William Cole & John Cole of Barbour County, West Virginia

by Lyle K. Corder

Much has been written about the Cole families of Harrison County, Virginia now Barbour County, West Virginia. In most cases the two families of William and John Cole have been, to say the least, confused. But the more we learn about them, the more we realize they may have left us with a road map to their ancestry.

Based on the small amount of research I've done and extensive information provided by Paul Cole of Carnegie, Pennsylvania, I believe the following to be reasonably accurate.

William Cole (1742-1820) married Elizabeth Hardesty 20 Apr. 1769 in Baltimore County, Maryland, lived in Loudoun County, Virginia, and came to Barbour County from Fauquier County, Virginia, about 1812. They lived on Fox Grape Run and are buried in the old Cole/Modisett cemetery located behind Adaland, near Berryburg. It appears that all nine of their children and spouses, if married, came with them. All but Elizabeth had married in Virginia before they moved west.

John Cole (1751-1839), William's brother, married Elizabeth Cullison 4 May 1782 in Baltimore County, and came to Barbour County about 1812 from Fauquier County, probably with the William Cole family. They lived on Pleasants Creek near the Taylor County line and are buried in the Pleasants Creek Methodist Church cemetery.

We know that John and Elizabeth Cullison Cole had at least one child, Elenor (born 10 June 1783 in Baltimore County), who married her cousin Joshua Washington Cole, son of William and Elizabeth Hardesty Cole. Elenor and Joshua were married 13 Dec. 1801 in Fauquier County, and are buried at Pleasants Creek. If John and Elizabeth had more children, I have been unable to find any reference to them in Maryland, Virginia or West Virginia.

Other researchers of this family claim that William Cole's wife was Elizabeth Simmons. I don't agree. Four of their children used the name Hardesty as a middle name for their children. None was given the name Simmons.

Elizabeth Hardesty's father was Joshua Hardesty who married Keziah Simmons 6 Oct. 1746 in Baltimore County, Maryland. So, Simmons was Elizabeth's mother's maiden name, not hers. Perhaps Elizabeth Hardesty's middle name was Simmons. This may have caused the confusion.

Joshua Washington and Elenor Cole named their first daughter Elizabeth Cullison Cole and their second daughter Sarah Hardesty Cole. Thus, we have the names of the wives of John and William Cole.

I'm confident William and John Cole were part of the large contingent of Cole/Coale families found in the Baltimore County area in the 1700s. We know John's daughter Elenor was born there because her son Jesse Cole stated on her death record that she was born "Elendar Coal" in Baltimore, Maryland. Also, William's daughter Keziah married Edward Stephens 22 May 1796 in the First German Evangelical Reformed Church in Frederick County, Maryland.

The names of the children of Joshua Washington and Elenor Cole serve as a road map back in time for this family:

Name, Born

  • Elizabeth Cullison Cole, 1803
  • John Wesley Cole, 1804
  • Sarah Hardisty Cole, 1805
  • Mary Anne Cole, 1807
  • Nancy Waters Cole, 1808
  • Malinda Williams Cole,1809
  • Elenor Finacy Cole, 1811
  • William Alexander Cole, 1812
  • Joshua Washington Cole*, 1814
  • Elizabeth Scott Cole, 1816
  • Johannah Stevens Cole, 1820
  • Joshua Washington Cole, 1821
  • Jesse Merriman Cole**, 1823
  • Rebecca Rosel Cole, 1824
  • *Died young.

    **Elizabeth Cullison's father was Jesse Cullison.

    One only has to check the book Baltimore County Families 1659-1759 by Robert Barnes to see the interrelationships of these families.

    On page 260 in Western Waters:

    "The surname Cole appears frequently in tax records found at the courthouse at Elkins, Randolph County. Yet the only Cole who lived in eastern Barbour County in the Cove Settlement was a Samuel Cole. He was listed by Cornelius Westfall as living in the Cove Settlement in 1785."

    "William Cole, who was a merchant in the City of Baltimore, bought in 1799 from John Holmes, of the city of Baltimore, 7,000 acres on the Dry Fork of Cheat. William died May 8, 1822, while still living in Baltimore."

    It seems reasonable to assume that these Coles were related to William and John Cole. Perhaps this is why they happened to come to Barbour County.

    Between the time they lived in Maryland and 1812 when they arrived in Barbour County, the Cole brothers lived in Loudoun and Fauquier Counties, Virginia. They may have lived in other places, but we have no proof.

    The 1787 tax list of Virginia shows a John and William Cole in Loudoun County. Previously written material often refers to them as "from Loudoun County."

