His sister’s family Bible gives his birth date as 28 January 1806, meaning he was born just prior to his father’s move to Georgia.1
He was probably educated at in Milledgeville at the Clinton Academy, which his father and a partner had established in 1816.2 In January 1826, Asa Cook “of Jones County” appears on a list of sophomores at Franklin College (later called the University of Georgia).3 He evidently graduated, for his son later characterized him as a practicing lawyer. Although not the eldest son, and barely over 21, he was named executor in his father’s will dated 21 May 1828.4 He qualified as executor in September 1828 and sold his inherited land to his brother-in-law Travis Weaver in November 1829.5
His son Andrew B. Cook provided the following statement in the late 1880s for a biographical publication.6 His grandfather and father are switched in this statement, which appears to be a typesetting error, but it provides some interesting clues:
Andrew B. Cook, merchant, farmer, and founder of Cookville, Texas, was born in Macon, Georgia, April 3, 1836. His father, Samuel A. Cook (sic), was for many years a leading attorney of Macon, but later sought the retirement of the farm, settling in Jones County; still later he became a Primitive Baptist minister, was a pillar in that church, and continued to preach its doctrine until his death. He married Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Ivey, a native of South Carolina, eight children being the result of this union – Jesse M., John B., George E., Andrew B., Robert I., Samuel A., Doc A., and Lou M.
Andrew Cook’s own son Reuben Cook wrote the following for the 1965 History of Titus County.7
Andrew Barney Cook was born April 3, 1836, being the fourth child of Asa Barrett Cook and his wife, Elizabeth Ivey, in Macon, Georgia. He had six brothers and one sister, Louisa Maria, the youngest, who married Dr. James Young Bradfield, of Daingerfield, on September 20, 1865. His oldest brother, Jesse Mercer Cook, settled in Denison, Texas and was once Mayor of the city. His father came to Texas in 1848 and purchased some land in the Northern portion of the county, then Red River County, and on his way home for Christmas and to bring the family to Texas he was drowned while crossing the Red River on horseback. But his wife came on, with the large family, in 1851. Asa Barrett Cook was a lawyer in Macon, but later retired to the farm and became a Primitive Baptist preacher…
Asa Cook was married in Baldwin County, Georgia on 2 April 1829 to Elizabeth Ivey, the eighteen-year old daughter of Robert and Elizabeth Ivey (see Ivey pages).8 After the marriage and the sale of his inherited land Asa moved to Macon, which was then in Houston County. As “Asa B. Cook of Jones County”, he bought 143 acres in Houston County from Samuel Williams on 24 September 1829, paying $60, with Robert Ivey and Kennedy Dennard as witnesses.9 Just six months later, as “Asa B. Cook of Houston County”, he purchased three more parcels totaling 410 acres from Kennedy Dennard on 16 March 1830, paying a total of $1,400.10 Asa appeared in the 1830 census of Houston County, listed with his wife, a male under 5, and one other male 20-30, who was, I suspect, his brother William Wood Cook for whom Asa seemed to be acting as guardian.
While in Houston County, Asa was a trustee for the Flint River Academy, a school for young men and women. He also filed accounting records of his father’s estate in the Houston County court. Asa apparently still owned his inherited shares in the Darien Bank of Macon as well — he remained on its list of shareholders through at least 1839.
He sold part of his land in Houston County to Reuben H. Slappy on 2 December 1833 for $2,000.11 In 1835 he and Benjamin White entered into a joint venture to pool their land, stock, and slaves to raise cotton in Houston County and to build and operate a gin. As part of the agreement, Asa Cook agreed to pay White to employ his crippled brother William W. Cook. The partnership fell apart a few years later, resulting in a lengthy court case to sort out the assets and income from the venture.12 Records of the court case indicate that Asa Cook was living in Macon, Bibb County, in 1837. This was perhaps the period of his legal practice referred to in the statements above.
At some point, Asa had evidently acquired land in Thomaston in Upson County, where his sisters Caroline Weaver and Martha Beall were already located. I didn’t find a record of his buying land, but he sold land there to Samuel Grantland on 20 December 1836.13 He was then described as “of Henry County” when he bought 405 acres in Upson County on 23 March 1839.14 He was in Upson County for the 1840 census, and a court record a few years later showed that he owned a both a house in Macon and land in both Henry and Upson counties.
The 1840 census record suggests that he and his wife were living separately. He is listed as “A. B. Cook” with a household of one male 30-40 (himself), one male 10-15 (probably his eldest son Jesse), one female 15-20, and one female 40-50. Clearly neither female could be his wife Elizabeth, and none of the small children are in the household. Elizabeth and the children were living elsewhere, but their whereabouts are unclear. The separation must not have lasted, for their seventh son was born the following year.
Elizabeth evidently separated from her husband more than once. On 26 July 1842, as a resident of Monroe County, Asa Cook transferred the 450 acres of Henry County land to his brother-in-law Robert Dorsey Ivey “as trustee for the use of Elizabeth W. Cook, wife of Asa B. Cook”.15 Although they had apparently separated a second time, their eighth child was born in 1845.
About the time the eighth child was born, Elizabeth Cook filed for divorce, indicating that she had left him and then returned “for the sake of the children”, and had separated for the final time in April 1845. She accused him of abusive behavior, including such “shocking” behavior in front of females that her lady friends would not come to visit her, and of adultery with a female slave. Testimony from several of her female friends supported her case, as did an affidavit from the couple’s eldest son Jesse M. Cook. Asa Cook denied the charges, but did not persuade the jury. Georgia did not permit the courts to dissolve marriages at this time, so the court granted her a “divorce from bed and board.” That is, they remained married but were permitted to live apart with their joint property divided between them. [A complete, and particularly juicy, summary of the divorce action is on a separate page.]
