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 Oliver “Oll” Coomes

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Oliver “Oll” Coomes

Birth
Newark, Licking County, Ohio, USA
Death
27 Jun 1921 (aged 75)
Storm Lake, Buena Vista County, Iowa, USA
Burial
Wiota, Cass County, Iowa, USA
Plot
113
Memorial ID
42821269 View Source

Oliver "Oll" Coomes wrote dime western novels from 1870 - 1892.

Oliver Coomes, better known to dime novel readers as Oll Coomes, was born in the country, ten miles east of Newark, the county seat of Licking County, Ohio, August 26, 1845, and died in an automobile accident five miles north of Storm Lake, Iowa, June 27, 1921. When eleven years of age, he came with his parents to Jasper County, Iowa, where his father bought a farm near Colfax. During the winters Oliver attended the district school, and in the summers helped in his father's pottery. In 1866, he entered Iowa College, but remained only a year. On October 10, 1867, he married Miss Adelia A. Kellogg, a sister of the Hon. William Pitt Kellogg, who was governor of Louisiana during the Reconstruction period. His wife died November 2, 1907, leaving three sons. He was married a second time to Miss Adelia A. Johnson, a niece of his first wife, June 5, 1913.

In the autumn of 1870, Coomes bought a 280 acre farm near Wiota, in Cass County, Iowa, and lived there, as farmer and stock raiser, for many years until he retired to Atlantic, Iowa, a few years before his death. He was a strong Republican and served in the State Legislature from 1877 to 1880.

Mr. Coomes began writing novels in 1870. In a little memorandum book, now in the possession of his son, is a record of the stories he wrote and the sums received for each. Seventy-seven titles are listed, most of them written for Beadle, but a few, also, for the New York Weekly. The first story sold by Coomes was "Wild Raven, the Scout; or, The Mississippi Guide," published as No. 41 of Starr's American Novels, June 14, 1870. For it Coomes received the munificent sum of twenty-five dollars! The letter from Frank Starr & Co.'s American Publishing House, accepting the story, is dated two days after the story appeared, and is written on ruled pink note paper! Apparently the check was signed by Beadle & Co., for there is an explanatory postscript stating that "Beadle & Co. and F. Starr & Co. are interested in each other to a certain extent—hence check." The second novel sold to Beadle was "Old Strategy." It brought fifty dollars and appeared as No. 47 in Starr's American Novels. The tenth story, "Hawkeye Harry," published in the Saturday Journal, brought one hundred dollars, and the thirteenth two hundred. These increasing sums, above the average paid Beadle writers, show how highly Coomes' stories were regarded. Ingraham himself said that the regular rate for his own stories was seventy-five dollars for Half-Dime Libraries, and one hundred fifty for Dimes. Five stories in succession were sold to the New York Weekly in 1870 for five hundred dollars each, and one brought one thousand good dollars in 1874; an amazing sum for a short serial in those days. The story was entitled, "Omaha, Pride of the Prairie," but apparently was never published. It was bought by the New York Weekly when that paper was attempting to corner the market on manuscripts.

For "Happy Harry," "The Boy Rifleman," "Vagabond Joe," "Silver Star," and "Little Texas," Beadle & Co. paid Coomes five hundred dollars each; several of these being the short Half-Dimes for which normally only seventy-five dollars would have been paid. From 1883 to 1890, he received one hundred dollars for Half-Dimes, while in 1892 the price had dropped for a few numbers to seventy-five dollars. Beadle was reducing expenses.

Coomes was one of the best of the dime novelists. He wrote very convincingly of the early Indian days in the middle west and of western and northwestern Iowa, the country he knew best. While he did write a few detective stories, the detective motive was subordinate to the western, and his tales never degenerated into the detective type which later became the standard of the nickel novels.

A few of Coomes' novels were written under the pen name "Will Dexter," but they were all reprinted later under his own name.

Oliver "Oll" Coomes wrote dime western novels from 1870 - 1892.

Oliver Coomes, better known to dime novel readers as Oll Coomes, was born in the country, ten miles east of Newark, the county seat of Licking County, Ohio, August 26, 1845, and died in an automobile accident five miles north of Storm Lake, Iowa, June 27, 1921. When eleven years of age, he came with his parents to Jasper County, Iowa, where his father bought a farm near Colfax. During the winters Oliver attended the district school, and in the summers helped in his father's pottery. In 1866, he entered Iowa College, but remained only a year. On October 10, 1867, he married Miss Adelia A. Kellogg, a sister of the Hon. William Pitt Kellogg, who was governor of Louisiana during the Reconstruction period. His wife died November 2, 1907, leaving three sons. He was married a second time to Miss Adelia A. Johnson, a niece of his first wife, June 5, 1913.

In the autumn of 1870, Coomes bought a 280 acre farm near Wiota, in Cass County, Iowa, and lived there, as farmer and stock raiser, for many years until he retired to Atlantic, Iowa, a few years before his death. He was a strong Republican and served in the State Legislature from 1877 to 1880.

Mr. Coomes began writing novels in 1870. In a little memorandum book, now in the possession of his son, is a record of the stories he wrote and the sums received for each. Seventy-seven titles are listed, most of them written for Beadle, but a few, also, for the New York Weekly. The first story sold by Coomes was "Wild Raven, the Scout; or, The Mississippi Guide," published as No. 41 of Starr's American Novels, June 14, 1870. For it Coomes received the munificent sum of twenty-five dollars! The letter from Frank Starr & Co.'s American Publishing House, accepting the story, is dated two days after the story appeared, and is written on ruled pink note paper! Apparently the check was signed by Beadle & Co., for there is an explanatory postscript stating that "Beadle & Co. and F. Starr & Co. are interested in each other to a certain extent—hence check." The second novel sold to Beadle was "Old Strategy." It brought fifty dollars and appeared as No. 47 in Starr's American Novels. The tenth story, "Hawkeye Harry," published in the Saturday Journal, brought one hundred dollars, and the thirteenth two hundred. These increasing sums, above the average paid Beadle writers, show how highly Coomes' stories were regarded. Ingraham himself said that the regular rate for his own stories was seventy-five dollars for Half-Dime Libraries, and one hundred fifty for Dimes. Five stories in succession were sold to the New York Weekly in 1870 for five hundred dollars each, and one brought one thousand good dollars in 1874; an amazing sum for a short serial in those days. The story was entitled, "Omaha, Pride of the Prairie," but apparently was never published. It was bought by the New York Weekly when that paper was attempting to corner the market on manuscripts.

For "Happy Harry," "The Boy Rifleman," "Vagabond Joe," "Silver Star," and "Little Texas," Beadle & Co. paid Coomes five hundred dollars each; several of these being the short Half-Dimes for which normally only seventy-five dollars would have been paid. From 1883 to 1890, he received one hundred dollars for Half-Dimes, while in 1892 the price had dropped for a few numbers to seventy-five dollars. Beadle was reducing expenses.

Coomes was one of the best of the dime novelists. He wrote very convincingly of the early Indian days in the middle west and of western and northwestern Iowa, the country he knew best. While he did write a few detective stories, the detective motive was subordinate to the western, and his tales never degenerated into the detective type which later became the standard of the nickel novels.

A few of Coomes' novels were written under the pen name "Will Dexter," but they were all reprinted later under his own name.

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