The Cobbs of Western Kentucky

File Manager Betty A. Harris


This report is the product of a year of study involving more than a dozen active researchers.  It is a continuing work in progress and all additions and corrections are welcome.


For purposes of this report, Western Kentucky is defined as being those counties that now lay west of Interstate Highway 65, which runs from Nashville, Tennessee to Louisville, Kentucky. 


By no means is the data found here restricted only to the western Kentucky geographic area. 

By no means does this database include all the Cobb families that at one time or another passed through western Kentucky


The earliest known ancestor of each Cobb descendant line found in this database is identified with (EKA) beside their name.


Following is a brief introduction to the families found in this database.


Thomas Cobb was listed on the Tax Rolls of Grainger County, Tennessee in 1810.  It is speculative (but seems likely) he was the father of at least six children who eventually moved to Western Kentucky.  They were:

            Rice Cobb, born in Virginia 1784-1792.  He died sometime after 1860.

            Franky Cobb, born 1790-1800.  Married Thomas R. Mullins.  Died before 1850.

            Patsy Cobb, born 1794-1800.  Married Isham Williams.  Died before 1830.

            Howell Cobb, born 1793 in Virginia.  Married Leah Williams.  Died after 1850.

            Jesse Cobb, born 1795-1800 either VA or GA.  Wife Nancy Mullins.  Died 1864.

            Ebenezer Cobb, born 1806 in Georgia.  Married twice.  Died 1883.

DNA analysis has shown these individuals were descendants of the Ambrose Cobb who arrived in Virginia in 1635.  It is interesting to note that Thomas Cobb had an unusual migration pattern that is still unexplained.  It appears he was born in Virginia.  At some point he moved to Georgia; then later turned around and moved back up into the northeastern corner of Tennessee (Grainger County).  He ended up less than 200 miles from his original starting point in Virginia.


William Cobb was born about 1827 in Tennessee. He married Elizabeth Majors (also spelled Magers) in 1849 in Hopkins County, Kentucky. They were living in Webster County in 1860. Circumstantial evidence indicates he died during the War Between the States. It is definitely established he was deceased by 1870, as his wife was listed as the head of household on the census taken that year in Webster County, Kentucky. William and Elizabeth had six children, all sons. She later married P. Wesley Cook, and by 1880 all except the two oldest sons were living in Denton County, Texas. By 1900, the two youngest sons, John and George were living in the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). A granddaughter, Mary Nevada Cobb, married Harvey C. Magers (a possible kinsman) and their family lived in Grayson County, Texas. DNA analysis of descendants has shown this William Cobb shared a common ancestor with the descendants of the Ambrose Cobb who arrived in Virginia in 1635. Without any additional evidence at this time, it seems fairly safe to speculate he was related to the Thomas Cobb of Grainger County, Tennessee, mentioned above.


Another family that has been DNA linked to the ancestral line of Ambrose Cobb of 1635 Virginia is that of John R. Cobb, who was born in 1814 in Henry County, Kentucky.  One of his descendants participated in this study.  The 1974 ‘History of Lake County, California” includes his biography.  The article does not name John’s father; but does show that he had a brother and two sisters.  The brother remains unidentified, but the two sisters have been traced.


And yet another family that has been DNA linked to the lineage of Ambrose Cobb is that of William Riley Cobb.  He was born in 1830 in Kentucky or Tennessee.  Establishing his ancestry has proven to be quite a challenge for the descendants who participated in this study.  Records exist to show that he was orphaned at a young age and that he had an unknown number of unidentified siblings.  The first positive identification of William is the recording of his marriage to Lucinda Wilcox in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, on 13 July 1851.  He lived his entire life in Muhlenberg County, and died there in 1914.  He and Lucinda produced seven children, whose descendants were still in Muhlenberg as late as the 1950’s.


Jacob Cobb was born 1830-1834 in Kentucky.  He is first identified on the 1850 census of Muhlenberg County, living in the household of a widow Rebecca Bell.  In 1851, he married her daughter Eliza Josephine.  He was still living in Muhlenberg County in 1880.  No descendants participated in this study, and there is no DNA analysis to indicate his ancestry.


