Joseph Cobbs, Sr.



The information contained in the report on the family of Joseph Cobbs, Sr is a combination of my own research and that of two other people.  I am fortunate to have come into possession of the un-published manuscripts, papers, and correspondence of Berry Benson Cobb (1895-1977) and Billie Louise Gilbert Edlin (1921-??).  Both were direct descendants of Joseph Cobbs, and for most of their genealogical careers worked independently.  Indeed, it appears that they did not even know of the other’s existence, and only made contact shortly before Berry’s death in 1977.  By occupation, Billie was a schoolteacher while Berry was an attorney.  It is difficult to say for sure exactly when Berry began his study of the Cobb family history, but judging from some of the dates found in his material it is obvious he was already well on his way long before the beginning of the Second World War.  On the other hand, Billie did not begin until the late 1960’s or early 70’s.


I consider it important to note that when collated and combined for analysis, the work of these two independent researchers complements beautifully.  Berry of course, did not have the convenience of the internet, and had to rely on correspondence with living survivors of Joseph Cobbs, and on the now antiquated method of obtaining certified copies of legal records via “snail mail”.  On the other hand, Edlin was apparently already retired when she began her research, and actually traveled back to Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia to do her digging.


I have not found one single conflict between Cobb and Edlin, where a date or location is concerned!  Indeed, as an example, in those instances where one of them estimated a date, the other would have the precise date.  In short, each filled in the other’s blanks.  With the speed of the Internet, it was relatively easy for me to pick up where they had each left off, and carry on. 





Until recent years the best anyone could do was hypothesize the parentage of Joseph Cobbs, Senior, of McMinn County, Tennessee.  However, DNA comparison analysis of proven descendants of Joseph has now proven conclusively that he shared a common ancestry with proven descendants of the Ambrose Cobb who died in Lincoln County, North Carolina about 1799.  To supplement this scientific discovery, available documentation leads to the conclusion he was a son of Ambrose.


I.                First, it may be significant to note that Joseph and his children spelled the name 'COBBS'.  Certainly, this is not in itself conclusive.  However, after forty years personal research experience, whenever I find the name spelled with the ending ‘s’, I have come to expect to eventually find a connection to the lineage of Ambrose Cobb.  Ambrose was the great-great grandson of another Ambrose Cobb, who emigrated from County Kent, England, to what is now York County, Virginia, in 1635. 


II.   The 1790 census of Lincoln County shows a Joseph Cobb living next door to Ambrose.  This Joseph Cobb was no longer in Lincoln County by 1800. 



The 1790 census of Lincoln County, North Carolina shows the following:

                  M16+     M-16   Females       Other   Slaves     No.

Joseph Cobb         01      02      01           00      00        1238

Ambrous Cobb        01      00      01           00      06        1237

Ambrous Cobb        01      02      04           00      00        0571

David Cobb          01      02      01           00      00        0828


Three of these men are positively identified.  Ambrous (Ambrose) Cobb #1237 was Ambrose Cobb Sr. He was the great-great grandson of Ambrose Cobbs and Ann White, who arrived in what is now York County, Virginia in 1635.  He was born 1729 in Virginia.  By 1749, he was living in what became Halifax County in 1752.  He moved to Lincoln County, North Carolina in 1777.  He left a Will and died in Lincoln County about 1798.  His Will did not name all of his children, but did infer there were more than what was listed in the document.  This single fact has been problematic for researchers for generations.  It would seem extremely coincidental that a Joseph Cobb could have been a next door neighbor of Ambrose Cobb Sr, and not have been a relative to some degree.


Ambrous (Ambrose) Cobb #0571 was Ambrose Jr.  He was born 1761 in Halifax County, Virginia.  He married Rachel Black in Lincoln County on 18 March 1783.  He moved to Kentucky after 1800.


David Cobb #0828 was also a son of Ambrose Cobb, Sr. David was born 1756 in Halifax County, Virginia.  He married Catherine “Kitty” Bird in Lincoln County on 06 October 1785, following service in the American Revolution.  He eventually moved to Alabama, where he died in 1827.


III.  The Joseph Cobb #1238 that is listed as living next door to Ambrose Sr was not identified until recently, and this is the only record of his ever having been in Lincoln County, indicating he had moved on by 1800.  This census enumeration indicates Joseph was younger man as there was just himself, his wife, and two young sons listed in the household.  Both he and his wife were listed as being at least 16 years of age. The Joseph Cobb of McMinn County, Tennessee, and his wife were both by then about 23 years of age.   


IV.   Further, Ambrose Cobb Sr of Lincoln County, North Carolina, had (documented) children born in 1765 and 1770.  There is no date conflict with the McMinn County Joseph having been born in 1767.


V.  Just within the last several years it has become evident that Ambrose Cobb Sr, had more children than previously thought.  Vintner Cobb was born about 1749, and an as yet unidentified daughter was born 1761-65 that married a James McGinnis.  As stated earlier, Ambrose unfortunately neglected to name all his heirs in his 1797 Will in Lincoln County, North Carolina.     


VI.            Land records provide ample proof that the McMinn County Joseph Cobb was in Greenville District, South Carolina no later than 1798.  This would explain why he was not found on the 1800 census for Lincoln County, North Carolina. 



