The Cobbs of Fannin County, Texas

Updated 23 Jun 2002

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This feature is a study of the various Cobb families that at one time or another had a connection to Fannin County, Texas. I began this research in the summer of 2001; when it became crystal clear my particular Cobbs were not the only line to at least pass through that area. One other thing became obvious; that the most commonly found published history of Fannin County (“A History of Fannin County, Texas”; Floy Crandall Hodge; 1966) was rife with errors --- at least where the surname Cobb is concerned. I feel that another work published in 1976, "Fannin County Folks & Facts" was somewhat influenced by the first book, since some of the same errors are repeated. During my first visit to the Fannin County courthouse, I chanced to encounter a local DAR member who informed me that Hodge's book is commonly known locally to be less than reliable, and to quote her words, "But it's all we've got".

This is a continuing project and all correspondence is welcome. Additions and corrections are earnestly solicited. As new data is received, it will be posted here as an update.

At the time this report was posted (29 Dec 2001) there were already some 2000 people in almost 700 families in this database. At the bottom of this page, you will find links to the Cobb families listed below.

Email     M.R. "Mike" Cobb

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An Over Simplified Short History of Fannin County, Texas

Miller County, Arkansas, was created by an act of the Territorial Legislature on 01 Apr 1820, from Hempstead County. Due to a misunderstanding of boundaries, many people settled in what they thought was Miller, Arkansas; but was actually a part of the extreme northeastern region of Spanish Mexico, known as Texas. When the Republic of Texas was established in 1836, the boundaries with Arkansas (and the United States) were rectified and Red River County was established. Red River was an enormous county, the parent of an eventual forty Texas counties, including Fannin.

Fannin County, Texas was created by an act of the Republic of Texas on 14 Dec 1837, along with 39 other north Texas counties that were created from the original Red River County. The original Fannin County was itself monstrously large. Additional acts of the Republic legislature in November 1839, and in March 1846, adjusted the boundaries of Fannin and by the latter date some 22 new counties had been created: Grayson, Collin, Cooke, Denton, Montague, Wise, Clay, Jack, Wichita, Archer, Young, Wilbarger, Baylor, Throckmorton, Hardeman, Foard, Knox, Haskell, Stonewall, King, Cottle, and Childress. The current boundaries of Fannin County were established and approved on 14 Mar 1846.

A map of the original Fannin County. Use the 'back' feature of your browser to return here.

According to "The Handbook of Texas", the county population peaked in 1900, with slightly more than 51,000 residents. Although enjoying a boom during the World War Two years, the county has experienced a steady decline in population since the beginning of the 20th century. In 1990, the total population was a little more than 24,000. Fannin County has always been overwhelmingly agricultural, protestant, and politically Democrat. The most famous native son was the Honorable Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the US House of Representatives from 1940-1961.

The Texas Constitution provides that no county seat shall be established within twelve miles of the line bordering a neighboring county, and that no county seat shall be located more than five miles from the geographic center of the county. Bonham is the county seat of Fannin, and is located some fifty-five miles northeast of Dallas. Fannin County is bordered on the North by Bryan County, Oklahoma; on the East by Lamar County; on the South by Hunt and Delta counties; and on the West by Grayson and Collin counties.

Anglo Immigration

Generally, Fannin County was settled in 'waves'. The first wave consisted of the original settlers, most of who were former residents of the old Miller County, Arkansas, and many of which had roots in either Kentucky or Missouri. The second wave arrived between roughly 1850-1860, and where the surname Cobb is concerned, consisted mostly of immigrants from Tennessee and Georgia. Indeed, the contribution of those counties on either immediate side of the line dividing Tennessee (particularly McMinn, Polk, and Bradley counties) and Georgia, to the settlement of Fannin County is very impressive. The third wave began arriving after the end of the Civil War in 1865, and was composed of immigrants from virtually all of the former Confederate states. There is strong evidence to suspect that several of these post-war arrivals chose Fannin County because they were related to Cobbs that had immigrated many years previous. It has been noted that although a few of the earliest settlers had connections to the upper Ohio River Valley, very few Northerners are to be found on the various Fannin census reports, from 1850-1900.

