Lillie Shepherd Cocke
Lillie Shepherd Cocke was born on October 10, 1854 in Albemarle County, Virginia, possibly in the Greenwood district. She was the daughter of John S. and Harriet Cocke. No birth certificate could be found for Lillie S., but one was found for Charles, her younger brother, born on September 22, 1856. The place of Charles’s birth was Hillsboro (or Hillsborough), Albemarle County, which was also given as John S.’s residence.
Lillie married Charles A. Jenkins, from Mississippi, in Albemarle County on June 30, 1873. She was 18 and Charles was 24.
On May 5, 1874 Charles and Lillie had a Bev A, a male child, according to a Virginia birth certificate for the child. No further information is known about this child; he (or her) apparently dies early, as the child is not listed in later censuses for Charles and Lillie.
In the 1900 census, Charles and Lillie list five children: Stella Evens; Jessie Lillie; Carter; Carey, one of my grandmothers; and Shirley Winter. (Middle names are from the book “Cocke and Cousins, by Leomie Day Cocke and Virginia Webb Cocke.)
Lillie indicated in the 1910 census that she had given birth to 8 children and 5 were still living: Stella, Jessie, Carter, Cary, and Shirley. As mentioned above, Bev A, was one of the dead children. Nothing is known about the two other dead children.
Lillie dies in Clayton, North Carolina on April 9, 1922. The grave is alongside the grave of Charles, her husband of 49 years. Lillie was apparently in good health when she died, but died at a relatively young age of 68. According to an obituary, just before her death she complained of paralysis, so perhaps she died of a stroke.
Lillie was beloved in her Clayton community as indicated by her obituary and other documentation. The following is a quote from the obituary:
“Noble in spirit, of genuine Christian character, Mrs. Jenkins’ real worth was in herself. Free of pretense and affectations, she was bred in the old fashion school of womanhood, and was never willing to sacrifice any of its charms to take up the newer day ideas and creations. In her death, Clayton loses a woman of true worth and nobility, and her place will not soon be filled”
Another tribute paid to Lillie, reflecting the high esteem in which she was held, was a poem written for Lillie at her death by Ida Harrell Horne (Mrs. Hardee Horne), who was a close friend and published poet, under the name Carmine.
The 1920 Wayne County, North Carolina census lists a Stella Robinson, widow and age 43, as a resident of Goldsboro. This is Stella Jenkins Robinson, Charles and Lillie’s oldest child. Stella is the head of household and has two daughters, Louise, age 14, and Margaret, age 11.
Stella graduated from the Oxford Female Seminary in 1893. Charles, her father, is known to be teaching at Oxford just prior to, and possibly including 1893, and possibly Stella had her father as a teacher. Charles taught literature.
Stella dies on May 28, 1935, at age 58, while still living in Goldsboro. Her sister, Jessie, is the informant on the death certificate.
Jessie, who was born December 11, 1878 in Oxford, North Carolina, is teaching school in Goldsboro, North Carolina, in the early 1900s, when she meets DJ (Doc) Thurston. Doc, who is from nearby Clayton, is practicing law in Goldsboro. Jessie and Doc marry in 1902 and soon move to Clayton, where Doc will continue to practice law, and work for the Southern Railroad.
Jessie and Doc would have: Jessie; Ruth; Charlotte; and Doc, Jr. Doc, Jr. would eventually start a trucking company, Thurston Motor Lines. I often saw Thurston trucks on southern highways in the 60s and early 70s. Thurston Motor Lines no longer exists as a separately named entity. Doc Thurston sold the company by the 1980s.
Jessie and Doc are in the 1930 Census, living in Clayton, with only Charlotte, age 19, the youngest daughter, still at home. Of Jessie’s children, Charlotte is the only one that I ever met, visiting with her in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she lived late in her life. Charlotte and my father were cousins. Charlotte Thurston Modlin was born in 1911 and died on December 9, 1992 in Greensboro. Her birth was in Clayton, North Carolina.
Jessie, who was Charles and Lillie’s second child (after Stella), becomes quite accomplished and well known in many areas during her life.
The Johnston County (where Clayton is located) Baptist Association minutes of 1946 pay tribute to Jessie, who had just died on October 23, 1946. The tribute notes that Jessie was the County Welfare Superintendent for 17 years, and was a writer, artist, home builder, and church worker. The tribute stated that she was a strong and recognized advocate for those in need. Jesse was a former president of the Clayton Women’s Club.
Jessie wrote a weekly column for 11 years for the “Smithfield Herald” (Smithfield is in Johnston County), from 1935 to 1946, with her last column appearing just before her death. The column was called “Home Brew”, written under the pseudo-name Mrs. Lou, so that the identity of the author was not revealed by the paper until right before Jessie’s death and at the time of the last column. The column was a humorous telling of situations in and around the county that the writer (story teller) was telling as having happened to her. Apparently, the column was very popular, and had a reputation beyond the county.
Because of the revealing of Jessie as the author, just before her death, that the column came to an announced end just before her death, and that Jessie died at a relatively young age (68), it is likely that Jessie knew she was dying, possibly suffering from a cancer or some other incurable disease. Jessie would die at the same age as Lillie, her mother, but 24 years later.
Carter Ashton, who was born in Oxford, North Carolina in April 1882, went to the University of Richmond, where he founded the Sigma Phi Epsilon social fraternity for men, now one of the largest social fraternities in the country. He went to Crozer Seminary and became a minister (like his father); then an evangelist; and, then, apparently settled in Louisville, Kentucky. Carter obtained a master’s degree and served churches in Hampton, Norfolk, Richmond, and possibly other locations.
Carter Jenkins is listed in the 1910 Norfolk census, age 28. He has been married three years and his wife was Mary Ellis., age 24, born in Ohio. Two daughters are listed, Mary E. and Frances L. In 1909, Carter was the pastor of the Memorial Baptist Church in Hampton, Virginia, near Norfolk.
It is believed that Carter Ashton Jenkens left Richmond during the 1920s to become an evangelist, traveling through Virginia, North Carolina, and possibly into other states. Apparently, during the 1920s (and probably before), tent evangelism was a popular and esteemed activity for pastors to go into, if they had the skills and orientation. Records indicate that Carter did have such skills and orientation. He did go into tent evangelism, and from limited newspaper accounts, was successful at attracting crowds to his tent evangelistic meetings.
Carter Ashton Jenkins eventually settled in Louisville, Kentucky, and died there on July 23, 1952. Because he was one of the founders of the Sigma Phi Epsilon national fraternity, one of the largest college fraternities, limited biographical information about Charles Ashton can easily be found on the Internet. But, the extent of this information is only that he eventually settled in Louisville, Kentucky. He was not listed in the 1930 Louisville, Kentucky census, nor was he in the 1930 Virginia census.
Apparently while in Louisville, or perhaps before arriving there, Carter no longer is working as a pastor/evangelist. 1930s Louisville City Directory information indicates a C.A. Jenkens, Co. in existence as a real estate company.
A Carter Ashton Jenkins descendant has indicated to me that Carter Ashton Jenkins was a senior and therefore likely had a son Carter Ashton Jenkens, Jr. ((Carter Ashton and his decedents used (use) the spelling Jenkens. See the Charles Augustus Jenkins section for more on the spelling variations.)) This descendant’s grandfather, Robert Lewis Jenkens, was also a Carter Ashton son. Robert Lewis Jenkens had at least 7 children: Robert, Jr.; Ronald; Gary; Patricia; Janet; Mary Frances; and Madeline.
Carey, one of my grandmothers, was born around 1885, while Charles was pastor at the New Bern, North Carolina First Baptist Church. Carey marries one of my grandfathers, Melvin Crider Torian, in 1903 in North Carolina.
Shirley, a male, became a very successful interior designer of lobbies and other building interiors in New York, and elsewhere, according to my father. My father said that his interiors were used in some famous buildings, which my father said he had visited during his Navy career travels.
Shirley, the youngest of the five Jenkins children, was known to be in Hampton, Virginia in 1918 (newspaper account) and in 1922 (Lillie’s obituary). What he was doing in Hampton is not known. By 1927, he was living in Jacksonville, Florida, as reported in his father’s obituary of 1927. Shirley is possible dead by 1946, as he is not listed as a surviving brother in his sister’s, Jessie, obituary. Where he lived, and when, other than that given above, his work (other than my father’s recollections), when and how he died, whether he ever married, and other details remain unknown.
John Shepherd Cocke, Lillie’s father, was born in Goochland County, Virginia, in 1798, son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Lily) Shepherd Cocke. John S. married twice. In the 1850 census, John S., age 52, was married to Polleny Mary Elizabeth Woodson Cocke, age 51, and they had: Mary L. (for Louise), age 21; John, age 21, who was listed on the census as an idiot (retarded?), and who possibly was Mary’s twin, since they were of the same age; and Mariah, age 16. John S., in 1850, lists his occupation as farmer, and his real estate value at $25,000. He lived in Albemarle County and his census enumeration district was St. Anne’s Parish. John, his first wife, and children were born in Virginia. A Goochland County marriage register shows that John S. Cocke marries Mary Woodson on November 26, 1822. Samuel Woodson was listed as a guardian, and security was provided by Charles B. Hopkins. Polleny Mary E., John S.’s first wife, dies in the early 1850s. Polleny was a granddaughter of Reuben Nuchols. Nuchols was a prominent name in Goochland County then, and a name still seen today in Goochland County. Polleny was the daughter of Benjamin Woodson.
Also from the 1850 census, the John S. Cocke household included the following: C. (for Claudius) Crozet, age 60, engineer, from France; E.T.D. Myers, age 20, engineer; Archidale Blair, age 28, engineer; A.H. Rogers, age 31, physician; and James Gates, age 22, stage driver. It is not clear why these individuals are in John S. Cocke’s household in 1850. C. Crozet is the well-known engineer who mapped many areas of Virginia and helped build railroads and railroad tunnels in Virginia. The town Crozet in Albemarle County is named after him. The list of “other than family members” in John S.’s household in 1860 is equally interesting and numerous (see the paragraph below on the 1860 census data). John S. is believed to have been an inn or hotel operator and these individuals were renting rooms, on the day the censuses were taken. We do have John S. associated with Cocke’s Tavern. The word tavern was used in Virginia in the early 1800s for a facility that rented overnight rooms. Also, in 1851, John S. Cocke is listed as a hotelkeeper in the Thomson’s Mercantile and Professional Directory. However, John S. never lists his occupation as hotelkeeper in any census; only as farmer. Probably the individuals in John S.’s household in 1850 and 1860, outside his family, were there for no more reason than they were guests at his inn on the day the census taker visited John S. Cocke.
Claudius Crozet could well have been a long-term resident of Cocke’s Tavern around the 1850 time frame. Crozet was employed by the State of Virginia as a surveyor and an engineer to develop roads (turnpikes) in western Albemarle County. Two turnpikes (roads) under development there were the Staunton and James River Turnpike and the Fluvanna River Turnpike, intended to connect with the Staunton and James Prier Turnpike. Apparently the idea was to connect these roads for business purposes so that Staunton and Shenandoah Valley products could be transported to the James and Fluvanna Rivers and from there to ports further down river. A competitive route was north from Staunton to Winchester and then to Baltimore. The Shenandoah Valley (where Staunton is located) was becoming an important supplier of agricultural products for east coast cities.
