An American Family History

The Cole Family of Leeds County, Ontario

Leeds County, Ontario, Canada was first surveyed in 1792 in preparation for the United Empire Loyalists settlers. In 1850, Leeds County merged with Grenville to create the United Counties of Leeds and Grenville.

Adam Cole was born in 1760 in Elizabethtown, Leeds County, Ontario.

He married Thankful Fulford. Thankful was born on October 2, 1768 in Waterbury, New Haven, Connecticut.

Adam and Thankful's children may have included:

Sarah Cole (1785)
Rachel Cole (1786)
Peter Cole (1788, married Jane Elliott, daughter of Jacob Elliott),
Lois Cole (1789 )
Titus Cole (1790, married Ann Brown),
John Cole (1791)
Jonathan Cole (1793),
George Cole (1795, married Julia Hunter and Lydia Myers),
Isaac Cole (1797, married Electra Brandy),
Jacob Cole (1798 ),
Eleanor Cole (1799 in, married Morris Hartwick),
Adam Cole, Jr. (1802, married Mahetable Connell),
Maria Jane Cole (married William Clow),
Nancy Cole (1803, married George Wilcox),
Alexander Cole (married Irene Connell)
Sydney Cole (married Maria Whitemarsh)
Abel Cole (1805, married Catherine Seaman).

In the year following that in which England formally acknowledged the independence of the United States, Adam Cole, a United Empire Loyalist who had seen service under the British flag, embarked with his wife, Thankful, and all his worldly goods, for Canada. Mr. Cole was accompanied by his wife s brothers, Jonathan and Abel Fulford.

Coming up the St. Lawrence, they landed at the spot now known as Buell's Bay, at the foot of Home Street, Brockville, and pitched their tents, but not liking the quality of the soil, which was very rocky, they proceeded up the river to a point now known as Cole's Ferry, where Adam Cole felled the first tree cut by a white man in that part of Elizabethtown. (from History of Leeds & Grenville)

In 1801, Elizabethtown: Adam, Thankful, Sarah, Rachel, Peter, Titus, John, Jonathan, George, Isaac, Eleanor, and Jacob.

During the War of 1812, Isaac Cole, served in the Leeds County Militia.

In 1825 Adam Cole was in Yonge Township.

Adam died on August 3, 1832 in Elizabethtown, Leeds County. 

In 1832 Titus and George Cole were in Yonge Township.

Cole Family
The Baltimore Sun 
02 Jan 1849, Tue  • Page 4

United Empire Loyalists were Americans who remained loyal to King George III and the British Empire. They moved to Canada after the American Revolution.

John Cole

He married Catherine

Peter Cole
Nicholas Cole
Sarah Cole
Rachel Cole (1804, married Cyrus Bigelow)

John received Lot 8 Concession 1 in Yonge.

In 1801 in Elizabethtown: John, Cahein, Peter, Nicholas and Sarah.




The first European settlements in Ontario were after the American Revolution when 5,000 loyalists left the new United States.

from A Cyclopaedia of Canadian Biography, Volume 1 edited by George Maclean Rose

Cole, Wilmot Howard, Lieutenant Colonel, Brockviille, Ontario, was born at Brockville, February 16th, 1834. . .

Cornelius Cole emigrated to America in the year 1708; in 1711 he became a justice of Albany county, comprised within the limits of what was called "Livingston Manor." His land was next to that of W. T. Livingston, and extended from the Manor House road to Jansen's Kill, or creek, and was one of the finest farms in the manor.

He had three sons, named Nicholas, John and Adam. On the breaking out of the rebellion, Cornelius Cole and his sons, John and Adam, espoused the cause of England, and the sons joined the Royalist forces. As the war proceeded, the feeling ran so high against the "Tories," as the Royalists wore called, that Cornelius Cole, although an old man, was seized and imprisoned, where he died a victim of fidelity to Fatherland.

