The Cole Family

by Christine Hopkins
The greatest inheritance which any family can leave to its heirs must be that sense of being of noble ancestry and that being a continuing part of making our Country great. The Cole heirs were magnificently endowed. The writer of this story cannot help but sense the distress, the difficulty, and the trials that these early ancestors must have undertaken in order to leave this inheritance. The following is a story of the Cole family, a faithful people struggling to fulfill a vision against problems brought about by war, depression, and just plain survival. That its vision was true is attested to by the fact that it has not only survived, but has left a basis of proud inheritance.

The Cole family was among the early settlers in America and contributed much toward building the American Nation. This family furnished soldiers for the Revolutionary War, the Confederate Army, World War I, World War II, etc. Many places of prominence in the business and professional world are filled today by its descendants.

The Cole family first settled in America at "Cole's Hill" in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1633. However, the writer was unable to secure any more information about these first settlers. The first information of any length of this family starts in the early 1800's.

W. H. Cole, a farmer of the Second Civil District of Franklin County, and the great grandfather-in-law of this writer was born 10 July 1732 in Moore County in a little community called Marble Hill. He was the son of Jimmy and [-----] Shasteen Cole.

He was a Democrat in politics and a member of the Methodist Church from early childhood. Very active in church affairs, he served as a lay leader and a charter member of the Bethel Methodist Church in Owl Hollow. Furthermore, as the article states that is enclosed: W. H., known as Uncle Billie, "sang his way through life and his sweet singing will be remembered long after the lives of theirs are forgotten. It was fitting that he should leave us with a song on his lips."

Uncle Billie was twice married, the first time to Nancy Osborn in 1852. To this excellent mother, 13 children were born, 5 of them preceded Uncle Billie in death. Grandma Nancy joined the Methodist Church at the first protracted meeting held at the log church about the year 1849. Her life, I am told, was filled with many hardships and work. For example, the story was told of how Uncle Billie would have to leave home for duty in the Confederate Army. The Union soldiers would come to the house, hold a gun on Grandma Cole and make her fix meals for them and eat up most of the food in the house.

Uncle Billie's second marriage was to Jennie Waggoner in December 1890 [others have this as 19 December 1889]. This couple had one child, Lou Ella Cole Boswell, who is now living. After the death of Grandma Jennie, the story was told of how Lou Ella now married, and living at home, had two small babies, Uncle billie seeing the house on fire ran into the house, thinking the babies were still in an old rocker in which he had seen them in earlier, pulled the rocker outside and was burned badly in doing so. However, the story goes that the babies had already been safely carried away from the burning house and the only one injured was Uncle Billie.

The home of this family was located in a small community called Belvidere, considered to be in the center of one of the best farming sections of middle Tennessee. The Belvidere settlement consisted mostly of German ancestors. These German neighbors of Uncle Billie's were excellent farmers, making [indecipherable] of all possibly land. Therefore, the other nationalities of [indecipherable] that lived in this small community, felt a need to make their surrounding region of agriculture look just as good as their German friends.

Not only was Belvidere endowed with good fertile land, but also, most of Franklin County had an abundant supply of good land, good drainage, a temperate climate and an adequate rainfall. Furthermore, it was not by chance that agriculture became the major industry. Therefore, a good many of the Cole family owned large farms in the county.

The county very early became one of the leading cotton producing areas of the state. Therefore, this was a main crop for the Cole family as well as corn, hay, small grain, and etc. Not only was the county noted for its cotton, but also, one of Uncle Billie's neighbors, Mr. John Ruch, seeded small field of crimson clover in the year of 1902. Thereafter, the county became famous for its clover.

The house of the large Cole family was a log house hat had been weather boarded. However, after the fire burned it down on 6 December 1913, Uncle Billie, now a widower, went to live with different ones of his children.

The water supply consisted of a cistern close to the house. The grandchildren were always warned to stay clear of the cistern upon visits to Uncle Billie's.

The last child that Uncle Billie was to visit and in whose home in which he was to meet his death on 7 January 1917 was Mary Jane Cole Boswell who married George Boswell of the Second District, Franklin County.

Mary Cole Boswell was the third child of Uncle Billie and Nancy Osborn Cole. Born 8 May 1857, she is the great grandmother-in-law of this writer. Furthermore, from all the records and legends of her life, this writer has deep regard and adoration for the courage, the bravery and the faith which kept her striving to make her part of the vision of the Cole family come true.

Education for the large Cole family proved to be quite a hardship. However, Grandma Mary managed to work her way through college. She graduated from MAry Sharp College around 1881. Mary Sharp College for Women, located in Winchester, was one of the most famous colleges of its type in the south. However, before her graduation from college, even at the early age of seven years, Grandma Mary was to become crippled from a disease which left her in this condition the rest of her life. However, this handicap did not hinder her from fulfilling her part of the Cole inheritance. Even as a little girl, on the days that she could not attend school, a brother would come home and teach her what he had learned that day.

