The Cooke Brothers – Beaufort, NC and on to Texas

Silas Cooke Jr. 1753-1798 - Father of Thomas and Henry Marchant Cooke

By the act of July 1776, Silas Cooke Jr. was one of eleven persons banished from Newport, Rhode Island during the Revolutionary War; he was sent to South Kingstown, Rhode Island. “Refusal of several prominent gentlemen of Newport to subscribe to the test of loyalty were removed to other towns where they were required to support themselves, pay all expenses, and to be put in jail if they left town.” (Bicknell)

Seven years later, in 1783, 30-year-old Silas Cooke Jr., his wife Ann Lechmere and daughter Elizabeth sailed from Rhode Island to join Silas' brother John Cooke in New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina. Four-year-old Elizabeth died the next year. Henry Marchant Cooke was born in 1784, followed by Thomas Cooke in 1787. Thomas and Henry moved from New Bern to Beaufort about the same time, 1809-1810, Henry as collector of customs.

What did the brothers find when they arrived at this little village by the sea? The Beaufort area in 1810 “contained five hundred and eighty five souls, seventy four dwelling houses, ten stores, eight shops of different artisans and a place of worship…” (Jacob Henry) By the 1820s, “there were no paved streets, only a wilderness of scrubby bushes and deep sand with marshy places here and there…pigs and cows and horses and geese roamed at large…in 1834, mail began to come to Beaufort by stage and three times a week.” (Muse)

Thomas Cooke (1787-1815) came to Beaufort and married Esther Mihetable Wallace on April 8, 1810. He served as postmaster from July 1, 1813 until May 11, 1814 and was a town commissioner in 1814 (US Post Office records). Thomas' wife Esther was the daughter of Jane Gaskill (1767-1810) and James Wallace (1767-1799). After the death of James Wallace, Jane Gaskill Wallace married Micajah Pigot (1772-1807) in 1803; he died four years later. Jane Pigot died in June 1810; in her will she left Thomas and Esther Cooke what was then the Pigot family home at 205 Front Street, corner of Front and Moore Streets—lot #30 Olde Towne. Jane Pigot also gave them lot #29 next door at 207 Front Street. Houses on these lots were most likely constructed in the early 1800s by a prolific builder of that time—James Davis

Thomas and Esther Cooke had two children, James (1812-1869) and Harriet (1814-1854). Unfortunately, in the early fall of 1815, on a return voyage from New York, 28-year-old Thomas and all his crew struggled, September 3rd  and 4th, and finally perished in a violent storm near Cape Lookout.

When 21-year-old Esther died the next year, she left both properties to her still-small children, James Wallace Cooke and Harriet Wallace Cooke; the children went to live with Uncle Henry Cooke at the Hammock House, just east of the village.

James Wallace Cooke
May 5, 1864
With help from Uncle Henry’s influence through President Andrew Jackson, James Wallace Cooke, fifteen in 1827, secured an appointment in the U.S. Naval Academy. Taking to the seas in 1834, James designated his portion of the inherited Beaufort property, lots 29 and 30, to his sister Harriet. James eventually rose to the rank of commodore; he oversaw the construction of and commanded Confederate Ironclad C.S.S. Albemarle. He played a successful role in the battles of Plymouth and Albemarle Sound. James settled in Norfolk after the war, dying in 1869 (US Post Office Records). Cooke was later listed in Who’s Who of the American Civil War.

Henry Marchant Cooke 1784-1835

Henry Marchant Cooke
Elijah Clarke House
On March 5, 1809, Thomas' older brother Henry Marchant Cooke (1784-1835) married Frances Barry Buxton in the Elijah Clarke House, lot #345, New Bern; their oldest child, Henry Lechmere Cooke, was born in the house. Shortly afterwards, the family moved to Beaufort where Henry served as Collector of Customs for Port Beaufort, having been appointed by President Andrew Jackson.

Oldest Image of the HAMMOCK HOUSE - Early 1900s
On March 11, 1811, Samuel Leffers conveyed to Henry Marchant Cooke his 42-acre property on Taylor’s Creek and the Hammock House for $1300. Thomas F., Julia Frances, Sarah Ann, Francis Jarvis, Frances and Jarvis Cooke were born in the Hammock House. In 1820 the family moved to lot #29 (207 Front Street) to the home left to his brother Thomas’ children, James and Harriet. Born in this Front Street house were William Gaston, Mary Elizabeth, Silas Lechmere and George Badger Cooke. In the late 1820s, the family moved back to the Hammock House; Alexander and Henrietta Cooke were most likely born there.

