Joe Cole

I used to stop by to see Joe Cole on my way from Houston to Austin. He lived in a cabin on Joe Cole Road out of Smithville. We would sit on his porch and he would tell me stories about his family who were pioneers in the area. He always wanted to live to be 100, but he died at almost 98 in 1999. He would take me inside his house to look at all of the things he collected throughout the years. He even showed me the 45cal gun that he slept with under his pillow.


Joe's mother was Rosa Berry Cole. Rosa was raised by her paternal grandmother, the oldest child of Markham and Nancy Kenner. Markam Kenner according to Rosa (Cole, 1987, p.1) was part Irish, a big six-footer with flush complexion, red hair and blue eyes. He was a very rough, gruff man with a loud voice and a curse word at the end of anything he had to say. His hobby was wine and women. Nancy was a meek, God-fearing woman, tall, straight, and slender. Nancy's granddad Alley was a doctor in Tennessee. He was well-to-do owning a plantation with Negro slaves working for him. His wife had TB the last twenty years of her life. She was half-Indian, probably Cherokee. Markham and Nancy moved to the uncivilized mountains of West Virginia to a log cabin in the woods after Markham's father told him that the world was free and for him to go make his start if he wanted one. They stayed there awhile, but finally went back to Tennessee when he and his sister, Betsy Berry, became owners of a farm in the mountains of Stinking Creek.

Rosa's grandma, Lucinda, was the third oldest child. She was born August 8, 1814. She was raised by slaves and never had been taught to rough it. She had Negroes to do all of the work and had only her music, reading and embroideering to think of. (Cole, 1987, p.3) When the old doctor died Nancy got some land and some of the Negroes. Markham talked her into making a deed to her land, but she wouldn't make a deed to the Negroes. She gave them back to her folks to keep until they reached the age of sixty-five, and then asked that they be set free. One negro woman, Martha, would not leave her and came with her when she came to Texas. Thomas Owens Berry was their guide on Texas soil. After reaching Texas it took them ten days to get to Woods Prairie, a settlement on the Colorado River in September, 1832 (Cole, 1987, p.11).

Tom Berry and Lucinda Kenner fell in love in 1832 and were married in 1833. Tom was in his late 30's or early 40's and Lucinda was a girl of 17. They moved to a 10 x 12 foot cedar log house on the bluff of the Colorado River. The house was so close to the river that you could stand in the back door and throw a rock into it (Cole, 1987, p.12). William Thomas Berry, Rosa's father and Joe's grandfather was born in the cabin October 23, 1834.

The old home was sold and in 1911 the family moved to a place two miles from Muldoon, where they improved a forty acre plot. They dealt in cattle and farmed a little acording to his mother (Cole, 1987, p. 57). They lived there until 1921 and moved on the Hill place which they rented. It was across the Colorado River, the same river the Berry's settled on in 1832.

Photos of Joe & his cabin

Joe Cole's visit to Barton Creek Cemetery in 1958

Joe Cole's' Death Record

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