It is Week 29 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge. However, before I present this week’s post, I have to apologize for missing the last two weeks’ writing prompts.
Let me tell you what happened. When I first read Week 27’s writing prompt, Solo, I thought that it was “Sole” and began researching/writing accordingly. (I was going to write my spouse’s Soule predecessors.) It was not until the last day of the challenge that I realized that I had misread the word. Sole was, in fact, solo, so I was S.O.L. with no time to spare and no inspiration to be had.
But instead of frantically scrambling and needlessly fretting in the eleventh hour, I decided to take a “vacation” from writing, especially considering that I was not taking a “real” vacation this year. (Darn you, COVID!). And since I typically take two weeks off, Week 28’s prompt, Multiple, was sacrificed to the staycation god as well.
So here I am, two weeks later, a bit more rested and little less stressed. So, without further adieu, let’s tackle Week 29’s writing prompt: Newsworthy. And boy, do I have a “newsworthy” character for you!
On this day, 16 July 1942, Lloyd Wilbur Cole, my 2nd great-grandfather, passed away.
Born on 27 February 1879, in Hightstown, Mercer County, New Jersey, Lloyd Wilbur Cole was the son of Francis “Frank” W. Cole and Lavinia Smith. He was the youngest of five known children. His older siblings were Lily D. Cole, born circa 1868; William “Willie” Cole, born circa 1869; Anna “Mamie” M. Cole, born circa 1871; and Margaret “Maggie” Cole, born circa 1876.
On 8 June 1880, the Cole family was enumerated in Hightstown, Mercer County, New Jersey, Residing in the household were Francis (age 36), Lavinia (age 37), Lily D. (age 12), William G. (age 11), Anna M. (age 9), Margaret (age 7), and Lloyd W. (age 1). Francis worked as a hacker (which, at the time, was a person who rented horses to others.)
According to the 1885 New Jersey Census, the Cole family—Frank W., Lavinia, Lily, Willie, Mamie, Maggie, and Lloyd—still lived in Hightstown, Mercer County, New Jersey.
When Lloyd was only 11 years old, tragedy struck. His mother Lavinia (Smith) Cole died on 9 February 1891, in Mercer County, New Jersey.
In 1895, the New Jersey Census showed that only Frank W. and Lloyd W. still resided in the home. Also living in the residence was Sarah Boyce, a white, native-born woman age 20 to 60. (She was probably the housekeeper.)
According to the Trenton Evening Times, on 27 February 1899, Lloyd W. Cole, who lived on New Rose Street in Trenton, New Jersey, was visiting friends in Asbury Park, New Jersey. (Amazing what was considered “news” then!)
A few months later, Lloyd W. Cole married Alice “Allie” M. Manley on 17 December 1899, in Monmouth County, New Jersey. (Perhaps he met Alice through his Asbury Park friends?)
About six months after their marriage, on 1 June 1900, Lloyd and Alice Cole were enumerated living in an apartment at 326 North Willow Street in Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey. This census shows that Alice was born in August 1877 in New York, while Lloyd, a house painter, was born in February 1877 in New Jersey. (Yep, he was claiming to be two years older than he was.)
A year later on 17 July 1900, according to the Trenton Evening Times, Lloyd W. Cole, who had moved to Humboldt Street in Trenton, New Jersey, was visiting friends in Elizabeth, New Jersey. (Again, who needs social media when your every action is documented by the local newspaper?)
A few months later, the couple welcomed son Howard Wilbur Cole, my great-grandfather, on 12 October 1900, in Trenton, Mercer County, New Jersey.
Soon after, Alice (Manley) Cole disappeared from the records. According to family lore, when Howard was a baby, Alice, who was a very beautiful woman, supposedly ran off with another man, leaving Lloyd to raise their baby alone. (Whether another man was involved or not remains unsubstantiated. All that can be inferred is theirs was not a good marriage.)
As if having your wife “disappear” was not hard enough, on 2 June 1901, Lloyd suffered another loss when his father, Francis “Frank” W. Cole, died in Trenton, New Jersey.
By 1904, Lloyd Cole had left Mercer County, relocating to Asbury Park, Monmouth County, New Jersey, where he helped organize the union, Painters’ Local, 694.
In 1906, Lloyd remarried. (Unfortunately, I cannot find a divorce record for his first marriage. Hmm…) Lloyd’s bride was a newly-immigrated (circa 1905) English woman named Florence (maiden name unknown).
In January 1907, Lloyd Cole, a resident of R. F. D. (Rural Free Delivery) #1, Asbury Park, was listed as a member in the Official Journal of the Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators, and Paperhangers of America.
Two months later, on 9 March 1907, Lloyd and Florence Cole welcomed a daughter, Dorothy May Cole, to the family.
Son Douglas W. Cole arrived a year later on 13 October 1908.
