Hell on wheels Wiki
Nathaniel Cole
Date of birth: 1805
Status: Deceased
Date of death: 1866
Age: 61 at death
Occupation: Reverend
Marital status: Widower
Relatives: Ruth Cole - daughter, deceased
Relationships: Joseph Black Moon - friend
Behind the scenes
Portrayed by: Tom Noonan
Seasons: 1, 2
First episode: "Pilot"
Last episode: "The White Spirit"
Appearances: 17 episodes (see below)

Nathaniel Cole was a preacher who had traveled to set up a church and mission in Hell on Wheels.


Background information[]

Cole was once a family man who had a wife and a daughter, Ruth. Their lives were not always a happy ones as he often drank and fought with his wife. Ruth cites that they only needed "a drop of love" that he was unable or unwilling to give to them. He later abandoned his family to teach God's word and bless the "inferior". He was also an avid abolitionist who worked with John Brown in the Kansas Territory during the 1850s-60s. He played a part in the Pottawatomie Massacre where supposed slave owners were killed.

While Cole was gone, his family suffered without him, possibly contributing to the death of his wife. After her passing, Ruth left to find her father and join him in his missionary life, much to his chagrin.

Season 1[]

Main article: Season 1

At the Missouri River, Reverend Cole baptizes his recent convert, Joseph Black Moon. They travel together to Hell on Wheels to set up a church. ("Pilot")

When Cullen Bohannon is on the run from Thor Gundersen, Cole gives him sanctuary long enough to figure out his next move. He urges Bohannon to confess his sins but Bohannon refuses, saying he doesn't deserve forgiveness. ("Immoral Mathematics")

Season 2[]

Main article: Season 2

Nathaniel was killed by Joseph Black Moon in front of Ruth after holding an injured Thomas Durant and other people hostage on a train in his hope to start a war between the natives and whites. His funeral was only attended by Ruth and Bohannon, during which Bohannon revealed that it was he who put the knife in Joseph's hand. ("Purged Away with Blood", "The White Spirit")


Season 1 appearances
"Pilot" "Immoral Mathematics" "A New Birth of Freedom" "Jamais Je Ne T'oublierai" "Bread and Circuses"
"Pride, Pomp and Circumstance" "Revelations" "Derailed" "Timshel" "God of Chaos"
Season 2 appearances
"Viva La Mexico" "Durant, Nebraska" "Slaughterhouse" "Scabs" "The Railroad Job"
"Purged Away with Blood" "The White Spirit" "The Lord's Day" "Blood Moon" "Blood Moon Rising"


Cole: I know the dark path of drink and debauchery. I traveled it well. Now, I'm on the path to God's light and I invite every last one of you to come along.

Cole: Death's no stranger to this Godforsaken place. Death abides in the hard labor of a rail gang or the searing heat of a prairie fire. Death abides in the bottom of a whiskey bottle or at the smoking end of a gun. There's death by famine, flood, or pestilence or a thousand other ways but, yes brothers, Death abides and he will reap his dark harvest.

Cole: "You know what that old Devil did? He cut off God's arms. And he hacked off God's legs. Gouged out his eyes, cut out his tongue and left him in a pool of blood on the floor. But he left God's ears, so he can hear us writhing down here. But God can't do a thing to help us."

Cole: Always choose hate. Hate is so much easier.