Friday, July 18, 2014

The Coles–8th Installment

On December 6, 2012, I wrote the following (second paragraph below) fully expecting to receive some more family history details from my second Cousin, Tom, and photographs of Elizabeth Buckingham Cole.  Tom was taking over the reins as the Cole Family Historian from Pat Weeks (another distant Cole relative—her mother Florence Cole Weeks, granddaughter of Elizabeth).  If you would like to refresh your memory of Elizabeth Cole (and for those of you new to the blog and wondering what in the world I am writing about), I started her story on this blog November 22, 2012.

“A note on the 8th Installment of The Coles (refer to the last 7 blog posts).  I know I left you hanging and Elizabeth still has some major challenges in her life, but I would like to post some pictures of her.  My cousin (second cousin, that is) is sending a few photographs.  Don’t forget me, Tom!”

Sadly, Cousin Tom lost his battle with cancer last year not able to follow-through with my request.  Pat unexpectedly died within two weeks of Tom’s passing.  It was unclear to me who would be maintaining the Cole family history after this.  Another reminder of how quickly life moves on.   I have been asked to finish Elizabeth’s story with what I have currently.  Such an interesting life, it would have been made so much more alive if I had the visuals.  Here is the rest of the story…

William Thomas Cole & Elizabeth Buckingham ColeElizabeth Buckingham Cole

“If you recall the last post on Elizabeth Cole, she lost her husband (my great-great grandfather) in October 1889 (the handsome Irish gardener)and at age 71 he was finally laid to rest.  Leaving their small farm in Iowa, Elizabeth headed West again—to the farthest reaches of the country in Washington State.  (Photo at left is William and Elizabeth during their Iowa years.)

Traveling with her son, William Buckingham Cole, and his wife, Viola Bonebrake, and their five children, they made their new home in Centralia, Washington where other relatives had settled years before.  A few years after making a home in Centralia, Viola became ill with tuberculosis and died October 17, 1895 leaving an elderly Elizabeth (now in her 70’s) to raise a large and very young family.

Although their home was bare, grandmother Elizabeth made a warm, comfortable home for her grandchildren.  As a skilled seamstress, she taught her granddaughter to sew when she was five years old.  All four grandsons adored her.  Thanksgiving and Christmas were filled with the delicious scents of her famous old country plum puddings.  

But survival in the woods of the Northwest was a challenge.  If ever there was a courageous woman, she was one, as Elizabeth’s son, William, became very ill with a lung infection and required a delicate operation.  Medical facilities and staff were almost non-existent in this part of the country.  To save her son’s life, Elizabeth’s nursing skills were needed by the local small town doctor.  The operation was performed on the dining room table with all the sheets and instruments sterilized by Elizabeth and giving her assistance to the doctor.  Young grandson, Ira, administered the anesthetic.

Her son survived.”

I will finish the final chapter of Elizabeth’s life next week.

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