Thomas Henry Benton Cole Family
Thomas Henry Benton Cole, my grandfather, was born in 1842 at Morganville, Georgia. His parents were William Isham and Louvina Cole of Slygo, Georgia. I am told that he attended school at Spencer, Tennessee. He was 19 years old at the time of the War Between the States, and he declined to serve as an officer in the Confederate Army. He was wounded in the leg during the Battle of Missionary Ridge. He was captured and a prisoner at Vicksburg for a time.
In 1872, Thomas Henry Benton Cole and Lucy Jane Jacoway were married. Her parents were the Reverend John Garret and Nancy Jacoway of Trenton, Georgia. She was 19, and he was 31. The day of their wedding Mama Cole knew nothing about cooking. She had to look in a cookbook to know how to make biscuits and cook eggs. Papa Cole thought he had everything his bride might need, but he had to go back to the store to get baking soda.
Prior to his marriage, he had bought a house from a poet. He had the house completely furnished and stocked with canned goods and hams in the smokehouse. The house had a porch across the front with double doors at the center. Inside were four bedrooms with a divided hall and dining room with a kitchen on the back and a small back porch. Originally most, if not all of the rooms had fireplaces. The house had wooden floors with wainscoted walls and tall windows in the rooms. There were stairs which led to two small rooms on the top with the second room having glass in the windows all around. Later the girls called the top rooms chicken coops. The poet’s daughters had called the top rooms an observatory of the surrounding area.
I am told that Papa Cole had a store in the area of the Trenton Depot at the railroad. He is said to have had a blacksmith shop also. Mama Cole told me that at one time he owned much of the property from the courthouse to the railroad facing Lookout Mountain. Later, during a land boom, he sold much of the land. He also had land at the head of the creek, an orchard, and, I think, horses on the side of Sand Mountain. I am told that Papa Cole built a new store on the square northeast of the courthouse in late 1871 or early 1872. Old ledgers show entries from 1873 to 1896.
We attended the old Cumberland Presbyterian Church-just west of the courthouse. One year the church was remodeled and on the walls were names of Union soldiers who had camped there. I was quite impressed with a guest singer Mr. Segal from New York who sang a solo, The Ninety and Nine, at the dedication service.
The daughters in the family grew up and married as follows: Aunt Nancy Louvina married Uncle Bob Thurman. They had six children. Aunt Betty Mae Brock married Duke Brock. They had ten children. Aunt Jessie Reed married Uncle R. F. Tatum. They had seven children. Aunt Jonnie Price married Harry Caldwell. They had one son. Aunt Lucy Clark married Uncle Jack Locke. They had five children. Aunt Bessie Eaton married Uncle Jim Williams. They had two daughters. Aunt Bentie married Uncle Dan Carroll. They had no children.
My father Lawrence Jacoway Cole married Gertrude Birdwell. There are three of us. Uncle Robert Edward Cole married Connie Boydston. – They had no children. Uncle William Garret nor Uncle “Boss” (Samuel Darwin) ever married.
Aunt Bess and Uncle Jim, and Aunt Nail with her children moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Aunt Mae Brock moved to Birmingham, Alabama with her family. Aunt Jess and Uncle Russ Tatum moved to Florida, then to Phoenix, Arizona where they raised their family. Aunt Clark and Uncle Jack Locke moved to Corunna, Canada where their children all live now. Aunt Bentie and Uncle Dan moved to Chattanooga for a brief time. Later she and Uncle Dan built a house at Wildwood. Next they built a home at Trenton. Aunt Jon once remarked that this house is located where slave cabins once stood. When I was 10 years old, my parents moved to Trenton and eventually bought a home where some of the Jacoway family once had lived.
Mama Cole told me that her Grandmother had donated the original land for the Baptist Cemetery in Trenton and it was named after her faith. Later her father the Reverend John Jacoway gave more land. Papa Cole died at the age of 55 with possibly a ruptured appendix. Mama and Papa Cole are both buried at the Baptist Cemetery. Seven of their sons are buried there as are two daughters, Aunt Nail, Uncle Bob Thurman, Aunt Bentie, and Uncle Dan Carroll. My Dad is buried at Chattanooga National Cemetery. Aunt Bess and Uncle Jim Williams are buried at Chattanooga. Aunt Mae and Uncle Duke Brock are buried at the Brock Cemetery near Trenton. Aunt Jess and Uncle Russ Tatum are buried in the Phoenix area. Aunt Clark and Uncle Jack Locke are buried in Canada. Mama Cole’s parents, her Grandmother Middleton, and my mother Gertrude King are buried in Trenton. Many other family members are buried there also.
Mama Cole had told me that she was about eight years old at the time of the War Between the States. (She always said there was nothing civil about it.) One day she was sitting on the fence when a Union officer rode by on horseback. He asked her if she had a map of the “Gold Region.” She tartly replied she would give him a map of the devil. The family was afraid they would be burned out as so many had been, so they put Mama Cole in a closet.
Mama Cole was impressed by a cousin’s horse that would dance to the tune of “Dixie.” She spoke of how warm it was under the snow-laden pine trees when she was a child. She and her brothers played there. When a young lady, the young people would ride a handcar down the railroad to a spring near Morganville for a picnic.
There were many happy times for the family at Trenton. Many relatives and friends visited often in the summer. On July 4th, there was a community picnic on the grounds of a brick building which had once been a school where the children attended. It had become the Masonic building, and there were many large elm trees on the grounds. In the summers, the family held annual reunions with large, noisy groups of people and lots of good food. Mama Cole had become a great cook, and the table was always covered with a meal enjoyed by all. On summer evenings, we would walk to the sulfur spring and a small stream located near the E. A. Ellis home. Mama Cole enjoyed some of the cold sulfur water.
In the fall, we might hike to the mountainside to pick large juicy muscadines or to collect hickory nuts. Before Christmas, there was always a hike to find a tall Christmas tree somewhere nearby, just for the cutting. Once Uncle Jim Williams shimmied up a tree and brought down an armload of mistletoe. American holly grew along the creek banks.
Written by Margaret Hamilton.