Family histories rooted in North Carolina are frequently told from the perspective of today’s generation and their obsessive hunger to cobble “the” way back from who they are to some earlier place or day in time. Seeking to glorify our beginnings, we are driven by a far-too-narrow optic overlooking the obscure from untold stops along life’s way. Lost in undigested details may be powerful clues requiring new ways of thinking. To the reader, county records throughout Piedmont North Carolina are filled with documentation for many whose stories are only partially understood. In this post – there will be more – I am excited to share new finds in hopes of connecting others by way of ancient interests lying beyond the Blue Ridge. But first, take a minute and get to know some of us here in Wake County, North Carolina.
Extreme Southwest Wake County
(Compiled from SANC housed land grant plats on nclandgrants.com)
Red shaded tracts – Joseph Thomas lands
Green shaded tracts – Daniel Oaks, file 244 Wake, being 200 acres “on both sides of Cary’s Creek joining the lower side of the land wheron Leonard Green Sen’r lately lived.” CC: Andrew Peddy, Jeremiah Peddy.
Yellow shaded tracts – Andrew Peddy lands
- Andrew Peddy Junr, file 920, being 200 acres adjoining Daniel Oaks on both sides of Cary’s Creek joining Andrew Peddy Senr. CC: Etheldred Jones, James Sellers.
- Andrew Peddy, file 288, being 500 acres on the north side of Buckhorn “being the land purchased by the said Peddy of Leonard Green, including the plantation where Leonard Green Junr now lives.” CC: Andrew Peddy Jur, Jeremiah Peddy.
Blue shaded tract – Joseph Cobb, file 466[A], being 200 acres in James’ Branch of Buckhorn Creek. CC: Felps Smith, David Jones.
Purple Tract – Ebenezer Folsom, file 995, being 281 acres on the south side of Buckhorn, joining Charles Jones (formerly), Watson’s, Phelps Smith, David Jones, and the county line. CC: Joel Edwards, Frederick Jones.
We all know that North Carolina was once money poor and land rich and at the time of the Revolutionary War our state needed to somehow raise a military force. Since at that time the state owned all the mostly vacant land west of the Appalachians, bounties from that land were offered to any who fought with amounts awarded being determined by rank and years of service. However, the scheme was corruptible as many of the soldiers never actually moved west after receiving their bounties of land. Such unclaimed interests were fraudulently reassigned while many of the initial recipients instead remained at home or moved to other areas of Tennessee, or maybe even headed southward, towards South Carolina and Georgia. A period dominated by the Glasgow land frauds, speculators also got in on the action and in such a reality it becomes difficult for us today to decipher fraudulent documentation to separate those who received and moved to their awarded bounty land from those who bought land only to sell or walk away from it.
From Wake County, Revolutionary War rolls identify a man of color named Valentine Locust who enlisted 26 Apr 1776 for 2 ½ years of service in 2nd Company, North Carolina Battalion. For his part, the said Valentine received warrant No. 782 in 1784, being 228 acres of land situated on Spring Creek of Red River in then Davidson County, Tennessee. Keep that location in mind and know that I’ve not figured out what ever happened to Valentine’s land in Tennessee though his story here in Wake County most certainly connects to one of state’s most famous sons …more on Valentine in a later post.
Southwest Wake County was indeed home for a broad mix of people whose lives are woven deeply into the fabric of North Carolina’s collective heritage. One of these citizens, Col. Ebenezer Folsom owned a large tract on Wake County’s southern line adjoining Chatham County (shaded purple above). Ebenezer also owned land nearby and to the east in Cumberland County where he served as an officer in the revolution. Migrating southwest and by occupation a farmer, storekeeper, and trader among the Choctaw, Ebenezer’s son Nathaniel Folsom married Native American sisters I-Ah-Ne-Cha and Ai-Ne-Chi-Hoyo, who were nieces of Chief Miko Puskush of the Northern Choctaw. Nathaniel fathered son David who travelled 250 miles from his home in Mississippi to study at a school on the Elk River in Tennessee. I’d love to learn more of the school as Ebenezer Folsom’s neighbors from Wake County also acquired land nearby on the Elk River. Provided by descendant Rufus Folsom from Indian Territory, Oklahoma, the Memoirs of Nathaniel Folsom read:
“I was born in North Carolina, Rowan County, May 17th, 1756. My father was born in Massachusetts or Connecticut. My mother was born in New Jersey. My parents moved to Georgia, and there my father sent me to school about six months, during which time I learned to read and write. My mother taught me to read and spell at home. My father had a great desire to go to Mississippi to get money; they said money grew on bushes! We got off and came into the Choctaw Nation.”