Conclusion: Short of resurrecting the dead to get a personal interview, it is now more than 99% certain that Joseph Cobbs was a son of Ambrose Cobb of Lincoln County, North Carolina. 



Continuing on ---



The McMinn County Joseph Cobbs was in Greenville District, South Carolina before 1798.   Proof of this is found in Book E, of the Land Records of Greenville County, South Carolina.  In that year, he purchased two tracts of land in Greenville.  The first tract of fifty acres was acquired for $20.00 from one Samuel Hand, who had obtained it as a grant for military service.  This land was located on both sides of the Chickaroa River and near a corner made between Samuel Hand and Micajah Mayfield.  Micajah was the uncle of Freeda Presha Mayfield who eventually married Joseph Cobb's son David.  The second tract of land consisted of 500 acres, purchased from Thomas Wadsworth, and was located on the waters of the Saluda, Tyger, and Reedy Rivers.  In 1805, he bought a third tract from one John Couch, which was also located on the Chickaroa River.


Joseph resided between 1798 and 1823 in Greenville District, South Carolina.  He appeared on successive census enumerations there from 1800 to 1820.  On 20 Oct 1823, Joseph and Mary sold all their lands in Greenville District, receiving a total of some $1300 for it.  These transactions are recorded in Book N, Greenville County Land Records.


Although the actual move to Tennessee did not occur until late 1823 or early 1824, it is evident that Joseph had been preparing for this relocation for quite some time.  The records of McMinn County, Tennessee (Book A, pp 297-298), show that on 10 Nov 1820, Joseph paid down on some 160 acres, which had apparently previously been Indian land.  He agreed to give $4.50 per acre plus interest, and had some ten years to settle the debt.  In 1824 and 1825, Joseph and son David A. Cobbs each purchased 160 additional acres in McMinn County.  The elder Joseph signed this land over to his son Joseph Jr.


Joseph Cobbs Sr, has long been credited as being the first Cobb in McMinn County, Tennessee.  However, this claim may not be correct.  By 1830, there were two Cobb families in McMinn County; the other being that of Robert Cobb, a son of Clisby Cobb of Catawba County, North Carolina.  It is not yet known exactly when Robert arrived in McMinn County, but he was listed there on the 1830 census.  His family lived in that part of McMinn that was used to form Polk County, in 1839, and following that date he and his family were enumerated on the census there.  DNA analysis has shown that Robert was in no way related to Joseph Cobbs.


Joseph signed a will on 7 January 1840 in McMinn County, Tennessee.  A copy of this instrument is contained in a suit filed 12 Jan 1857, JOSEPH COBB v. DAVID A. COBB, JOHN COX, SAMUEL FIRESTONE, and others.  The Will names wife Mary; sons David, John, and Joseph; daughters Mary (wife of John Cox), Rizzy (wife of Samuel Firestone).  Also named were grandchildren Joseph Cobb, Jr (son of David), David Cobb (son of Joseph); and the children of John Cobb (deceased), Nancy, Harriet, John B., Juliet, and Angeline.  Witnesses were Henry Bradford and Evan Jones.  Executors were sons David and Joseph Cobb. 


Joseph died on 22 July 1840 in McMinn County, Tennessee.  He was buried in Old Salem Cemetery, McMinn County, Tennessee. 


Prophetically for genealogists, his headstone is inscribed with these words:


"O that my words were now written,

O that they were printed in a book,

That they were graven with an iron pen and bound in the rock forever,

For I know that my Redeemer liveth,

And that he shall stand at the latter"


Joseph was married to Mary LNU (COBB) before 1794.  This date is based on the birth date of the first known child of this marriage.  The land records of Greenville District, South Carolina, verify they were married no later than 1798, although the 1790 census of Lincoln County, North Carolina shows they had at least two sons less than 10 years of age.  We can only speculate what became of them.  Mary LNU (COBB) was born in 1767.  She appeared on the census in 1800 in Greenville District, South Carolina.  She appeared on the census in 1850 in McMinn County, Tennessee.  She died on 8 November 1856 in McMinn County, Tennessee.  She was buried in Old Salem Cemetery, McMinn County, Tennessee. 


Her headstone is inscribed:


"My flesh shall slumber in the ground,

'Till the last trumpets joyful sound,

Then burst the bounds with sweet surprise,

And in my Savior's image rise."


Joseph COBBS Sr and Mary LNU (COBB) had the following children:


        +2       i.   Reverend David A. COBBS (born on 8 June 1794).

        +3      ii.   John COBBS (born on 25 August 1796).

        +4     iii.   Arispa A.P. "Rizzy" COBBS (born in 1798).

        +5      iv.   Mary COBBS (born in 1804).

        +6       v.   Joseph COBBS Jr (born on 17 October 1806).

         7      vi.   James COBBS was born on 9 December 1813 in South Carolina.  He died on 24 February 1831 in McMinn County, Tennessee.  As neither he nor any heirs were mentioned in his father's 1840 Will, it is assumed he died unmarried and without issue.  He was buried in Old Salem Cemetery, McMinn County, Tennessee.  The stone was readable in the late 1930's but has since deteriorated.  



At least one son and four grandchildren of Joseph Cobbs Sr. eventually migrated to Texas and the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).

The family and descendants of Joseph Cobbs Sr