Jeremiah Cobb was living in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky as early as 1809, when he was named in court records to wit: “On the motion of Jeremiah Cobb who produced satisfactory proof to this court that he the said Jeremiah Cobb is the son and heir at law to William Cobb deceased and also heir at law of James Cobb, who died or was killed in the late revolutionary war between Great Bretton and America in the Year 1777 or 1778 which is ordered to be certifyed accordingly.  Present John Morgan Esquire.”  Additional court records indicate he was deceased by 1820.  Nothing has been found to give his date of birth, or the definitive identity of William and James Cobb.  It would seem that William was Jeremiah’s father.  James was obviously related; but could have been either a grandfather, uncle, or brother.


The 1820 census of Muhlenberg County seems to indicate that Jeremiah had been married; that his wife pre-deceased him; and that he left at least four children.  The oldest appears to have been a daughter Mary, born about 1804 and who was left in charge of the other three.  Descendants of Jeremiah Cobb were still living in Muhlenberg County as late as 1870.  By 1880, some had moved to Texas.  No descendants participated in this study and no DNA analysis is on hand to determine Jeremiah’s ancestry.


John W. Cobb was born about 1810, in either Georgia or Virginia (he gave inconsistent information to census takers).  He is first identified on the 1850 census of Calloway County, Kentucky.  By then he had been married to Margaret Rhea at least 17 years.  About 1853, he moved to Pope County, Illinois; and he was still there as late as 1880.  He had nine children, one of who moved to Missouri.  A descendant participated in this study; but as yet there is no DNA sample on hand to establish John’s ancestry.


Lockey Cobb was born about 1817 in Kentucky.  She was still living in Webster County as late as 1870.  Her first husband was Benjamin Crowley who she married in 1833; and by who she had nine children.  Her second husband was Henry Crowley (a probable relative of Benjamin), by who she had no children. 


Bradford W. Cobb was born about 1833 in Kentucky.  He is first identified on the 1850 census of Logan County, Kentucky.  In 1859, he married Margaret R. Groves in Muhlenberg County.  He was still in Muhlenberg as late as 1870.  No descendants participated in this study and there is no DNA test on file to identify his ancestry.



Martha “Patsy” Cobb was born about 1807 in North Carolina.  By 1833 she was married to Lovet Ganer.  In 1850 they were living in Calloway County, Kentucky.  They had nine children, all born in Kentucky from 1832 to 1859.  By 1870 this family was living in Livingston County, Kentucky, and members were still there as late as 1880.  No descendant participated in this study.


Brothers Riley and William L. Cobb were born in Kentucky in 1834 and 1836, respectively.  Their father is unknown.  No descendant participated in this study, and there is no DNA sample on file to establish their ancestry.  Riley and William were evidently orphaned as young men, and were taken in by two family’s who were both named Helsley.  Both are identified on the 1850 census of Muhlenberg County, living in separate Helsley households.  This would seem to strongly indicate a familial relationship with the Helsley name.  Both married within a few years, and in 1860 were sharing a household in Todd County, Kentucky.  They remained in close proximity to each other for at least another decade.  In 1870, both were living in Posey County, Indiana.  Afterwards, both moved back to Kentucky; with William settling back in Todd County while Riley lived in Henderson County.  William’s descendants were still living in Todd County as late as 1900.  Riley died in Henderson County in 1890.  His widow and all his children later moved to Indiana.


Moses T. Cobbs was born about 1811 in Virginia.  His father is unknown and there is no DNA sample on hand to establish his ancestry.  He is first identified in the marriage records of Christian County, Kentucky; where he married Ann Mariah Gholson on 20 June 1836.  They had only two known children; a son Alexander born about 1842; and a daughter Sarah who married Daniel Henry Fristoe.  By 1860, Moses had moved to Graves County, Kentucky; where Ann died about 1878.  Moses then married Susan Tucker by who he had no children.  Susan died in 1884 in Graves County, followed by Moses in 1899.