His property was confiscated, and his sons forced to seek a home in the wilds of Canada. In 1782 John and Adam Cole left, with other United Empire loyalists, for Canada, and passing up the St. Lawrence, they landed and settled in the County of Leeds, in that part now called the township of Elizabethtown, at a point on the river St. Lawrence about five miles west of the present town of Brockville, which place is still called "Cole's Ferry."

Here Adam Cole settled, being, as he was frequently heard to say, the first person to begin a settlement in the township of Elizabethtown. . . Adam Cole's wife was Thankful Fulford, also descended from loyalist stock. Her brothers, a short time after her departure with her husband, came to Canada and settled in the same neighbourhood, and they have left numerous descendants.

Adam Cole's family, in 1812, consisted of nine sons and seven daughters, besides four who died in infancy. Five of the sons served in the war of 1812, the eldest, Peter, being present and assisted in the capture of Ogdensburg, and he subsequently held the rank of captain. The house of Adam Cole was the general headquarters of the military, when they were in that section of country, or when moving between Montreal and Kingston.

It is related of Peter Cole, the eldest son, that in the year 1810, the mail carrier was taken sick at his father's house, and Peter took the mail to Kingston, where he received that from Toronto and carried it back to Montreal. At Montreal he took charge of the mail for the west, which had been accumulating for a month and weighed upwards of sixty pounds, and carried it to Kingston. He accomplished the whole trip, going and coming, of 430 miles, on foot, in fourteen days, and this was in March, when the tramping most of the way was through the forest and very difficult. He received for this service from the government the sum of fifteen dollars.

Abel Cole, who was the youngest son of Adam Cole, is the only one of that large family now living (1886), and is a hale and hearty old gentleman of eighty years. His wife, Catherine Seaman, is the oldest person now living (1886) in Brockville, who was born there, her father, Nehemiah Seaman, being one of the early settlers.

Wilmot Howard Cole, second son of Abel Cole, was educated at Brockville. He commenced mercantile business in 1855, and continued in the same until 1882. The old spirit of loyalty which he inherited, prompted him upon the organization of the volunteer militia of Canada in 1855, to become a member of the old "Brockville Rifle company. . ." . . .Col. Cole married Jane Adelaide, youngest daughter of the late Abram Phillips, of New York.


On February 7, 1813, the American army raided Elizabethtown (present day Brockville, Leeds County, Ontario). The Americans crossed the frozen St. Lawrence River and seized equipment, freed American prisoners, and captured Canadian men.


from History of Leeds & Grenville

Mr. Cole s family, in 1812, consisted of his wife and the following children:
Sarah, born January 16th, 1785;

Rachael, born September 30oth, 1786;
Peter, born March 8th, 1788;
Lois, born June 8th, 1789;
Titus, born August nth, 1790;
John, born November 30th, 1791;
Jonathan, born October 28th, 1793;
George, born February nth, 1795;
Isaac, born March 10th, 1796;
Jacob, born April roth, 1798;
Eleanor, born November 26th, 1799
Irene, born April 3rd, 1801;
Adam, born September 26th, 1802;
Nancy, born December 29th, 1803;
Abel, born December 14th, 1805;
Thankful, born March 2nd, 1808.

In addition to the above, four children died in infancy, making the number of children born to Mr. Cole twenty.

Adam Cole died August 3rd, 1832, aged 72 years. His wife survived him until 1840, dying in the 74th year of her age.

Five of the sons served in the War of 1812, Peter, the oldest, holding the rank of captain, and being present at the capture of Ogdensburg. But one son survives in 1879, viz., Abel Cole, of Brockville, father of W. H. Cole, M. P. P. for Brockville Riding.

It is related of Peter Cole, that about the year 1810, he walked from Cole's Ferry to Kingston, where he received the mail from Toronto, and carried it on his back to Montreal, through the woods. At Montreal he received the mail, which had been accumulating one month (weight 60 lbs.), proceeded with his burden to Kingston, and returned to Cole's Ferry, making the round trip, a distance of 430 miles, in fourteen days. The tramp was made in the month of March, when walking was very difficult in the forest. Mr. Cole was paid by the government of the day $15 for his arduous undertaking.

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©Roberta Tuller 2023
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