The Real Story of Cold Mountain (William Pinkney Inman 1840-1865)

Pink & John's Grave

What a lot of you might know, is that many years ago a book was written (by my cousin) about a soldier’s odyssey during the civil war called Cold Mountain. Eventually, it would be turned into a movie with Jude Law playing the character of my uncle. What a lot of you don’t know is that decades before that, I had a school project involving family history and the family story I focused on is one that would fuel my passion for genealogy and historical research until the day I die. The book/movie took real people and their lives and fictionalized it, because in all honesty, the only things that are the same are the name of the main character and the fact that he was a soldier in the civil war and was shot on top of a mountain.

In the movie the beautiful (if you like those kind of looks), but the useless Ada Monroe (played by Nicole Kidman) moves to “Cold Mountain” with her preacher father where the town is conveniently building a church which leads to many an awkward run in between Inman and Ada where little conversation is actually exchanged.  Evidently she just looked great carrying around trays of drinks. In actuality this church was not built until 1902, when Pink had been in his grave 37 years.Inman's Chapel

We spend the first half of the movie being “convinced” these non conversations have the two of them falling so madly in love that when Inman gets wounded at Petersburg he spends way longer than it should have taken, trying to get home to her. The second half of the movie shows us just how useless Ada is while being berated (brilliantly) by Ruby Thewes for all her short comings. I have to stop and say right here, that the casting of Renee Zellweger in this part was masterful, there are still women up there today just like Ruby, and they scare the pants off of me! We get to enjoy Inman’s (mis)adventures on his way home which provides us with more than the token amount of nudity and makes you ask yourself, “remind me why he’s going home to that waste of space Ada?”

***Spoiler Alert*** Inman makes it back home, they manage to have time to shave his beard AND have sex before the token albino shoots him dead in a scene straight out of a wishing well (yes, I know Charlie Hunnam is not an albino, but they HAD to do something to try to “out goth” Jack White didn’t they?) In the end we see that the all too brief pre-buckshot carnal relations high on that mountain result in a child and everyone else lives happily ever after. At least he died without that awful awful beard.

Now that we have recapped the fiction, please indulge me and pick up a copy of “Paranormal Fakelore, Nevermore: The Real Histories of Haunted Locations” to read the real story of my great uncle Pink.

book cover

















  1. Thank-you for your story. I love true history.
    Even though Cold Mountain was historic fiction, it still brings good, people have remembered a man that once actually lived and you told his real story.
    Actually, I liked Ruby, loved your comment about women up there. I loved the fictional goat woman, so like me, but I could not kill an animal so I wouldn’t have made it.
    Again, thank-you!

  2. I am in the process of learning more about my family. My grandfather was Robert Inman and my grandmother was Lilly Swanger. My name is Denise Inman Phillips. I have traced the Inmans back to Benjamin Inman my 8th great grandfather. There were so many children, that I’m finding it hard to check each one., I am curious to know of any of your other relatives

    1. Hey Denise, my line runs from Joshua Inman who was Pink’s father (Joshua, Daniel Logan, Marcus, Mamie, Dewey, Robby, Me). No one has definitively proven who Joshua’s father was. I keep hoping a run of DNA testing will prove who it is because some people are sure they know but no one seems to be willing to do the tests lol My 3rd great grandfather Daniel Logan married Betsy Swanger, who was John Swanger’s sister, but honestly the Inmans/Swangers intermarried so much its hard to separate them all!

    2. Hi Denise my name is Joanna Gordon I loved the movie not the war any war its a terrible thing did he really live on Cold Moutain and are there people living there today edo you have a picture of P.W Inman my Daghter use to live in Bryson City N.C now she lives in the adirondecks N.y but my GrandDaughter lives in Sylva N.C very nice talking to you
      Joanna Gordon Simo

  3. Awesome movie. My 3rd Great Grandfather, Greenville Burke , he was in the 5th Kentucky mounted infantry, co. G. He fought in the Battle of Ivy Mountain on the Confederate side. So I’m so glad that this movie has a positive outlook on the Confederate Army. Thank you.

  4. To be fair, yes; Ada Monroe starts her fictional odyssey as being truly unsuited for her new environment at Black Cove. As the book progresses, though, Ada proves that she is much more than just a pretty, albeit cerebral, face in the town. It’s really hard not to love Ruby; bless her for saving Ada’s ass and helping her to help herself.

  5. I’m glad I stumbled onto this website; I have a genealogical interest in both W.P. Inman and Charles Frasier, not as relatives to myself, but to my children. My former (now deceased) mother-in-law was born in North Carolina, I think in 1927 or so. Her name was Marian Louise Inman and she was sure she remembered Charles from family reunions of old. She could not recall her exact relation to him. I have been curious as to how my son and daughter might be related, we even gave my daughter Christina (now 19) the middle name of Inman. I really don’t have the money to spend on the ancestry websites and all the “geneologists” from the families have passed on (my uncle, my father and my former father-in-law were all good at doing this type of research). What do you think? Can you find a Marian to Charles link?

    Diane Lennstrom

  6. Yeah inman should of blasted the albino in the head and survived the vicious battle still a good movie makes you think of how bad the war was cool movie

  7. Im an Inman .3 brothers arrived from England a year before the mayflower 1 stayed in the Carloinas the other New York and the other the mid west Im guessing Im from the Mid West brother my grandfather was from Arkansas I could be wrong but thats about all I know about the Inmans.


  9. I have an ancestor of Susannah Gordon Wells (NC) whose mother is Catherine Inman (Levi grandfather). I love the film and the book by Frazier. Catherine m my great great grandfather David Zacharia Wells, and the left NC in the late 1800s to join the Mormon church in Utah. They died American Fork Utah.

    I was working on my own NC history book when I wanted a “sign” that I should continue – it was about the Jim Crow south and two multiple lynchings in Salisbury NC. As I was reading te book, its character based on WP Inman asked three times which was the road to Salisbury.

    I got my sign, and I finished the book. Thank you WP. I would like to know more about his family and if I am related.

    I believe I may have traced his real daughter to working in a cotton mill near or in Gaston County. My Wells Grandmother’s father was a “mill boss.” I have since learned the story of Ella Mae/May Wiggins, a mill worker who may have know both Inman’s daughter and my relatives.

    I believe in genetic memory and that often we meet people who we once “knew”

    I’ve watch the film at least 20 times. I have to fast forward through the battle and other scenes sometimes, but I never tire of it.

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