After Grandma Mary graduated and started to teach school, she helped the other younger children with their education, using her pay check to pay finances. Some of the places in which she taught school was Duncan Town, Owl Hollow, and Masons School. She would board with someone in the community during the time school was in session.

After her marriage to George Boswell on 21 April 1873, she quit teaching school and helped to make a home for her family. To this couple one daughter, Georgia Mae Hopkins, who still survives, was born 9 August 1903. Grandma Mary was 45 years old when her child was born.

Grandpa Boswell, now married to a very active and industrious woman, was quite active himself. Living in the Second District of Franklin County, he was a magistrate of that District, a mason, a Democrat in which he was very active, Sunday School Superintendent. In the late 1800's and early 1900's, he was a road overseer, an Odd Fellow, Woodmen of th eWorld, ran a saw mill, and a farmer.
The home of Grandma and Grandpa Boswell was a log house that had been sold to him by his family at the death of his father. Great Grandpa Boswell continued to live on at the home place. In fact, the fifth generation was living in this home place until 1969 when the Tennessee Valley Authority purchased all of the 315 acres win which a part of the Tims Ford Lake now covers. The land was situated on a ridge with rich bottom land along the Elk River. These bottom fields always produced sufficient corn and other grainery in which the family needed for survival. Mules were used to help cultivate the soil until the first tractor was purchased in the 1940's.

From stories that were told, evidently, quite a few happy times were spent up and down this river. The story was told of a place in the river called the "cat hole," which was real deep. The men of the community, along with Grandpa Boswell, would gather and fish this cat hole, catch all kinds of fish till way in the night, take them to the house to clean and eat and have a happy time.

For recreation, the story was told of how the girls would get on the back of a chair that was turned over and the boys would push them across the water that was frozen over with ice.

According to the articles in the newspapers, the boys would go occasionally in search of raccoons, groundhogs and opossums. Being quite a lot of fun, besides the good eating that's in the prowlers.

Most of the sickness was doctored by herbs and roots, in which [indecipherable] was made and administer to the patient and as the article states. "In a few days, all's well and the goose hangs high." In fact, I have some of the roots that was left over from this homemade [indecipherable] left by Grandma Mary.

Grandma Mary's clothing consisted of dresses down to her ankles, bonnets, laced-up shoes, and real tight corsets. Grandpa Boswell dressed up in a black suit, white shirt and a big black hat that is still in the family possessions.

All dressed up, Grandma and Grandpa Boswell were usually on their way to Owl Hollow Church, a place in which they spent a great deal of their married life. A picture of this little church which was built in the year 1840 is enclosed. It was situated about 5 or 6 miles from the Boswell home in a little place called Owl Hollow. At this particular period in our history, Owl Hollow was a booming place containing a grist mill, a cotton mill, and a store of which a picture is enclosed. Grandma and Grandpa usually drove their buggy, their means of transportation. In cold weather, they would wrap in what they called [indecipherable] rug, which is also a family heirloom.
I think possibly one of the things that amazes me most of all about Grandma Mary's life was the way that she wrote everything down as if to say, "Someday, someone will want to know all these things I am writing." The following is an example of these writings:

"Mrs. Mary J. Boswell organized Sunday School at Union Hill the first Sunday in 2 September 1897 with 40 on role. The first song was 'Savior, More than Life to Me'. First prayer by Jim Cook.
Sixth Quarter of Sunday School, but First Quarter of 1899. This has been the hardest winter that was ever known in this country, but we are still moving on and doing good work.
This is the Second Quarter for 1899. We still carry on our Sunday School. Interest good, attendance good, God Bless our community in general. Mary J. Boswell, Secretary
The Willis Lake Bridge was built in the year 1902, finished and received 13 December 1902."

Furthermore, records of deaths, births and marriages were kept for several people. These records are now a part of this writer's collection and several examples of these papers are enclosed.

Yes, one might say that Grandma Mary certainly led a very active life in which I am very proud to be able to study [indecipherable]. Her life was one in which to admire, mainly for her outlook on the past, the present, and the future. However, I am sure the descendants of Grandma Mary will inherit some fo the courage and [indecipherable] left by this most ambitious woman.

In closing, this writer realizes the incompleteness of this paper, however, it has been a most rewarding task in which I have learned much about this family. Certainly, I believe that throughout the hardships that this family must have endured in order to leave [indecipherable] ancestry, that it would be most gratifying to these early settlers to see their heirs in such noble fields as they are today. Therefore, as we look forward to the future with a vision of our [indecipherable] to fulfill, taking into consideration the vision of our ancestors, [indecipherable] travel on with undaunted faith and courage, until we arrive at the end of a PERFECT DAY.