Cooke was also a merchant, shipbuilder and land speculator. In 1816, with his partner James McKinley of New Bern, Cooke purchased fifty-four acres from Bartholomew Chadwick—land where Taylor’s Creek ends at the mouth of North River. Part of the land had originally been known as Titus Point, but was renamed Chadwick’s Point when acquired by Major Isaiah Chadwick, of the 1771 Carteret Militia.

Plan of the town of LENNOXVILLE
That same year, Cooke and McKinley added to their holdings at a sheriff’s sale and laid out a town on the property; they called the town Lenoxville. Although the town was incorporated by an act of the state legislature with James McKinley, Henry M. Cooke and Jechonias Pigott named town commissioners—“such a town would be a great benefit to the inhabitants and to the commerce of said county”—the “town” did not live up to their expectations. James McKinley died by 1834, when the Lenoxville property was divided between his grandson James McKinley Davis and Henry Cooke.

"As early as 1831, the Cookes made plans to migrate to Texas. In that year Otway Burns, one-time privateer turned politician, wrote to U.S. Senator Mangum recommending the appointment of James E. Gibble as collector of customs to replace Henry M. Cooke, who had declared his intention to resign the post and move to the ‘Western Country.’” (Davis)

On August 29, 1831, Henry M. Cooke sold the Hammock property, consisting of 42 acres, for $1210, to Leggett, Fox and Company, merchants of New York City.  The company presumably bought the property to provide a base for the purchase of furs; the trapping and shooting of wild animals for furs had become an important source of income for residents of Carteret and adjacent counties. (Davis)

Henry's wife Frances died November 22, 1833; Henry then married Naomi Noe, daughter of Peter Noe Sr and widow of Joseph Hackburn. While on their way west, Henry died March 4, 1835 in Randolph, Tipton County, Tennessee. His widow returned to Beaufort while the children continued on, settling in Montgomery County, Texas. Henry and Naomi’s son John was born sometime the next year. The 1850 Beaufort census noted Naomi Cooke with a 14-year-old son, John Cooke.

In his 1834 Will, Henry Marchant Cooke named his children as recipients of lands and marshes near Lenoxville and Chadwick’s Point—on the western end of a peninsula with the town of Beaufort on the south and eastern part.

Lots #29 and #30 Olde Towne Beaufort—after 1838
In 1838, Harriet Wallace Cooke, daughter of Esther and Thomas Cooke, sold lots #29 and #30 to Benjamin Leecraft Perry. At that time she was noted as living in Green County, Alabama.
PERRY HOUSE (lot 29) - 207 Front Street - Razed after WWI
Benjamin Leecraft Perry Sr. (1811-1869) married Elizabeth V. Manney in 1835. In 1839, Rev. John Edwards wrote, “From Salisbury to Prince Edward again; and then, taking my wife in my buggy, I travelled a distance of nearly three hundred miles to Beaufort. The last two days travel was from New Bern to Beaufort…Rev. William I. Langdon, who was on the lookout for our arrival. With cordial greetings he welcomed us at our journey's end, and conducted us to Brother Perry's where by arrangement, we were to board… I stand again upon the upper floor of the double piazza of Brother Perry's dwelling, and look out towards the open sea.”

Thomas Duncan’s 1878 will left lot #29 to his daughter, wife of Benjamin L. Perry Jr.: “To my dau. Marietta wife of Benjamin L. Perry, all my estate in and to lot #29 and part lot #31 and to water front lots south of Front Street and south of said lot and part lot, and I direct my execs. to assign or be paid to my daughter the judgement on record in Carteret Superior Court in my favor and against Mrs. Elizabeth V. Perry…” According to family, after WWI Fannie Dudley Duncan, wife of lawyer Julius Fletcher Duncan, was tired of the old house; he razed what had been known as the Perry House and built on the same foundation/footprint.

