William Cole was the son of John Cole and Mary James.  He was born on 11 December 1828 at Cradley, Hereforshire, England.  He was christened 14 Dec 1828 at Cradley, Herefordshire, England.  He was the oldest son in a family of six girls and two boys.


The Cole family belonged to the sect known as “The United Brethren” in England.  William heard President Wilford Woodruff preach his first sermon in Herefordshire.  One account states that Wilford Woodruff preached to a group of 500 and converted every person there except one man who said he was a Presbyterian all his life and he wasn’t going to change now.  However, 499 persons of the 500 present were converted, including the Cole family.  William was baptized in June 1840 by Elder John Cheese.


The Cole family, consisting of John Cole, his wife Mary James Cole, their two boys William and John, and three girls, Elisabeth, Sarah and Jane Louise left England on 6 Apr 1841 and sailed to America on the ship “Caroline.”  They reached Nauvoo by way of Quebec on 4 July 1841 and lived there five years.


John and Mary had two other daughters, Susanna and Mary H. who were born in England but both died before they emigrated.  They also had another daughter, Mary Ann, who was born in Nauvoo in 1841.


On 21 Jun 1844 John Cole went to church in Nauvoo.  When he came home, he found his wife, Mary, ill in bed.  He stirred up the fire and sat down on a chair near the stove to wait for the room to warm up.  He fell over, and when he struck the floor he was dead.  According to the records at the Visitor’s Center in Nauvoo and read by Susan Jones, a descendent of John Cole, John Cole owned land two blocks from the Temple site.  He was buried on that land.


His death left his wife, Mary, with six children to care for.  William Cole was the oldest son, and he took over the responsibility of taking care of the family.


Along with the other Saints, the Cole family was driven to Far West.  While camping for a day or two at Haun’s Mill, the Indians attacked the Saints and killed many of them.  William spoke about this very seldom, however.  He wasn’t one to talk about any of the hardships he went through for the sake of the Gospel.


In the spring of 1846, the people of Nauvoo were driven west by the angry mobs in Illinois.  The Cole family crossed the Mississippi River and camped by a slough for 12 weeks.  All the company had chills and fever.  Mary Cole and all her family, except William, had gone 20 miles further west.  Mary returned to get William and they traveled on to Winter Quarters.  He had chills every other day all the way there.


They lived at Winter Quarters all that winter.  Almost all of the company suffered with black scurvy, and many of them died with it.  In the spring William started with it.  They dug artichokes, onions, and horse radish, all of which helped to break up the disease.


Then William went to Missouri for provisions.  On his way back he met a man driving his Mother’s team.  He sent her driver on to Winter Quarters with his load, and he went back and got more provisions for their trip west.


They traveled west in Bishop Hunter’s hundred, Joseph Horne’s fifty and William Taylor’s ten.  They arrived in Salt Lake in October, 1847.  The Cole family later settled in Nephi, Juab County, Utah.


In the fall of 1849 during the Gold Rush, William went to California.  His brother, John, who was 15 years old wanted to go with him.  William told him that if he would stay home and help their Mother, he would buy him a pony when he returned.  However, while William was in California, his brother drowned in the Jordan River on 27 July 1851.


William returned from California in the spring of 1852.  He stayed in Salt Lake during that summer, then moved to Nephi in November 1852 and made this their home.


On 28 Jul 1860 William’s mother, Mary Cole, married John Taylor’s father, James Taylor, in Salt Lake City.  William Cole and one sister were sealed to their parents, but the other girls left the church.


According to Nephi Ward Records, William Cole married Elizabeth Sarah Jenkins in 1856.  She was the daughter of James Jenkins and Elizabeth Wright.  A son, John William Cole, was born 2 Feb 1857 in Nephi, Juab, Utah.  Evidently they were divorced because Elizabeth Sarah Jenkins married Gustave Louis Edward Henroid on 17 November 1860 in Nephi and they had nine children.


The Nephi Ward records also indicated that on 29 September 1857 William Cole married Emma Jenkins, a sister to his first wife.  They were married in Nephi by Bishop Jacob G. Bigler.  They later received their endowments and were sealed in the Endowment House 10 Aug 1867 by Wilford Woodruff.  William was ordained a High Priest 3 Sep 1892 by William Paxman and received the second washing and anointing in the Manti Temple.