As for Nathaniel’s son David Folsom, he will be remembered for his leadership among the Choctaw as outlined in the article “Moses of the Choctaws: David Folsom (1791-1856).”
This family’s migration seems to take them through the deep south though I wonder about another person named Nathaniel Folsom who was assigned in 1797 a 640-acre tract “above the old Indian Town.” Owning land in Powell’s Valley, Washington County, this Nathaniel acquired another 640 acres on the “big creek” along with numerous other pieces of land along the Northern Fork of the Clinch River. Who was this Nathaniel Folsom, and does he somehow tie to the family of Col. Ebenezer of Wake and Cumberland Counties North Carolina?
Now, from my last post, remember that I announced the discovery of the following document from Wake County?
Of importance at that time was the above Gideon Green who moved to Anson County where he raised a family and sold the first known purchase by my earliest ancestor, Benjamin Thomas. It must have been a good day. Later, in 1824, son Nathan Green purchased land in neighboring Cabarrus County from Thomas Dove Keiser before the said Keiser and wife Mary Gurley moved to Tennessee and then beyond to Oregon by way of the first wagon train west. And looking more closely at the above document, I would love to learn more about Henry Day as I have a feeling, he may be important. Henry received a pay voucher for services during the Revolutionary War and his name appears on a list of North Carolinians who served in the war. Some say Henry may come from earlier family living in Bertie County. Also, in doing a little digging into the life of the above Joseph Cobb, I have learned his life story does have more to offer than what is written on the slip of paper. Let’s take a closer look.
Concerning Daniel Hooker who is mentioned in the above document, I have a little trouble believing his real name is Hooker. I’ve seen no other records for a person of last name Hooker living in the vicinity of those mentioned in the paper and yet, a person named Daniel Oaks lived near Joseph Thomas. Furthermore, Daniel Oak’s daughter married Joseph’s son John. Daniel Oaks’ land grant describes the tract as being “the land whereon Leonard Green lately lived.” We also know Daniel Oaks lived very close to the above-mentioned Joseph Cobb and within the civil action paper is mentioned Leonard Green. There are no surviving land grants or deeds in the name of Leonard Green though the place where he once lived can be easily ferreted from period grants entered by others. Take a look at the visualization of land grants found at the top of this page.
Others were called upon to testify against Henry Oaks. Dated 1 Sep 1772, Drury Jones, Charles Jones Senr, and Robert Varser were ordered to appear in court. Note that the plaintiff is identified as being “Joseph Cobb Junr.
Realizing there must also be a “senior,” I scoured the area for others named Cobb. In neighboring Chatham County, Frederick Cobb acquired grants and was deeded land ca. 1772 along the east bank of the Cape Fear River. Frederick’s land, shaded yellow to the right, was situated above Buckhorn Falls and adjoined the old Cumberland County line to the east. A great clue, there is also a person identified in Chatham County deeds as “Arthur Cobb of Southampton County, Virginia” who purchased land from John Hatley Jones in 1774. Note that Frederick Cobb witnessed that transaction. Arthur Cobb sold his Chatham County holdings in 1775 as was witnessed by Joseph and Robert Cobb. People by the names of Joseph and Robert Cobb are found in area deed books well into the 1790s while it appears Arthur and Frederick leave the area ca. 1784 at which time Joseph Cobb was identified as living in Washington County.
