Finding Your Folks: Chasing Jesse Cole through Georgia and Alabama

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

You never know where the path will lead when you start out on one of these research adventures. Last week after I posted my queries on the Internet and people started responding, not to the Owen side, but to the Cole side of my questions, I stood at the fork in the path, wondering whether I should really take off on this new family or politely thank them and state that I was only interested in the Cole-Owen part of the family.

It may have taken me a split second, at most, to decide. Anyone who knows me knows I took the uncharted path to the new family. And that is when I started chasing Jesse Cole … all the way from Oglethorpe County, Ga. to Clay County, Ala. for the nearly 72 years that encompassed his lifetime. I'm missing only the 1840 census to make his journey complete. This research information also may answer some questions about another Jesse Cole said to be in this same area.

Jesse's parents, Robert and Elizabeth Fambrough Cole, both said to have been born in Virginia, made their way to Georgia with their respective parents (she was the daughter of Anderson Fambrough; he was the son of William Cole) and settled, for a while in Oglethorpe County, where they were married in 1796. Jesse, their first child and first son, was born 15 Sept. 1797. Eleven children were to follow, ending with the youngest two, Robert Duke Cole and Matthew Cole, both later famous in Newnan for their manufacturing and construction ventures.

Robert and Elizabeth Fambrough Cole were on the move as early as 1805 when they are found in neighboring Clarke County among the Heads of House in Georgia. By 1820, Robert and Elizabeth were in Jasper County, where our Jesse married his first wife, Elizabeth Crawford, on 30 Dec. 1819. Elizabeth was the daughter of William T. and Elizabeth Shanklin Crawford.

The story in "Georgia Memoirs" mentions that Robert and his son, Jesse Cole, were both early settlers of Newton County and it is possible that the part of Jasper County where they resided in 1820 became Newton when it was formed in 1821. However, I could find no paper trail online showing either Robert or Jesse's presence in Newton County, although there may be some record at the courthouse.

The story in "Coweta Chronicles" mentions a move to Alabama about this time, supposedly where our William T. Cole was born in 1827. It must have been a quick move and a short stay, because by 1830, a Jesse Cole was in Henry County with a wife, three boys and four girls. The children were all born between 1820 and 1827. I know who two of them were (Robert S. was probably the oldest and William T. was the youngest) but the others, including all the girls, remain a mystery. I believe this to be our Jesse because his second marriage occurred in Henry County.

Elizabeth died sometime before 1836 ("Coweta Chronicles" says William T. was about 10 years old when his mother died) and Jesse married his second wife, Marjory Ann Colley, on 22 May 1836 in Henry County. It was about this time that William T. Cole went to live with his older brother, Robert S. Cole, in Meriwether County.

After the marriage, Jesse may have followed his parents to Coweta and may have passed through, but he apparently kept moving westward and by 1850 he and Marjory were in Chambers County, Ala. with no remnants of Robert's first set of children living with them. I could not find them anywhere in 1840. Birth records of the children in the census indicate they arrived in Alabama sometime before 1844 when their son, Parker was born. Children found in the 1850 and 1860 censuses include Anderson Fambrough Cole b. abt 1838 in Ga.; Susan b, abt 1841 in Ga., and the rest born in Ala., Parker abt 1844, Martha abt 1846, Samantha abt 1848, Jesse M. abt 1849, John Duke abt 1850, Mathew H. abt 1851, Joseph H. abt 1852, Laura T. abt 1854, and Margaret Anne, abt 1858.

Jesse died 1 April 1869 and Marjory died 22 June 1883. She is found in censuses living with her children in Clay County through 1880. Jesse and Marjory are both buried at Black Chapel Cemetery and Campground in Clay County, Ala. Many of the children married and remained in Clay County.

Going back to Coweta and the Cole migration path through the county, I found many "mystery" Coles in probate records at the Coweta courthouse that may tie into this family.

A Richard Cole died in 1843 in Coweta and left several minor children, among them Emily, Mary and Caroline. Charles Leavell was administrator of his estate and John Hunter was guardian of the girls. Richard apparently was married to a Susan Vance. By 1852, all three girls had requested that John N. Cole be their guardian. Guardianship was granted with James J. Vance and Henry D. Ward as securities.

A John N. Cole died in Coweta in 1863 (could be the same one shown above) and left an estate with many references in the probate books. In 1894, Monroe W. Cole left a will and estate records and in 1895 a Charlie P. Cole died and left estate records. References to the estate of a Nancy J. Cole appear in records in 1900, and guardianship records are on the books for Thomas M., Frank, Maria and Louise Cole in 1904. There were many others through the years.

Investigation of these records and others could lead to further information on the Cole families of Coweta County.

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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