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Henry I. Cohen
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Birth: Sep. 10, 1855
Albany
Albany County
New York, USA
Death: Jan. 18, 1934
Saint Petersburg
Pinellas County
Florida, USA

•See Blanche Sleeper Smith.
•See
Mary Jane Meekins Reilly.
•See Anna Steege Young.
•See Charles M. Patek.
•See Anna Schoenmann Patek.
•See Henry Spalding.
•See William H. M. Gemmell.
•See James Leaworthy Camp.
•See Dr. Werner Hemstead.

Arrived in Brainerd in 1881.

      We call attention to the notice of Cohen Bro.'s new store on Laurel street. (Brainerd Tribune, 08 October 1881, p. 5, c. 1)

                   New Club Officers.

      At a meeting of the Chenquatana Club on Saturday evening the following officers were elected for the ensuing year.
President—E. O. Parks.
Vice president—W. Courtney.
Secretary—F. A. Farrar.
Treasurer—H. I. Cohen.
(Brainerd Dispatch, 11 December 1896, p. 4, c. 7)

      The DISPATCH inadvertently failed to mention last week that Henry I. Cohen, the Front street dry goods merchant, had made a present to the board of education of five fine flags, one for each of the school buildings in the city. The old flags on the various buildings had become faded and worn, and Mr. Cohen in his intense patriotism determined that in these stirring war times bright new flags would be more appropriate, and with characteristic generosity made the board a present of a flag for each building. The board at its meeting on Monday night accepted the flags and gave Mr. Cohen a vote of thanks. (Brainerd Dispatch, 05 August 1898, p. 8, c. 1)

                      In Fine Shape.

      The Brainerd Public Library Association, through its committee in charge, is pleased to announce that as a result of the generous patronage accorded its first entertainment and the liberal purchase of season tickets it now has sufficient funds in hand to pay its guarantee and hall rent for the entire course and from now on all monies received will go directly toward the library fund. This statement is made in order that the friends of the enterprise may know the condition the association has attained and to encourage them to further efforts for its successful consummation.
      HENRY I. COHEN, Pres.
      P. S. WARE, Sec. and Man.
(Brainerd Dispatch, 02 December 1898, p. 8, c. 2)

                   The Public Library.

      While the number of people who turned out to the mass meeting at Gardner hall on Monday evening was not as large as had been hoped for there was a good attendance and of the kind of people necessary to the support of a public enterprise such as the Brainerd public library is to be. Henry I. Cohen, president of the association opened the meeting by explaining to the audience the position that the association is in and gave a history of the movement since it was started some time ago. The sum of $500 was realized from the business men's excursion over the B. & N. M. to Bemidji last summer and in addition to the above sum about $100 was in the hands of the treasurer. With this amount 1000 volumes of literature have been selected and purchased which will be placed upon the shelves as soon as the room is placed in shape for their reception. Some valuable additions to the library have been made in the way of gifts from Mr. and Mrs. E. B. McCullough, Dr. McPherson and John Hurley. Ambrose Tighe, of St. Paul, has also made a voluntary contribution of $25 to the fund. The association is also indebted to Mr. Kendrick, of the Northern Pacific for a present of a five years lease of rooms in the depot building, and added to that is the gift of the material for shelving from Geo. H. Cook, of the Brainerd Lumber Co., and the building of the shelves free of charge by White & White. Following Mr. Cohen were remarks by Rev. Gallagher, Prof. Hartley, O. O. Winter and Dr. Groves. A short programme, musical and literary, was listened to with interest by the audience, Mrs. J. C. Atherton, Mrs. Dr. W. Courtney, Misses [Mabelle] [Maude] Davis, Mitchell, Gallagher and Mr. Jay Patek, furnishing the talent. The association adopted by-laws and a constitution for their government and following this a board of directors was elected consisting of Rev. G. W. Gallagher, Harry Treglawny, W. S. McClenahan, E. O. Parks, R. F. Walters, C. M. Patek, O. O. Winter, A. J. Halsted, Henry I. Cohen, Dr. G. S. McPherson, Rev. D. W. Lynch, Prof. Hartley, Mesdames Henry I. Cohen, J. N. Nevers, Fannie E. Smith, C. M. Patek, O. O. Winter, E. B. McCullough, Geo. Forsyth, J. P. Early, E. M. Westfall, G. W. Gallagher, Dr. W. Courtney, Dr. W. Hemstead and Miss Amy Lowey.
      Fifty-five persons enrolled their names as members on Monday evening and twenty have joined since which with those who had previously taken a membership makes the number of members now nearly 100. Those who wish to become members and those who have already joined and wish to pay their fee can do so by calling on H. D. Treglawny, H. I. Cohen or Wm. M. Dresskell. (Brainerd Dispatch, 20 October 1899, p. 1, c. 3)

