Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Grafton Fleener Cookerly (1815-1885)

  This obscure fellow is Grafton Fleener Cookerly, whose political fame was found in Indiana during the mid 19th century. The Hoosier State has fielded a great number of oddly named politicians that have been featured here on the site, and Mr. Cookerly's is certainly one of the funnier ones! Little could be found information-wise in regards to this oddly named politician, but enough sources are available online to compile a small article on his life.
   Born in Frederick County, Maryland on February 4, 1815, Grafton Fleener Cookerly was one of eight children born to William and Dorcas Hughes Cookerly, both natives of Frederick County. Grafton migrated to Indiana as an adolescent and attended Indiana University during the 1830s. After receiving his law degree from the Indiana University Law School in 1843, Cookerly set up a small law practice in the city of Terre Haute. In that same year he married Ms. Mary Hitchock (1822-1872) and this union would eventually produce nine children, who are listed as follows in order of birth: Sarah Sally (born 1844), George McLean (1846-1847), William M. (born 1847), Cornelia Ann (1848-1940), Mary Jen (1850-1946), Thomas Bourne (1853-1929), Elizabeth (1856-1914), Grafton Frank (1858-1871) and Matilda (1863-1941).
  A short while after establishing his name as an attorney Cookerly began to actively seek public office, and in 1845 won election to the Indiana State House of Representatives from Vigo County, serving in the legislative sessions of 1845-1846 and 1847-1848. In the year following his second term in the legislature Cookerly launched a campaign for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was defeated in November of that year by Whig candidate Edward McGaughey, but eventually gained a spot as a delegate to the 1850 Indiana State Constitutional Convention. Cookerly continued his political ascent in 1856 when he served as part of the Indiana delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio that nominated James Buchanan for President. 
   In addition to his political activities, Cookerly was also involved in publishing, serving as the editor and part owner of the Terre Haute Journal and the Terre Haute Daily Journal for a number of years. 
   Cookerly would continue with his career as an attorney and in 1867 was elected as the Mayor of Terre Haute. He served two terms in office, the last of which concluded in 1871. Sources mentioning Cookerly also note that he was a member of the Ancient Order of United Woodmen. Grafton Cookerly died at age 70 on July 5, 1885 and was buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery his native city of Terre Haute.

Cookerly's death notice from the July 7, 1885 Sullivan Democrat.

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