Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Coles–7th Installment

This installment begins around 1868.  William and Elizabeth have been married 30 years.  William is approximately 50 years old and Elizabeth is 46.

A Peaceful, Happy Life In Iowa

Anxious to own land to farm and a comfortable home, William learns of property for sale in southern Iowa.  Purchasing acreage, they head back East at a leisurely pace.  This time the sights of the West through Utah, Colorado and the Midwest are enjoyed.  Once arriving in Iowa, a new home was soon built and the farm established.  The family settled in for a very happy way of life for the next 20 years. 

jeffersonacademy1875William B. finished school in Iowa (photo left - Jefferson Academy 1875), became a teacher, studied law and practiced in Knowlton, Iowa.  He married Viola Bonebrake, one of his pupils; he was 19 and she was 18.  To them were born four sons and one daughter.  All of these children were delivered by their grandmother, Elizabeth.  Elizabeth doted on her grandchildren; and they were very much a part of her life.

Sadly, in October 1889, the handsome Irish gardener at age 71 was finally laid to rest.  William led an exciting life and married his love.   He survived the Irish Famine, overcame bigotry of the English, the mean streets of the immigrant towns, and the harsh conditions of gold mining.  Eventually, finding peace on a small farm in Iowa.

Life wasn’t over for Elizabeth, though; and many challenges were in store for her in the years to come.  It was time to head West again—to the farthest reaches of the Country in Washington State.

[Note:  The youngest son of William Buckingham Cole is my grandfather, Joseph Franklin Cole.]

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Coles–6th Installment

My great-great grandparents make their way out West.

Old West Wagon Train

wagontrainAfter beginning the new journey to the West, it became apparent that good old “Mother Nature” had other plans for William and Elizabeth.  Not surprising, another baby was on the way.  They got as far as Chicago and set up camp at Rock Island, Illinois; to wait for a larger caravan. 

But, the baby, wasn’t waiting and Elizabeth gave birth to her third son, William Buckingham Cole, on November 12, 1855.  They reconsidered the trip to Idaho and felt the road was too hazardous with a new baby, so they stayed behind and set up housekeeping until William was 6 years old. 

Around this time, the Civil War recruitment was threatening to claim their eldest son, and they thought it best to get Tom into the West.  Joining a large caravan, the trip to Idaho was without serious incident.  There were encounters with Indians, but the caravan was large enough to deter any attacks.  With Elizabeth along, minor illnesses and delivering babies were left in her capable hands.  Later in life, she would say with pride, “I delivered hundreds of babies and never lost a mother or child.”

Upon arriving in Idaho City, Elizabeth set up a boarding house and fed about five or six miners besides her family each day.  Even with Elizabeth’s nursing skills, there came another sadness to them, their oldest son, Tom, died on October 22, 1867 of pneumonia.  They buried him in Idaho City, “Boot Hill Cemetery”. 

GoldRushGamblingThe town was growing too fast and filled with a dangerous sort.  The “riff raff” of the mining operations that followed all camps began to pour in causing trouble. 

William knew it was time to leave the mining life and find another place for his Elizabeth and only remaining son, William.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Coles–5th Installment

The story of my great-great grandparents continues.

William Returns

One day as Elizabeth was busy sewing for others, there was a knock at the door.  She opened to find a strange man standing there.  “Don’t you know me?” he asked.  William had finally returned after so many years.  He was happy to see his wife and son, but grieved to learn of the death of Little John.

idahocitygoldWilliam was full of adventures to tell and ready to take his family to the great American West.  He had established a mine and was anxious to return to operate his claim.  But, you see, instead of heading for California, William and his party took another route and went into Idaho about 35 miles from Boise, to Idaho City*, which was a fast booming mining town.  He had stock in the mine and had brought with him a pouch of gold and silver.  This would take care of their needs for some time to come. 

Part of the gold was used to form another small caravan to the West.  The family packed up the necessities and started out with a new excited group heading West. 

