Biography of William A. Cokeley
Bronx County, NY Biographies





WILLIAM AUGUSTIN COKELEY - The name of William Augustin Cokeley is well and widely known not only in The Bronx, but also throughout the realty circles of Westchester County and Greater New York. Mr. Cokeley established a real estate business in The Bronx when that particular section was still known as Westchester Village and included within the corporate limits of Westchester County. That was thirty years ago, and since that time Mr. Cokeley has built up a substantial real estate business in the metropolitan area. He has also become one of the most expert appraisers of realty values both in Manhattan and The Bronx and of late years his reputation as such has become so well known that practically all his time is devoted to that work. He is also noted for his collection of valuable old maps and real estate atlases, than which probably no finer collection exists today in this State. Mr. Cokeley is one of the most progressive business men of The Bronx, and his successful career is due to native ability, energy, and unflagging perseverance coupled with a strict code of professional ethics in which honesty, fair dealing and absolute integrity hold chief places.

William Augustin Cokeley was born on July 21, 1861, in a house at No. 151 East Eighty first Street, between Lexington and Third avenues, a son of John and Elizabeth Agnes (Linden) Cokeley. The mother was born in a house at the corner of Jane and Greenwich streets, New York City, in the year 1830, and died in 1874. The father, John Cokeley (in the Celtic language "Colcolough"), was born in County Wexford, Ireland, in 1820, and died in 1865.

William Augustin Cokeley acquired his early education in the New York City Public Schools Nos. 17, 55, and 58; following which, at a later date, he attended the famous Cooper Union Institute. Mr. Cokeley, however, owing to his father's death, embarked upon his business career at an unusually early age. He was but eleven years old when he took his first position as office boy, and like all boys and youths he tried many and various occupations before he finally found one to his liking. For a time he worked as a street car conductor on the Broadway line, and later on the Second Avenue line under Mr. Thorn, who thought so well of him that when Mr. Cokeley resigned from the employ of the street car company, Mr. Thorn tried to prevail upon him to remain. Mr. Cokeley, however, accepted an appointment as letter carrier, and continued as such for the next seventeen years. He resigned from Federal employ in 1902 in order to devote all his time to the real estate business which he had established in Westchester Village in 1895. He has continued in this business ever since, and at the same place, No. 3150 East Tremont Avenue, where he has built up one of the finest real estate clienteles in The Bronx. At the present time (1926), most of his time is devoted to appraising properties, in which work he is supreme and unapproachable, and he is a generally recognized expert in realty values. It was for this reason that he served for two years as the head of the Real Estate Bureau of the Finance Department of the city of New York. Mr. Cokeley's excellent and comprehensive collection of maps and atlases decorates his real estate offices. In 1902 he was retained by an aggregation of capitalists to obtain a franchise for a railroad through the counties of The Bronx and Westchester. This effort met with most bitter opposition; the galaxy of lawyers for and against this application included no less celebrities than Charles Evans Hughes, George S. Graham, John P. Cohalon, Louis Cuvillier and J. S. G. Johnson, of Philadelphia, for the application and D. Cady Herrick and W. C. Trull against the application. The franchise obtained was the last one given under the law permitting the Board of Aldermen to grant franchises. Mr. Cokeley was appointed the right of way agent, and purchased properties from the Harlem River and The Bronx to Danbury, Connecticut, and from White Plains to Brewster, New York. As right of way agent he not only purchased the right of way but prepared all of the physical data necessary in condemnation cases. Mr. Cokeley remained with this company until he entered the employ of the Finance Department of New York City before referred to. He is regarded as an authority on the history of the East Bronx and assisted as a representative of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, District of Columbia, in locating the spot upon which Throckmorton made camp in 1643.

Politically, Mr. Cokeley is a staunch adherent of and believer in the principles of the Democratic party, and he has served his party faithfully and well. He entered in the primary election on the Dylan Ticket of 1925 for president of the Board of Aldermen. He was a member of the Committee of 170 who nominated for the mayoralty of New York City both John Purroy Mitchel and John F. Dylan, and he was also a member of the Convention which nominated George B. McClellan. Fraternally, Mr. Cokeley is a Past Grand Knight, Past National Delegate, of the Knights of Columbus, as well as a member of the Vencentian Council, No. 392, of the French Church on Twenty Third Street, and a charter member of the Friends of Erin. He is past president of the Taxpayers Alliance of The Bronx, and a member of The Bronx Real Estate Board, the Manhattan Real Estate Board, and the New York State Real Estate Board. His religious affiliation is with St. Benedict's Roman Catholic Church, of which he was formerly a trustee. He was also a member of Saint Cecelia's Chorus of the original Paulist Choir.

William Augustin Cokeley was married in New York City, on February 8, 1881, to Harriet Mary Black, a daughter of Thomas Black, who was born in Oneida County, New York State, and Elizabeth (Irving) Black, who was born in England. William Augustin and Harriet Mary (Black) Cokeley are the parents of ten children, as follows: 1. Thomas Clarence Cokeley, born in 1881, married Margaret Honohan and they have four children: Harriet, Mary, Thomas and Margaret. 2. Edward Matthew Cokeley, born in 1885. 3. Harry Aloysious Cokeley, born in 1887, married May Baker, and they have two children, Dorothy and Harry, Jr. 4. Ida Cecelia Cokeley, born in 1893, married Edward Schildknecht, and they have one child, Miriam. 5. Jerome Joseph Cokeley, born January 28, 1895, married Elizabeth O. Carroll. 6. Elizabeth Mary Cokeley, twin of Jerome Joseph, married Frank Fonda, and they have two children, Elizabeth Mary and Mary Magdellen Fonda. 7. Beatrice Agnes Cokeley, born in 1897, married Joseph W. Droogan, and they have three children, Dorothy, Buell, and Cornelius Droogan. 8. William Augustin Cokelev, Jr., born in 1899, and he is now a widower with one child, Joan. 9. Harriet Mary Cokeley, born in 1900, married Harry Keller, of Palatka, Florida. 10. Mary Magdelen Cokeley, born in the year 1904.

From:
The Bronx and its people
A History 1609-1927
Board of Editors: James L. Wells,
Louis F. Haffen
Josiah A. Briggs.
Historian: Benedict Fitspatrick
Publisher: The Lewis Historical Publishing Co., Inc.
New York 1927


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