John Hancock Nelson purchased lot #30 from Thomas Duncan in 1875 for $2000. Nelson died in 1876. Widow Mehitable Mason Nelson inherited the house and lived there until her death in 1917. The house was then inherited by the Nelson’s daughter Laura who had married Thomas L. Duncan in 1881. Laura and Thomas Duncan sold the house to Joseph House in 1922. In the 1960s, the house was plaqued the Nelson House.
1906 Image - Lot 30 Nelson House (2) and Lot 29 Perry House (3) (Jack Dudley)
Children of Henry Marchant Cooke and Frances Barry Buxton
Henry Lechmere Cooke
Henry Lechmere Cooke (1809-1885) was born in New Bern shortly before the family came to Beaufort. He married Martha Burdeshaw in Tipton County, Tennessee on December 25, 1834. Henry Lechmere Cooke went to Ellis County, Texas from Mississippi in 1856 with his wife, Martha Burdeshaw Cooke, their children, slaves and other relatives—one being his brother William G. Cooke. Cooke bought land from Neel near Mustang Creek which flowed into Waxahachie Creek and the Neel and Cooke settlements were the beginning of what became the Bethel Community. Cooke was a teacher and taught a subscription school at Bethel, leaving Martha to manage the children, farm and slaves.  
Sallie Ann Cook and Mattie Neel were the same age and good friends.  One of Neel's servants was often seen riding across the prairie to the Cooke's home leading an extra horse for Sallie to ride back for a week's visit with Mattie. During these visits the girls went from cabin to cabin reading the Bible to the slaves. They especially made a point to visit the cook, "Grandmammy Nancy," in her kitchen which was built separately from the house. (Texas GenWeb)
San Jacinto Monument
Thomas F. Cooke (1812-1848) was born January 11, 1812 in the Hammock House. He and his siblings traveled on to what is now Montgomery County, Texas after their father died in Tennessee. In the Headright Certificate issued to Thomas Cooke, February 2, 1838 for one-third of a league of land by the Montgomery County Board it is stated that he arrived in Texas April 3, 1835. At the time the revolution began in Texas, Henry L. and William G. Cooke had returned to Tennessee to settle the estate of their father. Thomas and Francis Jarvis Cooke promptly joined the army and both participated in the battle of San Jacinto.
The following information concerning Thomas Cooke is contained in service record; he served from February 27 to March 27, 1836 in Captain Turner Barne's Company; from March 17 to April 5 in Captain Allen Larrison's Company, and from April 5 to May 26 in Captain Robert J. Calder's Company of Brazoria Volunteers. On July 18, 1838 he was issued a donation certificate for 640 acres of land for having participated in the battle of San Jacinto. The land was surveyed in Navarro County. (San Jacinto Museum)
Julia Frances Cooke
Julia Frances Cooke (1814-1893) was born January 1, 1814 in the Hammock House. In 1842 she married George W. James, a trader, who went to Texas from Tennessee with the Cooke family, first settling near Bastrop, then Washington County, and later moved to Burleson, where he died. (Texas GenWeb)

Sarah Ann “Sally” Cooke (1815-1866) was born September 23, 1815 in the Hammock House. She went to Texas with her siblings but never married. Sally died April 23, 1866 in Hempstead, Waller County, Texas.

Francis Jarvis Cooke
Francis Jarvis Cooke (1816-1903) was born July 13, 1816 in the Hammock House. He arrived in Texas April 3, 1835, as is shown in the Headright Certificate issued to him February 2, 1838, for one-third of a league of land by the Montgomery County Board. He was a member of Captain Robert J. Calder's Company of "Brazoria Volunteers" at San Jacinto and on January 12, 1846 was issued a donation certificate for 640 acres of land for having participated in the battle. On February 12, 1838 he received a bounty certificate for 320 acres for having served in the army from March 17 to June 20, 1836.
Cooke married Emily Bumpas Stockton in 1845. He died in Hempstead, Waller County, Texas November 11, 1903 and was buried with Masonic honors. Mrs. Cooke was born at Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, January 28, 1828, a daughter of Douglas Hayden and Emily Bumpas Stockton. She died September 4, 1908 and was buried beside her husband in the Salem Cemetery in Waller County. The State of Texas caused a Centennial monument to be erected at their graves in 1936. (San Jacinto Museum)
Frances Cooke (19 May 1819-10 Sept 1819) Frances was the twin of Jarvis; she lived only a few months. The twins were born in the Hammock House.
Jarvis Cooke (19 May 1819-12 Sept 1820) Jarvis was the twin of Frances; he lived about sixteen months.
William Gaston Cooke
William Gaston Cooke (1820-1892) was born in the family house on Front Street after Henry moved them all to town. (Houses on lots 29 & 30 were still owned by Harriet Wallace Cooke, daughter of Esther and Thomas Cooke.) 