                Library Board Meeting.

      The regular quarterly meeting of the public library board was held on Tuesday evening. Considerable business of a routine character was transacted. R. F. Walters was elected vice-president vice O. O. Winter, resigned, and Rev. Gallagher was elected to fill a vacancy on the library committee. Mrs. C. M. Patek was elected chairman of the library committee. An animated discussion relative to the raising of funds for library purposes was held, but no method was adopted. It was decided that hereafter children under 14 years could have the privilege of drawing books only on Saturdays.
      On Saturday the library received 63 volumes of government reports of various kinds, and they will be catalogued and placed on the shelves. Henry I. Cohen, the president, while in Washington recently, arranged for the sending of these reports free. (Brainerd Dispatch, 13 April 1900, p. 10, c. 6)

          HAVE APPEALED TO CARNEGIE
                           _____

        for a Donation for a Public Library
                  and Building for this
                             City
                           _____

     Henry I. Cohen Writes the Great Phi-
               lanthropist the Following
                           Letter.
                           _____

      Andrew Carnegie, the millionaire philanthropist, has promised St. Cloud $25,000 to build a public library building, providing the city donates a suitable site and binds itself to raise $2,500 revenue a year to support it. This the city will do and will soon be provided with a splendid public library.
      Brainerd is a place nearly as large and of as much importance as St. Cloud, and has a much greater need of a public library than the latter place for several reasons. There is not as much wealth here to provide suitable reading in the homes of citizens and we have a much larger population of mill men and shop men than the latter city, men generally without homes, who would be spending their time in acquiring useful information, if we had a good public library and reading room, instead of wasting it in public resorts. This large class of men make a public library and reading room a necessity, and if these conditions were properly placed before Mr. Carnegie, there is no doubt he would be as generous to Brainerd as St. Cloud.
      Hence we are pleased to state Mr. Henry I. Cohen, president of the present Public Library Association, and to whose enterprise the present library owes much, has written a letter to Mr. Carnegie, endorsed by practically every citizen in the city asking for Brainerd as generous treatment as he has accorded St. Cloud. Mr. Cohen's letter is as follows:
      BRAINERD, Minn., Feb. 17, 1901.
MR. ANDREW CARNEGIE,
            Pittsburgh, Pa.
DEAR SIR:
      As the executive head of the Brainerd Free Public Library, I wish to call your attention to our needs. Knowing your world wide reputation as a philanthropist, more especially in respect to the material assistance towards the establishment of libraries in communities not able to do so for themselves, I was asked by the representative citizens of Brainerd to call your generous attention to our city.
      Knowing that you must be deluged by requests of a similar nature, I feel loath to encroach on your valuable time.
      The following is a history of our library:
      The association, or charter members, started with a capital of one hundred dollars ($100.00) to which was added by subscription, entertainments and donations, in the neighborhood of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) total.
      We have in our rooms, which are small, about eleven hundred (1100) carefully selected books. Of these about nine hundred (900) are suitable for circulation. In one year fifteen hundred (1500) books were drawn from the shelves. This item significantly shows the voracious desire from the book reading public, for free reading of a good class of works. Will you kindly assist us?
      Brainerd has a population of about seventy-five hundred (7500) and is a very prominent railroad town, on the Northern Pacific system. I can assure you that I have the promise of our best citizens, that they will endeavor to meet your suggestions to the best of their ability.
      Trusting that this letter may meet with favor in your eyes, I anxiously await your reply.
      I beg leave to remain,
            Most respectfully yours,
                  HENRY I. COHEN,
President Brainerd Public Library.
      Mr. Cohen has also written to Congressman Page Morris and Senators Nelson and Clapp asking their co-operation to induce the great philanthropist to favor this city, and they will undoubtedly do the best they can.
      If Mr. Carnegie complies with the request he will probably require that the library become a public institution; that is, supported by public revenue raised by taxation. To do this the matter would have to be submitted to a vote of the people and if carried, a levy made by the council, which is limited to one mill. But this rate would raise $2,000 a year, an amount ample to run the library and provide new books every year, and probably would be all required by Mr. Carnegie. It is hoped that gentleman will see his way clear to make a donation to this city, and there is no doubt the city will gladly do as much as he requires of St. Cloud. (Brainerd Dispatch, 22 February 1901, p. 1, c's. 3 & 4)