When railroads were coming along and being developed in the 1840s and 1850s, Crozet turned his work towards constructing tunnels through the Blue Ridge Mountains, just west of Cocke’s Tavern, so staying at Cocke’s Tavern while doing his work would make sense. E.T.D Myer, an engineer also in the John S. Cocke 1850 census, was Claudius Crozet’s assistant, and both worked for the State of Virginia. Both Crozet and Myer’s names are on a recognition plank at the entrance to one of the railroad tunnels through the Blue Ridge just west of Greenwood, which they help build.
Mary Louise Cocke, John S.’s daughter from his first marriage, marries Dr. Aristides Monteiro, a surgeon, and graduate of the University of Virginia, who later gains some fame as a member of Mosley’s Raiders in the Civil War, and then as a mental health treatment advocate and provider and a land developer around Richmond, before he dies in the early 1900s.
The 1860 census shows John S. Cocke as age 61 and married to Harriet, age 40, his second wife. In the household were also: Lilly S. (my great grandmother), age 6; Charley L, age 4; and Willy D., age 1. Also in the household was John, age 30, listed as retarded, from John S.’s first marriage. There were several other persons listed as in the household including: Cornelia Ray, female, age 18, from New Jersey; and a group of Harrisons - Gessner, 53, male; Eliza, 47, female; Peachy, 21, male; Edward, 23; Charles, 21; William, 14; and Robert, 10. Three members of the household were listed as teachers: Gessner Harrison (who was a well known classical scholar, one of the first graduates of the University of Virginia, and later a classical language professor who taught at the University of Virginia); Summerfield Smith, 25 (who graduated from the University of Virginia, where he served as an assistant to Gessner Harrison, and would serve as a captain in the Confederate army, and would die, while on duty, from disease); and Ernest Blum, 25, from Germany. Because of Lillie’s age, apparently John S. and Harriet were married by 1854. John’s parents, as well as Harriet’s, according to this 1860 census record, were born in America. Cornelia Ray is Harriet’s daughter from her first marriage.
In 1859, Gessner Harrison issues a flyer on which he announces that he has resigned his chair at the University of Virginia and is planning to open an academy for boys and young men, within two and a half miles of Greenwood Depot, which is approximately the distance from the depot to John Cocke’s tavern. This plan could explain why Gessner Harrison, Summerfield Smith, and Ernest Blum are in John S’s 1860 census.
The 1850 Albemarle County census lists a Harriet Ray and her daughter Cornelia, age 11, as being in the John and Lucy Simpson’s household. Why Harriet and Cornelia are in the Simpson household is not known. Perhaps they are renting a room. John Simpson married Lucy Bramham on May 14, 1828, so the Simpsons were probably in their 40s in 1850.
Harriet Hires Ray Cocke, who was born in May 1819 in New Jersey, was married once before her marriage to John S. Cocke. Her first husband was William A. Ray. Cornelia Ray, who is in the John S. Cocke’s 1860 census record, is Harriet’s daughter from her first marriage and is apparently the only child from this marriage. What happened to Harriet’s first husband is not known.
There was a Ray family living in the Alloway section of Salem County, New Jersey in the early 1800s, in the same area where Harriet was raised, but whether William A. Ray was a member of this family and that Harriet met William A. and married him while still in New Jersey is uncertain. Documents show that a W. A. Ray served at a Baptist Church in Alloway. Possibly Harriet did meet William A. Ray while in New Jersey, married him, and they had Cornelia. But, if so, why then did Harriet go to Charlottesville would be interesting to know.
A “Family Record” (probably from a family bible) of the Conrad and Nancy Dare Hires family survives and shows that Harriet Hires married a Rev. William A. Ray, sometime between 1833 and 1849 (probably in the 1830s since Cornelia, their daughter was born around 1840). So, this family record shows that very likely it was the W.A. Ray who served at a Baptist church in Alloway who was Harriet’s first husband.
Harriet was the daughter of Conrad, Jr. and Nancy Dare Hires. Conrad Hires, Sr., Conrad Jr.’s father, emigrated from Germany. One report indicates that Conrad, Sr. arrived at Philadelphia on October 5, 1767 on the ship Salley, under the command of John Osman. Records show that Salley made several voyages from Europe to Philadelphia.
In 1771, Conrad Sr. married Christiana Hitchner in Cumberland County, New Jersey. Christiana was also born in Germany, in Baden, and immigrated to America with her parents, Jacob and Magdalena Lottholtz Hitchner. Conrad and Christiana would live after marriage and die in Salem County, New Jersey. Both are buried in the Friesburg Emanuel Lutheran Church Cemetery in Salem County. Conrad, Sr. dies young, in 1782. Conrad Sr. and Christiana had eight children, including, Conrad, Jr. one of my great, great, great grandfathers, and Harriet’s father.
Jacob and Magdalena Hitchner, Christiana’s parents, are believed to have married in Ellmendingen in 1744 and immigrated to North America, arriving in Philadelphia from Rotterdam in 1754 aboard the ship Henrietta. Ellmendingen is in what was then known as the state of Baden. When Jacob and Magdalena arrived in Philadelphia, Christina was about 2 to 3 years old. Jacob is believed to have been from the state of Wurttemberg, also, like Baden, in present day southwestern Germany. Today both locations are in the German state Baden-Wurttemberg. Stuttgart is the capital of Baden-Wurttemberg.
Salem and Cumberland Counties, adjacent to one another, lie on the Delaware River at the entrance to the Atlantic Ocean. Further up river, 60 to 70 miles, and on the other side of the river, is Philadelphia, where Conrad Hires arrives from Germany. Conrad would settle around present-day Alloway in eastern Salem County about equal distance from the City of Salem in Salem County and the City of Bridgeton, in Cumberland County. These counties have very productive agriculture, then, and now.
The Hires surname in Germany was Hoyer or Heier and Conrad was Gunrod. The Hitchner surname was Itschner in German. After Conrad, Sr.’s death, Christiana marries Simon Rammel, and has at least seven more children. The following quote from an 1841 Salem County newspaper obituary for Christina Hitchner Hires Rammel is interesting:
Died recently in Pittsgrove, Salem County, Christina Rammel, age nearly 90 years. The deceased has probably left more descendents than any other person in western Jersey. She has been twice married and had 17 children, 110 grandchildren, and 500 great grandchildren.
Conrad Hires, Sr. enlisted in Capt. Cornelius Nieuirk’s Company of Foot Militia, Second Regiment, Salem County Militia during the Revolutionary War. He also served under Joseph Ellis at Haddonfield.
No pension application information could be found for Conrad. But this would be expected, as he served in the state militia, and that he died before the 1828 act of Congress granting pensions to state militiamen. Also, Christina remarried before 1828, and perhaps did not qualify for a pension as Conrad’s wife, because of remarrying.
Conrad, Jr. and Nancy Dare Hires, Harriet’s parents, probably married in the early 1800s, and had several children. Nancy was the daughter of Mulford Dare and Kitty Jenkins Dare, who married around 1786. It is interesting that one of Harriet’s grandmothers had a maiden name of Jenkins and that one of Harriet’s children, Lillie, my great grandmother, would marry a Jenkins. Could this have been a reason that took Charles A. and Lillie S. Cocke Jenkins to New Jersey?
Conrad Hires, Jr. was born on November 1, 1781 and died on August 6, 1869. Nancy Dare Hires, who was born in 1787, died on November 13, 1865 at age 79. Conrad, Jr. is believed to have been a deacon at the First Baptist Church in Bridgeton, New Jersey, in Cumberland County for 38 years. Conrad, Jr. and Nancy are believed to be buried in that church’s cemetery in Bridgeton. Conrad’s occupation has not been found. What was the First Baptist Church is now called the Pearl Street Baptist Church.
Photographs of Nancy Dare and Conrad hires exist. The photographs might have been taken in the 1850s or 1860s.
Mulford Dare was a son of Reuben Dare and Rhoda Mulford Stevens Dare, who married in 1760. Rhoda was married to a Stevens prior to her marriage to Reuben and her maiden name was Mulford. Rhoda was a daughter of Benjamin Mulford. Rhoda’s maiden name accounted for Mulford Dare’s first name. Mulford, who was born around 1762, died on February 17, 1804.
Reuben Dare was a son of Benoni (also Benoney) Dare. It is unclear if Reuben’s mother was Hannah Abbott, Benoni’s first wife, or Kezia Sheppard Dare, his second wife.
Benoni was a son of Capt William Dare. Capt William Dare arrived in Philadelphia in the 1680s from Lyme in Dorset County, which is in the south of England on the English Channel. Then Capt Dare settled in Salem County, New Jersey, about 60 miles south of Philadelphia. William’s prefix “Captain” is believed to be based on William having been a sea captain.
Capt William Dare’s will is dated 1721 and Benoni will is dated 1770, with Reuben possibly dying soon after the date of Benoni’s will in the 1770s.
Benjamin Mulford, Mulford Dare’s grandfather, is believed to be an offspring from a William Mulford who came from England in 1618 and died in East Hampton, Long Island, New York in 1687. A William Mulford son, also named Benjamin, is known to have died in Salem County, New Jersey in 1700. Mulford Stevens Hire’s father, and Mulford Dare's grandfather, Benjamin Mulford, are likely off springs from the 1700 Benjamin, who died in Salem County.
Kitty Jenkins Dare was a daughter of Abinadab Jenkins and Sarah Harris Jenkins, who lived in Salem County. Abinadab Jenkins was the son of Nathaniel Jenkins, Sr. Nathaniel Jenkins, Sr. came from Wales, in the early 1700s, and eventually settled in Salem County as a Baptist minister, dying in 1754. Kitty Jenkins Dare, who was born around 1765, died on September 17, 1808.
(Charles A. Jenkins, who marries Lillie S. Cocke, was the great grandson of Benjamin Jenkins, who is believed to be from Wales and eventually immigrates to Georgia and then to the Mississippi Territory where he dies around 1814. No information, other than the last names and both being from Wales, connects Benjamin Jenkins with the Nathaniel Jenkins, Sr. who also comes from Wales, and dies in the 1750s in southern New Jersey.. See the Charles A. Jenkins section for more on Benjamin Jenkins and Charles’ Jenkins ancestors.)
According to “The Baptist Encyclopedia – A Dictionary”, edited by William Cathcart and published in 1883, Nathaniel Jenkins was born in Wales in 1678. He settled at Cape May, New Jersey, in 1712 and became the founder and first pastor of the church there. He died in 1754. When he was a member of the Colonial Legislature of New Jersey in 1721, he spoke out against a bill that would make it a crime to not believe in the trinity, Christ’s divinity, and the inspiration of the scriptures. This quote is attributed to him: “I believe the doctrines in question as firmly as the promoters of that ill-designed bill; but will never consent to oppose the opposers with law, or any other weapon save that of argument.” The bill was defeated. In 1730, Nathaniel left Cape May and went to Cumberland County, New Jersey, where he was pastor at Cohansey Baptist Church until his death
It is interesting that Nathaniel Jenkins, Sr. was a Baptist minister from Wales, indicating that there was a Baptist denomination in Wales in the early 1700s. It is also interesting that Lillie Cocke Jenkins, who because of Nathaniel Jenkins, Sr., was a great, great, great granddaughter of a Baptist minister, was married to a Baptist minister with the same last name, Jenkins.
Lillie Cocke Jenkins had in her south New Jersey ancestral past the names Hires; Hitchner; Dare; and Mulford. The original family members with these four names were all concentrated in eastern Salem County, and from the original members of these four families, today there are thousands of descendents. Also, it is not surprising that members of these four families would inter-marry over time because of their living amongst each other, as certainly Lillie Cocke Jenkins ancestral past demonstrates.
