History of Columbus County Ohio
Henry O'Kane, president of the O'Kane Insurance Agency Company, in this connection bends his efforts to constructive work and administrative direction that have resulted in the development of an enterprise of large proportion and important interet. He was born in Reynoldsburg, Franklin county, Ohio, August 1, 1843. The family is of Scotch-Irish lineage, coming to America from the north of Ireland. Leaving that section of the Emerald isle in 1789 the grandfather of our subject established his home n North Carolina and afterward removed to Rockingham county, Virginia. He was a man of considerable prominence in his native country, nor was he unknown to local fame in the land of his adoption.
The father of our subject, James O'Kane, was a native of Rockingham county, Virginia, and the year 1820 witnessed his arrival in Pickerington, Fairfield county, Ohio, whence he removed to Reynoldsburg in 1836, coming to Columbus in 1849.
He engaged in merchandising and met with gratifying prosperity until the Civil war brought reverses. He was an ardent advocate of the Union cause, an honest, upright man of the old school of merchants, and in every relation of life he commanded te confidence and good will of those with whom he was associated. His death occurred March 10, 1875. His wife bore the maiden name of Julia Ann Williams. Her parents were natives of Wales and as children became residents of Cayuga county, New York. Later thy settled at Pickerington, Ohio, and while there residing their daughter, Julia Ann, formed the acquaintance of James O'Kane, who sought her hand in marriage, the wedding ceremony being performed in June, 1829, in the old First Presbyterian church in Columbus, by the late Dr. Hoge. In September, 1849, Mr. and Mrs. James O'Kane removed to the capital city, where their remaining days were passed, the death of the wife occurring January 4, 1861.
Coming to Columbus when but six years of age, Henry O'Kane pursued his education in the public schools, passing from grade to grade to his graduation from the high school in the class of 1859 when but sixteen years of age. He afterward attended te Ohio Wesleyan University at Delaware, graduating in 1863. The following year he served for one hundred days as a soldier in the Union army of the Civil war, acting as corporal of Company H of the One Hundred and Thirty-third Regiment of Ohio Volunteer Inantry. He was on active duty in the siege of Petersburg and participated in several engagements. The company which he joined was largely made up of clerks from the banks and leading mercantile houses of the city and included E. K. Stewart, Robert Sheldon, George Bright, and Phillip Brook. Mr. O'Kane was honorably discharged August 20, 1864, and returned to his service as cashier in the banking house of Rickly & Brother. He had previously been appointed to that position but put aside his business cares and dties to aid his country, He returned, however, to the institution which is now the Capital City Bank, and there remained until July 1, 1872, when he resigned and entered the fire insurance business, succeeding to a local agency that had been in existence for eight years. The business has shown a steady and healthy growth since Mr. O'Kane assumed management more than thirty-seven years ago. He has a profitable clientage among the most substantial citizens of Columbus and his business has now assumed extensive proportions, being the oldest and one of the largest agencies of the city. Mr. O'Kane was also secretary and manager of the Franklin Insurance Company during the thirty years of its existence.
In early manhood Mr. O'Kane was married to Miss Cassie Van de Water, of Columbus, who died February 15, 1878, leaving a daughter and a son, Mrs. Frank Raymond of this city, and Walter C., who is now with the Dispatch. On the 25th of November, 188, Mr. O'Kane was again married, his second union being with Miss Mary L. Cooke, of Sunbury, Ohio. Their children are James, who is with his father in business, Louise, Elizabeth, and Russell, born in 1894.
Mr. O'Kane holds membership in the First Methodist Episcopal church and his loyalty to its teachings and his generosity in its support. have made
him one of its most helpful members. tie has also filled the various offices in the church, has been Sunday school superintendent, secretary, steward, librarian and trustee. He belongs to the Arlington Country Club and is well known in fraernal circles. He is a trustee of the Odd Fellows temple and is a past grand of Capital lodge and past chief patriarch of Junta encampment. He has also held offices in the Grand Encampment and is a prominent representative of Odd Fellowship. He has also ben prominent in Masonic circles and is a life member of the different Masonic bodies. Itc is a past master of the lodge and a past eminent commander of the commandery and a charter member of the Scottish Rite. He likewise belongs to the Aladdin temple of the Mystic Shrine and is in hearty sympathy with the beneficent spirit of the craft. His political belief has been in accord with the principles of the republican party since he east his first presidential ballot for Abraham Lincoln. He has always declined t hold office but he is interested in good government and casts his ballot for the men whom he thinks will prove competent and trustworthy officials. Such, in brief, is the life history of Henry O'Kane, a. man respected by all who know him.