Thomas E. Cole was born in Lancaster County, Penn., September 18, 1806. His paternal grandparents, Conrad and Sarah Cole, were natives of Germany. His ancestors were long-lived, his grandmother living to be a hundred years old. John Cole, the eldest son of the family, and the father of Thomas E., was born in Lancaster County, Penn., and made that county his home as long as he lived. He owned a samll tract of land, but his occupation through life was that of a day laborer, being an expert in making thatch-roofs. He married Hannah, daughter of Thomas and Hannah (Miller) Esborn, and to them were born ten children, nine of whom grew to maturity: Annie, Frederick, John, Sarah, Thomas E., Eli, Samuel, Henry and Robert. Four of the family, Sarah, now Mrs. Milhouse, Thomas E., Samuel and Robert are now living.
Thomas E. Cole was reared in his native county, and as his father was poor his early advantages were limited. He remained under his father's control until twenty-one years old, working by the month until eighteen years of age, and then hiring out by the year, giving all his earnings to his father except the necessary expenditures for clothing. After reaching his majority he continued at farming, and being economical saved some money; in 1847 he came to Holmes County, Ohio, and made his first purchase of land. He continued to work for others after coming to Ohio, and for two years was employed by Jacob Yoder, of Berlin Township. He then went to Wayne County, where for one year he was engaged in keeping a hotel. He then returned to Holmes County and began working on his land in Salt Creek Township, his first purchase being forty-five acres. This he improved and made his home until 1873, when he bought the farm where he now lives in Hardy Township, which contains thirty-three acres.
Mr. Cole was married November 23, 1830, to Barbara Ackerman, a native of Switzerland, daughter of Jacob and Barbara (Baer) Ackerman, former of whom died on the sea in 1816, leaving a widow and seven children. Mr. and Mrs. Cole had a family of ten children, eight of whom are living: Joseph, John, Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth, Fannie, Mary and Melissa. Two sons, Jacob and Thomas, were soldiers in the War of the Rebellion, both members of the Sixteenth Ohio Infantry--Jacob of Company B, and Thomas of Company I. Jacob was wounded at Champion Hills, and died in the hospital at St. Louis, July 9, following, aged twenty-two years. Thomas died at Young's Point of lung trouble, February 6, 1862, aged eighteen years. Mrs. Cole died in 1881, aged seventy years, and the home is now presided over by three of the daughters. Mr. Cole is of more than ordinary intelligence, and is one of the representative men of his township. The family are members of the Lutheran Church; in politics, Mr. Cole is a Republican.
Biographical Record of Holmes County, 1889.