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Cools in Dakota

In March of 1895 an advertisement appeared in the "Charles Mix County News" of Edgerton, South Dakota:

"Furniture store at Edgerton, Henry Cool proprietor. A complete line of furniture & undertaker's goods constantly on hand at better than railroad prices. Furniture repaired on short notice"

Cool, a twenty-four-year old German immigrant, had journeyed into the bustling settlement on the Dakota prairie just two years 

earlier to run the town's butcher shop. His brothers, George and Garret, had arrived in Dakota Territory several years earlier from Holland, Michigan, and now operated a prosperous general merchandise store there.

But furniture, not the butcher business, was young Henry's chief side line. He had learned to be an excellent cabinet maker while in Holland, Michigan, where the Koel ("Americanized" to Cool) family first settled after arriving in the New World.

The year 1895 was a red-letter one for Henry, for on March 28 he married Bertha Jacobson, whose Norwegian family was homesteading in the Edgerton area after moving from Iowa. Within a few short years their family expanded with arrived of Lawrence Henry in 1896 and Wilbur in 1898.

In 1900 the Milwaukee Railroad put the finishing touches on a branch from Yankton and officials platted a new town of Platte several miles north of Edgerton. And so, several nearby communities missed by the rail line began an unusual exodus as whole buildings were moved across the prairie. George and Garret moved their general store, doing business even while a large steam locomotive and winches moved it to the new location.

Henry, on the other hand, constructed the first building on Main Street of Platte for his furniture and undertaking business. It was a large two-story business with furniture on the main floor and an opera house upstairs.

In those early years, other members of the Cool clan, including Henry's mother and father, sisters and another brother, moved from Michigan to the growing Dakota community.

In 1910, Henry built a new brick building which housed the largest stock of furniture in the area. On the second floor was Cool's Opera House, where people danced to such bands as the early Lawrence Welk Orchestra and attended plays, graduations and community events.

When the building burned in 1915, it was replaced by a new brick building housing a theater and community building, while the furniture store moved back to it's original wooden building. When that structure burned in 1943, the furniture business was discontinued, but Henry and his sons continued to operate the funeral business at the family's home at Sixth and Main streets.

For his efforts in getting a lake and park built two miles west of Platte in 1932, the citizens honored him with a bronze plaque on the island, and named it "Henry Cool Park."

Henry continued to operate the business until his death on August 28, 1945.

Henry's son Lawrence, married Jessie Gartner in 1921. 

After attending the University of South Dakota and serving in World War I as a second

lieutenant in the quartermaster corps, Lawrence returned to Platte where he devoted his years to boosting his home town. He was one of the founders of the Platte Community Hospital and served as president and on the hospital board for 21 years. He served on the local school board for 40 years, including 29 years as president. He was on the volunteer fire department for 38 years, and served as chief for 17 years. He and Jessie were active in support of the hospital and both served on the cemetery association board. Jessie also was one of the first women in South Dakota to earn a mortuary license and helped with the business from 1927 until her retirement in 1971 at 71 years of age. Lawrence passed away in 1968 and Jessie in 1996.

The couple's son, Lawrence, Jr., served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, as a radioman and gunner aboard Navy PB4Y patrol bombers. He flew 20 combat

Missions totaling 209 hours and was awarded the air medal with two stars. After attending photography school in Connecticut on the G.I. Bill, he returned to Platte, operating a sporting goods business and photo Studio, in addition to helping his parents with the funeral home. He married Betty Cahill in 1945, and the couple built a new Funeral Chapel, Photo Studio and Florist Shop in 1968 at the corner of Main Street and Highway 50.  They operated the businesses until July 1, 1984, selling the businesses after the family's continued operation for 90 years.

Both Betty and Lawrence also were active members of the Platte Community until their retirement. L.H. (as he was better known) served as scout leader for eight years while his sons, Larry, Tom and Dan, were growing up. He served as program director for the Kiwanis Club, president of the Platte

Commercial Club, co-chairman of the 1975 Platte Diamond Jubilee celebration, and president of the Charles Mix County Geneaology Society. He passed away in June of 2009.