Routes of Immigration

No doubt the founding pioneers of Fannin County traveled overland by team and wagon from Arkansas, a bit more than 100 miles to the East. And there can be no doubt that those immigrants coming from the deep southeastern states also employed this means of transportation and generally followed the same route.

For those folks coming from the mid and upper southern states however, there was an alternate route. Coming from Tennessee and northern Georgia, at least some took full advantage of water travel as far as possible. Then wishing to avoid mountainous country, they circled around Arkansas, and skirted across southern Missouri into Kansas. Then they followed what was known as "The Texas Road".

The Texas Road has alternately at different periods been also known as the Shawnee Trail, the Preston Road, and the Military Road. It was already a well-worn path as early as the 1820's. It entered the Indian Territory at Baxter Springs near the juncture of present Oklahoma with Kansas and Missouri, then followed a southwesterly course down across the Indian Territory through Muskogee, McAlester, and Durant to Colbert's Ferry, which is now in Bryan County, Oklahoma. At Colbert's it crossed the Red River above Dennison in current Grayson County, Texas, about where the dam of Lake Texoma (at the east end of the lake) is situated.

The Butterfield Overland Stage later followed this same route. Also, many of the early Texas cattle drives en route to Kansas, crossed the Red River at Colbert's Ferry, and did so in a very interesting fashion. The cowboys would literally stampede the herd before they got to the river, and sheer momentum would carry those Longhorns across. Going on, one account states that by the early 1870's, almost 600 wagons a week were crossing into Texas at this point. Since the ferry could only accommodate one wagon at a time, it was necessary for travelers to wait several days before taking their turn at entering Texas. In 1872, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (the "Katy") built a line paralleling the Texas Road, which greatly facilitated getting across the river. Today, the original Texas Road generally follows US Highway 69-75, all the way from the Oklahoma-Kansas border southward to Dallas and beyond.

"Texas --- Margaret, Texas!"

(The last words of Sam Houston, spoken to his wife on his death bed in 1863.)

In 1850 per census, there was not one single person named Cobb to be found in Fannin County. By 1860, they had swarmed it like ants at a picnic! At least six different Cobb lines had at least passed through the area. The real explosion in Cobb settlement however, took place after 1865, as children matured and married and as new families arrived. By 1900, several hundred Cobb marriages had been recorded in county records. Corresponding with the county population decline, there are now barely a handful of Cobb families listed in Fannin County telephone directories.

It is a toss-up to decide which Cobb family was the first in Fannin County as several arrived in the early 1850’s. About 1851, the family of Thomas Church Cobb arrived from Tennessee. His cousin James Milton Cobb possibly accompanied him;  both men being grandsons of Clisby Cobb of Catawba County, North Carolina.  James was accompanied by his father,  Benjamin M. Cobb.

A seventeen-year-old cousin, William Hamilton Cobb, from Dade County, Georgia, possibly accompanied these men. He was the son of George Cobb and Susan Amos (who married in McMinn County, Tennessee in 1829), and grandson of Robert Cobb (a veteran of the War of 1812). Robert was a son of the Clisby Cobb mentioned above. William married in Fannin County in 1856. He served as a Captain in the Confederate Army during the War Between the States, and lived at Dodd City near the Lamar County line, between Bonham and Honey Grove.

In November 1852, (Thomas) Marion Cobb arrived and also settled in Honey Grove, near the eastern Lamar County line. He was born in 1834, in Montgomery County, Missouri. By 1860, he had relocated elsewhere but it is known he was still in the immediate area, probably in either Collin or Lamar County.

About 1856, the large family of Rowland Cobb arrived from Georgia (Gordon County probably). A letter written by Rowland recording the move to Texas is still in descendant possession. This family settled in the extreme southern part of Fannin, at Ladonia. Researchers commonly mistake a son of Rowland --- William Henry Cobb --- with the William Hamilton Cobb mentioned above. Both men had the same middle initial, were approximately the same age, and both came to Texas from Georgia.

There was no discernible immigration into Fannin County during the Civil War years (1860-1865); however, by 1880, no less than four more Cobb families had moved in that may have had ties with families already there. Two had roots in southeastern Tennessee. A third Cobb family arrived about 1888, and yet another shortly after 1900, that had definite Georgia ties to the family of Rowland Cobb.