      At long last, in June of 1902 to be precise, the Common Council began to consider building and operating a public library. One thing is certain; it was ever entirely a voluntary function and always led by Henry I. Cohen. He continuously saw such a need, never recognized defeat, and was patient with delay. (Brainerd 1871-1946, Carl Zapffe, Colwell Press, Incorporated, Minneapolis, Minnesota: 1946, p. 85)

      On 15 September 1902, the council accepted Carnegie's offer and in November the people voted a one-half mill levy for the maintenance of the library. (Brainerd 1871-1946, Carl Zapffe, Colwell Press, Incorporated, Minneapolis, Minnesota: 1946, p. 85)

              HENRY I. COHEN TAKEN
                BY DEATH IN FLORIDA
                            _____

          Retired Pioneer Merchant and
                Civic Leader Succumbs
   to Long Illness; Funeral Arrangements
                      Not Completed
                            _____

      Brainerd today mourned the death of Henry I. Cohen, retired pioneer merchant, civic leader and one of the few survivors of the thinning ranks of residents who had been an integral part of this city's citizenry since early in its existence.
      Mr. Cohen died at 5 p. m. Thursday in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he had gone about a month ago with his wife in an effort to recuperate his health after suffering a severe illness with which he was stricken about a year ago.
      Stricken with a new attack last Saturday, Mr. Cohen's condition had been grave throughout the early part of the week. A recurrence of the attack resulted in his death late yesterday, according to word received by close friends late Thursday.

                 Active in Civic Affairs

      Taken seriously ill in November 1932, Mr. Cohen had been confined to his bed for about four months. His strong vitality and constitution buoyed him up and he was able to be about for several months. His condition, apparently, was much better when he left for Florida in December. After several days there, he began failing until attending physicians forced him to take to his bed.
      A civic leader and the moving spirit behind many community enterprises in Brainerd, Mr. Cohen at the time of his death was president of the Crow Wing County Historical society. Assuming the reins of this organization about four years ago, Mr. Cohen, through his relentless energy, built the museum up to its present standard as the envy of the state. He secured great and valuable collections of relics through his unrelenting efforts and was the motivating influence behind the organization's ambitious program of expansion evident in recent years.
      His civic activities were many and his efforts have been evident in many undertakings. He was largely instrumental in securing a Carnegie library for this city. The deceased also was president of the Izaak Walton league of Brainerd, now disbanded, and was an ardent fisherman.
      A former president of the Chamber of Commerce, a charter and honorary life member of the Elks, a former member of the Rotary club and a member of the Scottish Rite and Zuhrah Shrine of Minneapolis, Mr. Cohen's interest in these organizations was high and his identity with them often was noted in progressive undertakings by them.