William went to Texas with his siblings. He left Montgomery County, Texas at age 20 to work in Houston as a carpenter. He later moved to Navarro County where he bought a farm. In 1858 he went to Ellis County and continued farming until 1890. He served in the State Militia during the war and also enlisted in the CSA, but participated in no battles. He first married Angeline Salmon in Harris County, who died nine months later. In 1850 he married Catherine Kendall of Navarro County, daughter of Fenwick R. and Nancy McKinney Kendall, of French and Scotch descent. (US GenWeb)
Mary Elizabeth Cooke (1823-1880) was born on Front Street. She went to Texas with her siblings. She married Michael Boren on September 6, 1860 in Ellis County, Texas. The Borens had two children, Willie and Anna Hancock Boren. Mary Elizabeth died in 1880 in Ellis, Texas.
“This item was sworn to the JP and Notary Public, Ellis County, Texas on 26 th January 1875. It was given by Mary Elizabeth Cooke Boren about the actions of her brother, William Gaston Cooke.
"Before me the undersigned legal authority this day personally came Mary E. Boren who to me is well known to be a lady of high standing in this community who being by me duly sworn says that:
I was encamped in the edge of the Brazos bottom in company with many families whither we had fled from the Colorado before the approaching Mexican Army. My brother, William G. Cooke, a stout boy of 15 or 16 years of age was with us and was called on with others, (some 25 in number) to enroll their names and do military duty which they did. A courier came to our camp and informed us that the Mexicans were attempting to cross the Brazos at or near Fort Bend. My brother and the company to which he belonged were ordered to the river to aid some other command in preventing the Mexican Army from crossing the Brazos River. They went and (can't read) them (can't read) with their guns. My brother, William G. Cooke went with them. I was near enough to accomplished they returned to our camp."
This statement is made from memory and is true to the best of my recollection. This was the year 1836. Mary E. Cooke Boren- 26th of January 1875” (Ancestry.com)
Silas Lechmere Cooke
George Badger Cooke
Silas Lechmere Cooke (1825-1877) was born in the Front Street house on February 6, 1825. He went to Texas with his siblings and married Eliza Jane Thomas on April 3, 1851. Silas died in Burleson County, Texas, on September 21, 1877.

George Badger Cooke (1827-1880) was born in the Front Street house on April 26, 1827. He married Harriet Agnes Murray. In 1850 he was a resident of Brenham, Washington County, Texas. George B. Cooke died March 17, 1880 in San Saba, Texas. NOTE: In a request for the use of this portrait of G.B. Cooke, the San Saba Historical Commission wrote, "An ongoing project of ours has been to obtain photographs of past County Judges for a gallery in our courthouse. One which has been missing from our collection is that of George Badger Cooke who was our County judge from 1866 to 1869. We would appreciate your help in filling in this gap in our collection."
  
Alexander Cooke
Henrietta Cooke
Alexander Cooke (1829-1869) was born after the family moved back to the Hammock House. He went to Texas with his siblings and married Eleanor Ellen Shapard September 9, 1858 in Hempstead, Texas. The couple had five children. Alexander froze to death on February 8, 1869, when he fell in a ditch while walking home one night. (Family)

Henrietta Cooke (1831-1868) was the last child born to Henry M. and Frances Cooke. Henrietta’s mother died two years later. Henrietta went to Texas with her siblings and married twice, first to Maxmillian Buchanan Stockton in 1848, then to Josiah Young Rogers in 1850.
      Sources:
·Thomas Williams Bicknell, The History of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, New York, American Historical Society, Inc., 1920.
· Jacob Henry, Thomas Henderson Letterbook 1810-11
· Amy Muse, Story of the Methodist in Beaufort, New Bern, NC: Owen G. Dunn Co., 1941
· Maurice Davis, History of the Hammock House, Beaufort, NC, 1984.
· John E. Edwards, Reminiscences of Beaufort in 1839. As noted in The Story of the Methodist in Beaufort by Amy Muse.
· USGenWeb Project, Ellis County Texas GenWeb
· San Jacinto Museum of History, Herzstein Library, Veteran Biographies.
· Ancestry.com
· Family Bible and other records
. Jack Dudley, Beaufort - An Album of Memories 
. US Post Office Records