Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Henry D. Cooke, Governor of the District of Columbia

Firelands Pioneer, December 1900

Henry David Cooke was the youngest son of Eleutheros Cooke and his wife, the former Martha Carswell, born in Sandusky on November 23, 1825. He was educated at Allegheny College and Transylvania University. Though he studied law in Sandusky and Philadelphia, his deeper interest was in journalism. In the mid to early 1850s he was a partner in Bill, Cooke and Company in Sandusky, the firm which published the Sandusky Register.

Henry David Cooke married Laura Humphreys of Utica, New York, in 1849; they had six sons and one daughter. The 1855 Sandusky City Directory lists his residence as 51 Columbus Avenue, the home his father had built in 1844 at the corner of Washington Row and Columbus Avenue. This building was dismantled in the 1870s, and was rebuilt brick by brick at what is now 1415 Columbus Avenue.

After working briefly for the Ohio State Journal, he became a partner in the banking house of his brother Jay Cooke. During the Civil War the Cooke brothers aided the United States Government by placing loans and raising funds for the Union cause. 

In February of 1871 Henry David Cooke was appointed as Governor of the District of Columbia, an office that no longer exists. He served as the Governor of the District until September 13, 1873. While serving as Governor, Cooke paid special attention to making improvements in the infrastructure of the District. He proposed the following legislation for the raising of funds for improvements to the District of Columbia on November 25, 1871.

In 1878 Cooke went to Colorado where he was engaged in mining operations. His health began to fail while in Colorado, and he returned to Washington. On February 24, 1881, he died after a lengthy illness. He was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Washington D.C. Several articles appeared in the February 25, 1881 issue of the Sandusky Register. A brief quote from one article described him this way:“Subsequent advancement never changed his nature, and even when holding a high rank under Government, and living in princely style, he was the same modest, unassuming and social companion he was when a boy.” 

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