JUDGE J. A. L. CROOKHAM, b. 30Oct1817, d. 2May1901


from Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa by Manoah Hedge The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. 1906

Judge J. A. L. Crookham, pioneer, lawyer, banker, statesman and philanthropist, was a son of George L. and Sarah (Lake) Crookham and was born in Jackson county, Ohio. His paternal grandfather was, at the time of the revolutionary war, taken prisoner and held for about eight months on the Western Reserve in Ohio and forty years later, when the Indian lands were put on the market, he returned to that country, bought the land and located on the same spot where he had been held as a prisoner, spending his remaining days there. He was a blacksmith by trade and made arms for General Washington during the Revolutionary war. George L. Crookham was born in October, 1779, and died in Jackson county, Ohio, February 28, 1857. In early life he was a salt manufacturer at the Scioto Salt Works in partnership with Asa Lake and they were among the first to engage in that business in Ohio. In early life he learned the blacksmith's trade of his father, but when seventeen years of age abandoned it, his taste being in another direction, and turned his attention to mathematics, in which he excelled. He was also a great reader and student and invariably spent eight hours per day in his study, which was a small log house built of jack-oak logs, which he called his Jack-oak College. Here he taught his children and here was his library of valuable books and a large number of valuable manuscripts which were afterward burned because of his extreme views on the questions of temperance and slavery. He was an old federal whig and assisted many a colored man to gain his freedom, his home being on the underground railroad of that day and his own son, Jefferson G., at one time drove a team that carried a load of these unfortunate people farther north. Mr. Crookham was a well read lawyer and physician and although he knew almost nothing about the workings of his large farm and never had anything to do with his extensive herds of cattle, he knew all about the bugs, insects and reptiles on the place and his scientific attainments were of a superior order. He was president of the first temperance society ever organized in Jackson county, where he lived, and was one of the most prominent abolitionists there, writing many articles for the newspapers on these topics. He married Sarah Lake, who was a native of Boone's Lick, Kentucky. She was born in September, 1779, and died in Jackson county, Ohio, January 9, 1852. Her father, Daniel Lake, was a compeer of Daniel Boone and also a Revolutionary soldier. He was taken prisoner at the battle of Long Island when seventeen years of age and was given to the Indians by the English and carried out to the Western Reserve in Ohio. He was liked and adopted by the chief and being sent out hunting, he escaped after about a year's captivity, walking all the way back to his old home. In 1820, or forty years later, he took a claim where the Indian wigwam was, and the spring out of which he drank when in captivity was on his land. He died on this claim in 1843. His daughter Sarah became the wife of George L. Crookham and they were the parents of sixteen children: Horatio, who died at the age of twenty-two years, was at that time superintendent of construction on the Ohio & Erie canal; Martha, the widow of J. W. Hanna, died in Missouri in 1905; Euclid married Samuel Montgomery but both are now deceased; Horace, a farmer, died in Marion county, Iowa, November 18, 1881; James died on his farm in Virginia; Vashti, who passed away April 9, 1894, was the widow af Abner Lewis, who died in Memphis, Tennessee, during the war; John A. L. is the next of the family; Milton, a wealthy farmer of Mahaska county, is deceased; Lawrence is a resident farmer of Pickaway county, Ohio; Norval died at the age of six years; Oliver C., Emily G. and Louisa are all now deceased; Jefferson G. was in partnership with the Judge in the profession of law; and Sarah L. and Amarillas C. are deceased. Judge Crookham was reared on the home farm in Jackson county, Ohio, until he lacked two months of his majority, when he went to Kanawha and took a contract for and cut forty thousand hooppales. He also entered one hundred and sixty acres of land in Jackson county, at one dollar and a quarter per acre. He then boated one summer on the Kanawha river, after which he removed to Darwin, Illinois, where he taught school for three years, reading law during the, time under the direction, of Judge Harlan. Thence he went in charge of a cargo of produce to New Orleans and on his return stopped near Helena, Arkansas, and read law with Judge McKee. He then returned to Illinois, sold his land and started to Oskaloosa in August, 1845, making the trip on horseback. He bought two lots in this city but remained here only a short time because of the fever and ague that he contracted. He returned to Illinois to a point above Burlington, where he taught school for twelve months and continued his study of the law under C. M. Harris and Cyrus Walker. Returning again to Iowa he was admitted to the bar in Lee county and practiced his profession there until August, 1847, when he again came to Oskaloosa and engaged in the practice of law, most of the time alone. He formed a partnership with Hon. James Rhinehart, which continued for several years and one partnership with Hon. H. W. Gleason, which association continued about seven years. He at once entered into the immediate life of the people and the community and became widely known on account of his activity and his endless zeal in the pursuit of his work. It was natural that in the early organization of the county the first judgeship should fall to his shoulders, where it rested most worthily for a term of four years, from 1851 until 