How Harriet and John S. Cocke would come to meet and marry would be interesting to known. Harriet and Cornelia are listed, without William, in the 1850 Albemarle County census. John S. is believed to have operated a school for girls in the early 1850s. Perhaps Harriet was a teacher at the school, or that Cornelia went to the school, and explains how John S. and Harriet met.
No marriage record could be found for Harriet and John S. in Albemarle County. Several sources are available at the Library of Virginia that provide abundant information on marriages in Albemarle County in the early 1850s (and for earlier times). None of these sources indicate a John S.-Harriet marriage, although John S. appears in these sources as witness to several marriages. John S. also appears as a justice of the peace on marriage records in Albemarle County of the period. John S. was originally from Goochland County (see below about John S.’s father). John’s first marriage was in Goochland County. It is possible that Harriet and John S. returned to Harriet’s home, in New Jersey, to marry. The usual custom of that time was for the marriage to take place in the bride’s hometown. However, no marriage record for Harriet and John could be found in Salem or Cumberland Counties, New Jersey.
Because Harriet was from New Jersey, this makes Harriet unique as the only one of my sixteen great, great grandparents not born in a southern state. Fourteen were born in Virginia, one in Mississippi, and Harriet in New Jersey. All eight of my great grand parents were born in southern states, seven in Virginia and one in Mississippi.
John S.’s land holdings and possessions were probably considered to be substantial for the times. For example, in the 1860 census, John S. lists his real estate at $36,000 and his possessions (probably mostly slaves) as $53,430. The total 1860 value that John S. puts on his land and possessions ranks him, in terms of listed wealth, as among the top 3 to 4 percent of families in the 1860 Albemarle Census. From the 1860 census data, forty families listed (in the census) a combined value of $90,000 (John S.’s approximate listed worth), or more. Albemarle County, in 1860, again from the US Census record, had approximately 12,000 white and free colored citizens listed in the census. Assuming an average census family size of ten people, this would indicate approximately 1,200 family listings (12,000 total people divided by approximately 10 people per family) in the Albemarle census that did or could have provided real estate and possessions dollar amounts. Of these 1,200 potential providers, only about forty listings stated a value of $90,000 or more, or approximately 3% of the families in the census. So certainly, the John S. Cocke family was one of the wealthy families in Albemarle County in 1860.
Of the 40 families with listed worth of $90,000 or more, 34 listed their occupations as farmers. Two listed themselves as merchants, two as bankers, one a lawyer, and one, with the greatest amount of worth (approximately $300,000), did not list an occupation.
John S.’s land, Cocke’s Tavern, and The Cedars were in western Albemarle County, near Greenwood and Afton, along what today is Route 250. It is likely that the main stagecoach route ran along what today is Route 250, through or near John’s land, and probably Cocke’s Tavern was developed to serve the stagecoach traffic. Greenwood is about 18 miles west of Charlottesville. The Virginia Central Railroad ran a track through, or near Greenwood, and had a station (stop) there, or nearby. The 1875 Green Peyton map of Albemarle County shows a “Cocke” residence between Hillsboro and Greenwood.
John built what is now known as The Cedars (it is still being used as a resident) in the 1850s. By the time The Cedars was built, John probably was no longer operating a tavern (an inn for stagecoach passengers) and the term Cocke’s Tavern becomes obsolescent. More information is provided on The Cedars in later paragraphs.
Albemarle County was still, in 1860, a very lowly populated area of Virginia. As stated, there were approximately 12,000 white and free coloreds in Albemarle County, and there were approximately 14,000 slaves (another interesting point – more slaves than frees). Albemarle County population in 1860 represented only about 2% of Virginia’s population in 1860, since Virginia had about 1,600,000 people counted in the 1860 census.
Before the civil war, in Albemarle County (and maybe in many other locations), private, pre-college schools flourished. This was probably a period before there was much public school education available. Brookland School was one of these schools. This school was initially located on John S. Cocke’s land in Greenwood, Albemarle County. Brookland School was a boarding school, founded in 1856 by William W. Dinwiddie, a former University of Virginia teacher. Brookland School did not stay long on John S. Cocke's land. It soon moved to a nearby location. Once the civil war began, the school soon ceased to operate and never reopened.
Brookland School catalogues from the 1850s exist at the Library of Virginia. According to these catalogues, the school’s objective was to prepare students (only males) for entry into the University of Virginia. Nearby, according to the catalogue, were Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches, including St. Paul’s in Ivy and Emmanuel in Greenwood.
Following the civil war, attempts continued to establish a school at Greenwood. Greenwood, in the later 1800s, was considered a vacation retreat destination.
How Brookland School came to initially be located on John S. Cocke’s land would be interesting to know. Was this a simple business proposition for John S, did he have a special interest in education, was it friendship with the founder, William W. Dinwiddie, or what? Dinwiddie, following the collapse of Brookland School in the early 1860s, became a Presbyterian minister. He eventually returns to the Greenwood area, becomes pastor of Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Greenwood, and dies there in 1894.
This is another result of great negative consequences that the civil war forced on the south – a destruction of the pre-civil war school system. It probably would be generations before the opportunities for such an education, as was available before the civil war, would again become available to the children of the south.
Eliza Harrison, who was listed as in John S.’s household in 1860 (Gessner Harrison’s wife), was related to Rosalie Carter Jenkins, Charles A.’s mother (Charles was Lillie Cocke’s husband).. Both Eliza and Rosalie were great granddaughters of Betty Washington Lewis. Rosalie O. Carter’s father, George Washington Carter, and Eliza Harrison’s mother, Maria Carter, were brother and sister. So Rosalie and Eliza were cousins. The connection between Eliza Harrison being in the 1860 census household of John S. Cocke and the later union of Charles A. Jenkins, a relative of Eliza, to Lillie S. Cocke is unknown. As suggested above, she may have been there only as a guest at an inn being run by John S. But, such family associations could explain connections between Wilkerson County in Mississippi and Albemarle County in the 1850s and 1860s, and maybe even played a role in Charles A. and Lillie S. meeting and marrying. How these cousins, Rosalie Carter Jenkins and Eliza Harrison, one in Virginia and the other in Mississippi, interacted during these tumultuous and good times in Virginia and Mississippi would be interesting to know more about.
John S., age 71, is in the 1870 Virginia census. In the household is: Harriet, age 51; Lillie S. (my great grandmother), age 15; Charles, age 13; William, age 10; and a new female, Nannie, age 8. John S. lists his occupation as farmer, and his real estate at $9,000 and his personal possessions at $1,000, a considerable decrease from 1860. Exactly what accounts for this decrease is uncertain, but the explanation probably has to do with one or more of the following: the devaluation of money following the Civil War; business set backs for John S.; the lost of slaves that represented such a large asset for John S. and many other southern farmers; and the consequential lost of the value of the land, as these slave resource losses made the land much less productive and therefore less valuable.
On September 17, 1879, Nancy (Nannie) D. Cocke, age 18, one of Harriet and John S. Cocke’s daughters and Lillie’s sister, marries Egbert R. Watson, age 29. An Albemarle County attorney, Egbert R. Watson, who lived from the early 1800s to the 1880s, represented Albemarle County in the State Legislature, and was for a time a judge. What relationship the Egbert R. Watson, Nannie’s first husband, is to the Egbert R. Watson, the attorney, is not known. Possibly, Nannie’s husband was a grandson. By 1900 Nannie was no longer married to Egbert, being found married to Samuel M. Nevius in the 1900 census. The Watsons cannot be found in the 1880 Virginia census. As we will learn soon, they have moved out of state.
John S. Cocke was certainly an active businessman. Not only must he likely have had an active and large-scale farming operation, as evidence by his 1850 and 1860 census land and possession worth data, but also as indicated above, he operated an overnight inn. Also, revealing are several deeds involving John S. Cocke that appear in the Albemarle County records. Apparently, John S. had some involvement in developing the Staunton and James River Turnpike. He was also involved with the Orange-Alexandria Railroad. During the 1840s and 1850s, and earlier, improved transportation by canals and railroads, for moving such things as farm products, was an important objective of much entrepreneurship activity in many areas of America. Canals for a period of time in American history were viewed as a very important and viable transportation option. Inventors, developers, and investors of and in these transportation options would require lots of capital. This was apparently true for John S. Deeds indicate that John S. was selling his land, probably to raise cash for his canal and railroad-related activities. Around 1850, John S. was being granted Braxton County (now in West Virginia) land, by the Virginia Land Office, as part of the Kanawha Canal Project. Braxton County is due west from Charlottesville.
Whether by design or perhaps land inherited or just good fortune, John S. would own land and operate a tavern where a major stage route would pass through and by. And, John’s tavern location would turn out to be a good stopping point for overnight rest on trips from Richmond west. John’s Cocke’s Tavern would gain an outstanding reputation as one of the best taverns in Virginia, a state known as having the best taverns during the era when travel from city to city was by stage coach, when stage coach lines existed with publicized routes, schedules, rates, and there were needs for dependable, known overnight rest stations (taverns). One such overnight destination point was Greenwood (Cocke’s Tavern) at the eastern base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Running such a business as an overnight tavern was likely difficult and demanding work, requiring full attention. Not only did guests have to be fed and entertained, but horses also had to be taken care of. No information is known about what entertainment might have been provided at Cocke’s Tavern, if any, but some information does indicate that, in general, entertainment would be expected. Information is available that quote those who knew Cocke’s Tavern and John and those quotes indicate that John was an excellent business person, with good management skills. His economic success, evidence by his 1860 census record and the building of The Cedars in the 1850s, speaks for his business and management performance up to the start of the Civil War.
The responsibility of running a tavern, needing to be on the job from early in the morning, including on Sundays, might have accounted for not finding any information that John or Harriet (or Polleny, John’s first wife) attended a church near Cockes Tavern and The Cedars. One item does exist that John paid $2 in 1822, along with others, to cover the salary of a pastor at Mount Plains Presbyterian Church. But, other than this, no information, including membership records from the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s, could be found that John belonged to Mount Plains,. (Mount Plains Presbyterian Church becomes the present day Lebanon Presbyterian Church.) Another explanation for a lack of church involvement might be simply that John S. was not religious.
The road that ran by Cocke’s Tavern, from Richmond to Staunton, by way of Goochland County and Charlottesville, and which today Virginia State Route 250 closely follows, was a major road for travelers headed for the warm water health springs of Virginia (and today’s West Virginia). Throughout the 1800s, these springs would be a major vacation/ retreat/health rejuvenation destination for many, not just Virginians, but residents from many other states. Going to the springs on the other side of the Blue Ridge was a very fashionable social activity and many who went would go by John’s Cocke’s Tavern, and perhaps stay overnight there. So, in John’s own way, he may have brought a lot of comfort and benefit to lots of Americans.
In addition to operating a tavern to provide service to stage coach travelers, John S., was also involved in a stage coach line business. Documents indicate that in 1845 a Farish & Company stage coach line business was formed and John S. was part of the ownership, which also included W.O. Farish, Slaughter W. Ficklin, and Dr. O.B. Brown of Washington City (presumably Washington D.C.)
It was not just the Civil War that caused a lot of economic difficulties for John, but also another event beyond his control, which was the coming of the railroad, and the elimination of stage coach travel and the businesses that depended on stage coach travel, as John’s tavern did. The railroad would eliminate the need for such businesses as Cocke’s Tavern and by the 1850s this was the case, bringing difficult times for John.
By the time the stage coach business died in the late 1840s and 1850s, John was seeking other investments, and revenue sources. As mentioned above, he apparently did do some farming but not much is known about this, and its success. He also invested in canal development projects, but just as the railroad would mean doom for the stage coach, the railroad would quickly make the canal development projects obsolete, with many investors losing their investments as John likely did, and contributing to his late life economic woes.