Between 1865 and 1870, a multi-family Cobb group arrived from McMinn County, Tennessee, probably as one party. They were the families of brothers Jesse Mayfield Cobb and Carter William Cobb. They were accompanied by their elderly father David A. Cobbs, who was maintaining his own household as late as 1870. One of Jesse's grandsons eventually married the daughter of Doctor Harve Cobb listed below. Between his two marriages to (1st) Elizabeth Reynolds and then (2nd) to Nancy Hoyle, Carter had ten children. He brought the seven youngest of these to Texas. One of his descendants married into the family of Stephen Cobb listed in the next paragraph.

Between 1871-1873, the family of Stephen Cobb and wife Viny Johnson arrived from Arkansas.  He was the son of John Cobb, grandson of Robert Cobb, and great grandson of Clisby Cobb and wife Margaret Young of Catawba County, North Carolina.  Their descendants became permanent residents of the North Texas-Southern Oklahoma area.

Between 1878-1880, brothers Lafayette L. Cobb and Charles Robert Cobb; with their wives Laura Ann Swafford and Jane Wheeler, respectively; arrived from Dade County, Georgia.  They joined their brother William Hamilton Cobb who had immigrated to Fannin County in 1851.  Although technically from Georgia, they had family ties to the Cobbs of southeastern Tennessee.  All three were sons of George Cobb and Susan Amos, grandsons of Robert Cobb, and great grandsons of Clisby Cobb of New Jersey and North Carolina.  Consequently, they were also cousins of the family of Thomas Church Cobb, son of the Benjamin M. Cobb who died in Fannin County in 1858...as well as cousins of the Stephen Cobb in the preceding paragraph.

In the late 1880’s, the family of Doctor Harve “Hugh Doc” Cobb and wife Catherine Dean arrived from Johnson County, Arkansas. The descendants of Hugh Doc and Catherine also became permanent residents of the Fannin-Grayson county area.  One of their daughters married the grandson of Jesse Mayfield Cobb, listed above.

About 1901, the family of Wilson H. Cobb and wife Martha Ellen Taylor arrived. He was the nephew of Rowland Cobb, who settled at Ladonia in 1856. Wilson and Martha had originally arrived in Texas, as early as the late 1870’s, and had spent a long period of years literally “roaming” around the state, with a short period spent in what is now Stephens County, Oklahoma. They lived at Delba, in the extreme southern part of Fannin.

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Several more Cobb families are included that did not have documented (yet) ties to Fannin County. However, it has been established that these families were at one time in very close proximity to Fannin.

James A. Cobb married Jaily Ann Stephens in 1875, in Rockwall County, Texas. In 1880, per census, they were living in Hunt County, which borders Fannin along the southern boundary. By 1900, they were in Wise County, about one hundred miles to the west.

Sylvester Young Cobb was the brother of Thomas Church Cobb, listed above. He lived and died in Blount County, Tennessee. However, at least three of his twelve known children lived and died in Denton County, Texas, and three more in what is now Oklahoma. It appears that all of these people came west in the years immediately following the War Between the States. Denton County was created from the original Fannin County, and since 1846, the two have been separated only by Collin County.

And yet another Cobb family that arrived in the area in the days following the end of the Civil War was that of Samuel B. Cobb, son of Wilson Cobb and wife Rachel Reed Wilson (both of whom died in Alabama), and a direct descendant of the elder Henry Cobb of Barnstable, Massachusetts (1596). Their descendants remained in the north Texas-southern Oklahoma area for several generations.

As mentioned earlier, this project was begun less than a year ago. To date, the families listed below are the only separately identifiable Cobb families uncovered.  Information on several is still rather sketchy. This is a continuing project and any input is welcome.


Project Index:

Maps: Use the 'Back' feature of your browser to return here from all maps.

Data Files:

  • Fannin County Cobb Marriages (Includes neighboring counties--- by no means complete. Still working on it.)
  • Fannin County Cobb Burials (Includes neighboring counties--- again, not complete.)

The Cobb's of Fannin County, Texas:

Copyright © 2002,2003 M.R. Cobb