1855. The Judge perhaps defended more criminal cases than any other lawyer in Iowa. It was his rule to defend and never to prosecute a case and fortunate indeed was the law-breaker who secured his services. His practice in this regard covered a large amount of territory and he was employed in important cases over the entire state. A lawyer of great caution, he prepared his cases with a great deal of care and was untiring in the production of the necessary evidence to sustain his theory of a case. On March 26, 1855, Judge Crookham was appointed commissioner by Governor Grimes to re-locate the state capital of Iowa, and it was he who drove the corner stake that located the site and this in accordance with the requirement that the capital shbuld be within a certain radius of the forks of the Coon and Des Moines rivers. The Judge was a man of inestimable worth to the community and Mahaska county and the city of Oskaloosa owes much to his effort and enterprise. There was never a public enterprise that was not sanctioned and assisted by him. Many are the stories that might be related of the liberality and generosity of the man. He was a keen sighted business man and yet dared to risk much upon his judgment as to the future of the country. He prospered in his business enterprises and died possessed of thousands of acres of land in Mahaska county and different states. He organized and was the president of the Mahaska County State Bank from its beginning until his failing health compelled him to resign. He prospered in his extensive stock raising interests upon his farms and in his flouring mill business, and while he thus advanced, others were also assisted and the city of Oskaloosa above all felt the sustaining force of the support of this man. It was largely due to his efforts that Oskaloosa College came to this city and he gave thousands of dollars toward its support only to see it, in his old age, taken by unprincipled men after being enjoined by the courts, to another city. Penn College was also encouraged by him and knew his assistance. There was no worthy cause in the city that did not feel the force of his material aid. In procuring the location of the Iowa Central Railroad through this county he spent two years raising subscriptions and obtaining the right of way, for which he received no compensation, besides which he donated twenty five hundred dollars in aid of the enterprise. In securing the Des Moines Valley Railroad he paid a six hundred-dollar subscription, besides spending a great deal of time, and was also largely instrumental in securing the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad through this city, giving liberally of his means and time. In fact there is scarcely an enterprise in the county which he did not promote both by his means and influence. Judge Crookham was never an office seeker and though recognized as one of the most astute politicians in this part of the state and always an enthusiast for the success of the republican party, yet he never sought the honor of office at the hands of his friends. He represented the house in the state senate in the sessions of 1864 and 1867 and took an active part in formulating a great amount of valuable legislation during his term. The original bill granting aid to the families of soldiers who were in the army was introduced by him but the bill as passed only allowed one-half the amount asked for in the original draft. He also introduced a bill to extend the elective franchise to all the colored men who enlisted in service from Iowa and who had received honorable discharges. At the session of 1867 he introduced a bill amending the constitution of the state by striking out the word "white," which amendment was adopted by the people and made Iowa the first state in the Union to grant that privilege to the colored race. He served as chairman on the committee on banks and banking in the senate and was the most prominent member of the judiciary committee. The Judge was twice married, first to Elizabeth Delashmutt, a native of Virginia, who was reared in Iowa. She was of French descent on the paternal side and English on the maternal. Of this union there were two children, both living: William, who resides in Oskaloosa and is an attorney but is not practicing on account of ill health; and Euclid, who is now a teacher in the San Francisco high school. The Judge's second marriage was solemnized with Anna Clarissa Carter, a native of Pennsylvania, who was reared in Ohio until years of maturity and came with her parents to this county in 1851. Here her father and mother died at an advanced age. Miss Carter at the time of her marriage was a successful teacher in this county and some of the most prominent citizens of Mahaska county were her pupils. To this union there were born three children: Sara Crookham Davis, the wife of Rufus K. Davis; Joseph H. Crookham, a prominent stock-raiser and farmer, living on a large farm near Leighton; and John A. Crookham, now president and general manager and also principal owner of the Hawkeye Overall Company. This factory is built upon the site of the old South Spring mill, in which Judge Crookham was interested for more than fifty years. In April, 1897, Judge Crookham suffered a stroke of paralysis, from which he never entirely recovered and on the 2d of May, 1901, after four years of patient, uncomplaining suffering, he quietly passed away at the age of eighty-three years, six months and three days. He was the last of a galaxy of great men who were intimate professional associates, including Judge Loughridge, Judge W. H. Seevers, Micajah T. Williams, George Eastburn, John R. Needham, General Samuel A. Rice, M. E. Cutts, A. N. Cassady and others.

Past and Present of Mahaska County, Iowa

Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy

Iowa Genealogy

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