Tribute to Capt. Joseph Cole Jr. – Revolutionary War Ancestor

Week 21 of #52Ancestors:  MilitaryCole, Joseph Jr, grave, 1826, Smyth VA 001

Last week’s post explored John Thomas who was the father of Thomas Jefferson Thomas who married Freelove Cole and they became my 5th great-grandparents.  This week I would like to write about Freelove Cole’s parents especially because Freelove’s father, Joseph Cole Jr, had served in the military.   He was in the Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War and was made Captain.  This Patriot ancestor fought in the famous Battle of Kings Mountain as a member of the Washington County, Virginia Militia and is registered with the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) as Ancestor #: A024196.

Joseph Cole Jr, also called Joseph Cole II, was born the 28th of May 1750 in Rehoboth, Massachusetts Colony according to the Massachusetts Town vital records.  When Joseph was born his father, Joseph Cole I (Sr), was 34 and his mother, Freelove Mason (Cole), was 29.  Joseph had at least eight known siblings including  Elizabeth Cole Hopkins, Joanna Cole, Hugh Cole, Urania Cole Round, Sampson Cole, Zacheus Cole, Lydia Cole Robinson and John Cole.  It must have made for a very busy family!

Cole, Joseph Jr, signature 001
Signature of Joseph Cole Jr on Religious Petition.

Joseph Cole married Remember Cole on 26 November 1769 in the Colony of New York and she was the daughter of Israel Cole III and Emary _____ and born in 1752 in Ulster Co. , New York Colony OR in Eastham, Barnstable, Massachusetts Colony.   Some sources may list her mother as Remember Burgess but according to Mayflower Ancestor books, her mother was Emary ___.  Remember Cole also came from a large family with at least eight siblings including Thomas, Rufus, Eunice, Phillip, Mary and three other Coles.

Now you may be wondering why Remember was also a Cole – no, they were not related- she did have the same surname as Joseph but she came from a different Cole family!  Remember’s ancestors started with Daniel Cole, father of Israel I Cole, then down the line to Israel II and Israel III who was the father of Remember Cole.   (This Cole family also intermarried with the James family, making them our ancestors also!)  Joseph Cole Jr.’s ancestors started with a James Cole who was born in London ca1600 and immigrated to the American Colonies and was father of Hugh Cole I, then the line of Hugh Cole II and Hugh III and Joseph Cole Sr., father of Joseph Jr.

These two unrelated Cole families (descendants of James Cole and Daniel Cole) must have been great friends and companions as they embarked on a great journey together from Ulster Co., New York Colony to Washington Co., Virginia where they had received land grants in about 1773 or later.  More on that journey in a later post.

Joseph Jr and Remember Cole had three children together.  The first born was John William Cole who was born on 25 Dec 1771, Christmas Day, in Ulster, New York.  John William Cole was married twice and died in 1847 in Smyth Co., VA.  The second child of Joseph and Remember was Phillip King Cole and his birth year was 1773 in Ulster, Ulster Co., New York.  It that is the correct birth year, he may have been a twin to his sister, Freelove Cole, as the records indicate Freelove was born the same year on 24 Dec, Christmas Eve.  If so, that would have been three birthdays to celebrate during Christmas time!  Phillip King Cole married Rebecca English and they moved to Tennessee where Phillip died in 1860.  Freelove Cole is our direct ancestor and she and her mother, Remember Cole, are our lineage to Stephen Hopkins who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620.  If you want to read more about Freelove Cole, my 5th Great-grandmother, see here: Searching for “FREELOVE”

Sadly, Remember Cole, wife of Joseph Jr, died young in 1776 in Washington County, Virginia at about 24 years old, leaving three young children.  This was just after the migration of the Cole families from New York to Virginia.  Joseph Jr and Remember settled on the South Fork of the Holston River in Washington County (later Smyth Co.), VA.  If you recall, their daughter Freelove Cole married Thomas Jefferson Thomas.  My Thomas ancestors also lived on the South Fork of the Holston River. Holston River 001 See my last post here: Where did you come from, John Thomas?    We don’t know the cause of death for Remember but she was buried in the Church Cemetery of the Saint Clair Primitive Baptist Church  in what is now Chilhowie, Virginia.

