Biography of John G. W. Cowles
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

JOHN G. W. COWLES, a man of noble character and large achievement, has written in indelible characters his impress upon Cleveland and his native state of Ohio, his birth having occurred at Oberlin, this state, March 14, 1836, and he being a son of Rev. Henry and Alice (Welch) Cowles. Mr. Cowles was graduated in Oberlin College in 1856. In 1859 he was graduated in the theological school and was ordained a clergyman of the Congregational Church. He was engaged in pastoral service when the Civil war began, and in 1861 he was chosen chaplain of the Fifty fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, with which he saw service in Virginia and West Virginia. He resigned the chaplaincy in the fall of 1862, and thereafter he held pastorates in turn at Mansfield, Ohio, and East Saginaw, Michigan. A physical difficulty finally made it impossible for him to continue his work as a public speaker, and he then beGame associate editor of the Cleveland Leader, with which he was connected until 1873. He then concentrated his energies in the real estate business, of which he became one of the leading exponents in Cleveland, and in his varied operations he did much to further the upbuilding and also the civic advancement of the city. He has had entire charge of the Cleveland real estate interests of John D. Rockefeller, as well as those of Charles F. Brush. He was one of the organizers of the Cleveland Trust Company, in 1894, and became its first president, an office which he retained until its consolidation with the Western Reserve Trust Company, when he became chairman of the board. Mr. Cowles gave also an effective administration while serving as president of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, a position to which he was elected in 1896. He has had much of leadership in movements and enterprises advanced for the civic and material well being of the community. He was president of the Board of Park Commissioners in 1900, and he has delivered many addresses on public occasions of note. He has been since 1874 a trustee of Oberlin College, which, in 1898, conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws. He is a member of the Ohio Cornmandery of the Loyal Legion and of the Army and Navy Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. He is a republican, and he has given many years of service as a deacon of Plymouth Congregational Church. His has been an earnest and loyal support of charitable and benevolent objects and interests, and his has ever been a secure place in popular confidence and esteem.

In 1859 Mr. Cowles wedded Miss Lois M. Church, and her death occurred in 1903, she having been survived by two daughters. Mr. Cowles later married Miss Beatrice Walker, and a daughter was born of this union.

A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924

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