A Difficult Fresh Start for the Cole Families

#52Ancestors, Theme: Fresh Start

It is truly amazing to me what ordeals some of our ancestors had to survive to make a better life for themselves and their families – a “Fresh Start” – so to speak.   To travel to a new place to settle in the mid 1700’s was not an easy endeavor as my ancestral Cole families found out!  This is the story of a journey made by Cole families in 1771.

My sixth great-grandfather, Joseph Cole Jr, son of Joseph Cole Sr. and Freelove Cole, was about 21 years old in 1771, having been born 28 May 1750 in Rehoboth, Massachusetts Colony.  He had recently married Remember Cole (an unforgettable name!) on 26 Nov of 1769 who was born in 1752 and was about 18 years old in 1771.  You probably noticed that her maiden name was the same as Joseph’s but they were actually from two different Cole families – families that were great friends and neighbors.

Joseph Cole Jr. came from a lineage tracing back to James Cole of London (ca1600), then Hugh Cole I, Hugh Cole II, Hugh Cole III and then Joseph Cole Sr, father of Joseph Jr.   On the other hand, Remember Cole’s lineage was from a Daniel Cole (b. ca1614, England, settling in Plymouth Colony in 1633), then Israel Cole I, Israel Cole II, and finally Israel Cole III who was the father of Remember Cole.  Remember Cole’s mother was Emary _____.  It can be confusing but just know that there were two unrelated Cole families that became related through intermarriages.

In the mid 1700s, Israel Cole II and his family, including Israel III’s family,  were found living in Poughkeepsie an New Paltz, Ulster County, New York Colony.  Not surprising is that the Joseph Cole Sr. family were also living there.  These two lines were joined by intermarriages of their children – one such marriage was Joseph Cole Jr and Remember Cole – newlywed in 1769.  Both of these Cole families had received several land grants in Washington County, Virginia – the part of Washington County that would eventually become Smyth County, Virginia in 1832.  One can only speculate why they wanted to move but here it was – their chance for a fresh start!

They decided to travel all together- two families of Coles with parents, grandparents, children and extended families- to their new land and they got together and made a plan for their journey.  Now if this would have been modern times, they could have driven, flew by plane, taken a train, etc. but this was 1771 and roads were poor or non-existent and overland travel was slow and treacherous in wagons and on horseback.  Danger of attacks by Native Americans or highway robbers was real.  The map below shows how far the trip really was from Ulster County, New York to Smyth Co., Virginia!

Cole family journey 001
What the Cole family journey would look like today!

Their grand plan was to jointly hire a boat and sail down the Hudson River to the Atlantic Ocean and sail south to Virginia.  After landing in Virginia, they would travel by river and overland to their destination.  A story regarding the migration of the Cole families to Virginia was carried down through the generations and told to a William Jones, who wrote it in a manuscript:  When Joseph Cole, Zachariah Cole and Sampson Cole with their wives were getting aboard the boat at New York to sail for Norfolk, Virginia together with several others, one of the party, Dorcas Cole, was very much alarmed by the sight of so much water.  She cried out, “We will be drowned, we will be drowned!!” (She was a Baptist) and her brother Eleazer Cole (who was a Methodist Minister), remarked to her, “Stick to your faith!  If you are born to be drowned, you will be and if not, you will not!  That was Baptist doctrine.

Thankfully for me, the Cole families did survive this perilous journey and Joseph Cole Sr. and Freelove Cole, my seventh great-grandparents, settled in the area of the south fork of the Holston River.  Their son, Joseph Cole Jr. and Remember Cole, my sixth great-grandparents,  also settled in that area and raised their family.   Joseph Cole Sr. established a grist mill, called Loves Mill which was still in operation in 1962.   Cole family members in Washington and Smyth Counties are well documented in historical and legal records.  They had large families who farmed their lands, operated grist mills, defended their nation and made valuable contributions to their neighbors and their state.  Their dead are buried in almost every cemetery.  The St. Clair Bottom Primitive Baptist Church has many graves marked with Cole names.  The Coles had indeed made a fresh start and thrived in their new land!

You can read more about the Cole ancestors in another post here: Tribute to Capt. Joseph Cole Jr. – Revolutionary War Ancestor

(Sources upon request)

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