John certainly seemed an entrepreneur and inventive, as indicated by his turning to schools as a productive use of the facilities he owned as a tavern operator. As Cocke’s Tavern, apparently facilities were developed, such as a two story, several room, long building that still stands across the highway from The Cedars, that would serve well as a dormitory, as it probably served as a guest house. Another structure, next to The Cedars residence, looks to be suitable for serving as a class room. And, there is The Cedars resident with a large basement that could accommodate school needs. So, with these facilities, and their location, not far from the University of Virginia, in a beautiful location, gaining revenues through the renting of the facilities as a school would be a good use of his assets that no longer worked as a tavern or for other purposes.
There is no indication that John actually participated as an educator in the schools associated with his facilities. The first known school to operate on John’s property, Brookland, had William Dinwiddie as the lead educator. Whether by plan, or perhaps because of disagreements, Brookland only operated at John’s facilities for perhaps a year before it’s operation moved to another location nearby. Then, a second school, called Locust Grove Academy, was initiated by Gessner Harrison, a former University of Virginia professor, as the lead educator. This school followed very shortly the departure of Brookland, with a starting date of fall 1859. However, the school lasted only a year, as the Civil War ended it.
And then, showing good persistence in pursuing income, John still yet attempted a third school on his property, this time in 1869, and this time a school for girls. Not much is known about this school and how long it lasted. That such a school was attempted does raise some interesting questions. Was Harriet, whose reason for migrating to Albemarle County from New Jersey is not know, but possible because she was a teacher seeking employment, instrumental in the planning of this third school. So, was Harriet both a participant in the school as a teacher, and also a force behind starting a girl’s school? And would, John and Harriet's two daughters, Lillie and Nannie, who would be of age to attend such a school, be students at the school?
John was not just an active, and for a long time, successful business man, but was also active in community affairs. Information indicates that John was a member of the Albemarle Minutemen, a group of older men formed in 1863 to help the southern cause in the Civil War. John was about 65 years old in 1863. Apparently, this Minutemen group marched to Gordonsville, not far from Charlottesville (18 miles northeast) in 1863, with John’s school associate, William Dinwiddie, apparently a commander in the group, to defend the railroad depot against an approaching Union attack
John was also appointed (by the governor) as one of five Albemarle County magistrates for 1835. Magistrates served as justices of the peace, which apparently met a judge-like function. Pilson family records at the University of Virginia Special Collections Library indicate John served as a postmaster during 1829 to 1830.
The United States Postal Service saw great growth during the 1800s, after being established in 1775, with the first Postmaster General being Benjamin Franklin. In 1792, 6,000 miles comprised the mail routes. By 1830, reportedly there were 6,500 post offices, and mail routes went over 100,000 miles. The Postal Service played an important and unique part in contributing to the expansion of the United States in the 1800s, as it offered a primary method of communication. The Postal Service’s history shows that it usually was proactive in using new technologies, as the technologies were developed, whenever the new technologies could improve the postal services.
The position of postmaster for the various localities would frequently change as the party in power in Washington changed. When a new party took over, usually new appointments would be made to most, if not all, of the postmaster positions. The President had the ultimate selection authority, but usually relied upon Congressmen for recommendations. In 1889, 31,000 postmaster positions changed hands
So, John Cocke, as a postmaster in 1829 to 1830, was likely appointed to the position by the local congressman. John’s daughter, Nannie, will marry Egbert R. Watson in 1879, and by 1886 Nannie and Egbert will be in Kearney, Nebraska where Egbert has been appointed the postmaster. (More about Nannie and Egbert and their migration to Nebraska later.) Charles A. Jenkins’ father Mahanetha (Charles marries Lillie S. Cocke) was also a postmaster in Yazoo City, Mississippi from 1841 to 1850. Postmasters did not receive a salary but a percentage of the post office’s revenues.
More details on John S. Cocke’s involvement in various business projects are not known. But whatever the involvement, there appears to be little or no financial retention to John S. and his family from the involvement. By the late 1870s, after John S.’s death, Harriet will be selling off both land and personal possessions to pay debtors.
Various descriptions in Albemarle County deeds described locations and identifications of land sold by the Cockes. These locations and identifications included: Yellow Mountain; the Garrett Track (Clover Plains); along the turnpike; the Greenwood Track; Batesville Road; along (looks like) Stockton Creek; (looks like) Mechums River; (looks like) Lookinghole Creek; Dettor’s Mill; the Barksdale Tract; and Hillsboro. Most, if not all, of these locations and identifications are in the area where John S.’s The Cedars and Cocke’s Tavern are located.
Deeds in the 1870s also seem to indicate a strategy of protecting John S. and Harriet from debtors. Between 1860 and 1884, about 70 deeds (property transfers) are attributed to John S. in the Albemarle County Deed Books, and about 15 are attributed to Harriet.
Sam Towler, an Albemarle County researcher, has uncovered information that a Parthenia was a slave belonging to John S. Parthenia was the sister of Daniel Minns.
In January 1873, John S. sold a lot of personal possessions, including farm implements; items for wheat processing; carriages and other vehicles; cattle; horses; and hogs to Harriet’s brother-in-law. The brother-in-law then lent these items to Harriet for her use. The items sold covered three pages in the deed relating to the sale. The proceeds was $1,639.58; an amount that seems to be small for the listed items. The brother-in-law’s name was Charles C. Grosscup. Grosscup lived New Jersey. Cumberland National Bank, in New Jersey, issued the check that was used to pay for some of the total amount due. Charles C. Grosscup was married to Anna Dare Hires Grosscup, who was Harriet’s younger sister.
Charles C. Grosscup and Anna Dare Hires Grosscup lived in Bridgeton in Cumberland County, New Jersey, a county where Harriet’s mother and father also lived. Charles C. owned a dry goods store in Bridgeton, selling clothes and home furnishings. Apparently, tailoring services were also offered. Grosscup and Company ran ads in the Bridgeton city directories of the 1870s. Charles C. built in the 1850s and operated his business in a building called Grosscup Hall at the corner of Commerce and Laurel, but no present building named Grosscup is found at Commerce and Laurel. Also, a reference to a Victorian-style house built by Charles and Anna on the corner of North Laurel Street and North Avenue has been found, but the house could not be found as still standing. Charles was a member of the New Jersey State Legislature in 1871.
Photographs of Anna and Charles exist. Anna and Charles look to be in their 50s in the photographs. Anna appears petite and Charles has a full mustache and a handsome appearance. A guess is that the photographs were taken sometime during the 1880s. Anna, who was born in Cumberland County, New Jersey on August 19, 1829, dies on February 22, 1900. Charles, who was born December 9, 1827, in Jennersville, Chester County, Pennsylvania, dies on December 4, 1898. Both die in Cumberland County and are buried there.
Currently where Grosscup Hall was located is a building called Feinstein. Grosscup Hall was a wooden structure and burned down in 1923. An existing photograph of Grosscup Hall shows it to be 3 stories, with many windows. Information indicates that on the second floor was an auditorium (thus probably accounting for the name “hall”), which was used for lectures, theatrical productions, church services, `and other events. One such event was an annual musical festival with local musicians performing. Such a hall and its ability to be used for such events was probably a very important social asset in 1800s communities like Bridgeton.
Bridgeton is on the Cohansey River that flows into the Delaware River. At one time, being on such a river, as Bridgeton was, especially in Salem and Cumberland Counties, met much more than it does today, in terms of transportation importance. Before truck shipping, water shipping resources and capabilities, such as a navigable river leading into the mouth of the Delaware River and the Atlantic Ocean, close to commerce centers, offered many commercial opportunities, and Salem and Cumberland Counties had important water transportation commerce.
And, information does indicate that Bridgeton developed its river and “port-like” capabilities. Charles C.’s dry goods store, selling a variety of items, including household goods such as beds and other furniture, likely benefited from this river transportation, and his store could have served a much wider area than just Bridgeton.
This Grosscup-Cocke transaction, described above, occurs six months before the wedding of Lillie S. Cocke to Charles A. Jenkins. John S. and Harriet’s economic condition at this time, as it relates to their life and to Lillie S.’s upcoming marriage to Charles A. Jenkins, would be interesting to know more about.
An interesting item on the three-page list of Cocke personal possessions sold to Harriet’s brother-in-law is a (looks like) Knabe piano, valued at $170. This piano was probably a grand piano, an expensive one. In the late 1870s, this piano would be turned over to the Cocke’s attorney, Micajah Woods, to pay legal debts. The piano’s location when it was turned over to Woods was given as at Midway, in Charlottesville. There was a Midway Tavern (or hotel) near Vinegar Hill, in Charlottesville. Later a school occupied the Midway Tavern building. It is likely that the piano was at the tavern (or school). It would be interesting to know why. This piano likely indicates Harriet was a musician; that music was important in the family. Giving up her piano must have been a very sad event for Harriet. Was the piano at Midway for dances? Did the Cockes like to dance? Knowing more of the Cocke musical and dancing activities, as well as the musical and dancing interests of Charlottesville and Albemarle County during that period would be interesting to know.
Knabe pianos were made by the Baltimore Wm. Knabe & Co, beginning in the 1850s until the early 1900s. That Knabe pianos were only beginning to be sold in the 1850s suggests that the piano on the Cocke personal possession list sold to Harriet’s brother-in-law was purchased after Harriet’s marriage to John, and that Harriet was the inspiration for the piano.
Another speculation is perhaps John and Harriet owed Midway School money because one, or both, of their daughters, Lillie and Nannie, went to school at Midway. That one, or both, did go to Midway would be very interesting to know. Was it while Lillie was a student at Midway, located in Charlottesville, and who would have been about 15 in 1869, that she meets Charles, her future husband, while he was a student at the University of Virginia starting in 1869?
My impression is that the 1870s was a uniquely transforming period in American cultural history. Major changes in Americans’ perspectives on living were taking place. These new perspectives came out of: the results of the Civil War; increases in local and state government public services provisions such as public schools; changes in higher education, such as an increased emphasis on research, discovery, and new knowledge; technical advances that gave Americans much greater desires for, and abilities to achieve, new experiences; and an entrepreneur response to these increased American desires and needs.
The 1870s saw new entrepreneur services that would meet the increased needs of American for greater experiences. This was a period of greet increases in professional bands and singers, including the first appearances of African Americans and their musical talents. Traveling assemblies of entertainers and lecturers would be put together to go from location to location as a group, attracting large attendances. Communities would seek out such assemblies of entertainers and lecturers to perform in collaboration with local festivals and fairs.
Entertainment took on a new “professional” aspect in that the ability to earn a living as a professional entertainer begins to become more apparent. For the first time, colleges and universities added Departments of Music to their listings. 1876 saw the Philadelphia World’s Fair, an event with a significant transforming affect on Americans’ views of the future. Important literature advances, represented by the writings of Mark Twain and Henry James, imprinted peoples’ perspectives.
Numerous dance bands throughout large parts of America came into existence to meet the ever-increasing interest in dance and music. People would begin to offer services in large numbers as dance instructors. Popular dances included: mazurkas; polkas; waltzes; schottisches; quadrilles; cotillions; and square dances. Song writers found a living in creating music that many would seek out to be entertained by. Hits included: "Home on the Range” and "Carry Me Back to Old Virginia”.
In October 1877, after John S.’s death in July 1877, Harriet would invoke a “homestead deed provision”, to protect her possessions from debtors.
In December 1879, Harriet sells more land. This time it looks like land that surrounds the Cocke’s house (described in the deed as the “mansion house”). The deed indicates that Harriet would retain the right to use the house and twelve acres surrounding the house. This land and house was in the Greenwood District.
