Finding Your Folks: Children of Jesse and Elizabeth Crawford Cole

Judy Fowler Kilgore's picture

We're going to jump back to another Cole family this week because I sort of left them hanging out there in left field a few weeks ago. If you will go back to the "Chasing Jesse Cole …" story you will see that I had only two children from his first family with Elizabeth Crawford - Robert S. and William Thomas Cole - when the census indicated more.

Well, that has changed a bit, thanks to some very interesting material sent to me by Tex Dix of Spalding County. Tex is a descendant of Emily Jane Cole and John Singley, a couple most have connected to Jesse Cole and Elizabeth Crawford. But Tex says it ain't so … that he believes his Emily Jane Cole who married John Singley was the daughter of Marcus Cole and Clarissa Strickland … and he submitted some compelling evidence to back up his claim.

It doesn't prove the lineage beyond a doubt, but its inconsistency does raise some questions. A most noticeable discrepancy is that John Singley's wife, Emily Jane, consistently says she was born in North Carolina, when we know our Emily Cole was born in Georgia. Let's see how it all comes together.

The 1830 census of Henry County showed Jesse and Elizabeth Cole with seven children, three boys and four girls. That may be wrong in itself because no records ever show three sons of this couple - only two: Robert S. and William Thomas. The names of the girls were Mary Ann, Sarah, Frances Caroline, Elizabeth and Emily, all born between 1820 and 1830 as shown in guardianship papers from Henry County Court minutes. Tex believes that Elizabeth and Emily are the same person, but there is evidence to cast some doubt on that. I also believe that the extra boy in the census was an erroneous listing and should be a girl - Mary Ann.

The first record Tex sent showing the names of Jesse's children is a deed of gift from their uncle, Thomas S. Crawford, "for natural love and affection," giving them 202.5 acres in Land Lot 107 in the Sixth District of Henry County. It is dated 3 Nov. 1829 and names specifically, using first and last names, Robert Cole, Mary Ann Cole, Sarah Cole, Frances Caroline Cole, Elizabeth Cole and William Thomas Cole. This is from a scan of the page from the Henry County Deed Book (Book G, page 351), so I am looking at an original document and not what someone thinks they saw. (All of these records we will discuss are from original documents.) The deed also says specifically that the children are nieces and nephews of Thomas Crawford. It was witnessed by Samuel Lindsey and Edward Allums, J.P.

You will notice that there is no Emily listed in the names of the children. Tex's reason for this is that she is the same person as Elizabeth. I would argue that perhaps she hadn't been born yet.

Going in chronological order, the next document listing the children is a paragraph from the Henry County Ordinary Court Minutes, November Term, 1831, ordering that William Crawford be appointed guardian for Robert Cole, Mary Ann Cole, Sarah Cole, Caroline Cole, Elizabeth Cole, Emily Cole, and William T. Cole, minors of Jesse Cole. Jesse was still alive. I don't know why they needed a guardian or who William Crawford was. Tex believes he was their grandfather and that, indeed, was his name. I would raise my eyebrows slightly and think instead it might have been an uncle.

You will note that Emily has now been added. I would argue that perhaps she was born after 1829 (date of the deed of gift). Also, perhaps they had inherited something from another relative leading to the necessity of a guardian. It's hard to tell without seeing what other records there are in this matter. Tex argues, and with merit, that Emily in these records is never referred to as "Emily Jane" as was the person who married John Singley and appeared in later censuses as "Emily J."

The next record is from the Nov. 5, 1835 term of court in Henry County where William Crawford and William Sager (or Sayer or Seger) entered bond of $1,600 guaranteeing that William Crawford would fulfill the duties of guardian of "Robert, Maryan, Sarah. Caroline, Elizabeth (no punctuation and next name on next line) Emily. Wm. T Cole minors of Jessie Cole …"

Tex argues that there is no punctuation between Elizabeth and Emily and it should be one name. I would argue that every court clerk in the country would have been fired if we graded them on punctuation.

Now it really starts to get interesting. A bond record from Henry County dated 9 Nov. 1841, shows William T. Crawford and John N. Nash entering bond of $1,000 for "… the above bound William T. Crawford who was this day appointed Guardian of the person and property of Robert S.. Mary A.. Frances C.. Emily & William T. Cole Orphan Children of Jesse Cole deceased …" Deceased?? Jesse wasn't deceased until 1869. Also, Robert S. Cole, born 1820, was very close to coming of age. In fact, his marriage to Nancy Ward had to take place pretty soon because their first child was born about 1842.

Notice again, the appearance of Emily and the disappearance of Elizabeth. Tex's claim is that, again, they were the same person. I say perhaps Elizabeth married. I'm just playing the devil's advocate here for the sake of argument.

But I've run out of room. There is much more evidence in this "case" but I'll have to continue with it next week.

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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