Finding Your Folks: William T. and Mary Ann Owen Cole

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

This started out to be one of those difficult stories where the wife dies, the husband remarries, and the census records give a different variation of the surname each year. When that happens and you are totally confused, you go to the Internet message boards and mailing lists for help.

Those of you who still do genealogy the old way, by reading queries in magazines and corresponding by regular mail, need to understand that the message-board-and-mailing-list method is much the same thing. It is simply communication between those who are researching the same families - it's just much faster. On the email lists, communication goes among hundreds of researchers in an instant. So, when I hit a snag on the Cole family last week, I called upon my friends online and was rewarded with much information and help. The good thing about all this is that I can then turn around and share, via the newspaper, the information obtained on the computer with people who don't have them.

Coleman P. Owen named his deceased daughter, Mary Ann Cole, and her children in his will in 1872 in Meriwether County. Records show Mary Ann was born there about 1832 and was the oldest known child of Coleman and Charlotte Allen Owen. Mary Ann did the majority of her growing up in the Rocky Mount District of Meriwether County with her brothers, William L., Charles C., and Bricy Marshall Owen.

If the records are correct, Mary Ann married very young, in 1847, when she was only 15 or 16, to William T. Cole, son of Jesse Cole and Elizabeth Crawford. William, born 15 Nov. 1827 in Alabama, lost his mother when he was 10 years old and moved to Meriwether County to live with his brother, Robert.

According to "Memoirs of Georgia," written in 1895, Robert and William Cole were the grandchildren of Robert and Elizabeth Fambrough Cole who had moved to Georgia from North Carolina and settled in Newnan. In addition to William and Robert's father, Jesse, Robert and Elizabeth Fambrough Cole had two other known sons, Robert Duke Cole Sr. and Matthew Cole - two sons who would become famous for their construction and manufacturing efforts in Newnan.

After their marriage, William and Mary Ann Owen Cole lived in Meriwether County until about 1858 when they moved to Newnan and William became a partner with his uncles, Robert and Matthew Cole, in the manufacturing business. William and Mary Ann's family, which had started in 1849 with the birth of their son, James C. Cole, had now grown to include four more children: Caroline (some have her as Cornelia but I read Caroline in the 1860 census), William L., Charles D. and Jesse Cole. They would have one more son that year … Joseph B. Cole.

Tragically, Mary Ann died sometime within the next four or five years and William remarried Lennah J. Hackney, daughter of a native Virginian and early Coweta settler, Richard M. Hackney, and his wife, Milly Ann Griggs.

For whatever reason, William pulled out of the R.D. Cole Manufacturing business in 1866 and became a dentist. That also is the year that he and Lennah had their first child, Thomas B. Cole. They would have four more children: Maud C., Pauline Virginia, and Clifford, who all lived to adulthood, and Ruth, who died at age two.

So far, I have only been able to trace two of William and Mary Ann's children, James C. and Jesse B. Cole. Another son, Charles D. Cole, living with William and Lennah in Newnan in 1880, is noted as having consumption and probably died quite young. Charles, like his father, attended dental college and was a dentist.

In 1876, Coleman Owen's estate sale was held down in Meriwether County and one of the purchasers was James C. Cole, son of William T. and Mary Ann Owen Cole. James had married, in 1873, Emily Sharp, daughter of Elias and Elizabeth Vance Sharp. There is a good deal of information on James' two sons, Joseph R. and James W. Cole, in "Coweta Chronicles" written in 1928 (page 643-644). James C. Cole died young, as his wife is shown as a widow in 1880. He is buried at Tranquil Cemetery near Turin, in Coweta County. Emily lived until 1909. She is buried at the Sharpsburg Baptist Church Cemetery in Sharpsburg.

Finding Jesse B. Cole was an Internet group project and I am grateful to all those who participated in the search. Jesse married Eliza J. Hancock about 1881 and lived in Haralson where they had a large family. Jesse stayed close to kinfolks. One of his neighbors was his first cousin, Ethel Owen Hutchinson, daughter of his mother's brother, Bricy Marshall Owen, and wife of Lewis Otto Hutchinson. Jesse died in 1926 in Miami, Fla., although the Coweta Cemeteries Book gives his gravestone reading as 1827, and Eliza died in 1918. They are both buried at Haralson United Methodist Church Cemetery on Ga. Hwy. 85 in Haralson.

I haven't been able to find any information on the other children of William and Mary Ann Cole, but you know I'll continue to look for them.

I was quite surprised to find that there was no probate record in Coweta County at all for William Cole who died in 1911. Lennah died in 1919 and left a will naming her three living children, Thomas, Pauline and Maud Cole Smith, and her grandson, Wilson Smith.

It was Valerie Freeman of California who finally found the bits and pieces of the Cole story in "Chronicles" and led me to it. Thought I had looked there but I must have missed it. Thank you, Valerie.

Stories about your families who lived on Atlanta's south side are always welcome. Send stories to or Mail to The Citizen, P.O. Drawer 1719, Fayetteville, GA 30214. All letters and e-mails I receive are subject to being used in the column.

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