A final deed found associated with Harriet is from November 1881 and relates, this time, not to debts owed by Harriet and her deceased husband, but to money owed John S., from 1851. A final payment was required to turn over the deed to property sold by John S. in 1851. Unfortunately, the amount due was not very much.
John S. sold, in 1876, “The Cedars", located at Greenwood, in Albemarle County, which is on the Virginia Landmarks list, and is connected with Cocke’s Tavern, another famous site name in Albemarle County history. John S. sold The Cedars to William Lewis Bailey.
A picture of “The Cedars”, which still stands, is in a Virginia Landmarks publication. The Cedars is a large, three-story residence, which can be seen from Route 250. According to Virginia Historic Landmark Commission information, The Cedars was built in the 1850s. Adjacent to the residence is another, smaller, two story structure which apparently was built at the same time as the residence. The purpose of the second structure is unclear, although it could have been built as a kitchen and servants quarter. By the time The Cedars and adjacent structure were built, John’s tavern business was likely on the decline, or perhaps evaporated, as stage coach travel in the 1850s was disappearing with the advent of the railroad. Does the resident and adjacent structure replace earlier buildings that John used for the tavern business during the 1820s, 1830s, and 1840s? This is not known.
Across the present-day State Route 250, which possibly is on the same path that stage coaches would travel on, is another, still standing, structure, associated with Cocke’s Tavern, called The Longhouse. The Longhouse, which was owned by John, has a design such that it could have served as separate rooms, hosting several overnight guests. The Longhouse is probably where overnight guests, and later students, slept.
Beginning with the existence of the residence and the adjacent structure (together “The Cedars”), and with the already existing Longhouse, one can imagine how the three facilities, plus any other long-gone and not documented facilities, could have been suitable for boarding and teaching small numbers of students. John S. apparently did imagine just such a use which lead him to pursue the use of the properties as a school.
During the Civil War, “The Cedars” was used as a confederate hospital. The Cedars use as a hospital during the Civil War was primarily to treat the casualties coming from Major General Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley Campaign in the spring of 1862. In March 1862, Jackson’s army approaches the Battle of McDowell, almost due west from Greenwood, across the Blue Ridge and in the Shenandoah Valley, by passing through Rockfish Gap just west of Greenwood. Could parts, or all, of the army gone directly in front of The Cedars, and might Lillie, who would have been around eight at the time, been there to see the army go by?
The Cedars is located close to an estate called Mirador. Mirador would be, later in the 1800s, the home of the Langhorne's and their daughter, Nancy. Nancy, in the 20th Century, eventually becomes Lady Astor (she was married to Waldorf Astor), and then becomes an influential and productive member of the British Parliament, and Winston Churchill’s famous repartee partner.
John S.’s will appears in the Albemarle County Will Book. He leaves everything to his second wife, Harriet. He states that he has already provided for his children from his first wife. Will executors were described as friends and were: Alexander Pope Able and James D. Jones. The will was made out and signed on May 27, 1870 and Bennett Taylor, C.C., probated it on October 11, 1877. In his will, John refers to his children by Harriet as Lillie S, Charly L, Willie D, and Nannie H.
John S. Cocke’s death is recorded as being on July 1, 1877 in Charlottesville. He was reported to be age 80. He was listed as a farmer, that he was born in Goochland County, and that his father was Sam Cocke. A Samuel Cocke is in the 1820 Goochland County, Virginia census. A John Cocke is also in the same 1820 census. The cause of John S.’s death was listed as softening of the brain. This was sometimes used during that period as a cause of death; its meaning is uncertain to me. Harriet was listed as consort, or wife, and Charles Lee Cocke, his son, was informant. John S. had a brother, Samuel H. Cocke, who was a silversmith/watch maker/jeweler in Albemarle County and who was about ten years younger than John S. Coincidentally, Samuel H. also died in July 1877. Samuel H. had several children, male and female.
John’s burial site has not been found. Documents prepared by Albemarle County residents on Albemarle’s burials in the cemeteries of Albemarle County and Charlottesville did not include a John S. Cocke in the listing. Possible John was buried on land he had owned and was the source of his livelihood, the land around The Cedars close to Greenwood. Maybe he was buried next to his first wife, Polleny Elizabeth Woodson Cocke. There is information that unmarked graves do lie on the land around The Cedars.
Harriet Cocke could not be found in the 1880 Virginia census (John S. died in 1877). No Virginia death certificate could be found for Harriet from 1877 to 1881. She is alive in late 1870s and in Virginia. From deeds, she is selling property in the late 1870s in Albemarle County.
Sometime in the late 1870s or early to mid 1880s, Harriet migrates, along with three of her children, west, beyond the Mississippi River, to Kearney, Nebraska.
Why Harriet and her children went to Nebraska was probably for economic reasons. We know of John’s economic woes starting several years before his death and of Harriet selling land and The Cedars to pay off debts. And we know how the Civil War left the southern states economically depressed. In addition, the whole country suffered a serious economic depression in the 1870s, with serious labor unrest later in the 1870s.
Following the Civil War, through the rest of the 1800s, a great migration from states east of the Mississippi, and also European countries, occurred into America’s Great Plains. Nebraska’s population went from 120,000 in 1870 to 1,000,000 in 1890.
The stimulus for this migration was the railroad companies. After the 1860s, when the Union Pacific Railroad completed a transcontinental line, which ran through Nebraska, rapid growth in railroad lines, west of the Mississippi, occurred. With the new lines, travel west from the eastern states became much easier. The two major portal cities, where most eastern travelers headed for, were St. Louis and Chicago. At these two cities, lines headed west to Omaha, Kansas City, and many other destinations.
To increase company profits, and railroad use, the railroad companies went into the real estate business, buying, or being granted government land along their lines. They then parceled the land into lots for sale to easterners and Europeans. The railroad companies initiated an extensive advertising campaign; perhaps America’s largest and geographically most wide-spread up to that time. The campaign covered most, if not all, of the eastern states and several countries in Europe.
And people responded. The campaign drew hundreds of thousands of migrants into the Great Plains states as evidence in the increase in Nebraska’s population from 1870 to 1890, figures for which are given above.
This wide-spread, international advertising campaign was not the only change the railroad companies brought to business practices in America. Another was the way in which the railroad companies sold the land – on an installment plan, with buyers being able to make monthly payments, including interest, which often was in the 6% range, over a usually 10-year period, to acquire the land ownership. Prices per acre were in the $5 to $7 range. (This equates to $113 to $160 in 2011 prices when adjusted for inflation using the CPI index.) This selling practice was perhaps the start of what has become today the wide-spread financing of company products, by the company itself.
The 1870 to 1900 expansion of railroad service in the west (along with the telegraph) had an enormous affect on the country, how business was done, the country's economics, and social changes. Some have compared that affect to the current day affect of the Internet on the country.
To get to St. Louis (the likely destination for Harriet and her family, compared to Chicago) from Charlottesville, Harriet and her sons and daughter most likely would have taken the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad from Charlottesville to Washington DC. Baltimore and Ohio at the time had a line with passenger service from Washington DC to Danville, Virginia, through Charlottesville. From Washington, the Baltimore and Ohio had a line with passenger service to Cincinnati and from Cincinnati to St. Louis.
From St. Louis, a different railroad company, other than Baltimore & Ohio, would be used, perhaps the Union Pacific, to get to Omaha and then from Omaha to Kearney. Data from the Internet suggests that the fare from Virginia to Kearney, Nebraska, would be in the $30 to $35 range. ($629 to $794 in 2011; adjusted for inflation from 1880 using the CPI.) Apparently, Harriet ended up with some funds from John’s estate to get the family to Nebraska.
(An excellent information resource on the late 1800s railroad industry’s affects on America is the University of Nebraska at Lincoln digital project – Railroads and the Making of Modern America.)
Kearney and other Nebraska cities were at that time considered excellent getting off points for immigrants because of their perceived future potential for growth, vitality, and viability. Unfortunately, this would not prove to be true, since with time, immigrants would keep on going, further west, leaving Nebraska behind. This situation likely accounted for further relocations of Harriet’s family, described in the following.
Exactly when Harriet and 3 of her 4 children leave Charlottesville and go to Nebraska is not certain. The first report of Harriet and her family being in the Nebraska area is an 1885 Iowa Census that has William D. Cocke, as head of household, age 25; Harriet, age 65; and Cornelia A. Ray. The census gives Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County as the location.
That Harriet and William are in Council Bluffs, while the 1885 Iowa Census was taken, could indicate that Harriet and William had just arrived, or at least been there a short time, suggesting that their departure from Virginia was only a short time before, in 1885, or perhaps 1884.
Information indicates that an Egbert R. Watson was appointed the Kearney, Nebraska US Postmaster on May 21, 1886. Nannie’s first husband was named Egbert R. Watson, so it is very likely that the postmaster Egbert was Nannie’s first husband. However, within 2 and ½ years, after May 1886, Nannie marries Samuel Nevius.
Egbert dies in 1887.. Kearney Cemetery records show an ER Watson buried in December, 1887, at age 37. This is almost certainly Egbert R. Watson because of the age, name, location, and that Egbert Watson can no longer be found in records after 1887. The records also show that the burial lot was owned by a Nevius. The connection between Egbert’s death, that the lot is listed as a Nevius lot, and that Nannie would marry Samuel M. Nevius on December 26, 1888 would be interesting to know more about.
Kearney County probate records indicate that at Egbert’s death, his property and real estate were worth $1,106, both that he had a mortgage of $1,044. Included on the records was a debt of $56 to a Dr. M.A. Hoover for 29 doctor visits. This doctor bill suggests that Egbert had sickness that led to his death.
Also interesting is that Egbert R. Watson was appointed a US Postmaster in Kearney, Nebraska. Was the arrangement for this appointment after his and Nannie’s arrival in Nebraska or possibly before when they were still in Virginia? If Egbert was the son or grandson of Egbert R. Watson, an Albemarle County, Virginia attorney who represented Albemarle in the state legislature, and was a judge, what role did this play in Egbert’s appointment? (See earlier information about the possible connection between Nannie’s Egbert and the Albemarle County judge.) What role did Egbert forthcoming appointment as a US Postmaster play in his and Nannie’s, and his mother and two brothers, relocation to Nebraska play?
An 1890-1891 Kearney, Nebraska directory identifies a Mrs. Harriet Cocke as a resident.
In 1890, Kearney had a population of about 8,500, had electricity and gas, and was equal distance between Boston and San Francisco.
In the 1900 Nebraska census, a Mrs. H. Cocke, age 81 is in the household of Samuel M. Nevius, and his wife Nannie, age 38. They are living at 412 22nd St., Kearney Township in Buffalo County, Nebraska. Samuel lists his occupation as lawyer. Harriet’s place of birth is given as New Jersey, and she is listed as Samuel’s mother-in-law. Nannie’s place of birth is given as Virginia. Also in the household is Nancy R. Watson, age 18, born in Nebraska, and Everett M. Watson, age 14, also born in Nebraska. The Virginia Harriet Cocke’s daughter Nannie married Egbert Watson in 1879 in Virginia. Because of the names and ages of Mrs. H. Cocke and Nannie Nevius, their birthplaces, and the Watson children in the household, this is certainly Harriet and her and John S. Cocke’s daughter Nannie.