Joseph Jr. Cole remarried in 1777 to Margaret Leeper and they had five children together including Andrew Cole, James “Squire” Cole, Remember Cole, Urania Cole and Samuel Cole.  Margaret Leeper was born 1750-52 in Augusta County, VA and lived to age 75 or 76, dying in 1826.  She was also buried in the Saint Clair Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.

Joseph Cole Jr. did join the Virginia Militia and on 1780 participated in the Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina.  During the American Revolution, the Patriot irregulars under Col. William Campbell defeated the Tories under Maj. Patrick Ferguson.  Maj. Ferguson’s Tory force of mostly American Loyalists was the west wing of General Lord Cornwallis’ North Carolina invasion force.  One thousand American frontiersmen under Col. Campbell of Virginia gathered in the back country to pursue Ferguson who positioned his forces on King’s Mountain.  The Patriots charged multiple times displaying lethal marksmanship against the enemy.  “Ferguson led a suicidal charge down the mountain and was cut down in a hail of bullets.  The Tories suffered 157 men killed, 163 wounded and 698 captured while Campbell’s force suffered just 28 killed and 60 wounded.”  It was a decisive and much needed victory for the Patriots.  A monument was erected on the battle site with names of the officers.  Capt. Joseph Cole is the third name from the top of the monument.

Cole, Joseph Jr, monument, King's Mt, 1880 001

prim Baptist church cemetery 001
St. Clair Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.

Capt. Joseph Cole Jr. died 6 Sep 1826 in Washington (Smyth) Co., Virginia and was buried in Saint Clair Bottom Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.  His tombstone was recorded by Redmond Cole about 1926 but since that time, his tombstone had been destroyed or was missing.  A grave marker for Joseph was placed in the cemetery by a Dennis Stewart in 2005 and a memorial service was held to honor Joseph and his service to his country.  In a later year, a memorial service was also held for Hugh Cole, brother to Joseph, in this cemetery.  Joseph Cole Jr is also listed in the U. S. Veterans’ Gravesites, 1775-2006.

On this Memorial Day week, it is only fitting to remember those, ancestors or not, that fought for our freedom and served for our country.  Thank you to all!



  •; Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
  • Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2004.
  • The Compendium of American Genealogy, Vol. IV [database on-line] Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc.
  • Find A Grave, database and images; citing Margaret Leeper Cole, Find A Grave Memorial No. 45526825.
  • Wikitree, citing Capt. Joseph Cole Jr.
  • Memorial for Capt. Joseph Cole Jr. with links to family at Find A Grave: Memorial #47513323.
  • National Cemetery Administration.  U. S. Veteran’s Gravesites, ca 1775-2006 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc., 2006.
  • Editors; Battle of King’s Mountain; 


Where did you come from, John Thomas?

This weeks prompt on #52ancestors is “nature” and who would be closer to nature than a farmer?  When I research ancestors in the 1800s, most of their occupations are farmers farmer 1700 001with an occasional blacksmith, merchant or iron worker.  The wives are “keeping house” according to the census records.  This week, I would like to focus on John Thomas, a farmer, who really challenges my research skills!  For one thing, he had a common name and I had no idea that there were so many John Thomas’s out there in the records – born in every time period!  It took me a while just to determine which John Thomas was my 6th Great-grandfather but I found him and his wife, Mary Robinett.  They were parents of my 5th great-grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Thomas, who you can read about here.  Searching for “FREELOVE”

Thomas, john and mary 001

John Thomas was born on 16 October 1733 according to family Bible records which were recorded but the original Bible’s whereabouts are unknown.  John’s place of birth is not yet proven and I have found sources that list him being born in Massachusetts or Connecticut but these definitely were not our John Thomas.  Another source listed him as being born in Southampton County, Virginia.  According to the book about his grandson, “Abijah Thomas & His Octagonal House,” by Mack H Sturgill, “a thorough search of vital records and deeds of that county in the county seat at Courtland failed to reveal a trace of John Thomas and his family there.  That leaves the origin and provenance of John Thomas in limbo.” (See also: Abijah Thomas and His Octagon House)  Another story had John as a great-grandson of the orphan, also named John Thomas, who came to the Plymouth Colony at age 14 with Governor Winthrop.  There is no documentary evidence that this story is true!  In order to find more information on his birthplace, I started by researching the children of John Thomas and Mary Robinett.

