Cornelius Cole

Cornelius Cole (September 17, 1822 – November 3, 1924) was an American politician who served a single term in the United States House of Representatives as a Republican representing California from 1863 to 1865, and another term in the United States Senate from 1867 to 1873. Cole, who died at the age of 102 years, 47 days, is the longest-lived U.S. Senator.

Cornelius Cole
United States Senator
from California
In office
March 4, 1867 – March 3, 1873
Preceded byJames A. McDougall
Succeeded byAaron A. Sargent
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1863 – March 3, 1865
Preceded byTimothy Guy Phelps
Succeeded bySeat eliminated
Personal details
Born(1822-09-17)September 17, 1822
Lodi, New York
DiedNovember 3, 1924(1924-11-03) (aged 102)
Hollywood, California
Political partyRepublican
Alma materWesleyan University


He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1847 and was admitted to the New York bar. In his lifetime he practiced law in his adopted state of California first in San Francisco, then in Sacramento. After returning to California following his retirement from national politics he practiced in San Francisco again and finally in Los Angeles with his eldest son Willoughby.

On March 8, 1856 Cole organized the California branch of the Republican Party, acting as secretary and writing the manifesto. Of the seven men who joined him were Collis Huntington, Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford, and the Crocker brothers Edwin B. and Charles Crocker. Later that summer of 1856, Cole started the Sacramento Daily California Times (also published weekly) with James McClatchy as an editor. It was short lived lasting only a few months after the 1856 National election.

Additionally, he was nominated on the Republican ticket for Clerk of Sacramento Court, but failed to get elected. In 1858 he was elected as District Attorney of Sacramento County. In 1862 he and his family moved to Santa Cruz located on Monterey Bay. It was from there he went to the US Congress in 1863.

In 1880 he moved to southern California where he owned one of the original Spanish/Mexican landgrants, what is now known as Hollywood, then was dubbed Colegrove after his wife, Olive Colegrove. There are several streets now named after the family; Cole St., Willoughby Ave., Eleanor St. and Seward St.

The eastern California community of Coleville in Mono County is named for Cornelius Cole.

Cole's brother, George W. Cole, was a Union Army officer in the American Civil War who attained the rank of major general by brevet. After the war, George Cole was acquitted of the murder of L. Harris Hiscock, whom he accused of having an affair with Mrs. Cole.


  • Cornelius Cole, "Memoirs" (New York, 1908)
  • Catherine Coffin Phillips, "Cornelius Cole California Pioneer" (San Francisco, 1929)
  • Leonard L. Richards, "The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War" (New York 2007)
  • United States Congress. "Cornelius Cole (id: C000607)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

External linksEdit

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Timothy Guy Phelps
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's at-large congressional district

Seat eliminated
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
James A. McDougall
U.S. senator (Class 3) from California
Served alongside: John Conness, Eugene Casserly
Succeeded by
Aaron A. Sargent
Honorary titles
Preceded by
John Conness
Oldest living U.S. Senator
January 10, 1909 – November 3, 1924
Succeeded by
Chauncey Depew
Preceded by
George Edmunds
Most Senior Living U.S. Senator
(Sitting or Former)

February 27, 1919 – November 3, 1924
Succeeded by
Adelbert Ames
Preceded by
Daniel T. Jewett
Oldest United States Senator ever
October 11, 1921 – present
Succeeded by