Great-Grandpa Cole’s Legacy
Submitted by Jim Cole
October / November 2015
My great-grandfather Michael Cole was born in Claudy, County Derry in 1860. His parents were farmers in the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains. He made his way to the States on the steamship Lord Clive, arriving in Philadelphia on June 9, 1880, three weeks after his 20th birthday. He found employment as a stable boy for a member of the prominent Philadelphia family, the Biddles. Not long after, he was made coachman, a job he would hold over the next 50 years.
In 1885 Michael married Susan Gallen from Meenreagh, County Donegal. Over the next 16 years they had 9 children. Among them was my grandfather Jimmy, who became a professional golfer of some renown during the 1920s and 30s.
During the late 1880s Michael helped bring his brothers James and Patrick to the States. He taught them the coachman trade, and they worked for some of Philadelphia’s finest families. His younger sister Mary came in 1888 and worked as a lady’s maid in the Biddle household.
Michael’s loyalty to the Biddles was well rewarded. When Miss Emily Biddle died in 1931, he had worked for the family for over 50 years. She left him quite a legacy, including houses and a lifetime income.
When Michael died in 1946, one of his friends wrote, “Michael had that Irish trait, a faculty for making friends and retaining them.” He passed that trait onto his descendants, and it has served us well. ♦