Because Nancy R. and Egbert M. Watson, Egbert and Nannie’s children, were born in Nebraska, around 1882, and after, Nannie and Egbert’s migration west seems to be before 1882, or during 1882. It is interesting to note that Nannie’s first husband, Egbert Watson, must have lived until at least 1886 as his son Everett is listed as age 14 in the 1900 census. But, the above information about Harriet being in Council Bluffs, Iowa in 1885 suggests that Harriet might have arrived later than 1882. Did Nannie and Egbert come first to Nebraska, preceding her mother’s Harriet and two brothers, Charles and William, migration to Nebraska?
Harriet is found in the 1900 and the 1910 US Censuses in the Samuel M. Nevius household. Samuel was the husband of her daughter Nannie. However, newspaper accounts indicate she would visit and spend time in Omaha with her son Charles L. Cocke. Harriet also lived with her other son William at times while he was in Kearney, and she will die in Bridgeport, Nebraska where William lived at the time.
A 1911 article in the Kearney Daily Hub on May 2, 1911, about Harriet celebrating her 92nd birthday, reports that Harriet does the finest of needlework. The article also states that Harriet had been a member of the Baptist Church for close to 80 years.
How Samuel and Nannie met is not certain, but it seems likely that it was in Kearney. Samuel and Nannie marry fairly soon after the death of Samuel’s first wife, who died on July 28, 1887. Samuel and Nannie were married on December 26, 1888. Samuel was 32 and Nannie, 27.
Samuel was born in Henry County, Iowa, the son of Martin and Lavinia Nevius. Martin Nevius was born in 1819 and died in 1870. Lavinia dies early on June 17, 1857, in Henry County, Iowa, at age 36.
What brought Samuel to Kearney is not certain. His older sister, Mary Francis Nevius, was one of the first teachers in Kearney, starting to teach in 1872, according to an article in the Kearney Daily Hub (which now has been digitized back to 1880 publications). In the same article, a Samuel Nevius was identified as being in the senior class, making him about 17 or 18 in 1872, and born around 1855. Mary Francis Nevius would teach in Kearney for many years. Samuel appears in the 1880 Kearney Census.
In Kearney, Samuel and Nannie lived at 422 West 22nd Street. The house is still being used. While in Kearney, Samuel was an attorney and for many years was in partnership with a Mr. Marston. For a period, beginning in the late 1880s, Samuel served as the Kearney City Treasurer, an elected position. Samuel served his community in other ways. For example, in 1892, he was on a city committee that investigated bringing a plow manufacturing company to Kearney.
Several Kearney Daily Hub news accounts in the 1890s indicated that Samuel was a very accomplished whist player, participating in several state-wide competitions. News accounts also indicated Samuel was active in Republican Party politics, including attending the Buffalo County Republican Party Convention.
Both Nancy and Everett Watson are mentioned in the Kearney Daily Hub in the late 1890/early 1900s as participating in various social events. Nancy belonged to a social club that met for games.
In 1902, Samuel, Nannie, and Nannie’s two children, Nancy and Everett, move to Denver, Colorado. In 1904-05, they were living at 2690 East 14th Avenue in Denver. Why the move is not certain, but one explanation is for economic reasons. Denver experienced fast growth from 1900 to 1910, going from 135,000 to 213,000 in population.
1903 to 1909 Denver city directories show Samuel and family living in Denver. Harriet and Nancy, now an adult, were living at the same address. Samuel employment address (and possibly also resident) was the Kittredge Building, on 14th Avenue, an impressive building still being used in present-day downtown Denver.
Denver business directories in the period 1905-1906 indicate Samuel’s business had to do with debt collection. In 1905, he was a manager with the Commercial Adjustment Company, likely a company dealing with collecting debts. As a lawyer, Samuel would be qualified to participate in such a business.
A Denver Post news account indicates Samuel continues to be involved in Republican Party politics, having a Republican Party social at this home in 1904.
The 1910 Census shows Samuel M. Nevius, age 55, living in Denver, Colorado. In the household are Nannie, age 48, and Harriet Cocke, age 90. Nannie indicates that she has had only 2 children, which would be Nancy R. and Everett M. Watson. Samuel lists his occupation as manager with, what looks like, the Great Western Agency.
Nannie (Nancy) Cocke Watson Nevius dies in June 1910 after an operation at the Park Avenue Hospital in Denver. The family lived at 1234 Lafayette Street. Her husband (Samuel) and grown son (Everett) and grown daughter (Nancy) survived her, as well as her mother, Harriet, and older brothers, Charles and William, and older sister Lillie (my great grandmother). Nannie lived 48 years.
Like her mother Harriet, Nannie was accomplished in embroidery. This is indicated by a 1900 Kearney news report that Nannie gave lessons in embroidery art.
After Nannie’s death in 1910, tracking Samuel’s whereabouts becomes more difficult. Samuel will remain in Denver until at least 1911, having his name appear in the 1911 city directory. After 1911, he is no longer found in Denver. A Samuel M. Nevins is found later in Tulsa, Oklahoma promoting a cement manufacturing company. A 1915 Kansas State Census lists a SM Nevius, age 57, living in Cloud, Kansas. This would be the approximate age of Samuel, Nannie’s husband. Whether these Oklahoma and Kansas reports is Nannie’s Samuel is not known.
No further information about Nancy Watson could be found after her listing in the Denver city directories of 1904 to 1908.
An Everett M. Watson, age 24, is in the 1910 Census, living in Denver and married to Helen M., age 29. Helen is from Missouri. Everett identifies his mother and father as born in Virginia and him born in Nebraska. This must be the Everett M. Watson who is Nannie’s (and Egbert’s) son. According to a publication titled “Semi-Centennial History of the State of Colorado”, published by the Lewis Publishing Company in 1913, Helen Marr is married to Everett M. Watson of Denver. Helen Marr (Marr is believed to be a middle name) is the daughter of a Mr. League and Lilla E. Sweet League.
From city directories, Everett M (for Morton, as indicated in a Denver city directory) and Helen Watson will live in Denver until at least 1927, when Everett and Helen can no longer be traced.
Everett Morton Watson, born April 25, 1886 (indicting this is Nannie’s Everett), registers with the Denver Draft Board for possible service in World War I. Whether Everett actually served during World War I is not known.
An Everett M. Watson, born April 25, 1886, dies in Los Angeles in 1963. Because the Everett M. Watson who dies in Los Angeles in 1963 has on his death certificate: a middle name, Morton; a birthplace, Nebraska; and a birth date, 1886, it is very likely that the Los Angeles Watson is the same Everett M. Watson, son of Nannie (Nancy) Cocke Watson Nevius. A Georgia Brakmo, living at the same address as Everett M. Watson on the death certificate, was the informant on the death certificate.
Also in the 1900 Nebraska Census is a Charles L. Cocke, age 43, living at 822 S. 35th Ave. in Omaha. In the household was Lizzie, born 1866 in Canada; Charles L., son, age 14, born in Iowa; Marguerite C., daughter, age 11; John S., son, age 9; and Harold E., son, age 4; all born in Nebraska. Charles lists his birthplace as Virginia. John. J. Boulter, age 61, and his wife, Mary H., both born in England, were also in the household, and were Lizzie's parents. Charles gives his mother’s birth state as New Jersey, and his father’s birth state as Virginia. Because Charles L. is 43 in 1900 and is from Virginia, his parents are from New Jersey and Virginia, Harriet Cocke is also in Nebraska, that one of the sons is named John S., and that Charles L. Cocke could not be found in a Virginia census almost certainly means this Charles L. Cocke is Harriet and John S. Cocke's son. The census shows that Charles is a coal yard superintendent.
Omaha marriage records show that Charles L. Cocke, age 28, married Lizzie Boulter, age 18, on July 29, 1884.
Lizzie was the daughter of John J. Boulter. Her mother’s maiden name was Marsh. John dies in 1912 at the age of 73, having been a resident of Omaha for 40 years at the time of death. He was visiting one of his daughters, L. T. Sunderland, in Kansas City, Missouri, at the time of death. Besides Lizzie Cocke, another daughter was Margaret Boulter. John, who was born in London, England in 1830, was an accountant at Union Pacific Railroad for 30 years. His wife dies in 1922 in Kansas City.
Because Lizzie, Charles L.’s wife, was born in Canada and John Boulter, her father, was born in England, it is likely that John Boulter migrated from England to Quebec, Canada, and then on to the midwest section of the United States. A major route for migration from England to the United States was via Quebec.
Charles is in the 1910 and 1920 Censuses, continuing to live in Omaha. In 1910, along with Charles are Lizzie (Elizabeth), Marguerite, age 21, John, age 19, and Harold, age 14. The census shows that Charles is working in a coal yard. The 1920 Census list Charles and Elizabeth along with John S., age 30 and a Josephine Cocke, age 29, who is John’s wife, and Harold, age 24.
According to Omaha marriage records, John S. marries Josephine Bonde, age 22, in 1914 at the First Presbyterian Church in Benson (today part of Omaha), Nebraska. Josephine’s parents were born in Germany.
An 1889 Kearney Daily Hub news account indicate that Charles and Lizzie were living in Kearney. While in Kearney, Charles and his family lived at 1422 12th Avenue, which no longer exists.
Charles and Lizzie are believed to have left Kearney, where Charles’s mother and siblings lived, and to have started living in Omaha around 1893. In their son’s John S. Cocke obituary (more about John S. later), John S. was born in Kearney in 1891 and 2 years later he moved to Omaha.
The Kearney Daily Hub newspaper, which started publishing in the 1880s, has a news account that a Cocke Brothers Livery, most likely the brothers being Charles L and William D., was sold in 1891. The sale of this business might have created financial problems for Charles (and William).
Why did Charles and Lizzie move from Kearney to Omaha around 1893? A possible reason is that Lizzie was from Omaha and her parents, John and Mary, lived there. And, John, Lizzie’s father, apparently with a good job as an accountant at Union Pacific Railroad, could help Charles and Lizzie financially.
John, as an accountant for the Union Pacific Company, would be providing an important function in a company that was growing quickly in the late 1800s and into the 1900s. The Union Pacific, which continues today (2014) as the largest railroad company in the United States, can trace its beginnings back to 1862, when it was selected by the Untied States Government as one of two railroad companies to build the transcontinental railroad connection from Omaha to San Francisco.
Its growth into a great railroad company from a start-up was tumultuous at best. In the second half of the 19th Century, west of the Mississippi River, railroad companies were being created and failing at a rapid rate. Devising the right strategies to be a successful survivalist with a bright, growing future was no easy job. Alone the way, Union Pacific would be involved in a scandalous, fraudulent activity by some of its top managers (the intentional overcharging of the US Government million of dollars for constructing its portion of the transcontinental railroad, a fraud that would not have been accomplished without the collusion of members of congress with the company, who in return, received handsome, illegal payments).
This Union Pacific expansion period involved many firsts accomplished by the company: the first railroad bridge across the Missouri River; introduction of sleepier cars; break through signaling technology between trains; and others. John’s career with Union Pacific in Omaha, during a period of monumental changes at Union Pacific and in the railroad industry, must have been an interesting one. As an accountant, he would be providing a valuable function, important to a successful growing company, and probably was well remunerated for his services, and therefore in a position to help his children.
Union Pacific continues, as the largest railroad in the United Sates (2014), with headquarters still in Omaha, and more than 8,400 locomotives moving freight across more than 31,000 miles, in 23 states, west of the Mississippi River.
Omaha city directories show that Charles and his family lived at 822 S. 35th Avenue as early as 1900. Charles’ occupation was listed as superintendent, and later sales agent, at the Central Coal, Coke, and Lumber Company. Charles continues to work at Central Coal at least through 1915. By 1909, Charles and family have a new address (3106 Marcy) and in 1915 are living at 4919 Webster.
