biography from Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887
JUDGE J. A. L. CROOKHAM, attorney, banker and stock-raiser, is a son of George L. and Sarah (Lake) Crookham, and was born in Jackson County, Ohio. Our sub- ject's father was born in October, 1779, and died in Jackson County, Ohio, Feb. 28, 1857; his wife was a native of Boone's Lick, Ky., born in September, 1779, and died in Jackson County, Jan. 9, 1852. They were the parents of sixteen children, five now living: Horatio died at the age of twenty-two, and was at the time of his death Superintendent of Con- struction on the Ohio and Erie Canal; Martha, widow of J. W. Hanna, resides in Missouri; Euclid married Samuel Montgomery, both now deceased; Horace, a farmer, died in Marion County, Iowa, Nov. 18, 1881; James died in Virginia on his farm; Vashti died April 9, 1884; she was the widow of Abner Lewis, who died at Memphis, Tenn., during the war; John A. L, the subject of this sketch; Milton, a farmer in Mahaska County; Lawrence, a farmer, now in Pickaway County, Ohio; Norval died at the age of six years; Oliver C., Emily G. and Louisa are all deceased; Jefferson G. is now in part- nership with the Judge in the law business; Sarah L. and Amarillis C. are deceased. The father of the subject of this sketch was in early life a salt manufacturer at the Sciota Salt Works, in partnership with Asa Lake, and they were among the fist to engage in that business in Ohio. The father of George L., and grandfather of the Judge, 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 upon the market, he returned to that country, bought the land, and located on the same spot where he had been held as prisoner, and died there. He was a blacksmith, and made arms for Gen. Washington during the Rev- olutionary War. The maternal grandfather was taken prisoner at the battle of Long Island, when seventeen years of age, and was given to the Ind- ians by the English, and carried out to the Western Reserve, in Western Ohio. He was liked and adopted by the chief, and was sent out hunting, and escaped after about a year's captivity, footing it back. In 1820, forty years later, he took a claim where Ihe Indian wigwam was, and the spring out of which he formerly drank was on this claim. He died on it in 1843. George L. Crookham learned the blacksmith trade of his father, but when seventeen years of age abandoned it, his tastes being in another direction, and turned his attention to mathematics, in which he excelled. He was also a great reader and stu- dent, and invariably spent eight hours per day in his study, which was a small log house, built with 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 temper- ance and slavery. He was an old Federal Whig, and helped many a colored man to gain his free- dom, his home being a station on the underground railroad of that day, and his own son, Jefferson G., at one time driving the team that carried one load of these unfortunate people farther north. He was a well-read lawyer and physician, and although he knew nearly nothing about the workings of his large farm, and never had anything to do with his numer- ous cattle, he knew all about the bugs, insects and reptiles on the place. He was President of the first temperance society ever organized in that country, and one of the most prominent Abolitionists in Jackson County, and wrote a great many articles for newspapers upon these topics. The subject of this sketch was reared on the home farm until he lacked two months of his ma- jority, when he went to Kanawah and took a con- tract for and cut 40,000 hoop poles. He also en- tered 160 acres of land in Jackson County, at $1.25 per acre, and then boated one summer on the Kana- wah River, after which he removed to Darwin, Ill., where he taught school for three years, reading law during the time under the direction of Judge Har- lan. Thence he went in charge of a cargo of prod- uce to New Orleans, and on his return stopped near Helena, Ark., and read law with Judge McKee. He then returned to Illinois, sold his land, and started to Oskaloosa in August, 1845, having made 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, and re- turned to Illinois, to a point above Burlington, where he taught school for twelve months, and con- tinued his study of tbe 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, where he has since re- sided, and engaged in the practice of the law, most of the time alone. He formed one partnership with Hon. James Rhinehart, which continued for several years, and his last partner was Hon. H. W. Gleason, which association continued about seven years. The Judge has, 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 district, extending as far north as Marshalltown and Des Moines, and in a radius of nearly 100 miles in any direction from Oskaloosa. He was a lawyer of great caution, pre- pared 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. In all public enter- prises the Judge has invariably been a leader. In procuring the location of the Central Iowa Rail- road through this county he spent two years rais- ing subscriptions and obtaining right of way, for which he received no compensation, besides which he donated $2,500 in aid of the enterprise. In secur- ing the Des Moines Valley Railroad he paid a $600 subscription besides spending a great deal of time and was also largely instrumental in securing the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Road through this city, giving liberally of his means and time; so also in the securing of Oskaloosa and Penn Colleges, he greatly aided. In fact there is scarcely an enter- prise in the county which he has not promoted both by his means and influence. Judge Crookham has never been 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 has never sought the honors of office at the hands of his friends. He was, however, elected County Judge of this county, and served in that position from 1851 to 1855. It was during his term of office that the voters of the county author- ized the issuing of $200,000 of bonds in aid of the old M. & M. R. R. project, which afterward proved to be a gigantic fraud. The bonds, however, were not issued during his term of office, and his suc- cessor was enjoined from issuing or delivering them. The Judge represented this county 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 soldiers' families, 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 the service from Iowa, and who had received honorable discharges. At the session of 1867 he introduced a bill amending the Constitu- tion 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 a Committee on Banks and Banking, in the Senate, and was a prominent member of the Judiciary Committee. The Judge has been twice married; first to Eliza- beth 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 not practicing on account of ill-health, and Euclid, who is now a preceptress in Oskaloosa College. The Judge's second marriage was solemnized with Miss Crissa A. Carter, a native of Pennsylvania, who was reared in Ohio until years of maturity, and came with her parents to this county in 1851, where her father and mother died at an advanced age. She has two sisters in this county, Catherine, wife of Dr. J. H. Fry, residing at Union Mills, and Eliza, wife of Hon. M. M. Rice, Mayor of the city of Oskaloosa. There are three children by this last marriageńSarah, John A. and Joseph H., twins. The Judge was born an Abolitionist and a Prohi- bitionist. He signed the Washingtonian pledge when a child of eight years, and has faithfully kept it. There is no more energetic citizen in the county, and he is seemingly as active at his already advanced age as he was when a young man. He came to this cohnty a poor man, and by his energy, industry and economy, has accumulated a hand- some fortune.
Portrait & Biographical Album of Mahaska Co., Iowa, 1887
Mahaska County, Iowa Genealogy