A couple of years passed. Then, on 14 May 1910, the Cole family was enumerated on Allenwood Road in Wall Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey. Residing in the household were 31-year-old Lloyd Cole, his 29-year old wife Florence, Lloyd’s 10-year-old son Howard, their three-year-old daughter Dorothy, and their one and a half-year-old son Douglas. Lloyd was farming on leased land. (Living next-door was Gordon E. Hall and his wife Mary, who will come into play later in this post.)
Two years later, Lloyd was still farming, as reported by the 29 February 1912, edition of the Asbury Park Press:
A building bee for Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd W. Cole of Glendola was turned into a surprise party Monday night, and the festivities continued until a late hour.
The Coles live on the Probasco farm. In the heavy wind last Wednesday night, the barn was blown down, and one of Cole’s horses was so badly injured that it had to be shot.
More than a dozen men gathered at the place Monday morning, and by nightfall, another barn had been set up where the old one was before the storm. Then came the women folk, and at night there was a party…
Several months later, Lloyd’s wife, Florence, was once again mentioned in the Asbury Park Press, this time not so positively:
Mrs. Lloyd W. Cole of Glendola was taken to the Spring Lake hospital last week suffering from a nervous breakdown. Her sickness was caused by seeing a hog on her husband’s farm killed by lightning.
It is interesting to note that in the late 19th century and early 20th century, husbands sometimes used lunacy laws to rid themselves of their wives. Although chronic dementia, acute mania, and melancholia might have been the underlying reasons or causes of why many of these women were committed, other reasons given by their spouses were hysteria, seizures (probably epilepsy), feminine issues (menstruation, pregnancy or post-childbirth, menopause), asthma or illnesses, head injury (probably concussion), or the vapors (fainting or breathlessness).
Obviously, Florence was admitted because of hysteria. How long she was institutionalized is uncertain. It could have been a short period of time or much longer. One thing is for certain, not long after this incident, Lloyd was unfaithful to his second wife. We know this because five years later, on 2 May 1917, the Red Bank Register reported:
Mary Hall and Lloyd W. Cole will be tried next Thursday on a charge of unlawfully living together in Neptune Township.
(Mary Hall? That name sounds familiar. Would that be the same Mary Hall who was Lloyd’s next-door neighbor in 1910? Hmm…)
Eight years passed. Then, in 1918, Lloyd W. Cole, who was described as a tall, slender man with light brown hair and light blue eyes, filled out a draft card for World War I. However, Lloyd was already contributing to the war effort, working as a painter for the Merchant Shipbuilding Corporation in Harriman (a.k.a. Bristol), Pennsylvania. Although his temporary residence was in nearby Tullytown, Pennsylvania, Lloyd’s permanent address was 55-miles away at R. F. D. #1, Asbury Park, New Jersey, where his “nearest relative” Mrs. Florence Cole resided.
On 29 January 1920, the same Florence Cole was enumerated at 96 Bennett Avenue in Neptune City, Monmouth County, New Jersey, along with their children Dorothy, age 13, and Douglas, age 12. Her stepson, 19-year-old Howard Cole was off training at Camp Alfred Vail, one of the original components of the Army’s chief communications post, Fort Monmouth. Although Florence is listed as “married” on the census, Lloyd is not there. Where was he?
Upon searching the records for Lloyd Cole, I found a “single” man named Loyd Cole, age 40, residing nearly 50 miles away at 129 Watson Avenue in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, on 6 January 1920. He was boarding with Lucinda Masta, a 55-year-old widow from New York, and her daughter Alice, age 24. (Was this my Lloyd Cole? The age was right (he would turn 41 the next month), as was the state. If this was him, why was he there? Work? Further investigation was needed.)
Fast-forward ten years to the 1930 U.S. Census. On 7 April 1930, Lloyd (again spelled Loyd) W. Cole, a widower, was living at R. F. D. (Rural Free Delivery) #2, Neptune Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey. The home, valued at $3,000, was inhabited by Lloyd and five other people, including housekeeper Flora Masta (perhaps one of Lucinda’s daughters?), a 38-year-old widow, and her sons Leroy and Charles Delevergne, ages 15 and 14. The two other people enumerated were sons Francis Cole, age 9, and Eugene Cole, age 8. (What? Lloyd had two other sons! How did I miss them? Where were Lloyd’s other children? And when did his wife Florence die?)
Obviously, more digging was needed. The first question I wanted to answer was when Francis and Eugene Cole were born. Although I could not find their birth records, military records indicate that Francis Cole was born in New Jersey on 21 November 1920, while Eugene James Cole was born in New Jersey on 27 September 1921.
The next question to be answered was where were Lloyd’s other children. While stationed at Camp Vail, son Howard Cole had married and become a father. Unfortunately, daughter Dorothy Cole had disappeared from the records. Did she die, or did she marry? No records for either event could be found. The final child to locate was son Douglas Cole.
