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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Ancestry: https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/60537070/person/120126521582/facts

Cooley marker in Linwood Cemetery
The Good Shepherd, considered to be Tiffany's finest glass window, was installed in ST. LUKE'S UNITED METHODIST CHURCH as a memorial to Judge D.N. Cooley and his wife, Clara.

COOLEY, Dennis N. (Lisbon, Grafton Co, NH, Nov. 7, 1825--New York, Nov. 13, 1892). At the age of fifteen, Cooley left home and after studying in the Newbury Seminary of Vermont prepared for college. In 1850 he entered the office of Hon. H. F. Stoughton, and after studying law three years, was admitted to the Bar in 1854. Coming to Dubuque in 1854, Cooley began his career. Over the years, he was a member of several law firms including Samuels and Cooley; Cooley, Blatchley and Adams; and Cooley and Eighmey. (1)

Cooley served as Secretary of the National Republican Congressional Committee during Lincoln's presidential campaign. In 1864 President Lincoln appointed him the Commissioner of South Carolina where he sold land within Union lines during the CIVIL WAR. (2) He also acted as a special commissioner to settle titles and the right of possession as well and the collection of taxes in the city of Charleston. (3)

1394 Locust built in 1876

Appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs by President Johnson in 1865, Cooley established many reservations in the West. He resigned in September 1866, and returned to his law practice in Washington, D.C. establishing his fortune. (4)

He returned to Dubuque and purchased the interest of Julius K. GRAVES in the FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF DUBUQUE. (5) He was elected its president, a position he held for twenty-one years resigning in July 1878. (6) In 1873 he was appointed Commissioner of the Vienna Exposition. (7) Cooley ran successfully for the Iowa Senate and served from January 1, 1874 through January 9, 1876. (8)

Headstone in Linwood Cemetery

In addition to his bank position, Cooley served many years as President of the Board of Trustees for Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. In 1872 he endowed the D. N. Cooley chair of civil engineering. (9) He was also President of the Northwestern Agricultural and Mechanical Association.

Never a developer of property himself, he worked closely with William REBMAN usually purchasing one of Rebman's new buildings within a year of its completion. Many of these properties were held by the Cooley family into the early 20th century. (10) At the time of his death, his estate was estimated at $300,000 including realty in Dubuque and an interest in a bank in Dell Rapids, Dakota Territory in which he was president. He also held interest in quarries and farms. (11)

In September 1850, he married Clara Aldrich; they had four children.

See: Clara Aldrich COOLEY



1. "Dennis N. Cooley." Linwood Legacies. Online: http://www.linwoodlegacies.org/the-cooley-family.html

2. Portrait and Biographical Record of Dubuque, Jones and Clayton Counties, Iowa. Chicago: Chapman Publishing Company, 1894, p. 223

3. "At the Point of Death," Dubuque Daily Herald, November 13, 1892, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=_OG5zn83XeQC&dat=18921113&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid.

6. "Caught on the Fly," Dubuque Herald, July 12, 1878, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18780712&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

7. Portrait and Biographical Record...

8. The Iowa Legislature. "Dennis N. Cooley." Online: https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/legislator/legislatorAllYears?personID=4726

9. "Endowed by a Dubuquer," Dubuque Herald, July 11, 1872, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18720711&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

10. Upper Main Street Historical District Nomination. Online: http://weblink.cityofdubuque.org/WebLink8/1/doc/38915/Page61.aspx, p. 31

11. "At the Point of Death"

Goodspeed, Weston Arthur, History of Dubuque County, Iowa. Chicago: Goodspeed Historical Association, 1911, p. 762