STEPHEN HARRIS COLE, one of the best known hotel proprietors in eastern Connecticut, was born Sept. 8, 1837, in Foster, Rhode Island.

Although he has retired from active hotel life Mr. Cole still numbers his friends by the scores, not only among the traveling public but among all who know him as a generous, whole-souled, genial host.  Mr. Cole was a son of Arnold and Lucinda (Andrews) Cole, and a descendant of the Cole family, the progenitor of which was among the early settlers of this country.

Ebenezer Cole, grandfather of Stephen Harris Cole, was of Peabody, Mass., and was married Feb. 9, 1799, by Jonathan Hopkins, a justice of the peace, to Anne Rounds,  daughter of John Rounds, of Foster, R.I.  Ebenezer Cole was born July 27, 1778, near Foster, R.I., where he later settled, and he died at the age of sixty-five.  He was a farmer all his life, and of a quiet, unassuming disposition.  His widow died in Woodstock, Conn., aged eighty-seven years.  Their children, nine in all, were as follows:  John, a farmer, died in Putnam;  Simmons, a farmer, died in Foster, R.I.;  Silas, a farmer and mechanic, died in Foster, R.I.;  Naomi, married a Mr. Adams, and died in Killingly, Conn.;  Lillie, also married a Mr. Adams, and died in Killingly, Conn.;  Arnold, was the father of Stephen H. Cole;  Johanna, married Otis Walker, of Killingly, where she died;  Olive, married Olney Davis, and died in Woodstock, Conn.;  Abbie, married Darius Ellsworth, and died in Foster, Rhode Island.

Arnold Cole was born in 1810, in Foster, R.I., and died in East Killingly, Conn.  He was a cotton manufacturer in Williamsville, Conn., and in Elmville, and Rockland, R.I., and he also manufactured on a limited scale, carpet warps, twine, etc.  A good mechanic, he was a man thoroughly conversant with machinery and manufacturing in his line.  In disposition he was quiet and unostentatious, he was very religious, and was always a consistent member of the Baptist Church.  In politics he was a staunch old line Democrat.  In 1836 Arnold Cole married Lucinda Andrews, who was born in Foster, R.I., a daughter of Jeremiah Andrews, of Foster, R.I.; she died in East Killingly, Conn.  Their children were:  Stephen H.;  Angeline, who died in infancy;  Emily, who married (first) Crawford Gleason, and (second) Henry Chase (they live in Providence, R.I., where the latter is associated with the Providence Gas Co.);  and twins, that died in infancy.

Stephen H. Cole was born in Foster, R.I., and when but an infant was taken by his parents to “Chesnut Hill,” East Killingly, Conn., where his father was overseer in the carding room of one of the cotton mills.  Stephen received his schooling in the “Chesnut Hill District,” Dayville, and Williamsville district schools, but left the school room when about sixteen to go to work with his father in the cotton mills of Pray & Wescott, at East Killingly, Conn.  At the age of seventeen he was made overseer of the carding room.  After a few years there he went to Packerville, town of Plainfield, Conn., and was overseer of the carding room of the Packerville mill.  He remained there, however, but a short time, when he came to Danielsonville, and became overseer in the Whittemore mill, where he was still employed when the war broke out.  Mr. Cole responded to President Lincoln’s call for volunteers, joining the first three years’ regiment that went to the front from his section.  Returning from the war he leased the Whittemore Mill at Danielsonville, and began manufacturing twine and wicking, so continuing for some time, employing from fifteen to twenty hands.  The real estate was then sold to the Quinebaug Co., and Mr. Cole took charge of the mill during the change from a twine factory to a manufactory of cotton goods. 

In 1865 Mr. Cole embarked in the horse dealing business on a large scale, and eventually had a large sale stable in Providence, R.I.  This line of work he followed for several years, and even after embarking in the hotel business was more or less engaged in horse dealing.  His first experience in the hotel business was in Danielsonville, Conn., when in 1875 he purchased the “Olive Branch Hotel,” of Amos Peckham, which he ran for several years.  He then sold out and purchased the “National Hotel” in Willimantic, Conn., which he conducted about a year, when he returned to the “Olive Branch,” running the latter until 1892.  That year he purchased the “Elm Street House” in Putnam, Conn., which he conducted until 1894, when he purchased the “Bailey Block,” on South Main street, Putnam, Conn.  This Mr. Cole remodeled into a hotel, adding 60 feet three stories high in the rear, and making a first-class hostelry, which he name the “City Hotel.”  Here he continued to serve the public in a capable manner, building up a lucrative trade by the excellence of his service.  In 1901 on account of failing health Mr. Cole was compelled to dispose of this hotel, which he leased to John Bromley and E.C. Rogers, and retired from active business. 

Mr. Cole’s war record is worthy of special mention.  He enlisted May 22, 1861, in the 1st C.V.H.A., with which he served for three years, and was honorably discharged May 21, 1864, at the expiration of his term of service.  He was sworn in as wagoner, and later had charge of the wagon train, and was on detached duty during his entire enlistment.  At the battle of Cold Harbor his horse was shot from under him, falling upon him, but fortunately Mr. Cole was not seriously injured.

Fraternally Mr. Cole is a member of Quinebaug Lodge, No. 106, F.&A.M., of Putnam, and also belongs to the B.P.O.E., of Putnam; to McGregor Post No.27, G.A.R., of Danielsonville; and to the Army and Navy Club, of Connecticut.  Politically he is a Democrat but not an active politician.

On Dec. 25, 1865, Mr. Cole was married to Hattie Louise Griswold, daughter of Asa and Maranda (Pierce) Griswold, of Jewett City, Conn.  They have no children.  Mr. Cole is one of those men whose genial, magnetic personality win for them hosts of friends among all classes.

Reproduced by:

Linda D. Pingel – great-great granddaughter of Cyrus White of Rockville, Ct.


Return to Main Page

This page was created by Linda Pingel on April 7, 2008
copyright 2008 - all rights reserved