at five dollars an acre. It became possible for him to pay out on it in three years. This unusual result was achieved with wheat and cattle. During the twelve years of his residence in Lane County he has harvested four mammoth wheat crops. Two years gave him almost total failures. During those lean seasons his cattle and horses more than paid the family expenses. His horses are of the Belgium breed, and he keeps Red Poll cattle. Mr. Cooling has leased large quantities of land at small rental, and that has enabled him to expand his farming operations almost at will.
He is now one of the board of the consolidated school district at Healy. He and his family are members of the Methodist Church, and he has served both as trustee and steward. Fraternally he is a past consul of Healy Camp of the Modern Woodmen of America.
In Jefferson County, Kansas, March 6, 1901, three years before he came to Lane County, Mr. Cooling married Miss Belle Esham. Mrs. Cooling is of German descent and a daughter of Robert J. and Annie Esham. Her mother was a daughter of George Shirley and came to Kansas from Pennsylvania, when Annie was a small child. Robert J. Esham, who came to Kansas from Maryland at the age of twenty-one, made his first purchase of land where the town of Doniphan stands, but is now a resident of Burton, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Esham had the following children: George, of Dodge City, Kansas; Mrs. Cooling, who was born at Nortonville, Kansas, July 21, 1880; Nora, wife of E. G. Griffin of Topeka; Robert of Burton, Kansas; Laird and Lloyd, both of Burton, and Harold and Ernest.
Mr. and Mrs. Cooling have six children: Gertrude Vilena, Annie Marie, Ethel May, John Edward, Louella Margaret and Robert James.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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