But, a new development would cause William and Elizabeth to travel only halfway…with a long delay in Chicago, Illinois. 

*Idaho City was founded in December 1862 during the Boise Basin gold rush during the Civil War. At its peak during the mid-1860s, there were more than 200 businesses in town, including three dozen saloons and two dozen law offices. Its 1864 population of 7,000 made it the largest city in the Northwest, bigger than Portland, Oregon. Wood was the prime source of both shelter and heat, which caused Idaho City to burn four times: 1865, 1867, 1868, and 1871.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Coles–4th Installment

The story of the Coles takes another new turn.


goldrushcaravanThe cry of Gold! in the American West was reaching the East Coast.  William became anxious to join a group and find his fortune.  He was troubled about who would look after his family while he was gone, but Elizabeth assured him she could manage.  A large caravan was formed and William packed his meager belongings and as many supplies as could be managed.  Meat would be plentiful along the way, but flour, sugar, salt, and bedding had to be packed along.  It was time to go as the excitement grew with stories of gold to be found everywhere in the West.

sewingmachineTime went by with no word from William.  Elizabeth put her early training in sewing and nursing to good effect.  She tailored and became a licensed midwife doing her best to support her family of two young boys.  Elizabeth was very lonely and sad, missing William terribly.  Her sons gave her strength; and she was a devoted and loving mother. 

Tragedy struck the family.  Little John contracted measles and could not survive his illness.  He died March 11, 1852—only four years old.  Elizabeth was filled with sorrow.  Her boys were so very dear to her.

Several years passed and Elizabeth had almost given up hope that her William would ever return.  Many stories came back of caravans being attacked by Indians and killed crossing the Plains.  She was afraid this was William’s fate.

During this time of hardship, her mother and a sister, learning of her sorrow and her desperation over William’s long absence came over from England.  They stayed a year giving her support and comfort.  The relationship with Elizabeth’s father had not changed however; as her mother told her, her father had never forgiven her.  Elizabeth was one of five girls in the family, and she was the only one who ever disobeyed him. 

Next installment – The Fate of William

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Coles–3rd Installment

History of my father’s family, William and Elizabeth Cole, continues in the segment below.

The Land of Opportunity

IrishImmigrantShipShortly after Thomas’ birth, William’s relatives from Ireland, the Sullivans, were making plans to sail to America.  Their stories of opportunity and a new life seemed agreeable to the young couple and they made plans to join the party.

lawrence maWilliam, Elizabeth and their baby, Thomas,  arrived in Boston  joining the Irish who had already arrived, found jobs and made a home in their newly adopted country.  Along with many other immigrants, they moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts.  Immigrants flooded into the United States in the mid to late 19th century, and the population of Lawrence abounded with skilled and unskilled workers from almost every nation in Europe: Ireland, France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Poland, and Lithuania; French-Canadians from the provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island; and farm girls from all over New England.  Lawrence became known as Immigrant City very early in its existence.

John L SullivanWilliam found work readily as a gardener and also as a blacksmith and carpenter.  The family was very happy with this new way of life and a second son, John, was born September 12, 1847.  Cousin Michael Sullivan and his wife, Catherine,  also had a son 11 years later born in Boston on October 15, 1858.  This new member of the family, John L. Sullivan, became the Heavyweight Champion of the World.   He had a remarkable record of 47 wins, one loss, and three draws which brought John L. international fame and close to $1,000,000 in prize money.  Considered the first American sports idol, John L. Sullivan was known during his time as "the man most men wanted to be."

Next segment…The Nation and William catch “gold fever”…

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Coles–2nd Installment

Yesterday, I gave you the preface to the story of my great-great grandparents, William and Elizabeth Buckingham Cole.  Today’s segment tells of the first event that changed their lives.

Falling in Love

Elizabeth’s parents estate was large and self supporting, many hired men taking care of the livestock and farming operations.  The gardens and flowers around the house was in the hands of an experienced young Irishman.

