Benjamin Franklin Cole was born in 1830 in Wayne County, New York.
By 1850 Benjamin may have been working as a laborer and living with the John Rose family on a farm in Palmyra, Wayne County, New York (the Roses were all emigrants from England, having arrived in the US sometime after 1842).
Benjamin married New York or Michigan native Ann S. Ferris (b. 1835), and they had at least three children: Adelia (b. 1857), Adelbert (b. 1862) and Calista (b. 1865).
By 1857 they were probably living in Wisconsin (where their first child was born) but sometime before 1861 moved to Michigan, probably settling in Ionia County.
Benjamin stood 5’7” with gray eyes, dark hair and a light complexion, and was a 31-year-old machinist possibly living in Ionia County when he enlisted in Company D on May 13, 1861. (Company D was composed in large part of men who came from western Ionia County and Eaton County.) Benjamin was wounded, probably during the Battle of Fair Oaks on May 31, 1862, and put aboard the Elm City at White House Landing, Virginia, and transferred to the hospital in Washington, DC, where he arrived on June 5 or 6.
He was shot in the right foot on August 29, 1862, at Second Bull Run, and by mid-September was reported to be “doing well” in Trinity Church general hospital in Washington, DC. He remained hospitalized until he was discharged on February 11, 1863 at a United States hospital (possibly Center Street hospital) in Newark, New Jersey for a fracture of the second metatarsal bone with loss of part of the bone.
Benjamin eventually returned to Michigan, and by February of 1863 was possibly living in Marshall, Calhoun County when he applied for and received a pension (no. 27890). He soon settled back in Ionia County, and by 1870 he was living on a farm (he owned some $3000 worth of real estate) in Sebawa, Ionia County, along with his wife and three children.
Benjamin and Anne were divorced sometime in the early 1870s and she was living in Sebawa when she remarried to Charles Raymond in 1873. (By 1880 Anne and her new husband were living in Sebawa, Ionia County; her and the two youngest Cole children were living with her.) Benjamin remained in Ionia County until about 1874 when he moved to Elkhart, Indiana.
Benjamin married his second wife, English-born Anna Boyd (b. 1847), on July 4, 1871, in Grand Haven, Ottawa County.
Benjamin claimed that in 1874 he moved to Elkhart, Indiana and worked as a machinist for some years. In 1876 he was living in Goshen, Elkhart County, Indiana when he sought an increase to his pension. In 1876 he moved to Marion County, Kansas, and by 1880 was working as a machinist and living with his wife Anna on Third Street in Florence, Marion County, Kansas. In 1886 he moved to Englewood, Kansas, and for some years tried his hand at farming.
Benjamin and Anna were divorced on March 20, 1886, for reasons unknown.
At some point Benjamin moved to Oklahoma Territory. According to a family source, “headed to Belle Meade (Meade) in southwestern Kansas . . . and filed a claim on Crooked Creek south of Meade. Soon after he crossed over the border into ‘No man’s land’ (Oklahoma panhandle) and took ‘Squatter’s rights’. He paid $16 at the land office in Beaver city. He built a sod house north of Gate City near the Tuttle Cattle Trail (which ran to dodge city) south of the Cimarron River. There was a hand-dug well on the trail 1/4 mile away from his soddie.”
Benjamin married his third wife, Michigan native Alida May Rounds (1866-1953) on August 28, 1890, in Beaver City, Oklahoma, and they had at least one child, a daughter Ina Roamy (b. 1891).
Benjamin was living in Beaver, Oklahoma Territory in 1891 when he applied for an increase to his pension.
By the early 1892 Ben and his wife and daughter were living in Englewood, Kansas. According to the family historian, “Benjamin worked part-time . . . for the Santa Fe railroad, oiling the engines when they turned them on a turntable at Englewood, which was the end of the line. He also had a loom which he wove and repaired fabric.” Benjamin was back living in Englewood, Kansas in 1897.
Benjamin died of a cerebral hemorrhage resulting from heart disease on May 10, 1898, in Englewood, Clark County, Kansas, and was buried in Englewood Cemetery.
In July of 1898 his widow Alida M. was living in Kansas when she applied for and received a pension (no. 817942).
In 1910 Alida M. Cole was listed as head of the household and living in Englewood, Kansas.; also living with her was her daughter Ina and her husband Missouri native Henry “Lon” Ford (b. 1877). In1920 Alida was living alone and listed as a widow and as head of the household, in Englewood, Kansas. By 1930 Alida was living with her daughter Ina and her husband and their children in Englewood, Kansas (Henry is reported as head of the household and owns some $1800 worth of real estate).
Alida applied for a minor child pension on behalf of Ina in 1902, no. 534,980.