Cole Family of Rutherford Co NC and Spartanburg SC

Most of the Cole family data being used as sources today is based on the research of Opal R. Cole, of Rutherfordton, NC. I recently received a copy of her research and while she did a great job of getting the Cole family down on paper, there are a few errors in her work.  This occurs mostly in the earlier generations but to be safe, I would verify everything if this is your family.

Mrs. Cole states in her publication History of the John and Susannah Cole Family  that John is the son of Thomas Cole. She also states, without mentioning any specific sources, that John and Susannah were the parents of Joseph, Harriett, William, J. Newton, Susannah and Isabella Cole. I believe these facts to be in error. Read through the rest of this page and see if you don't agree...

John Cole is a very common name. I have found no proof that John Cole (1782-1871) was the son of Thomas Cole of Spartanburg Co. SC. Thomas names a son John in his will[i] but that doesn't mean he is this John Cole. In fact, there is a document[ii] in the probate file that states that his son John is 'not of this state'. Now I know that Rutherford Co. is not in SC, however it's just across the state line and close enough that he could have been present to claim his inheritance. The other children listed as 'not of this state' were in Georgia and Tennessee. There was a John Cole in Hall Co. GA in 1830, born in SC with a daughter Susanna, with no proven heritage as far as I know.

I believe that John Cole was the son of Joseph Cole, (1760/65-abt 1840). When examining the records for Joseph Cole,  I find him in 1787 in York Co., SC as administrator, along with James Venables, for the estate of Hugh Bryson. (James Venables and his wife named a son Hugh.) York Co. was just across the Broad River from Spartanburg County at that time. In the 1790 census of York Co., Joseph has two males over 16, one male under 16 and three females in the household. This is probably Joseph at age 25-30 and  possibly a brother or brother-in-law,  son John age about 8, and daughters Jane and Peggy and his wife. I can't locate him in 1800, perhaps he is on the page of microfilm for York Co. that was covered up and is unreadable. In 1810 he is in Rutherford Co., NC and is over 45 as is his wife, with 2 sons 16-26 (John was already married) one daughter 10-16, 3 dtrs 16-26 (Peggy was already married). In 1820, Joseph and wife are over 45 with no other persons in the household.

In 1818 Joseph Cole witnesses the will of Elizabeth Brisco, along with jurat Sucky Coal, executors John Cole and Phillip Henson. And in 1822 Joseph is named executor on Hugh Cole of Spartanburg's will along with Charles Cantrell, witnessed by Thomas Henson, John Cantrell and Thomas Robbins. Then in 1823 Joseph is listed as jurat. on Thomas Hall's will along with John Cole, witnessed by Thomas Henson and leaving property to William Owens, husband of Peggy Cole in Rutherford Co., NC. Thomas Henson was married to Jane Cole and later relocated to Haywood County, NC.

Then in 1830, Joseph and wife have three children living with them again as outlined below. Joseph does not appear in the 1840 census and in 1841, Wilson Putman (husband of his granddaughter) is appointed administrator over his estate. He was replaced by John Cole in 1842, about the time Wilson and Milley Cole Putman moved to Haywood County, NC. Names on the sale list include Robbins, Roach and Splawn.

In John Cole's will[iii], he names his wife, daughter-in-law Nancy Cole [husband William deceased], her youngest son Dillard Cole; daughter Harriet wife of John Roach; son Newton Cole. Why would he not mention his daughter Susannah's spouse/children? Or Joseph or Isabella?  I believe it's no coincidence that Joseph, Susannah and Isabella (among others) were named in the will of Hugh Cole[iv] in Spartanburg, SC in 1823. 

Susannah Cole married William Splawn in 1841, yet in the 1840 census, John Cole has no young females in his household. So where was Susannah?

In 1830 I found John Cole with 2 males 10-15 ( William and Isaac Newton), 1 male 30-40 (?) and 40-50 (John would be 48); a 30-40 year old female (wife Susannah age 38) and an 80-90 yr. old female. A widow since 1816, Susannah's mother, Sarah Robbins is probably the 80-90 female.

The 1820 census has John and Susan age 26-45 (21001-2001), 2 daughters under 10, Harriet and ? - male children 2 under age 10 (William and Newton), one male 10-16 (there was no son 10 years ago, could this be a brother or in-law?). And the 1810 census shows John Cole 16-25 and wife same age with no children.

I believe Susanna was in the household of her grandfather, Joseph Cole in 1830[v] along with her brother Joseph and one of her sisters, Milley & Isabella. They were all the children of Hugh[vi] and Mary Cole of Spartanburg. Hugh's will dated 1823 (exec. Joseph Cole) lists these children plus Charles Jackson Cole, who I believe died young. John and Hugh are probably brothers.  Joseph, Milley and Isabella all married in 1839.

John Cole's wife was Susannah Robbins, daughter of William Robbins and Sarah (and sister of my GGG Grandmother Elizabeth Robbins who married James Splawn). Their children were Harriet married John Roach; William married Nancy Cooper; and Isaac Newton married Martha Butler. 

Hugh's children were Joseph married Elizabeth Putman (had a son named Hugh); Susannah married William M. Splawn (had a son named Hugh); Milley Cole married Wilson Putman, brother of Elizabeth (had a son named Hugh); Isabella married William D. Henson, and Charles Jackson Cole. In 1850 William and Isabella Cole Henson were in Haywood Co., NC, as were Wilson and Milley Cole Putman. 

