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Cole family papers

Call Number: RH MS 987


The Cole family papers contain correspondence, photographs, and other records of the family of Ethel Cole of Arlington (Reno County), Kansas, whose father emigrated from Darke County, Ohio in 1878 to become a Reno County farmer. The collection consists chiefly of photocopies of family letters received by Ethel Cole and her parents from other family members, especially from those still living in Darke County, Ohio. The correspondence dates mostly from the late 1870s to the early 1930s. The photographs in the collection date from approximately the 1880s to the 1910s and the 1970s.


  • Creation: 1873 - 1959


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

History of the Cole Family

Bessie Ethel Cole was born May 6, 1887 in Reno County, Kansas to Wallace Shively (W.S.) and Nancy Adeline (Wise) Cole. Ethel had one sister, Vera Marie, and six brothers: Samuel Asa, Romeo G., Joseph or Joe, Wallace Sibley, Dewey, and Theodore (Teddy) Dennis.

Ethel's father, a Reno County farmer, was born April 6, 1853 in Darke County, Ohio. His father was Joseph Cole, a son of Samuel and Mary Jane (Elston) Cole. His mother was Sarah Ann (Shively) Cole. Wallace had two sisters: Mary Catherine ("Mollie" or "Katie") and Flora Arabelle Cole, who married Benjamin Franklin Chenoweth. Wallace's three brothers were William Henry Cole (wife Lucy E.), Charles W. Cole (wife Lucy), and Benjamin Franklin Cole (wife Myrtle). Wallace emigrated to Reno County, Kansas in 1878, living first at the community of Bone Springs and then at Arlington. In 1884, he married Nancy Wise, who was also a native of Darke County, Ohio. Of the seven sons and two daughters born to them in Reno County, all excepting one son lived to adulthood.

Ethel Cole kept the Cole family farm at Arlington, Kansas throughout her life. By age fifty, she had assumed the care of her ailing mother, her sister, five brothers, and a niece and nephew. She died April 9, 1982, at age 94.


3.5 Linear Feet (8 boxes + 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Cole family papers consist chiefly of photocopies of Ethel Cole's family correspondence and other family papers. The letters, which date primarily from the late 1870s to the early 1930s, include outgoing letters from Ethel Cole while residing at Sego and at Arlington, Kansas, as well as outgoing letters from her parents while living in Darke County, Ohio, and later at Bone Springs and Arlington, Kansas. Most of the collection's letters are addressed to Ethel Cole and her parents from their Cole, Wise, and Elston family members of Darke County, Ohio. Wallace S. Cole's letters also contain his correspondence and other papers regarding the Reno County school district. The collection contains a number of photocopied family records, including Grange roll books and minutes of Darke County in the 1870s, and a program and audio tape of Ethel Cole's memorial service, donated by the wife of Ethel's nephew, Robert Cole. The collection also contains a variety of original family photographs from both the W.S. Cole and Reverend Henry Cole branches of the family.

Arrangement of letters is alphabetical by family name of the writer, subarranged alphabetically by given name within each surname. Photocopies of letters within each folder appear largely as received from copying--in a continuous, uninterrupted sequence, with letter content copied on both sides of each sheet and letter content displayed in reverse order. A photocopy of the letter's postmarked envelope is usually included, appearing in front of its respective letter.

Physical Location

RH MS 987

Physical Location

RH MS Q478

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gifts, Ethel Cole, 1980; Mrs. Robert Cole, 1982.

Guide to the Cole Family Collection
Cole family papers
Finding aid prepared by mh, 2007. Finding aid encoded by mh, 2007. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2021.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Cole family papers, Kansas Collection, RH MS 987, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States