This article appeared in a series of articles pertaining to the early history of twenty two families of Westchester County, New York. They were published during the summer and fall of 1951 as part of a special feature in the Westchester Group Newspapers and Affiliates. The author was Maureen McKernan. The article on Coles family was the 21st of the series.
Robert Coles, from Suffolk in Old England, must have been a gay young blade when he came to Plymouth Colony with Governor Winthrop in 1630. Handsome, too, one may assume from the little that is known about him. Not once but three times Robert Coles was chided by his grim, dour Puritan neighbors for frivolity and inciting others to frivolity.
Robert, who is the ancestor of Westchester Coles families, was thirty when he became a pillar of the community is also indicated by records left by him in the establishment of the settlement at Warwick, R.I., where he died in 1655 "full of honors" and leaving behind him a family of four sons and three daughters.
Two of his sons, Robert and Daniel, were among the founders of the settlement at Glen Cove and along the shores of Hempstead Harbor. Their children are the founders of the Westchester Coles families of Mamaroneck and of Mount Pleasant.
Originally Muskito Cove
When Robert and Daniel went to Glen Cove the pace was called Muskito Cove and this name continued until the niceties of the Victorian era dictated the more pleasing sound of the name Glen Cove. Proponent of the change in name meant it to be Glencoe, after the name in Scotland, but one old fellow unwittingly corrupted the name by saying in town meeting "Well, we can still call it The Cove, so you can change the name if you want."
But all that happened more than a century after Robert Coles 2d came from Rhode Island to buy several hundreds of acres from the Indians. He built his house, laid out his farms and today he sleeps among Coleses of later generations in the Coles burying ground at the side of his own garden in The Place in Glen Cove where he died in 1718.
Of Daniel there is little record except that his hon Samuel, who was born in Glen Cove in 1670, came to Mount Pleasant when he was 20, laid out a big farm on the west side of the Bronx River, and founded the family which is represented today by such descendants as Floyd Coles, retired feed merchant of White Plains; Allen C. Stevens, White Plains insurance man, and school boy John Carroll and his little sister, Gale, children of Eleanor Coles Carroll and Benjamin Carroll, White Plains newspaper editor.
Cemetery was Coles Farm
Kensico Cemetery and the institution for girls, St. Mary's of the Fields on Virginia Road west of Valhalla, were Coles farms. The guest house at St. Mary's is the James COles farmhouse. The Valhalla branch of the Coles family married into such families as Horton, Miller and Sniffen. Nancy Tompkins, sister of Governor Daniel D. Tompkins, married a Coles.
John Coles, son of Robert Coles of Glen Cove, was born in Glen Cove in 1673 and moved to New Rochelle in 1730. Southern Westchester families of the name descend from his seven children who married into such old families as the Haights and Griffens. One of John's sons, Robert, who was 20 when the family moved to New Rochelle, married Jemima Griffen in 1738 and built two farm houses on Weaver Street in Mamaroneck Town that were landmarks until the late 1800s.
Robert was a cooper as well as farmer. His first house stood opposite the entrance of today's Weaver Street firehouse. His second, a more elegant homestead, stood until 1873 on the other side of Weaver Street next to the site of the firehouse. Robert died in 1782, Jemima in 1770. Their son John married Charity Robinson whose mother was a Palmer and from them descend Grenville MacKenzie of Westport, Conn., one of the outstanding genealogists of today and an authority on early American history, to which he has devoted a lifetime of research.
One of Robert's grandsons, John B. Coles, was a prosperous New York merchant after 1800. The Robert Coles of today, manager of the Hayden Planetarium, is his descendant. Many Coles families and collateral branches from Coles girls descend from Joseph and James, other sons of John of New Rochelle. It's a big family, in all its branches. In 1809 Caleb Coles sold one of his father's Weaver Street houses and moved to New York with his sons, Thomas and Caleb, where he founded a bank. Thomas and Caleb made a fortune in a wholesale shoes business in Franklin Street but were wiped out in the panic of 1837. This Thomas Coles was the great-great-grandfather of Grenville MacKenzie.
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