John Cole

John Cole was born on the 19 th of May in the year of 1820 in Bishops Frome, Herefordshire, England to William Cole and Ann Fenner Cole. He was their second child, they had eight in all. He grew up helping his father do farm work. At the age of eight he was following a plow. At ten he became an apprentice to a wheel-right making wagons and farm implements until he was about fifteen. Then he continued working long hours in his trade.

In July of 1840 he and his family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In September of that same year he and his family set sail for America on the ship “North America” and after a six week voyage they landed in New York. Traveling by way of the Hudson River and the Great Lakes to Chicago and then by wagon the family arrived in Nauvoo.

The church records of the LDS church show John’s father William as having died in Nauvoo in 1844 and his being buried in the Old Nauvoo cemetery. However, there is no headstone remaining. Family tradition tells that William died suddenly while he was turning a log in the fireplace to make it burn brighter. This left John as the oldest male in the family.

John Cole was married on August 25, 1843 to Charlotte Jenkins who he had met on board ship during their voyage to America. They had a home in Nauvoo and farm ground south east of Nauvoo in mile #19 section T6-R6 until they were driven out in 1846. Their first child, Rachel was born in Nauvoo in 1844, their second child Charlotte J. was born in a covered wagon near the now Florence, Nebraska in 1846 and she died a few weeks later. Their third child a son, William Edward, was born at Council Bluffs in Iowa in 1848. It wasn’t until 1850 that they left Iowa and headed for the Utah territory to be with the other Saints. Their fourth child, Joseph J., was born in a covered wagon shortly after they began their trek.

The Utah Census for Utah County for 1850 shows John Cole, a carpenter from England as being 29 years old and his family consisting of Charlotte age 26 from England, Rachel age 6, born in Illinois, William age 2 and Joseph age 1 both born in Iowa.

In 1851 John Cole moved his family to American Fork, Utah. While living in American Fork they had three more children, Mary Elizabeth in 1852, Lydia Ann in 1854 and John Heber in 1857. John and Charlotte fought grasshoppers and farmed the best they could. John participated in the Walker Indian War.

Though his wife had many little ones to care for he left her in the care of the Lord and responded to Brigham Young’s call for men to go rescue the hand cart companies in the fall of 1856. John Cole provided his team and wagon and took provisions to them. The American Fork records on film 1131 pt 267 recorded his participation in the rescue on file November 29, 1856; after his return from rescuing the Martin Handcart Company of 1856. John Cole had his feet severely frozen during the rescue and he was given a blessing and a promise that he would not loose his feet. His feet were healed, however for the rest of his life he walked as though he were tender footed.

The Martin Handcart Company would have perished had they not been rescued by brave men like John Cole who risked their own lives for the rescue of the pioneers. John Cole and the other rescuers braved blizzards and sub-zero temperatures to come to the aide of the pioneers.

At the Martin’s Cove in Wyoming and at the Visitor’s Center at the Sixth Crossing in Wyoming John Cole’s name can be found amongst the list of rescuers along with the group of men referred to as “additional rescuers.”

John Cole lived to be 89 years old. He died at Willard, Box Elder County, Utah on the 20 th of May of 1909.

I am grateful to John Cole and am proud to be his descendent. He, my ancestor, unknowingly rescued another of my ancestors who was a member of the Martin Handcart Company.

The information for this article was taken from family records in my possession.

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