William J. Cole

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Chris & Kerry
December 14, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.
Chicago and New York, Volume II
pg. 156

WILLIAM J. COLE has standardized, systematized and put on a commercial basis one
of the oldest arts known to mankind, that of baking bread, and in the Bluefield
Bakery, of which he is proprietor, has one of the largest plants of its kind in
West Virginia, capable of producing the staff of life for many thousands of
people every day.

Mr. Cole was born at Marion in Smith County, Virginia, November 12, 1883, son of
L. C. and Elizabeth (Wolf) Cole. The Coles have been in Virginia for a number of
generations. His grandfather, William Cole, was a Confederate soldier in the
Civil war.

William J. Cole acquired a common school education at Marion and Graham in his
native state, and at the age of seventeen began learning the baker’s trade with
the Virginia Confectionery Company at Graham. He remained there two years, and
then entered the mercantile business for himself. He conducted this business
successfully for about nine years, finally selling out in 1911.

In Was in 1912 that Mr. Cole bought the Bluefield Bakery, and since then has
given his entire time and attention to developing the plant and business. He
has installed automatic machinery throughout, and the plant now has a capacity
of producing 3,000 loaves of bread per hour or 48,000 in a full day’s run. The
Bluefield Bakery was originally started in 1900 by M. Stean, who was succeeded
by Captain Barger and from him Mr. Cole bought the business.

Mr. Cole married in 1905, at Graham, Virginia, Miss Mary Holbrook, daughter of
John and Marie Holbrook natives of Virginia. Her father was one of the leading
merchants and citizens of Graham. Mr. and Mrs. Cole had six children, William
Paul, Elizabeth, Holbrook, Carlyle, Kenneth and William J., Jr. William J., Jr.,
died in 1920. Mr. Cole and family are members of the Lutheran Church. He is a
Knight Templar and Royal Arch Mason Shriner, a member of the United Commercial
Travelers the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and the Bluefield Country Club.
He has been in business and earning his own way since he was seventeen, and all
his prosperity has been gained by hard work and close adherence to the
fundamental principles of sound business.