News flash! James Cole not a squatter!
Based on recent research by a team of Cole descendants (Hartley Cole, Mark Cole, and Greg Paris), enough information has come to light that proves early Nichols settler James Cole actually owned the land he lived on along a bank of the Susquehanna River.
An history of Tioga County written by Gay, known as “Gay’s Gazetteer” states that when “first” settler, Emanuel Coryell, arrived in what is now Nichols, that his family were guests of James Cole while Coryell built his own home. Other information gleaned from this history is that Cole arrived in the area in 1787 with his wife, daughter, and two grandsons. It also stated that Cole had some sort of association with the Wyoming Massacre of 1778. Unfortunately, James has no tombstone that gives us his birth date, and early censuses are not necessarily complete or accurate, plus have only the head of household named.
Fortunately, we have James’ will written in 1801. His will specifically indicates that he if transferring his land to his wife, Blandina for use during her life time. After her death, the farm goes to his grandson, Elijah. He specifically states his grandsons, Elijah and Daniel, are the children of his daughter, Cornelia. James died in 1801, and tax records indicate Blandina died in 1803. What happened to Cornelia is a mystery, and Daniel (who only inherited a rifle) also seems to have disappeared.
There are two women, both of Dutch descent, baptized near the Wyoming Valley with the name Blandina and who had a father Cornelius. Few non-Dutch families used the names Cornelius or Cornelia, and Blandina continues to be a rather uncommon name. That places Blandina Cole as probably having come from what is now Bucks or Northampton Counties in Pennsylvania.
Without going into a rather lengthy description of the Wyoming Massacre, there were over 200 non-military victims, and lists of non-military survivors or victims are elusive. However, Hartley Cole, after I found more information about James Cole in a Bradford County history, found a list of petitioners who had survived the massacre. The petition was sent to the State of New York requesting land in what is now New York’s Southern Tier (primarily Tioga County). Further research on the petitioners will help with early settlement in both Nichols and Tioga townships. A quick perusal shows that James Cole was not the only early settler who gained land here because of the Wyoming Massacre.
More research needs to be done, and this team of family genealogists is doing a remarkable job of asking and answering questions in a complicated web of early records and confusing naming patterns. While each had originally been researching their own specific Cole ancestors, together they are helping to bring a better understanding of people who settled the area before 1800.EWS fL