Erastus Hillman Cole (1853 - 1933)



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Family lore suggests that he made and sold illegal alcohol as a side line. Family lore suggests that he was a skilled woodsman, and during his Spanish American War service in Cuba he helpled keep his unit alive with his foraging and fire making skills. His nickname was "Rat"

Erastus Hillman Cole Biography & Family History

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in Leverett, Franklin County, Massachusetts United States


on in Orange, Franklin County, Massachusetts United States
Cause of death: 4-month illness

Cause of death

4-month illness

Burial / Funeral

at North New Salem Cemetery, in New Salem, Franklin County, Massachusetts United States


Last Known Residence

Orange, Franklin County, Massachusetts United States

Average Age

Life Expectancy


Father: Horatio Cole
Mother: Sarah Caroline Shaw

Partner: Jeanette A. Caswell
Children with Jeanette: Lenora (Cole) Hilliard and Lula (Cole) Drown

Wife: Ellen Gay Cole

Partner: Jeanette A. Caswell
Children with Jeanette: Waldo H. Cole

Partner: Jeanette A. Caswell
Children with Jeanette: Frankie Hurmon Cole


grade school


Farmer, laborer, carpenter, sawyer, soldier


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Military Service

Company E. 2nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment in the Spanish American War

Middle name

Unknown. Add middle name



white, english







Family Photos

Historically notable or family photographs that show the life of Erastus Hillman Cole and his immediate Cole family.


1853 - In the year that Erastus Hillman Cole was born, on March 4th, Franklin Pierce became the 14th President of the United States. His son had been killed in a train accident that also involved Pierce and his wife on January 6 - the only of 3 sons to survive until then. Due to the resultant depression and his unpopular policies, he was not re-nominated for President and served only one term.

1904 - He was 51 years old when the first underground line of the New York City subway system opened. London's underground system was opened in 1863 and Boston opened one in 1897, but New York quickly became the largest system in the U.S. More than 100,000 people paid 5 cents to ride under Manhattan that first day.

1927 - When he was 74 years old, the first "talkie" (a movie with music, songs, and talking), The Jazz Singer, was released. Al Jolson starred as a cantor's son who instead of following in his father's footsteps as expected, becomes a singer of popular songs. Banished by his father, they reconcile on his father's deathbed. It was a tear-jerker and audiences went wild - especially when they heard the songs. Thus begun the demise of silent films and the rise of "talkies".

1931 - Erastus was 78 years old when in March, “The Star Spangled Banner” officially became the national anthem by congressional resolution. Other songs had previously been used - among them, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", "God Bless America", and "America the Beautiful". There was fierce debate about making "The Star Spangled Banner" the national anthem - Southerners and veterans organizations supported it, pacifists and educators opposed it.

1933 - In the year of Erastus Hillman Cole's passing, the day after being inaugurated, the new President, Franklin Roosevelt, declared a four-day bank holiday to stop people from withdrawing their money from shaky banks (the bank run). Within 5 days of his administration, the Emergency Banking Act was passed - reorganizing banks and closing insolvent ones. In his first 100 days, he asked Congress to repeal Prohibition (which they did), signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act, signed legislation that paid commodity farmers to leave their fields fallow, thus ending surpluses and boosting prices, signed a bill that gave workers the right to unionize and bargain collectively for higher wages and better working conditions as well as suspending some antitrust laws and establishing a federally funded Public Works Administration, and won passage of 12 other major laws that helped the economy.

Erastus Hillman Cole Family Tree

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Erastus Hillman Cole
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Erastus Hillman Cole
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Erastus Hillman Cole
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Erastus Hillman Cole
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Erastus Hillman Cole

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This obit of Erastus Hillman Cole is updated by the community. Edit this biography to contribute to his obituary. Include details such as cemetery, burial, newspaper obituary and grave or marker inscription if available.

Erastus Hillman Cole, father to 4 children, passed away on August 20, 1933 in Orange, Massachusetts at 80 years of age. His family lists the cause of death as: 4-month illness. He was buried in North New Salem Cemetery, New Salem, Massachusetts. He was born in 1853 in Leverett, Massachusetts. He was born to Horatio Cole and Sarah Caroline Shaw, and we currently have no other siblings in his family tree. Erastus's partner was Jeanette A. Caswell. and they gave birth to Lenora (Cole) Hilliard and Lula (Cole) Drown . Erastus also married Ellen Gay Cole. Erastus's partner was Jeanette A. Caswell. and they gave birth to Waldo H. Cole. Erastus's partner was Jeanette A. Caswell. and they gave birth to Frankie Hurmon Cole.

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