William and Emma were the parents of 15 children:


Name, Born, Died

William Cole, 23 Mar 1858, 03 Apr 1933       

James Edward Cole, 18 Jan 1860, 18 Nov 1926

Emma Eliza Cole, 22 Dec 1861, 07 Nov 1865

Sarah Elizabeth Cole, 13 Feb 1864, 19 Feb 1942

Edgar Cole, 10 Jan 1866, 15 Apr 1880

Wilford Jenkins Cole, 25 Nov 1867, 23 Jan 1961

Cora Ella Cole, 13 Aug 1869, 21 Sep 1945

Mary Ann Cole, 17 Feb 1871, 08 Dec 1968

David Jenkins Cole, 05 Dec 1872, 06 Dec 1951

Urban Cole, 29 Oct 1874, 22 Sep 1911

Claude Vivian Cole, 02 Aug 1876, 06 Feb 1941

Richard Roscoe Cole, 30 Jul 1878, 01 Feb 1924

Edna Cole, 23 Sep 1880, 10 Nov 1934

Clara Delia Cole, 28 Jul 1883, 24 Aug 1958

Ruby Cole, 19 Sep 1885, 22 Sep 1953


They also raised three other children:


Ruby Sarah Elizabeth Cole Stickney

David Samuel Cole

Emma Guen Cole Davis


who were children of their son, David Jenkins Cole and his wife, Sarah Elizabeth Coulson Cole who died in childbirth.


During the early days in Nephi, the Indians were still bad in that area, so they decided to build a fort around the town, and William helped build it.  It was nine feet high, three feet thick, and fenced off nine blocks, three blocks square.  The settler’s cabins were all inside the fort.  They had very little food while building the fort.  Everyone ate weeds cooked for breakfast, a cold potato for dinner, and more cooked weeds or wild oxalis bulbs for supper.


William learned to speak the Ute language and it was a great help to him many times.  The Indians were very bad around Nephi at that time.  It was necessary for the settlers to gather wood in a group rather than alone.  However, one time the entire group was captured.  William Cole talked to the Indians and begged them to let the settlers go.  At last they were released.  If he hadn’t known the Ute language, they probably wouldn’t have come away without any trouble.


One other time while the settlers were gathering fire wood, the Indians captured a group of men.  They finally let all of them go, except one.  They took out knives and operated on him, leaving him to die.  The settlers found him alive, but he was sick the rest of his life.


Three years after William and Emma were married, William broke his leg.  Inasmuch as there were no doctors in Nephi at that time, the settlers were forced to doctor themselves.  A neighbor named Bryan set William’s leg.  He had no splints, so he made a box out of lumber to fit his leg.  He kept this box on for eight weeks.  When they took it off, the flesh fell away from his heel which had rested on the box during the eight weeks.


William had two children at this time.  He couldn’t’ work, so he got a job herding cattle during the summer.  Riding a horse that summer helped his leg to hear.


The two-story house William built for his family out of adobe brick is still standing in Nephi (1953) and people are living in it.  It is located just three blocks from the main part of town.


In August of 1953, Donna Cornia interviewed Mary Ann Cole Francom, a daughter of William Cole.  She stated:


Father was a small, thin man and very quiet.  The children were very obedient to him, but it was Mother who disciplined us.  Mother was jovial and full of un, but Father would never let us joke with her even on April Fool’s Day.  He felt it wasn’t showing her enough respect and reverence.


Father came to Utah in October 1847 and Mother came in October 1855.  They were married in Nephi, Juab County, Utah on 29 September 1857.  Father didn’t want his children to know of the hardships that Mother had to go through in their early married life and would never talk about them.  Occasionally when father wasn’t around, Mother would tell of their journey across the plains and some of the things that happened to them when they were first married.


My hair was cut for the first time when I was twelve years old.  Father always wanted my hair long and I remember one time, when I had it cut, I wore a bonnet all the next day so he wouldn’t see it.


When my sisters and I were old enough to go out with fellows, Father allowed us to go to only one dance a week.  We had to be home at 9:00 o’clock in the winter and 10:00 in the summer.  We could never stand at the gate and talk to our boy friends, but we could ask them to come in the house.


Father was a liberal giver to all donations and always picked the most choice items when he paid his tithing.  He was a farmer all his life.


In his obituary it states that he acted as an usher at the tabernacle for years, and while he was an “unassuming person,” he had always been a faithful Latter-day Saint.  He enjoyed good health until the last four months of his life.  He did not suffer much pain, but was very weak and confined to his bed for the last four weeks of his life.


William Cole died 13 March 1911 in Nephi.  In the cemetery records it indicates that the cause of death was “general debility.”  On the death certificate it states that the chief cause of his death was apoplexy.  He was 82 years old at the time of his death, and was buried in the Nephi City Cemetery on March 16, 1911.


The above history was written by great granddaughter, Donna Cornia, from various written accounts and from information given by William Cole’s daughter, Mary Ann Cole Francom, to Donna Cornia in August, 1953.



A handwritten history, author unknown.

Nephi Ward Records, Films 0026218 and 1033729

Vital Records Index-British Isles, FHL 992143.

Endowment House Records, Film 1149515.

Mary Ann Cole Francom, daughter of William Cole as told to great granddaughter, Donna Cornia, in August, 1953.

Susan Jones, a great granddaughter of William Cole.


Nephi Cemetery records.

State of Utah Death Certificate


Cornia, Donna Vee. History of William Cole. 5 Nov 2000. Copied 22 Nov 2005 from an original publication by J.F.