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COLE Family of Vegreville, Alberta, Canada

Updated September 8, 2014

About Our Family Research

George Lester Cole (born 1840), the author's 2nd great (2xg) grandfather, his wife Alida (Reas) Cole, and their 7 children and families, took up homestead in the Old Vegreville District of Canada's Northwest Territory during the years 1900 to 1902. Surnames of others in this family group who also relocated from the United States at this time were Leach, Harding, Tierney, and Trenhaile.
George and his friend William Ross (Hulett family) laid claim to 13 quarter sections (over 2,000 acres) during their first visit to the area in 1899. The following year, the Willis & Carrie (Crossman) Cole, Tom & Inez (Cole) Tierney, Ezra & Kate (Harding) Cole, and Merton & Sarah (Harding) Cole families arrived, and in 1901 Henry and Nellie (Cole) Trenhaile followed. In 1902 George, Alida and their teenaged daughter, Stella arrived as did Ezra & Etta (Cole) Leach.

-1877 to 1901, George resided in Battle Plain Twp., Rock Co., Minnesota, near the towns of Hardwick and Edgerton.

-1864 to 1877, George lived in Milton, Dodge, MN, near the towns of Mantorville and Kasson.

-1849 to 1864, Ezra Cole (born 1790) the author's 3xg grandfather, wife Venlora, and their friends and relatives in the Leach family, made their homes first in the "Indian Lands" of Marquette (later Dodge), Wisconsin and then in 1855 relocated to Marion Twp., Waushara, WI.

-1842 to 1849, Ezra and his adopted Leach children abided in Downie and Blanshard Twps., Huron District, Canada West, near the present-day town of St. Marys, Ontario.

-1804 to 1842, Ezra resided in LeRay, Jefferson, New York.

-1796 to Feb, 1804, Philip Cole (born 1745) the author's 4xg grandfather lived in Litchfield, Herkimer, NY (now Winfield, Oneida, NY).

-1793 to 1796, Philip resided in Wells, Rutland, Vermont where the couple's 8th child Sarah (Sally) was born. Sally married Henry Govin and this family later moved to Norwich, Ontario, Canada.

-1771 to 1793, Philip, wife Mary and seven of their children nested in the towns of Windsor and Williamstown, Berkshire, Massachusetts. The childrens' names were: Lucy (b. 1776, nothing is known of her so she may have died young); Philenda (b. 1778, married Luther Stevens); Mary aka Polly (b. 1781, married Nathan Cole, son of Benjamin Cole and Sabra Brown); Anna (b. 1783, married Isaac Cornwell); Olive (b. 1785, married Barnabas Eaton); Philip Jr. (b. 1788, d. May, 1804); Ezra (b. 1790, married Venlora Stratton-Leach).

Philip was a Revolutionary War Veteran as were his brothers John and Benjamin. By analyzing various land transactions that occurred between 1771 and 1784 in Berkshire, it seems certain that Philip's parents were Samuel Cole (born 1704) and Patience Allen of Pomfret, Windham, Connecticut and that Philip's brothers, Samuel Jr., John, Joseph, and Benjamin all resided in the Berkshires during all or a portion of this time frame. It also seems certain that Samuel's parents were Phillip and Mary (Hadley) Cole of Amesbury, Essex, MA. Mary was a daughter of Samuel and Jane (Martin) Hadley. Phillip, and Hadley's other sons-in-law, Richard Goodwin, Ephraim Pemberton, and Thomas Potter all owned land adjoining their father-in-law, Samuel. At this time Phillip's ancestry is unknown because the Vital Records of Amesbury are missing for the 18 year period from 1668 to 1686.
Questions still to be answered are:
(a) Buried adjacent to Ezra in Marion Cemetery, Waushara, WI is Byron Cole. He was born in 1831 in Ashford, Cattaraugus, NY. Are Byron and Ezra related?
(b) How, if at all is Zebulon Cole born March 20, 1733/34 in Farmington, Hartford, CT related to Philip? They were neighbors in Wells, VT. Zeb's grandfather was Wm. Cole, born 1653 in Middletown, CT.
The author's yDNA does not match that of any other Cole male who has been tested to date. We need direct male descendants of Byron and Zeb to step up to the plate and get tested.

Family Photos
  • Three Generations of Alberta Wheat Pool Members (538 KB)
    Page one of an article from the February 13, 1948 edition of "The Alberta Wheat Pool Budget" newsletter that featured a story on George's youngest son Willis, Willis' oldest son Lemuel, and Lemuel's oldest son Dale. The Coles were one of the few, three-generation farm families belonging to the Alberta Wheat Pool founded in 1926.
  • Three Generations of Alberta 2 (671 KB)
    Page 2 of a 1948 article in the "Alberta Wheat Pool Budget" newsletter
  • Old Vegreville Townsite Historical Monument (595 KB)
    This cairn was erected to mark the location of "Old Vegreville" which stood on this site from 1891 to 1905. The town was moved (on skids, virtually overnight) in 1905 to rendezvous with the new Canadian Northern Railroad right-of-way. Coincidentally, Alberta became a Canadian province that same year.
  • George Lester Cole Family circa 1893 (723 KB)
    Standing L to R: Willis Cole, Nellie (Cole) Trenhaile, Merton Cole, Inez (Cole) Tierney. Note: Willis & Nellie were twins. Seated L to R: Ezra F. Cole, George L. Cole, Stella Cole, Alida (Reas) Cole, Etta (Cole) Leach.
  • Board of Trade Publication 1912 quoting W.G. Cole (939 KB)
    This is taken from a 1912 Vegreville Board of Trade publication promoting the area with a declaration that "No man (unless he was born lazy) can fail to make good in the Vegreville District. Try it and see." Willis Cole, a prominent local farmer, tells of his accomplishments since coming to the area approximately twelve years prior. The remainder of his testimonial can be found on the next page.
  • Official Approval of Homestead Patent Application (1190 KB)
    The "official" document issued by The Canadian Government, Department of the Interior, advising Willis G. Cole on February 15, 1905 that his application for homestead patent on SE 28-51-15W4 was approved on January 31, 1905. The document is dated October 17, 1904 and sealed on October 24, 1904. File Number 949953
  • Board of Trade Publication 2 (971 KB)
    See comments under previous page concerning the 1912 Vegreville Board of Trade Publication and Willis Cole's comments.
  • Land Ownership Map in Old Vegreville (2135 KB)
    This map of Municipal District of Patricia (mid 1930's origin) shows land owners in Township 51 (and northern portion of Township 50) in Ranges 14 and 15 West of 4th Meridian.
  • July 4, 1908 Picnic at Old Vegreville (1601 KB)
    This photograph shows all the transplanted Yankees celebrating U.S. Independence Day in their new Canadian home. The Cole, Trenhaile, Tierney, Leach & Ross Families. Willis Cole is shown at center, standing to the left of the man with the white beard, William Ross. John Leach, the author of the essay, "A Homesteader's Experiences", which appears elsewhere on this page, is shown standing at the extreme right. This is not "The Picnic" referred to in John Leach's essay although a similar type of celebration was held every July at Old Vegreville.
Related Files
  • Essay by J.F. Leach "A Homesteader's Experiences" (12 KB)
    This short narrative documents the vivid memories of a 10 year old boy (written 23 years later) who, together with his father, packed all of their wordly belongings in a railway boxcar in South Dakota in 1902, and headed for the Canadian prairies.
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