Saturday, April 2, 2011

Struck, Mexico: G3 Grandfather Mexico Cole (1811-1869)

Mexico Cole (1811-1869) 

My great-great-great grandfather, Mexico, was the son of John Henry Cole (1770-1835) and Mary Scarborough (1775-1837). He was born on February 6, 1811 in Hickman, Kentucky, close to the Mississippi River and the state of Missouri. Almost nothing is known about his parents and nothing, not even the names of his grandparents are known, but it is said that Mexico was part Cherokee Indian.

Mexico was the oldest of only four children, which is shocking because almost every family I have come across in this research had a lot more children than that, but perhaps only four children lived or were recorded.

An odd fact:  Mexico had beautiful Old English handwriting which he may have learned from a missionary.
When he was 18, he married 14 year-old, North Carolina native Juliette Ann Chilcutt (1815-1874). Juliette was also part Cherokee Indian and French. In 1830, they lived in Hickman, Kentucky and had no children. The 1830 census was very rudimentary and did not record much more than ages and slave ownership. They did not own any slaves. 

Mexico traded in livestock and occasionally took care of other people's animals, and may have even delivered some children. In any case, he was given the title of Doctor by the folks around that area.

According to G. K. Renner's article, "The Mule in Missouri Agriculture, 1821-1950," which can be found in the Missouri Historical Review, mules were the favorite among Missouri farmers. Renner notes:

Missouri was nationally famous for the quality and quantity of its mules. The state produced a superior breed from Mexican and Eastern stock. Some were used on the western trails, and a larger number were used on southern plantations. The industry provided a full-time livelihood for a few traders, feeders and breeders, but it supplemented the income for a far larger number of farmers. Horses, which are larger and more expensive to maintain, but which can do more work, remained the favorite animal on Missouri farms.
This coincides with the knowledge that Mexico traded cattle, and one can imagine mules would would have been part of his stock.   

By 1840, Mexico and Juliette lived in Little Prairie, Missouri, a town in New Madrid County. Mexico was still employed in agriculture and their family was booming. In fact, for exactly 30 years, Mexico and Juliette had child after child after child, a remarkable 20 children in total. However, out of those 20 children, only 8 would make it to adulthood, and only 3 would live to see the 20th century. Of those three, one would be my great-great grandmother, Nance Melinda Cole, along with her older brother Stephen and sister Julia Ann. It's unknown whether or not Juliette and Mexico subscribed to the French style of family, where the women is the head of the household, but the following story proves Juliette was not governed by her emotions, but rather was a strong and practical woman:

Great-Great-Grandma Nancy
Mexico and Juliette's son Stephen

A story from a late uncle, as told to him by his grandmother Nancy Melinda (Cole) Patrick:
She said that her father (Mexico Cole) sought refuge near a tree during a storm. Lightning struck the tree and he was killed instantly.  When his Juliette found out she told [her sons, neighbors?] to go right away and fetch him home.  There was $10,000 worth of gold coins sewn into the hem of his coat.  [The uncle] guessed that was how Grandma Juliette was able to live after he died.  Mexico carried such a large sum of money with him because he bought and sold cows and horses.

That Juliette didn't fall in a heap of uncontrollable sobbing upon the news of her husband's sudden death speaks to her strength of character. The first issue she was concerned with was securing the money Mexico carried so that she could continue the life they had created. At the time of Mexico's death, Juliette still had four living children under the age of 17 at home.

Unfortunately, Great-Great-Great-Grandmother Juliette didn't have to worry about living on that money long. She died five years after Mexico at the age of 59 from unknown causes. To say her life was hard would have been a gross understatement. My great-great grandmother Nancy was the baby of the family and was 16 when her mother died. (She, too, had a difficult life, which can be gathered from an earlier post titled "The Patrick-Cole Connection.")

Mexico and Juliette are both buried near Caruthersville, Missouri. Supposedly, an old Methodist Church was built on top of Mexico's burial ground. After the original church burned, the new one was placed over his grave. Whether this was done accidentally due to the absence of a headstone or poor planning is unknown. A trip to this burial site is definitely on the to do list.


  1. Wow - 20 children!!?? That's crazy!! What a fascinating story. Thanks for sharing ;-)

  2. Do you have any information on Mexico's children? I'm am most interested in Louisa Jane? I think she married a great-great-great uncle of mine, Daniel/Samuel McGuire. He was working Mexico's land as of the 1850 census. If you have any information, will you please contact me?

    Thanks for posting!