Finding William Coles

Anyone who photographs older graveyards and later on tries to transcribe the inscriptions of weathered stones knows the frustration involved when you run across a marker that you can read a few of the words, but it’s not really enough to go on. Earlier I started trying to figure out to whom this marker in Green Hill Cemetery (Danville) belonged:

I was able to tell that it was the grave of someone with the surname “Coles” and it looked like he or she was the infant of “J.E. and E.M. Coles” born in October 1879. There were no Coles listed on the cemetery’s Find A Grave page and there were no Coles in the plot (based on the pictures I had taken.) It was possible that when it started raining, I neglected to photograph all the markers in the direct vicinity. So, I looked at the markers nearby.

Directly beside the small marker was a larger monument for William Moseley, who died in 1880 and beside that marker was a stone for Emeline Moseley who died in 1900. The process can be much more time-consuming than it seems, especially when some pages you’re trying to view are inaccessible at the moment and some are just dead-ends. I found out that William and Emeline were married. Through searching various combinations of the city, the cemetery, the known initials, and last name Coles, I found a hit for Ella Moseley Coles. One of the parents listed on the marker had the initials “E.M. Coles,” so I felt relief when I figured out that the child’s parents were John Edmunds and Ella Moseley Coles. According to that, this couple had the following children: William M. Coles, Frances Green Coles, Emmaline Alexander Coles, and John E. Coles Jr.

Then I remembered that when I was staring deeply into the photo that I once thought I read the word “William.” So based on the dates and the inscriptions I came to the conclusion that this was the grave of William Coles. The only discrepancy was that the information on the link stated that he was born in 1880. When I added William to Find A Grave I put 1880 in as his birth/death year. I will correct that if I find information proving otherwise.

Upon further research I learned that Ella and John were buried in Lakeside Cemetery in Conway, South Carolina along with William’s siblings Frances Burroughs and John Jr.

The obituary of the other sibling, Emeline Coles Crawford (often different publications spell names differently; I am not sure which one of the two is correct), gives more insight on the Coles family and their departure from Danville. The family moved to Conway around 1900 and John entered the tobacco warehouse business. This would leave behind the grave of William, to rest with his maternal grandparents in Green Hill.

I don’t blame the Coles for leaving Danville for the South Carolina coast at all.

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