Research on their children revealed that their son Thomas Jefferson Thomas was born in either Virginia or Pennsylvania.  However, the 1880 U. S. Census of Thomas Thomas’s daughter, Mary Polly Thomas Porter, shows her father was born in Pennsylvania and her mother was born in New York.  Since Thomas Thomas was born in 1766 and was the third child, the John Thomas family most likely was living in Pennsylvania in 1766 – my guess is that they lived in Southampton, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Southampton, PA 001 It is possible that the Southampton referred to in the book was really the Southampton in Pennsylvania, not the Southampton County in Virginia.  There is a Southampton township in Bucks County PA and Southampton was a seaport through which Quakers such as William Penn entered as well as many immigrants of Scots-Irish descent.  Now our John Thomas was not only of Scots-Irish descent, he was also associated with Quakers.   John Thomas and other Baptists joined with a group of dissident Quakers and members of the Pennepek Baptist Church to form the Southampton Baptist Church.  For now, my best assumption is that John Thomas certainly could have been born in Pennsylvania.  However, the names of his parents are still a mystery!

Historically, the Scots-Irish were Scots, mostly farmers, who settled in Northern Ireland in the province of Ulster after 1600 to escape religious persecution under English rule.  They started migration to Virginia in 1715 and many sailed into the ports of Philadelphia and Southampton and eventually settled in the mid and southern counties of the Shenandoah Valley.  The Scots-Irish soon became the dominant culture of the Appalachians in Pennsylvania and Virginia.  This could help explain how John Thomas may have come from Pennsylvania and eventually settle in the Washington/Smyth County area on the Holston River.  John Thomas and Mary Robinett acquired quite a large tract of land along both sides of the South Fork of the Holston River in 1773.  This was part of the St. Clair Land grant is and is still known as St. Clair’s Bottom (also called Sinclairs Bottom) and was in Washington County, Virginia.  This area was first Augusta County, then Fincastle County until Washington County was formed in about 1777.  Later it became Smyth County but not until 1832.  Sinclairs Bottom was a tract of 996 acres patented by Charles Sinclair in 1753 who lived on it until the French and Indian War massacres of 1755 drove him out.

John Thomas married Mary Robinett on 26 March 1761, the daughter of Samuel Robinett and Ann Osborne.  Mary was born in 1740 in Southampton – I assume Southampton, Pennsylvania.  Mary’s gravestone indicated she was the daughter of Samuel and Samuel could have been related to an early immigrant named Alan (Allen) Robinett.  Alan came to Pennsylvania at the time of its settlement by William Penn.  According to Rootsweb, John Thomas and Mary were married in Augusta County, Virginia. (At that time, Augusta County covered a huge area from the middle of Virginia and westward.)  They started their family with two daughters, Sarah in 1762 and Martha in 1764.  Thomas was born in 1766, Mary in 1769 and, lastly, Abijah in 1776.

John and Mary were quite possibly living in New Britain, Bucks County, PA up to about 1766 and moved to Black Swamp, Cameron Parish, Loudoun County, Virginia.  On 18 July 1767, John Thomas was one of nine organizing members of a newly formed New Valley Baptist Church in Loudoun County, Virginia.  John and Mary were baptized by Rev. Joseph Thomas (possible relative) along with 6 or 7 others.  In October 1768, the Loudoun County Tithable (tax) list for the South Fork of the Holston River, listed John Thomas and his neighbor, Thomas John (2 different men).  Somehow Thomas John was related to John Thomas.  When Thomas John died in 1806, our John Thomas signed his will as a witness and Thomas John left his entire estate to John Thomas’ children!

Holston River 001
John Thomas owned land on both sides of the South Fork of the Holston River.

On March 1774, John Thomas obtained 404 acres and had the land surveyed.  It was on the north side of the South Fork of the Holston River in Sinclair Bottom.   The land adjoined the land of William Lewis who, interestingly, was also his neighbor in Loudoun County!  John was also a neighbor of Joseph and Hugh Cole who are also our ancestors!

