J.O. Cole was the richest man in Indiana. His father had been a shoemaker, but J.O.--the initials stood for James Omar--went out to California during the Gold Rush and came back a wealthy man to Indiana, where he multiplied his wealth by way of timber and coal and other enterprises. J.O. married Rachel Henton, and when their daughter, Kate Cole, was born in 1862, nothing could be too good for J.O.'s girl. J.O. gave Kate expensive clothes, expensive tastes, and an expensive education that included music and dance.
J.O. naturally expected his Kate to choose a husband from the ambitious world of high-powered businessmen, someone who could take over his financial empire if and when J.O. ever chose to let go of the reins. But Kate Cole had a mind of her own, and the husband she selected was Sam Porter, said to be a weak and ineffectual, although modestly successful, pharmacist from her hometown of Peru, Indiana. One can only speculate, but one can at least suspect that Kate was too much like her father to want to marry a man of her father's stamp, and instead deliberately chose a husband that she could rule.
J.O. fumed and grumbled, but in the end Kate got her way, and J.O. paid first for the wedding and then for the expensive lifestyle of the wedded couple. And then, on June 9, 1891, in Peru, Indiana, Kate's son, J.O.'s grandson, was born, and they named him Cole Albert Porter.
From the age of six, the little boy studied first violin and then, at age eight, piano, and soon he showed real…