Phillip Cobb was born about 1830 in Kentucky.  There is no DNA sample on hand to establish his ancestry.  He is first identified on the 1850 census of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, in the household of Andrew and Susan McDaniel.  About 1852 he married Eliza Roark.  They were still living in Muhlenberg as late as 1870 with their five children.  Following that they utterly disappeared.


Sarah Cobb was born about 1829 in Kentucky.  She married Yancey Oakley in 1844 in Hopkins County, Kentucky.  She died before 1857, and Yancey then married Elizabeth Ballard.  Sarah produced at least three children, including son Granville “Green” Oakley who was living in Webster County as late as 1880.  While her ancestry is not confirmed ... there is such a high probability she was the daughter of David T. Cobbs, I have assigned her to him in this database.  See below for the explanation.


Finally the family of David T. Cobbs.  No descendant participated in this study, and there is no DNA sample on file to establish his ancestry.  However, I would wager a paycheck that such a test would show he was from the ancestral line of the Ambrose Cobb who arrived in Virginia in 1635.  He is the only Cobb I have found in Western Kentucky who spelled the name COBBS.  David was born in Virginia, 1790-1800.  Circumstantial evidence indicates he married Dolly Jane Burton in Amelia County, Virginia on 03 April 1821.  He was probably the David Cobbs enumerated on the 1820 and 1830 census of Buckingham County, Virginia.  By 1840, he was in Hopkins County, Kentucky.


David and Dolly produced ten children, almost half of which disappeared after the 1850 census of Hopkins County.  David himself was deceased by that time.  By 1860, the widow Dolly and two married children were living in Texas County, Missouri, while another married daughter was in Linn County, Iowa.  Son William Cobbs was deceased by 1857.  On 30 March 1848, he had married Elizabeth Ballard.  She was the same Elizabeth Ballard who married Yancey Oakley, the widower of Sarah Cobb, above.  Oh, the tangled web we weave!


There are several additional Cobb family’s included here that did not live in Western Kentucky.  I include them because I have by coincidence accumulated considerable data on them, and don’t have any place else to put them (yet). 


First is the family of Francis Cobb, Sr.  He was born about 1791 in England.  The first positive identification of him is the 1840 census of Mason County, Kentucky.  He was married twice, and had five children by each wife.  It is known his first wife was Elizabeth Easton.  Using birth information of their children to make an estimate, it appears she was born in England and was about the same age as Francis.  She died about 1828 in Kentucky.  The second wife was named Ann and she was born 1801-1805 in Kentucky.  She and Francis married before 1835.


All but two of Francis’ children remained in the Mason County area.  I have not found a single Cobb in that area that cannot be traced back to Francis.  The two children who left were the two oldest by Elizabeth Easton; son John who moved to Adams County, Ohio; and daughter Sarah who married James Bramble.  They moved to Illinois, then later to Page County, Iowa.  In July 1861, Francis and sons Abijah and George were murdered by two men who entered the house during darkness and used an axe to do the deed.


Second is the family of James H. Cobb(s).  An ulterior reason for including his family is that I have seen several researchers attempt to claim him or his children erroneously, particularly son Felix G. Cobb(s).  Documentation is available to establish his identity, and it is presented here. 


Third is another set of (apparent) brothers; John and Fountain H. Cobb. They were both born in Virginia; in 1804 and 1815, respectively.  They were both living in Bedford County, Tennessee in 1840.   I have seen flagrantly erroneous claims that these men were sons and-or grandsons of the Ambrose Cobb who moved from Halifax County, Virginia to Lincoln County, North Carolina in 1777.  The truth is their ancestry is not known and no DNA sample is on hand to settle the question.  John eventually moved to Henderson County, Texas, and is found there on the 1860 census.  By 1850, Fountain had moved to Butler County, Kentucky, where he died sometime before 1880.     


To repeat: This is a continuing work in progress, and all additions and corrections are welcome. 


The Cobbs of Western Kentucky ... Persons

The Cobbs of Western Kentucky ... Surnames