Was born in Baltimore County, Maryland, March 20, 1796. His grandfather, Aquilla Cole, came from England and settled near Baltimore about 1760. After the close of the Revolutionary war, when the lands of Kentucky came into market, he started on a journey to that region with the intention of purchasing a large tract of land and finally locating there. On his way through Ohio, while traveling along "Zane's trace," from Wheeling to the present site of Zanesbille, in crossing the main stream of Wills creek, his horse became entangled in driftwood, the stream being full and deep, and he was drowned. His traveling comrades all escaped, and recovered and buried his remains near where he met his melancholy death. His estate, under the old English law, fell to his oldest son. His sons were Thomas, Elijah, Aquilla, Salathiel, Mycagy, and Stephen. They all removed to Kentucky but Thomas and Stephen. Thomas finally located in Washington County, Pennsylvania, while Stephen removed to Fairfield County, Ohio, about the year 1809. Stephen was twice married in Maryland, prior to his removal. He died in Fairfield County, leaving the following family: Stephen, Salathiel, Thomas, Charles, who died in infancy, Abraham, Mycagy, John, Eleanor, Mary, Richard, Charles, Wesley, Elijah, and Eliza. Stephen and Thomas came to Jackson Township, Wayne County, now Ashland County, in August, 1819. Thomas had married in 1816, and had one chid at the time of his removal. On his route from Fairfield he came by Newark, Mount Vernon, Bellville, Greentown, Jeromeville, and over the east part of Montgromery township to the forest home of William Bryan, south of the present site of Polk, where he remained until he and his brother cut a path to section eight, southeast and southwest quarters. When they selected a site for a cabin their wives stitched a number of linen sheets together and a tent was erected, in which they lived until the cabin could be erected and prepared for occupation. The third day was Sunday, and with the night came a heavy rain. His child was sick, and the rain beat through the tent. The bed became wet, and Mr. Cole sat upright with the quilt over his head to protect his sick child. Fortunately the next morning his child was better. He retains a vivid recollection of that introductory storm, and his altitude as "center pole". Salathiel, with a team, accompanied them to their wilderness home, and returned to Fairfield by the path he came. When the cabin was raised, Mr. Cole states that most of the hands were from the present vicinity of the village of Orange. He squared his house to the meridian by observing the section line, setting up and plumbing a stake and watching when the sun shadow pointed due north.
Upon his arrival he found the following families in the north half of the township: Rev. John Hazzard, John Mason, Mr. Morton, Thomas Green, Josiah Lee, Jesse Matthews, Laffler, and Jame Durfee, and in the south half, Noah Long, Jonas H. Gierhart, James A. Dinsmore, John Jackson, Michael and Matthias Rickel, William Bryan, Charles Hoy, and John Davault. A number of other families arrived during the fall of 1819. Stephen and Thomas cole brought a number of milch cows and young cattle, and two or three head of horses. A favorite mare escaped and attempted to return to Fairfield, but was pursued and captured, after a lively chase of several hours in the south part of the township. Wild grass was abundant in the forest, and cattle thrived upon it. Mr. Cole, by industry, and the assistance of his pioneer neighbors, soon prepared fields for culture. There were no schools or churches at his arrival in the township. Rev. Mr. Hazzard was a gentleman of good English education, and soon volunteered to instruct the children of the pioneers. He resided in the northeast part of the township, on section eleven. In 1822-3 Mr. Hazzard also established the first class of the Methodist Episcopal church, of which he was leader and teacher. He became a local preacher of the Methodist Episcopal church. The class was established in what has since become the village of Perryburgh, known sometimes as Albion, the name of it postoffice. The first class contained about ten members; Josiah Lee was at one time a leader. Mr. Cole became a member in 1825, and about 1830, a leader and exhorter, and in 1840 was licensed a local preacher and still retains his license. The Rev. Mr. Hazzard died in 1870 and was buried on his homestead. Mr. Cole, and we believe, Mr. Hazzard also, was licensed by that vunerable and much loved pioneer minister, Rev. Elmer Yocum. Mr. Cole is now (1876) deprived of his vision, having been afflicted some years with opacity of the crystalline lens, or cataract. His general health is good, and his disposition quite cheerful. Mrs. Cole, his excellent wife, who shared his pioneer toils, deceased May 8, 1870, aged seventy-four. His children are: Thomas Cole, jr., Elizabeth, wife of Chester C. Matthews; Rebecca, wife of Joseph C. Bolles; Mary, wife of Jacob Plice; Rachel, wife of Isaac Gordon, deceased, and Ruthie, wife of James Campbell, of Iowa. Mr. Cole has forty-six grandchildren, and twenty-five great-grandchildren. Most of his children reside in Ashland County. Rev. Thomas Cole died of paralysis, May 17, 1880, aged eighty-four years, one month, and twenty-seven days.
This sketch was written in 1876, when Mr. Cole was in fair health. His infirmities of vision gradually grew worse, until his decease on the 17th.
contributed and transcibed by Russ Shopbell email@example.com