This story gives some insight into John Thomas’s beliefs.  On 21 November 1781, our John Thomas who acknowledged himself  “indebted to the Commonwealth of Virginia in the Sum of Four Hundred Pounds Specie,” would not swear allegiance to the United States of America government most likely because of religious beliefs.  His Baptist neighbor, William Lewis and his sons who were old enough to fight in the Revolution were also found indebted to the Commonwealth for not swearing allegiance or serving in the military.  John and William Lewis were members of the Baptist church which incorporated some Quaker beliefs in pacifism and swearing allegiance “Only to God.”  Of course, the county records do not reveal why they were indebted but the Virginia Assembly did pass a law in May 1777 requiring all adult males to swear an oath of allegiance.  The penalty for not doing so was loss of the right to vote, hold office and serve on juries.  In addition, an added penalty of double taxation was passed in October of that year.  As far as I can determine from later county records, John Thomas paid his penalty and was allowed to reside in the county.

In 1792, James Cole (another ancestor of ours) sells one acre and 100 poles of land for building a new Baptist meeting house (church) in the Holston River area for just 20 primitive baptist church pic 001shillings to the Acting Trustees of the Congregation of Sinclair Bottom.   John Thomas was one of the Acting Trustees.  This Primitive Baptist Church was built about 1775.  Primitive Baptists are the same as Hard Shell Baptists believing in following scripture and adult baptism among other ideas.

In 1795, John was able to obtain more land from the Commonwealth of Virginia on the Waters Redstone which is a tributary of the South Fork of the Holston River.  He gained 230 acres.  In 1804, their daughter Anna Thomas Martin died and in 1806, daughter Mary Thomas also died.    On 3 February 1816, John’s wife, Mary Robinett Thomas, died in Sinclair Bottom, Washington/Smyth County and she was buried in the Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery in Sinclair Bottom.  Three years later in 1819, their son Abijah Thomas died and was buried in the same cemetery.   John was not listed in the 1820 census and was possibly living with his son, Thomas Thomas and his wife, Freelove Cole Thomas.

On 21 January, 1820, John Thomas sells to his son Thomas Jefferson Thomas, 315 acres of

South fork of Holston R 001
South Fork of the Holston River,  Smyth Co., Virginia

land for one dollar out of “natural love and affection for his son.”   Also “of natural love and affection” for his grand-children and one dollar, John deeds 275 acres of the South side of the Holston River to Sally Allen, John Thomas, Polly Thomas, Betsey Thomas, Martha Thomas, Sam Thomas, Anna Thomas and David Thomas who are all children of his deceased son Abijah Thomas.

On 9 July 1821, John Thomas died in Sinclair Bottom, Washington/Smyth County, Virginia and he is laid to rest next to his wife, Mary, in the Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.

prim Baptist church cemetery 001
Cemetery of the Primitive Baptist Church, Chilhowie, Smyth Co., Virginia


  • Sturgill, Mack H; Abijah Thomas & His Octagonal House, Tucker Printing, Marion, Virginia, 1990.
  • Year: 1880; Census Place: St Clair, Smyth, Virginia; Roll: 1390; Page: 112A; Enumeration District: 085.
  • Wikipedia: Southampton, Pennsylvania/history.
  • Rootsweb WorldConnect Project Genealogy – History, On Going Research (Owner: Don Martin Thomas) on Samuel Robinett.
  • Sturgill, Mack & Kenneth, Smyth County, Virginia Cemeteries, Volume 1; P. 150.
  • Loudoun County, Virginia, Tithable List; October 1768, South Fork of the Holston River; Loudoun County Virginia Courthouse; Leesburg, Loudoun, Virginia.
  • Edwards, Morgan; A History of the Baptists, Vol. 2, 1770-1792; Prepared for publication by Eve B Weeks and Mary B Warren.  Heritage Papers, Danielsville, GA 30633: Copywrite by Mary B Warren, 1984, p. 42.
  • Montgomery County, Virginia, Plat Book A, p. 33.
  • Wilson, Goodridge, Smyth County, history and traditions. Kingsport, Tenn,; Kingsport Press, 1932; p. 121.
  • Summers, Lewis Preston, Annals of Southwest Virginia, 1769-1800; 1 Volume in 2 Parts; Part 2; Pgs. 1294-1295. (Referencing Washington County, Virginia; p. 260).
  • (land surveys of John Thomas).
  • Find A Grave;; citing John Thomas, Memorial 45539287; and citing Mary Robinett Thomas, Memorial 45538411.