A. A. Cole
By A. A. Cole on 88th
Birthday of J.A. Cole1, February 27, 1955
A good many years
ago Henry Cole, my great grandfather, was building the grade for the Santa Fe Railroad in
the construction of the Transcontinental line through Arkansas. His son William Henry
Cole, who was my grandfather, was 17 years old in the year 1848. He and some of his
cousins were full of fire and ambition, and decided to come to Oregon. They traveled light
on saddle horses with pack animals carrying their supplies. They followed the old Lewis
and Clark trail along the Platte River through Fort Laramie, where they met Buffalo Bill
and became acquainted with him. From there they followed the Snake River through Idaho and
the Columbia River down to Astoria, Oregon.
On arrival there
they were advised of the great California gold strike at Sutters Mill on the American
River. They immediately sold their stock and took passage on a coast steamer for San
Francisco, where they replenished their supplies, and left by boat on the Sacramento River
for what is now Marysville near the mouth of the Yuba River. From there they located
mining properties on one of the tributaries of the Yuba River. After working all summer
they had all accumulated quite a large amount of gold. Then came some early fall rains
which washed out their sluice boxes and put an end to their gold mining for the time
They decided to
go back to Missouri, so left San Francisco by boat to Panama. They took passage across the
Isthmus by pack animal and horseback, and then went by boat to New Orleans, and from there
they took a river steamer up the Mississippi to St. Joseph, Missouri.
bought a farm which he and my great grandfather worked. He met Ruthie Milligan and married
her when she was 16 years of age, which was about 1850. Their first child died soon after
birth. Marion, the oldest boy was born about the year 1852, Eliza, the oldest girl was
born in 1855, Jenny was born in 1857, and in 1863 the family decided to come to California
because of Civil War trouble and the terrorizing of the farmers by the Jayhawkers.
This is what
happened. There were five younger brothers and two sisters of my grandfather, William
Henry Cole, all living there in Missouri [William was in Gentry County, Missouri - 1860
Census] at the time. They were John, Frank, Charles, Jess and Henry. The two girls were
Martha and Rebecca. John and one of the other boys, both married, were out in the field
tending stock when a band of Jayhawkers came along and demanded cattle for food. There was
an argument and John was shot by one of the thieves. One of the brothers got away and went
for the sheriff. The man who shot John went to the house and told John's wife to go down
in the field and get him before the hogs ate him. This tragedy was the main reason that
the family banded together and came to California.
Frank had a
water-tight wagon which was used to float flour and food supplies across the rivers. They
followed the old Lewis and Clark trail as far as Laramie or Soda Springs, Wyoming, turning
south to Salt Lake City on what is now known as the Morman Trail, which they followed on
through Nevada to Reno and over the well known Donner Pass to Grass Valley, California.
While they were on route Charles Cole was born on the Reese River near Reno about 1864.
Jack was born the following year in Grass Valley in 1865 and John Alva Cole (that was my
pop ) was born in 1867 on the Cosumne River near Slouth House2
[Sacramento County] 15 miles east of Sacramento where his father was raising
vegetables in the rich river bottoms for miners in the Mother Lode country.
They moved from
here to Suisun [Solano County] and eventually to Pope Valley [Napa County] where grandpa
Cole worked and lived on the Brown Ranch. He later rented the Tully Ranch 4 miles south in
Childs3 Valley [Napa County] he stayed for
five years. During this time Clark was born in 1869, Minnie4
was born in 1871,
grandpa took his family south by wagon and team to Benecia5
[Solano County], from there by ferry to Martinez [Contra Costa County]. On this trip he
took all his household goods and cattle with him. One of the outstanding sights on this
trip which remains in my fathers memory were the thousands of sheep grazing on the hills
between Oakland [Alameda County] and San Jose [Santa Clara County]. They continued south
through Morgan Hill [Santa Clara County], Gilroy [Santa Clara County], Hollister [San
Benito County] and San Juan [San Benito County], where during their overnight stop, the
girls Jenny and Lisa, found a gold wedding ring in the ashes of a previous campfire. From
there they travelled over the San Jaun grade to Salinas [Monterey County] and on to
Castroville [Monterey County] where his brother in law, George Doss was living. They
stayed there three years, mostly teaming and farming. Walter was born here
and they went
north to Childs3 Valley again where my
grandfather and two brothers rented the Roberts ranch and stayed a year. He then moved to
the Garnett Ranch in Napa Valley [Napa County] where Edna was born. There were 10 children
who lived to maturity and two died in infancy. Will was born in 1873 in Monterey [Monterey
County]. So that is how it all started.
conceived the idea to farm for himself so he bought the King Ranch just north of the
Garnett Place at the foot of Mt. St. Helena [Napa County] in a beautiful valley near
Calistoga [Napa County]. There he raised his family and saw them leave one by one. This is
known as the Old Home Place and is where my pop spent his boyhood days hunting and fishing
mainly, and going to school in his spare time.
After he was 18
he travelled around quite a bit, going to Oregon, and even as far north as Washington,
seeing the country. But he finally came back to Calistoga to settle down, where, at the
age of 24, he married Lottie Sophia Allen of a neighboring family, her father having come
from Iowa to settle at Calistoga. Dad spent his first year of married life at Calistoga
where Clyde was born in 189--. From there they moved to Lathrop where Al was born in 1892.
Dad then moved to Toulumne, and when I was five years old he built his first home about
1897. Ruth was born at Marlowe Mine while we lived at Toulumne.
In 1900 Dad sold
his home there and we came to Southern California stopping to visit a few days on the way
at Lathrop. Dad made our home at High Grove about a year and then went to Riverside
where he very shortly became the successful superintendent of the Riverside Quarry. He
remained in the service of the City of Riverside for many years. During this time he was
transferred from the quarry to the electric light department which was the last job he
had. He retired from work about 1944 and has led the life of Riley ever since, coming to
Fresno to make his home at [Private] about the time of his retirement. This is a brief
history of my father and his grandfather, bringing out a few highlights of the last
century. Pop remembers a good share of the last eighty-eight years.
Signed by Mary Cole.
1 J.A. Cole was John Alva COLE
3 Chiles Valley
4 Lura Arminta Cole