Susannah Cole Splawn died after the 1860 census and had the following children: James, Margaret, Jason, Hugh, Newton Iredell[vii] and Elizabeth of which I'm sure. In 1870 Susannah was not on the census and there was a 14 year old Sarah (most likely the Elizabeth that was 7 in 1860, (my family loves that Sarah Elizabeth combination!) and a 2 year old Susan, who I believe was an illegitimate daughter of Margaret. This Susan is most likely the Margaret Splawn, aged 12 living with Newton and Martha Splawn in 1880 and listed as a niece.

I have received updated information that Margaret Susan is indeed the daughter of Margaret Splawn and Robert Scruggs, as was Pinkney Splawn who was also living with Newton and Martha in 1880. Margaret Susan married  George W. Heatherington and died in Inman in 1954. Her obituary lists her as Susan Scruggs Heatherington.

[i] 12 Feb. 1816 - "Will & Testament"

I, THOMAS COLE of the State of South Carolina, Spartanburg District being sick in body, but of perfect mind & memory thanks be given unto God calling unto mind this mortality of my body & knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die do make and ordain this my last will & testament that is to say principally and first of all I give and recommend my soul into the hand of almighty God that gave it and my body I recommend to the earth to be buried in a decent Christian order at the discretion of my executors. And as touching souch worldlt estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me with in this life, I give demise and disposes of the same in the manner and form following. -----

First I will that all such debts dues and demands as I owe in right of conscience to be well and truly satisfied by my Executors hereafter named.

Also I will to my beloved Son OBADIAH COLE, all my land, plantation where I now live, also I will my Negro woman "Ginny" and her increases hereafter to him, the Son OBEDIAH COLE. The Son OBEDIAH COLE doth hereby bind himself to take care of and maintain both his Father and Mother during his and their natural lives. Also I will to him two Cows and Calves and one feather bed. -- Also I will that my Horse, Cows, Hogs, Farming Utentials to be left in the hands of him, to support my family on together with my household furniture and in short every thing is to stay as it is during my own and beloved wife, life time only what is made use of to support upon. --

And then I will that the remander of my property to be equally divided amongest the rest of my lawful heirs, all only what I have above willed to my Son OBADIAH COLE.

My daughter PATSEY has received as follows which is to be reducted out of her part. One Horse; Twenty-Five dollars; One Umbrella; Seven and a Half dollars?; One Trunk; Seven dollars; and an equal division is my will only my Son OBADAIH COLE is to have what is above will to him and the rest of my heirs is as follows:

-- And now I do appoint WILLIAM DEWBERY and THOMAS COLE as my worthy Executors of this Will and Testament and I do hereby uterly disanul and revoke and every other Testaments, Wills, Legacies, Bequest and Executers by me in any wise before made, conferming this and no other to be my last Will and Testament. In witness wherof I have hereunto set my hand ans Seal, this Twentieth of February in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Sixteen.


Signed Sealed delivered in the presents of:

THOMAS D. WENDALE  <---Listed in 1820 Spartburg Census [Thomas Arendale]

SILAS ( X ) COOPER <---s/o David & Elizabeth COOPER

JAMES ( X) COOPER  <---s/o David & Elizabeth COOPER

On 14 Mar. 1816 South Carolina Spartanburg District By WILLIAM LANCASTER, Ordinary

Whereas THOMAS COLE, late of said District, dec'd died leaving a Will with THOMAS COLE and WILLIAM DEWBERY Executors, therein named.

-- These are therefor to Cite and Admanish all Beyonn and paticulary the Kindrad and Legates of said deceased to appear before me on Tuesday after the first Monday in April next, to show cause if any that the said Will should not be "Proven" in Solemn form and the Execurers therein named quallify.

Given under my hand and Seal this Fourth day of March, 1816 and in the 40th year of the American Independence.

Wm. Lancaster, O.L.D.

[ii] Journal of the Ordinary 1818-1819

18 Aug 1818 Thos Cole & Wm Dewberry exrs. of estate Thos Cole decd appeared to settle the estate, produced from under the hand of Nancy Guiton & Polly Arendale that they would abide by settlement...Henry Kenedy, Richard Fondrin, Grove Cole, John Cole, & Edward Cooper not being in this state ... nine legatees; sum advanced by decd in his lifetime to his dtr Patsy Kenady.

[iii] John Cole, 25 May 1867, November 1871. Wife. Dau.-in-law Nancy Cole, her youngest son Dillard Cole. Dau. Harriet wife of John Roach. Son Newton Cole. Exec. son Newton Cole.
Wit. D.D. McDaniel, S. F. Blanton. F-36

Source: Rutherford County, NC Will Abstracts 1779-1910
Copyright 1982
Compiled by Grace Turner & Miles Philbeck, Jr.

[iv] Will file # 695 abstracted

Will of Hughe Cole of Spartainburg County... to my well beloved wife Mary Cole, all my lands, household furniture, etc. while she remains my widow, if she marries, the third is hers; to my two sons Joseph Cole and Charles Jackson Cole, the other two thirds; my wife's third at her death, the boys to buy sd. land, and to be divided between the three Milley Cole, Susanah Cole and Ezabellow Cold ... Joseph Cole and Charles Cantrell, exrs
6 April 1822
Wit. John Cantrell, Thomas Robbins, Thomas Henson

[v] 1830    COLE  Joseph (60-70) Rutherford  pg  535  2nd Regiment
male 10-15, 60-70;  females 5-10, 10-15, 60-70

  State: SC Year: 1820
  County: Spartanburg County Federal Population Schedule
  Township: 100010- 30100 Page: 244
one son under ten (Joseph b. 1816) and three daughters under ten (Susannah, Milley, Isabella) Charles Jackson would have been born after 1820. Hugh is 26-45, Mary is 16-26

[vii] Iredell came from the death certificate index file from Rutherford Co., NC

Copyright 2003 Tamara West Stevens