William_T_ColeIt was not long before the gardener began to look at Elizabeth in a very serious manner.  Flowers and fruit from the garden were given to her on many occasions.  The Irish in England were not looked upon as equals during the 1800’s and this “situation” was becoming very difficult for the Buckingham family.  The Irish gardener secretly asked Elizabeth to marry him; and the day came when Elizabeth gave her most surprising answer to the handsome, young Irishman named William Cole. 

In 1840, William and Elizabeth eloped and conducted the ceremony in London.  Elizabeth’s father, upon learning of the marriage, disowned his daughter never allowing her to return to her childhood home; and she was disinherited of any claim to the Buckingham property.

london 1800sNot disheartened, the couple lived in London.  Young William Cole was always able to find work and they started their new life.  Before the year was up, they gave birth to a son named Thomas. 

But, London would not be their home for long…

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Coles–1st Installment

Occasionally, I dabble in genealogy.  I do mean, dabble.  I obsessively dig for information, hit a wall and flounder; then, try to pick up the trail a few weeks later.  And, it is difficult to pick one thread to follow back.  I jump from the de Bords, back to the Coles, and over to the Main family.  It is all so addictive.  The family story that got me hooked on genealogy is the story of William and Elizabeth Buckingham Cole, my great-great grandparents.  I think you will find it as fascinating as I did and for the next few weeks I will share their story as told by my great aunt, Florence Cole Weeks; she was the granddaughter of Elizabeth Cole.

William and Elizabeth Cole

Devonshire England estateThis story is more about the life of Elizabeth Buckingham Cole than William, as our lives were guided for many years by her ever ready help and sacrifice.  She was a most heroic and courageous woman.  She let her heart guide her in a very dedicated sacrifice that paved the way for her serious determination in full life and love for a man, not knowing what was to come.

She was born to Mary and William Buckingham on April 17, 1821 at their estate in Devonshire, England.  These parents belonged to the upper class of large estate owners and wealthy.  They were classed with the titled of England, all were raised in the tradition of the classes according to education and social relations.  School was conducted by tutors in the house; all were trained in some “trade”, such as music, sewing and handwork.

Our Elizabeth became very skilled in sewing and nursing.  Later in life she became a licensed midwife when a time required her help.  In later life, nursing helped her save and support her family.  Her life up to age of 17 was not too eventful.  But, that would change.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Ma and Pa Kettle

File:MaandPaKettle.jpgJust down the road from our place is the small town of Chimacum, Washington.  Just a few buildings at an intersection make up the town, but what is remarkable about the place are two former residents, Ma and Pa Kettle.  Yep, they were real people living here in our county—a hillbilly couple with fifteen children.  If you are not familiar with them, Ma and Pa Kettle are comic film characters of the successful film series of the same name, produced by Universal Studios, in the late '40s and '50s.

Ma and Pa Kettle were featured by Betty MacDonald in her 1945 best-selling novel, The Egg and I.   (Chimacum has a road called the Egg and I.)  The success of the novel spawned the 1947 film The Egg and I starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray, also co-starring Marjorie Main and Percy Kilbride as Ma and Pa Kettle.

The little grocery store in Chimacum has actual photographs of the Kettles posted on their wall.   And the actors portraying the couple do resemble the originals.   Read the book and watch the movies—they are a hoot!

Some locations across the country have famous historical figures…we have Ma and Pa Kettle. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Living Aboard

Nordhavn5Nordhavn6For over 30 years, our dream was to live aboard a boat.  The boat of choice was a trawler over 40 feet, preferably a Nordhavn or a Krogen.  Both are full displacement and able to take to the seas.  We took lessons, chartered a vacation in the San Juan Islands on a Nordhavn, and owned several smaller boats (26 foot, 31 foot)—giving us the basics to know how to operate a larger boat.  When it came down to making retirement living choices, the cost of living aboard was beyond our means.  I know others will live aboard a boat much smaller and older, but for us, having a newer, well maintained, and roomier sea-worthy boat for traveling the open water was a must. 

It still hurts a little when you walk through the boat of our dreams.


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