Introducing Joseph Cobb
On 21 Aug 1810, “Andrew Peddy of Wake County” sold to Spencer Griffin and Jacob Scott of Murry County Tennessee, 5000 acres on the Elk River originally entered in the name of James Emment in John Armstrong’s office (Deed G1-181, Lincoln TN). Being the same land Andrew Peddy “purchased of William B. Groves of Fayetteville North Carolina,” ownership of the tract is further detailed: “he [Andrew Peddy] has engaged to convey and has conveyed in part to Joseph Cobb and to others twenty-four hundred acres of the land in the five-thousand-acre warrant.” Back in Wake County, Andrew Peddy lived near Joseph Cobb (shaded yellow at top of post) and here the addendum indicates Andrew sold a portion of the 5,000 acres to the said Joseph Cobb who appears to have gone missing. Note that period newspaper court notices lead to the 1813 liquidation of Joseph Cobb’s portion of this large tract of land:
Are we looking at Joseph Cobb Junior, or Senior? Where did Joseph Cobb go, being the one(s) indicated in the Wake County civil action paper? Looking back in time and dated 3 May 1784, a deed filed in Wake County reads: “Joseph Cobb of Washington County” sold to John Harrison 200-acres (Deed F-92 Wake) situated on the Fork of James Creek of Buckhorn Creek. This happens to be the same land shaded blue at the top of this post that was issued to the said Joseph Cobb in 1780. We now know that Joseph was living in what’s now Tennessee no more than a year following the close of the Revolutionary War. And note that purchaser John Harrison served in the war after which he married Rosanna Peddy who happened to be the sister of Andrew Peddy Jr. From this document we know for sure that Joseph Cobb made the move west though I wonder, which one and did he/they stay? Is there any record of Joseph(s) living in Washington County, Tennessee?
A little background from Wikipedia:
“Washington County is rooted in the Watauga settlements, which were established in the early 1770s in the vicinity of what is now Elizabethton, in adjacent Carter County. At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in 1776, the Wataugans organized the “Washington District,” which was governed by a committee of safety. North Carolina initially refused to recognize the settlements as legal, but finally agreed to annex the district after the settlers thwarted an invasion by hostile Cherokees. The settlements were governed as the Washington District, which originally included all of what is now Tennessee. The district was reorganized as Washington County in 1777 … the area citizens formed, in 1784, the State of Franklin to meet their needs. Franklin was an early attempt to create a fourteenth state prior to Kentucky and Vermont’s admissions into the union.”
The town of Jonesborough is proud to be the first and oldest in Tennessee. Jonesborough is in old Washington County, which also happened to be the first county in the great state. Washington County rapidly subdivided with a person named Joseph Cobb being appointed commissioner to run ensuing county lines.
The annals of early northeastern Tennessee are thick with the name Cobb. It is believed that prior to the Revolution, members of the Cobb family began arriving in the wilderness of Tennessee from their home in Northampton County NC. Represented in early Washington County are William, Pharoah, Frederick, Etheldred, and of course Joseph Cobb. However, I see online that virtually nothing speaks of possible ties to here, in Wake County, and surrounding areas.
William Cobb constructed a magnificent log house still standing near Jonesborough in Tennessee. Known as “Rocky Mount,” the log structure served as territorial capital 1790-1792 for which time it served as the home of Governor William Blount. Andrew Jackson later “lived there six weeks while waiting for a license to practice law.” Cobb family genealogies further connect to Daniel Boone by way of Squire Boon’s sister. Also, greater than any dreams we may conjure today, the family likely contemporaneously interacted with folk hero David Crockett as he was born less than twenty-five miles from where the Cobb family first settled near Jonesborough. An adventurous place and busy time in our country’s history.
As for Joseph Cobb, in 1784, he declared in a Wake County deed that, at that time, he resided in “Washington County.” What a wonderful bit of detail though much of what we could likely glean of Joseph’s early years in Tennessee may be lost as also in 1784 the short-lived “State of Franklin” was formed from Washington County. However, numerous Tennessee land grants (recorded in North Carolina) confirm Joseph’s declaration. One record particularly important appears as follows:
Bent Creek is located south of Jonesborough. The document further mentions “the War Path” which is likely the same important landmark central to any understanding of early Tennessee. It appears this 400-acres was entered by Pharoah Cobb and then in 1796 the land was “transferred to the said Joseph Cobb by order of the said Pharoah Cobb.” And for me, having ancient DNA ties to Joseph Thomas in Wake County, who was mentioned here in 1772 alongside a Joseph Cobb, I am blown away to see the above markings indicating the 400-acres were additionally surveyed for none other than Joseph Thomas. Was this a matter of our Thomas family in North Carolina investing in Tennessee? Was this another Joseph Thomas? I’ve found no other records for this Joseph in Tennessee and remain curious as to the questionable meanings this document raises. And as with my Thomas family, the families of Cobb in Tennessee are well documented though little is said of any ties east to Wake and surrounding counties. I honestly believe the families in Wake and surrounding area connect to those in Washington County, Tennessee. Furthermore, they may tie to beginnings in Bertie and Northampton Counties in North Carolina and beyond to neighboring Southampton County, Virginia.