In 1902 , Charles, Jr., the oldest of Charles and Lizzie’s sons, was attending the Omaha College of Music & Fine Arts, where he won a prize on the pipe organ, receiving one year of free lessons. Charles, Jr. will eventually give piano and organ lessons, serve as organist at various churches such as the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Omaha and the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Kearney, and be a member of various musical groups. Charles received private lessons, including lessons from his mother’s sister, Margaret Boulter.
In 1905, Charles Jr. is living with his parents, and working as a stenographer with the Nebraska National Bank.
By 1919, Charles is living in Chicago, giving recitals and serving as organist at churches. In 1923, he is the organist and choir master at the Hyde Park Congregational Church. He gives a concert in San Francisco.
Marguerite, Charles and Lizzie's second oldest child and only daughter, graduated from Omaha High School in 1907 (Omaha High School eventually becomes Central High School, which still operates at the same site in downtown Omaha and is a Omaha landmark). The 1907 Omaha High School yearbook shows Marguerite with dark hair and a friendly smile.
No information has been found that any of Charles and Lizzie’s other children, besides Marguerite, completed high school at Omaha High School.
Marguerite apparently was quite popular. Several Omaha World Herald articles report on parties, musical presentations, and other social events that she participated in.
Marguerite is known to have visited Virginia as a young lady. In 1911, Omaha news accounts indicate she visited Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC for two months. I wonder if she saw her aunt Lillie, who would be living in North Carolina in 1911.
Marguerite attended Bellevue College in Omaha (still operating) leading to her becoming a teacher. In 1912, Marguerite is listed in an Omaha city directory as a teacher at Comenius School, a public elementary school. Comenius, located at 1430 S. 15th Street, closed in 1964, after serving Omaha for 72 years,
Marriage records show that Marguerite Cocke, age 25, marries John Truman Wolfe, age 26, in 1913. In June 1914, Marguerite and John have a daughter, named Elizabeth.
By 1919, Marguerite and John have moved to Patterson, California. In 1919, they have another daughter. Why did Marguerite and John move to California? This would be interesting to know. In 1921, Marguerite and John are living in Alameda, California, close to San Francisco, and have another daughter.
John S. Cocke, another of Charles and Lizzie’s sons, appears in the 1909 Omaha city directory as a clerk for Byrne & Hammer Dry Goods Company, living with his parents at 3106 Marcy. By 1912, John S. is working at the World Herald Newspaper in Omaha, continuing to live with his parents. As stated above, John S. marries Josephine Bonde in 1914. In the 1920 Omaha city directory, John and Josephine are living at 4919 Webster and John is a clerk at the Western Buyers Association and Josephine is a time keeper at Western Union Telegraph Company. John and Josephine are also in the 1925 Omaha city directory, but no other Cockes (Charles, Charles, Jr., Marguerite, or Harold) are listed. John is a salesman for A.M. Newell Company and Josephine is a cashier for Western Union Telegraph.
In 1925, John and Josephine moved from Omaha to the San Francisco, California area, where by now, both his parents and sister, Marguerite, are living.
In 1927 (May 13th), John S. Cocke, age 36, dies while in Livermore, California, following an operation for appendicitis. After John’s death, Josephine is living in Los Angeles in 1931.
Harold E. Cocke, the youngest of Charles and Lizzie's children, had a problem writing bad checks and is in trouble with the law in 1917. Harold will follow his parents and two of his siblings to live in California by 1927.
As stated above, in 1919, Marguerite and John Wolfe move to California. Soon thereafter, Charles and Lizzie will follow their daughter and son-in-law to California, and probably live nearby them. By 1927, two of their other sons, John S. and Harold E., are also living in California. With Charles Jr., the third son living in Chicago by 1927, this leaves no Cockes living in Omaha. Harriet has died and by 1920, William is living in Denver (more on William below). This also leaves no record of any of Harriet’s children or grandchildren living in Nebraska after 1927, where less than 45 years before Harriet and several children migrated to.
In Charles’ brother’s William's obituary in November 1940, Charles is listed as living in Santa Barbara, California. A Charles Lee Cocke dies on January 5, 1943, in California. This could be Charles L. Cocke, Harriet’s son.
Nothing more is known of the fate of Charles, Lizzie, and their children and grandchildren, other than given above.
A William D. (Dare) Cocke, age 41, is in the 1900 Kearney, Nebraska census. He lists his birthplace as Virginia. His wife, Georgia K., age 24, was born in Texas. They had a son, Robert D., age 1. William D.'s name, age, birthplace, and this co-location with Mrs. H. Cocke and Nannie Nevius in Kearney indicate this is likely the third of Harriet Cocke’s children to migrate to Nebraska. Georgia’s mother, Mrs. J.E. Keeler is in the household. William lists his occupation as (looks like) collector at McCormick. What collector might mean is not known.
During the 1880s, a Cocke & Morgan Dry Goods company is in business in Kearney. Omaha World Herald news accounts indicate that in 1886 Cocke & Morgan experienced a fire and that the company was never able to reopen. One reason given was that the creditors stood in the way of the reopening. This lead to lawsuits between Cocke & Morgan and creditors, which continued to the early 1890s. Cocke & Morgan were suing for “wrongful attachment”.
William marries Georgia, his first wife, in 1896. Georgia was from Fort Worth, Texas. William and Georgia lived at 221 24th Street in Kearney. The house is still standing and being used (as of 2013). William appears in the 1909 Omaha city directory as a boarder at 1057 Park Avenue and as the Secretary and Treasurer of the Midland Investment Company. This is the only year that William would be found in an Omaha city directory. The Kearney Daily Hub newspaper reports that William and his family moved to Omaha in 1908. The reason for this moved is most likely because of Georgia’s health.
On January 27, 1909, Georgia K. Cocke, William's wife, dies of cancer while William and Georgia are living in Omaha. She is buried in the Kearney Cemetery in the same area that her mother-in-law Harriet Cocke is buried.
In 1909 and 1911, William sells houses in Kearney. This is possibly a result of William and Georgia’s move to Omaha, her sickness, and her death in 1909.
William had a varied employment history. Information indicates that at various times he was a salesman, a bookkeeper, works in real estate, was a secretary/treasurer of an investment company (perhaps real estate), operated a dry goods company, operated a livery, worked for a credit company, was a stockman, and sold insurance.
William was active in politics. In 1890, he was a Buffalo County (location of Kearney at the time) delegate to the state Democratic Party Convention. He continues to be active in the Democratic Party as late as 1910 when he applies for election as a state Democratic Party representative.
In the 1910 Census, William is living in Bridgeport, Nebraska (western part of the state), where he is believed to live until his move to Denver, Colorado, sometime prior to 1920. William is in the Denver 1920 Census. Why William moves to Bridgeport and then to Denver is not known but probably economic reasons were important.
William D. Cocke shows up in the 1920 Census living in Jefferson County (near Denver) Colorado. William is age 60 and in the household are also Ruth C., wife, age 42, and a son Robert D, age 20. Because of the new location, there is some uncertainty as to whether this is the William D. Cocke, Harriet Cocke’s son and my great grandmother Lillie’s brother. However, that the ages of the 1920 William and Robert D. match very well ages in the 1900 Census and the names William D and Robert D also are a good match, it seems likely that the 1920 William is Lillie’s brother. Why William’s wife is now Ruth versus Georgia is because William’s first wife died in Kearney, Nebraska in 1909. William lists his occupation as Stockman – dry goods and Robert his occupation as laborer. William continues to live in Denver until his death on November 19, 1940.
The 1930 Census shows the 1920 William and Ruth living in Denver, Colorado and William now lists his occupation as real estate.
The 1940 Census indicates that William (now age 80) was still working, in real estate, and earned $620 in 1939. His house was worth $3,500. The census indicated that William had completed the 6th grade. William dies on November 19, 1940. At the time of his death William and Ruth lived at 4161 Raleigh Street, Denver.
William and Georgia’s son, Robert D, born around 1900, will also live in Denver. In the 1930 Census a Robert D., age 30, is married to Frances E., age 27. By 1927, Robert’s listings in Denver city directories indicate that he is working for the US Post Office. Further information about Robert D. and Frances E., for example, whether they had children and where and when they die is not certain.
A Robert D. Cocke dies in 1993 in Arvada, Colorado, near Denver. And, a Frances E. Cocke dies in 1992 in the Denver area. Whether these Cockes were William’s son and daughter-in-law is not know. William is not known to have had any other children than Robert D.
Little is known about what has happened to Harriet’s first child, her daughter Cornelia Ray, from her first marriage to William Ray. In 1900, Cornelia would have been 58. Cornelia is shown on the 1855 Iowa Census for William D. Cocke, with Harriet also in the family (see above for this census information). Also an Omaha newspaper article celebrating Harriet’s 92nd birthday in 1911 states that Cornelia is living.
The migration of Harriet Cocke and three of four children fathered by John S. Cocke, and her child Cornelia, by her first husband, to Nebraska leaves only my great grandmother, Lilly S. Cocke, still living on the east coast. I wonder whether Lillie would ever see her mother, sister, brothers, and nieces and nephews again, after their migration west. There would be approximately 40 years between the migration and Lillie’s death. Also, it would be interesting to know whether there was correspondence, and whether that correspondence (at least some of it) might still exist, perhaps packed away in someone’s attic.
Lillie did in fact visit her mother, sister, and brothers, at least once while they were in Nebraska. A Kearney Daily Hub article reports that in April, 1896, Mrs. S. M. Nevius gives a luncheon in Kearney for her sister Lillie who was visiting from the east. 28 guests were at the luncheon.
Harriet Cocke died on October 28, 1912 in Bridgeport, Nebraska, and is buried in Kearney. The explanation for why Harriet would be in Bridgeport at the time of her death is that in 1912 her son William lived in Bridgeport. Bridgeport is in the western part of Nebraska.
Harriet Hires Ray Cocke lived 92 years. Charles Lee Cocke would die on January 5, 1943, in California, and William Dare Cocke on November 18, 1941, in Denver. Nannie, the youngest of Harriet’s children would be the first to die, in 1910, in Denver. Cornelia’s death date and location is not known. Lillie, the oldest of the four Cocke children, and my great grandmother, died in 1922.
By the time of Harriet’s death, at least two descendents of Conrad, Sr. and Christiana Hires, Harriet’s grandparents, had achieved some broad public recognition.
Charles Elmer Hires was a grandson of one of Harriet’s uncles, John Hires (Conrad, Jr.’s brother). Charles Elmer would be the first American to commercialize root beer successfully, and went on to develop the Hires Root Beer Company, with headquarters in Philadelphia. The company became a major producer of root beer. I remember as a boy in Virginia in the 1950s drinking Hires root beer.
The Hires Root Beer Company would continue to be owned by Charles E. Hires' descendents (Charles died in 1937) until 1960, when the company was sold to a conglomerate. Hires Root Beer is still sold by the current owner (the DrPepperSnapple Group) (2014) of the brand name, however, aficionados of Hires (there are many) lament that DrPepperSnapple is phrasing out the brand, and only in a very few areas can one find Hires being sold. Easily found comments on the Internet describe Hines as, by far, the best root beer ever and decry its scarcity and possible total demise.