                Was Pioneer Merchant

      Coming to this city about 1881, Mr. Cohen entered the dry goods business. For many years he conducted a store on Front street, later entering the grocery business. Upon his retirement from the general mercantile business, Mr. Cohen purchased an insurance agency which he conducted for many years until his retirement.
      A large property owner here, Mr. Cohen was instrumental in the rehabilitation of many buildings. He owned extensive property holdings on Front street, mining property and at one time shared in large farm holdings in this community.
      Possessed of a vivid memory, Mr. Cohen found acquaintances and friends easy to make. He acquired a wide acquaintanceship throughout the state through his interest in historical lore and was instrumental in the placing of a picture of the old logging days of this community in the state capital. Willoughby M. Babcock, curator of the Minnesota State Historical society, paid great tribute to Mr. Cohen's interest in the latter pursuit, declaring that his efforts and enthusiasm was unparalleled in the state.

                  Sat on Lincoln's Knee

      In a reminiscent mood, Mr. Cohen told friends one day of the time his father, a Jewish rabbi and medical doctor, took him to Springfield, Ill., the home of Abraham Lincoln. Only a small boy at the time, Mr. Cohen was taken on the knee of the great emancipator. That was his most cherished memory and he loathe to share that honor and privilege even in his retiring moments of reminiscence.
      No details of the funeral have yet been arranged. It is not known whether or not burial will take place in this city. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 19 January 1934, p. 1, c's. 7 & 8, p. 2, c's. 6 & 7) [Courtesy of Brian Marsh, CWCHS]

                          A Tribute

BRAINERD MOURNS DEATH OF PIONEER—

      In the death of Henry I. Cohen, a pioneer citizen and a motivating force in civic enterprises, Brainerd has suffered an immeasurable loss. His goodness of heart and greatness of character is best understood in his many deeds of great and unselfish effort, of good and timely appeal and of unrelenting and unswerving zeal in attaining his aims of civic and community upbuilding and development.
      The tranquility of his zeal and courage is best told in a resume of his activities. His unrelenting, but not driving, force in his his advocacy and successful execution of enterprises of civic betterment had as its background his success in private life. A pioneer merchant, Mr. Cohen had since the early 80's been a part of Brainerd—an integral part of this city—and his counsel and acumen for direction and development is legend.
      Of philanthropic bent when his time and energy was concerned, it is typical of his charity that he, as his last final civic activity, had charge of the Brainerd Community Relief drive several years ago. His interest was his principal asset. He was goaded to great efforts by his unflinching community spirit and, all of it, was expended in the betterment of Brainerd. (Brainerd Daily Dispatch, 19 January 1934, p. 2, c. 5) [Courtesy of Brian Marsh, CWCHS]

27 July 1935. One of the largest real estate deals in Brainerd history has been completed with the sale of the Cohen Building at 614-616-618 Front Street to the Dan Croswell family of Brainerd. The building houses the Hostager business, the Spanish Village restaurant and the A & P Food Store. (This Was Brainerd, Brainerd Dispatch, 27 July 2015) 
 
Family links: 
 Parents:
  Isaac Neumann Cohen (1820 - 1895)
  Jane Rice Cohen (1833 - 1911)
 
 Spouse:
  Minnie Schoenmann Cohen (1859 - 1937)
 
Note: On the Schoenmann family plot.
 
Burial:
Forest Home Cemetery
Milwaukee
Milwaukee County
Wisconsin, USA
Plot: Section 10
 
Maintained by: A. Nelson
Originally Created by: Nadeen Sobottka
Record added: Nov 27, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 81101650
Henry I. Cohen
Added by: A. Nelson
 
Henry I. Cohen
Added by: A. Nelson
 
Henry I. Cohen
Added by: Nadeen Sobottka
 
 
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 Added: Jul. 16, 2014

-Anonymous
 Added: Jul. 8, 2014
 
 
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