Cady Library

42 E. River Rd., Nichols, NY 13812

Still Living and Smart: Wilson G. Cole in the Civil War

             Most records have little personal commentary by Town Clerks in the Records of Enlistments in each township within New York State for the Civil War.  An eye-catcher is that of Wilson G. Cole, the son of Jacob and Rhodah, who enlisted in the 109th New York Volunteer Infantry in June of 1862.  The commentary by the clerk was that Wilson had been shot in the right eye, but was still living and smart.  It is sometimes fortunate that we live so close to Pennsylvania, who had more death certificates and they have been made available from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, and there is information about Wilson we might not have found otherwise.  He was born on 12 Oct 1841, was married, a farmer, and died on 27 Jan 1917 of chronic nephritis (an inflammation resulting from a urinary tract infection that reaches the kidney).  The Pennsylvania death certificate also tells us that it was Catherine Cole of Talcott Street in Owego, N.Y. that gave the information, and that the burial was on 31 Jan 1917 in Orwell, Pennsylvania.  This leaves another mystery as there is a cemetery marker in the East Nichols Cemetery that is for a “W. H. Cole” of the 109th Infantry.  There is a marker for Wilson G. Cole of the New York 109th Infantry in the Darling Cemetery of Orwell, Pennsylvania complete with his wife Catherine A. [Patton] (1855-1919).

               This rather bizarre tale of being shot in the right eye and surviving and remaining “smart” is backed up with a death certificate, census records, and a cemetery stone.  What is even more amazing is that Wilson never became disabled enough to feel he should apply for an Invalid Pension for his military service.  However, the New York Civil War Muster Roll Abstracts for the 109th Infantry do list Wilson absent due to a wound and in a hospital since 6 May 1864 after being wounded through the head in the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia.  He is listed also as Willson George Cole of Nichols, a 19-year old farmer born in Nichols; and having dark eyes, light hair, a light complexion, and being 5’ 10” tall.  What cannot be expressed enough from these records is his intense hardiness at having survived his wound from 1864 until 1917 when a totally different health issue finally killed him.


Submitted by Ms. Tamara Gates, Historian