The drink that Charles Hires would market was a mixture of several ingredients including the oils and liquids from roots and berries. Such a mixture had been put together and drank for generations, within families and other groups, prior to Charles coming along and discovering a version of the mixture. As an aspiring pharmacist, he was seeking a concoction that had medicinal benefits, and, thinking of the ingredients of the mixture that he experienced, focused on that mixture as a candidate for a medicinal drink. Some actions that Charles did take that were unique and led to great success of his company included: settling on a taste that appealed to large numbers by experiencing with various formulations; named the mixture that he started to sale as root beer, a name not previously used, and a name that caught the attention of many; recognized that there was a market for a drink such as root beer; and pursued an extremely successful marketing campaign. The exact formulation of Hires Root Beer then and now, and the various manifestations in between, is not available on the Internet, but other similar mixtures include: sassafras; ginger; hops; sarsaparilla; cherry; vanilla; pipsisssewa; juniper; wintergreen; licorice; and sugar.
It is not known whether Hires Root Beer was sold in Kearney and Omaha, Nebraska and Denver where Harriet Hires would be living from the mid-1880s to 1912. However, by the early 1900s, the Hires Root Beer Company was marketing its product in many states and it is possible those included Nebraska and Colorado. I wonder if Harriet ever knew of Hires Root Beer, who its creator was, and drank it.
George Hires, Jr., another grandson of one of Harriet’s uncles, George Hires, was the first Salem County resident elected to the US House of Representatives. He was elected in the 1880s. Hires would serve two terms in congress (1885 to 1889) and would not stand for re-election to a third term. He was a delegate to the 1896 Republican National Convention in St. Louis, at which William McKinley was nominated.
According to “Cockes and Cousins”, a John Shepherd Cocke was born on February 26, 1798 or 1799, and was the son of Samuel Cocke and Elizabeth (Lily) Shepherd, who were married in 1796. Elizabeth Lily dies young, and from the Goochland County marriage register, Samuel marries Susanna Woodson on October 5, 1802. Elizabeth Shepherd Cocke was the daughter of Mary and John Shepherd of Fluvanna County.
Interesting, a Goochland County marriage register shows that a Samuel H. Cocke, who was John S.’s younger half-brother, and who would die in the same month and year as John S. (July 1877), and in the same county (Albemarle), marries Sarah Elizabeth Woodson on July 30, 1833. A parent was Sally Woodson. This means that the three Cockes from Goochland County, Samuel, and his two sons John S. and Samuel H., all married Woodson women. What relationship these Woodson women had to one another is not known. Woodson, as well as Cocke, was a frequently found name in early Goochland County records.
One of my great grandmothers is Martha F. Shepherd, from Portsmouth. There were several Shepherds in the early 1800s in Virginia. What relationship Martha F Shepherd might have had to Elizabeth Shepherd Cocke is not known. However, if they were related this would be interesting, in that then my Mother and my Father had ancestors that were related.
In the 1810 Goochland County census is Samuel Cocke, age between 26 and 45, probably John S.’s father. Also in the household were 3 males less than 10; 1 male, age 10 to 16, which would fit the age of John S.; 2 females, less than 10; one female 16 to 26; and a female 26 to 45, likely Samuel’s second wife. There were 4 slaves. Samuel was a farmer. Samuel also appears in the 1820, 1830, and 1840 Goochland County censuses, always as a farmer. The number of slaves remains about the same. By 1850, Samuel is not listed. Samuel died on April 12, 1844. He was born on January 19, 1771.
Samuel’s father was Benjamin Cocke, also of Goochland County, and his mother was Mary May Johnson.
The "Cockes and Cousins” book and a surviving Samuel Cocke family bible provides additional details about John S. Cocke’s siblings and ancestors. Samuel’s father (John’s grandfather) who died at around age 82 on May 28, 1828, was Benjamin Cocke (born 1747). And Samuels’s mother was Mary May Johnson, who died at age 74 on April 13, 1826 (born 1752). Samuel’s first wife Elizabeth Shepherd, who he married on September 14, 1796, and is John S.’s mother, dies young and Samuel marries again in 1802 to Susannah Woodson.
According to the Samuel Cocke family bible, John S. had several brothers and sisters (many of whom were half brothers and sisters): Polly A; Benjamin E; Sylvester P; Richard F; Sarah C; James M; Hartwell F; and Sanford B.
In the book “The End of an Era”, by John S. Wise, published in 1899, a Sylvester P. Cocke was described as keeping a country store in Dover Mills, Goochland County, Virginia. The book is a collection of Wise remembrances of his experiences around and during the civil war. Wise identifies Sylvester P. Cocke to illustrate how in the south a universal currency of small denominations did not exist but rather local currencies were put into use by local businesses and guaranteed by those businesses. Sylvester was issuing such currency from his country store. Wise describes Sylvester as an “old fellow”. Sylvester P., because of his location (Goochland county) and being old (“old fellow”), was very likely the Sylvester P. Cocke who was John S. Cocke’s sibling.
According to the “Cockes and Cousins” book, in 1632, a Richard Cocke came to Virginia from England, had a son named Thomas in 1639 who in turn had five sons, named Thomas, Stephen, John, James, and William. From these five sons of the 1639 Thomas Cocke, hundreds, if not thousands, have descended, including John S. and Lillie S Cocke.
The “Cockes and Cousins” book states that Samuel Cocke (John S.’s father and Lillie S.'s grandfather) was a son of Benjamin (birth 1747, died 1828), who was a son of Thomas (died 1797/98, birth not given), who was a son of James (birth 1691, died 1775), who was a son James (birth 1667, died 1721), who was a son of Thomas, one of the five sons.
Thomas, the father of the five sons, owned much land along the James River, from at least present day Surry County to present day Fluvanna County. Apparently, much, if not all, of the land was provided to Thomas, and his father Richard, by the English monarchs for services rendered. And, many of the off springs of the five brothers would eventually settle up and down the James on this land, including John S.’s ancestors who settled in Goochland County.
Interesting information found at the Goochland County Historical Society is that apparently there was a Cocke’s Tavern in Goochland County and that it was located where the present day (2012) North Pole Restaurant stands near Crozier. It is not know what John S. may have known of the tavern and how he might have used this knowledge in his own successful Cocke’s Tavern in Albemarle County.
In the early 1800s, General John Hartwell Cocke owned what is today known as the Bremo Plantation, located in Fluvanna County, east-southeast of Albemarle County. Much land along the James River, where the Bremo Plantation is located, had been owned by Cocke family ancestors since the 1600s and consisted of thousands of acres initially. Buildings located on the Bremo Plantation are both designated Virginia and National Historic Landmark sites.
General John Hartwell Cocke was known to have plantation investments in Alabama. We know that investors started Yazoo City (where Charles A. Jenkins was from), a planned community, probably as part of investments that were being made in agriculture, especially cotton, in that region of Mississippi. There is evidence of economic interests and activity between farmers and entrepreneurs in central Virginia and plantation start-ups and agriculture in Alabama and Mississippi. This might be important in considering the events in Lillie S. and Charles A.’s surroundings that could bring them together. Perhaps, the John S. Cocke and MA Jenkins families knew one another through John S. Cocke’s investments in the Yazoo County, Mississippi region.
Letters in the archives of the Special Collection Library at the University of Virginia written by John Hartwell Cocke and his family members indicate that John Hartwell Cocke had plantation investments in Yazoo County, Mississippi. Charles Jenkins, Lillie’s husband, who met Lillie presumably while attending the University of Virginia in the early 1870s, was from Yazoo County. Is there a connection between John Hartwell Cocke Yazoo County investments and Charles Jenkins meeting Lillie Cocke? We do not yet know, but if there is, this suggests a connection between John Harwell Cocke and John S. Cocke that has as of yet been uncovered.
General John Hartwell Cocke, like John S. Cocke, also had interests in transportation development projects. For example, General Cocke was also involved in the James River & Kanawha Canal Project. General Cocke’s son, Phillip St. George Cocke, establishes a large plantation in Powhatan County, Virginia. In addition to this plantation, Phillip St. George Cocke owned two plantations in Lowndes County, Mississippi. One of these plantations had 1,650 acres and $63,000 worth of slaves. Documents also indicate that Phillip St. George Cocke had an investment in Yazoo County, Mississippi. Charles A Jenkins, who marries John S.'s daughter Lillie, was from Yazoo County, Mississippi. General Cocke, like John S. Cocke, was associated with private schools and had a connection with the University of Virginia classics Professor Gessner Harrison, who was in John S. Cocke's census in 1860. Harrison, late in his career, was involved in private schools, including one called Amelia Academy, in Amelia County, south and east of Albemarle and Fluvanna Counties. General Cocke was a patron of Amelia Academy.
General John Hartwell Cocke has been a national figure, for having obtained the rank of at least brigadier general, due to his leadership of armies that defended Richmond against the British during the War of 1812, and for other accomplishments such as a principle developer of the University of Virginia (assisting Thomas Jefferson in this task), an innovative farmer, a builder of historic buildings, and the liberator of slaves and their return to Liberia. These accomplishments of John Hartwell Cocke have, since his death, made him the subject of scholarly research.
Liberating slaves was fairly widely done by many Albemarle County area slave owners during this period, when General Cocke was liberating his slaves. Whether this trend and practice was peculiar to the Albemarle County area, or was more wide spread in other parts of the south, would be interesting to know. Was there something in the Albemarle County environment that accounted for a special attitude towards slaves?
Connections between John S. Cocke and General John Hartwell Cocke are uncertain. How they were related, because of the same last names, is not known. According to the "Cockes and Cousins” book, and as indicated above, John S. Cocke is an offspring of Thomas, one of the five 1600s Cocke brothers from whom most Virginia Cockes descend from. The “Cocke and Cousins” book does not provide information on what brother, if any, General Cocke descended form. However, it is very likely that he descended from one of the brothers.
Regardless of how closely they may have been related, one could easily conclude that they would at least know of one another, living as close as they did to one another, and both apparently having substantial farming operations, and sharing many other interests and pursuits, such as transportation development, schools, and investments in Mississippi..
It is known (e.g. from General Cocke’s papers at the University of Virginia) that General Cocke corresponded with individuals living in Goochland County and that he had correspondence with Woodsons. Woodson was a very common name in Goochland County at the time and John S, as well as his father and brother, married Woodson women form Goochland County. General Cocke also corresponded with Gessner Harrison who knew John S. well.
Information is presented in the General Cocke’s papers at the University of Virginia that an ancestor of General Cocke, named Richard, had a land dispute with Richard’s brother Benjamin, a dispute that involved land that General Cocke then owned. What the dispute was over is not clear, but indications are that Richard got the better of the dispute and then had some remorse over the outcome as being unfair to Benjamin. What relationship Richard and his brother Benjamin had to Benjamin, John’s grandfather is not known, although John's grandfather seems to be too young to be the General Cocke’s Benjamin.
Possible reasons why John S. and General Cocke may have avoided one another, if this was the case, other than the possible land dispute issue, would be that General Cocke was a strong supporter of temperance movements whereas John S., as a tavern operator, would likely not be such a supporter. Also, General Cocke seems to be an active church attendee, whereas there is no evidence that John S. was one.
Cockes have been living somewhere along the James River from east of Richmond to Albemarle County since the early 1600s. Cockes, from the 1600s on, played important roles in the devolvement and progress of the central Virginia piedmont area from east of Richmond to Albemarle County.
One role some Cockes played was in the arrangement of the transport of settlers into Virginia, for which the Cockes received land as reimbursement. This reimbursement accounts for some, if not most, of the land granted to the Cockes along the James River. One group that Cockes helped to bring into Virginia were Huguenots from France and areas located in what today is northern Italy and Switzerland. These refugees came initially to Mankin Town, near Richmond. Amelia Blanche Crawley, one of my great grandmothers, whose son, Melvin Crider Torian would marry Carey Grandy Jenkins, one of my grandmothers and an offspring from Lillie Shepherd Cocke, had Huguenot ancestors that came to Virginia.