I searched the 1930 Census for Douglas, who would have been about 21 years old at the time. And I found him…and someone else, as well. Circa 9 April 1930, Douglas was living at 73 Union Avenue, Neptune City, Monmouth County, New Jersey. The home was valued at $4,500. And the homeowner was none other than his mother Florence, a 49-year-old divorcee. So, contrary to Lloyd’s claim, he was not a widower: Florence was very much alive.
But with this epiphany, I began to wonder… Why weren’t Francis and Eugene, both young boys, not living with their mother, especially in that day and age? And then, I remembered Lloyd’s wandering ways. What if Florence was NOT their mother? Did Lloyd have children with another woman? If so, who was she?
I was determined to find out who the mother of Francis and Eugene Cole was. So, again, I dove into the records. Again, I made a startling discovery: Francis and Eugene Cole were the sons of Flora Masta, the “housekeeper.” Had Lloyd maintained two wives and two families simultaneously, or had he and his second wife divorced before he married and had children with his third wife? Curiouser and curiouser!
Regardless, by 20 June 1930, Lloyd was with his third wife when a “newsworthy” altercation occurred. Once again, Lloyd Cole appeared in the Asbury Park Press:
Lloyd Cole, 52, of West Bangs Avenue, Neptune, was before Recorder Peter F. Dodd in Neptune Police Court this morning charged with assault and battery on complaint of his wife.
Cole was arrested at 10.30 last night by Officers Jobes and Pollack, when a report of a row was sent to police headquarters.
Cole explained in court that he and his wife had retired when a car containing two friends drove up to their house. He sent his wife down to tell the party that he had retired and could not be disturbed.
Later, he appeared and found his wife standing on the running board of their car, attired in little more than a kimono. Cole was said to have taken hold of his wife’s hair and pulled her from the ear.
Cole was paroled by Recorder Dodd.
Seven years passed without incident. Then, on 1 May 1937, Lloyd Cole and his wife once again appeared in the pages of the Asbury Park Press:
Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Cole, Wayside Road, Neptune, were injured last night when two cars collided at the corner of Springwood and Drummond Avenues in Neptune.
Mrs. Cole, 42, was treated at Pitkin Hospital for lacerations of the right hand, nose, and forehead and possible fractures of several ribs. Cole, 60, suffered lacerations of the head. Both were released.
Louis Ponticelli, 37 Lincoln place, Freehold, driver of the second car, was unhurt. He was driving south on Drummond Avenue, and Cole was driving west on Sprlngwood avenue.
Officer Harry Low investigated. No complaint was made.
Unfortunately, this was not the only car accident Lloyd Cole would find himself in. On 24 November 1939, the Asbury Park Press reported:
Lloyd Cole. 62, of Summerfield Avenue, Neptune, was treated yesterday at Fitkin Hospital, for injuries received when a car driven by Michael Salustro, Springdale Avenue, Neptune, in which he was a passenger, collided with a vehicle operated by Helen Hampton, 504 Sylvania Avenue, Avon.
Neptune Township police, who investigated, reported the Salustro car was traveling north on Wayside Road when it collided with the car owned by Victor Kramz of George Street, Neptune, and driven west on West Bangs Avenue.
The Neptune ambulance was summoned and took Mr. Cole to the hospital where he was treated for laceration of the head and bruises of the right forearm.
Officer James O’Rourke who investigated, reported both vehicles were damaged.
On 22 April 1940, the Cole family was enumerated at 208 Wayside Road in Neptune Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey. Residing in the household were Lloyd (L.W.), age 60 (he lied about his age); wife Florence, age 45; son Francis, age 18; and son Eugene, age 16. Lloyd still worked as a painting contractor.
Two years later, on 25 April 1942, Lloyd and Florence Cole were still residing on Wayside Road in Neptune Township, Monmouth County, New Jersey. According to his draft registration, Lloyd Cole worked as a business agent with the Painter’s Union, located at 162 Main Street in Asbury Park, Monmouth County, New Jersey, and was described as a 5′ 10″ blue-eyed brunette, weighing 175 lbs.
Sadly, less than three months later, on 16 July 1942, Lloyd passed away at his workplace in Asbury Park:
Lloyd W. Cole, 64, Summerfield, Neptune Township, died unexpectedly yesterday at 162 Main Street, this city.
He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Florence Cole; four sons: Corp. Eugene, Seattle, Wash.; Francis, at home; Howard, who is in the coast guard in Florida; Douglass, Neptune City; two stepsons Roy De LaVerne, Neptune: Charles De LaVerne. Colt Neck, and a niece, Mrs. Lavina Worth, Neptune.
He was the organizer of the Painters’ Local, 694, this city, in 1904 and was a member of the local I. O. O. F. (Independent Order of Odd Fellows).
Funeral arrangements are in charge of the Bodine Funeral Home.