    On 25 Feb. 1799, William and Elizabeth Cole bought 484 acres of land from Elias Edmons in Fauquier County (Deed Bk. 14, pg. 315). The land was located on the Alexandria Road near the town of Salem, now called Marshall.

    The Fauquier County Tax list for 1798 shows John Cole, Joshua Cole, William Cole Sr. and William Cole Jr. The 1799 list shows John Cole, Joshua Cole and William Cole. William Cole is shown as voting in 1799.

    On 25 Sept. 1804, William and Elizabeth Cole sold pieces of the acreage in Fauquier County:

    On 27 Oct. 1806 (Deed Bk. 16, pg. 548) William Cole Jr. and wife Anne of Harrison County. Virginia, sold their 110 acres in Fauquier County to John Pencoast. William Cole Jr. had already come to Barbour County and on 20 Oct. 1806 bought 381 acres on Fox Grape Run for $1,500 from Preston and Sarah Beck. (Harrison County Deed Bk. 6, pg. 338).

    On 23 Nov. 1810 (Deed Bk. 17, pg. 767) John and Elizabeth Cullison Cole sold their Fauquier land to John Shacklett. On 26 Nov. 1810 (Deed Bk. 17, pg. 768) Joshua and Eleanor Cole sold land to Thomas Rector in Fauquier. On 28 Nov. 1810 (Deed Bk. 17, pg. 769) Joshua and Eleanor sold additional land to Daniel Flowerrie.

    William and Elizabeth Hardesty Cole sold their land in Fauquier County on 26 Aug. 1811 (Deed Bk. 18, pg. 221) to Martin Squiers for $11 per acre. William Cole was still in Fauquier County on 14 Sept. 1811 when he gave written permission for his daughter Sary to marry William Corder. (William and Sarah are my great grandparents.)

    The land books for Fauquier County show:

    1803, 04, 05 - William Cole - 486 acres

    1806 - William Cole Sr. - 1121/2 acres

    William Cole Jr. (son of William) - 110 acres

    Joshua Cole (son of William) - 107 acres

    John Cole (son of William*) - 100 acres

    *We believe that the father of John and William Cole of Barbour County was a William.

    1807 - John's name disappears

    Joshua's name disappears

    1811 - William Cole's name disappears

    William Cole Sr. bought 183 acres on Fox Grape Run, Barbour County, for $500 from his son William Jr. and wife Ann, 15 July 1812. (Harrison County Deed Bk. 10, pg. 270.)

    William and Sarah Cole Corder came to Barbour County and located on Hacker's Creek in 1814. Hacker's Creek is only a few miles from Fox Grape Run.

    William Cole Sr. died in 1820 and so did his wife Elizabeth Hardesty Cole. His will dated 10 July 1818 (Harrison County Will Bk. 3 pg. 72) mentions his wife Elizabeth, sons William and Joshua and daughters Keziah Stephens, Sarah Corder, Johanah Modeset, Ealse Glasscock, the children of Nancy McClanahan (deceased) and Mary Elliott. Grandsons William Cole and Hardesty Woodget are also mentioned. It took two days to sell his estate.

    By 14 Dec. 1833, William Cole Jr. had purchased all of his brothers' and sisters' interests in the property on Fox Grape Run. The old chimney of the William Corder Sr. house still stands; another house was built around it in the 1920s or '30s. This home is now being used as a hay barn.

    A John Cole applied for a Revolutionary War pension in Harrison County in 1834. He said he was from Baltimore County, Maryland. The application was denied because he couldn't prove his length of service. The only John Cole in Harrison County at this time, of the necessary age, was John Cole of Barbour County.

    John Cole died 26 Feb. 1839, but signed a "Deed of Gift" 2 Apr. 1836 (Harrison County Deed Bk. 24 pg. 98), giving his personal property to John W. Cole, Elizabeth Cole, Joshua Cole and Eleanor Cole. John W. Cole was his grandson - John Wesley Cole. Elizabeth Cole was John Wesley Cole's wife. Joshua Cole was his son-in-law and Eleanor his daughter. He referred to Eleanor as "my daughter." John Cole's wife, Elizabeth Cullison Cole, had died 14 July 1819.

    Elizabeth Cole in Barbour County - Another Look said the Coles were Germans whose name was originally spelled KOHL.

    The children of William and Elizabeth Hardesty Cole were:

    *Daughter of John and Elizabeth Cullison Cole - William's brother and sister-in-law. (Perhaps their only child)

    1995 by Lyle Corder, 13 Crestview Terrace, Bridgeport, WV, 26330

    Comments regarding this page to: Deborah Johnson.