The divorce case took over a year to resolve, in the midst of which, in February 1846, Asa Cook placed a notice in the Macon Messenger which confirms Andrew Cook’s list of the children: Whereas my wife, E. W. Cook, and seven sons, Jesse M., and John B. L., and George E., and Andrew B., and Samuel A., and Ivey, and Alphenzo (sic) Cook, having left me without my consent, and against my wishes – this is to notify all persons from trading with any of them on my account. (Signed) Asa B. Cook, Upson County.16
Asa Cook apparently decided to leave the state following the divorce, for he was in Texas the following year. In Red River County, Texas there is a deed and assignment dated 21 November 1848 in which the heirs of Fielding Askey sold land on the border of Red River and Titus counties to Gideon Mims, who then immediately assigned it to Asa B. Cook.17
The above account of his death by Reuben Cook is accurate. It was reported in the Clarksville, Texas weekly Northern Standard newspaper that he was presumed drowned while crossing the Sulphur River: 18
There is much reason to believe that a man named Asa B. Cook was drowned at Trent’s Crossing of Sulphur on Wednesday the 6th. He staid (sic) at the house of Judge Stout on the night previous, and informed him that he had swum Cut Hand with his carryall, and that he would do the same at Sulphur, his carryall [a lightweight four-wheeled carriage] being tight and not heavily laden. Judge Stout cautioned him against that course, advising him, if he found the water above a certain mark which he described to him, to turn up to Ringo’s ferry.
Some persons crossing at Trent’s on Friday found the seat of his carryall and his two trunks, floating near the crossing in an eddy, and as nothing could be seen of the carryall, the presumption is that he rashly drove in and went under, horses and rider, being probably submerged as soon as they got in the water, the carryall probably filling immediately as it went in, from the descent of the bank. Papers, money, and several watches were found in the trunks.
The deceased had been here some months and was peddling jewelry in town last summer. He has left nine negroes at Gid Mims on the River. He had lately purchased a plantation near Mims. When he attempted to cross Sulphur, he was on his way to Georgia where he has heretofore lived. We are told that he had been educated a lawyer and was afterwards a Methodist preacher.
Jesse Mercer Cook, his eldest son, must have followed him to Texas after his Army service, for he appears as a witness on a bond to a merchant named Isaiah W. Wells in Red River County on 1 June 1849, and is in Isaiah Wells’ household in the 1850 census of Red River County, listed as a clerk.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Cook and the seven younger children were enumerated in the 1850 census of Baldwin County, Georgia. In late 1850, Robert Dorsey Ivey sold the Henry County property, which had been held in trust for her, in several transactions as trustee for his sister, described as a resident of Baldwin County.19 She and her children apparently did travel to Titus County, Texas in 1851 as Reuben Cook stated, although why she left the comfort of her relatives in Georgia is unclear. It is probably significant that her sister Mary Ivey Currey and her husband William Currey also moved to Titus County about this time.
Asa Cook apparently also bought land in adjoining Titus County, though the deed records are now lost. Jesse M. Cook was executor of his father’s estate and evidently sold the Red River land back to Mims. Unfortunately, this almost certainly happened in adjoining Titus County, whose court records no longer exist. But on 18 December 1851, Jesse M. Cook, with his mother E. W. Cook and R. T. Holbrook as securities, filed a bond “seeking to protect Gideon Mims, purchaser of a tract of land from Cook, executor of the estate of Asa B Cook, dec’d, against possible claims of some of his minor children at a later date.”20 This bond was actually executed and acknowledged in Titus County, but recorded in Red River County where Mims lived. It may be that “executor” was used incorrectly to mean “administrator” in the bond; its meaning is clearly that Jesse M. Cook had sold Asa Cook’s land and was protecting Mims from a future claim by the other heirs who had an untransferred interest in it. By 1852, Jesse M. Cook appears on the tax list of Titus County, Texas. The 1853 tax list identifies him as the executor of Asa B. Cook and “agent” for E. W. Cook, his mother.21
By 1859, the widow Elizabeth Cook had remarried to a widower named John G. Chambers, for Jesse M. Cook is listed on the 1850 tax list as agent for his mother E. W. Chambers. The 1860 census shows John G. Chambers, his wife Elizabeth, and her daughter Louisa Cook living in Daingerfield, Titus County, Texas.22 John G. Chambers had been an early settler of Titus County, one of the original county commissioners in 1846, a doctor, merchant of Daingerfield, and the first postmaster at Daingerfield. He was also elected a State senator for the county in 1860 and voted in favor of secession in 1861. Elizabeth’s sons Jesse, Andrew, and Samuel Cook were listed as heads of their own households in Daingerfield in the 1860 census. Her son George Cook was, I believe, deceased by then. Robert Ivey Cook and Alphonzo Cook were not found, but were probably somewhere in the area. Elizabeth Ivey Cook Chambers died in 1874 according to the History of Titus County.23
Unfortunately, the Titus County courthouse burned in 1895, destroying virtually all records. There are no surviving county records for any of the Cooks beyond land tax records filed with the state. There are, however, a few other mention of the family in other records.
All five of the Cook sons and one of John G. Chambers’ sons served in the same company in the Civil War. Jesse Mercer Cook was Captain of the Daingerfield Grays, organized in July 1861 with 65 men. A year later, he was appointed Captain of Whitfield’s Texas Legion, organized 31 August 1862 with 73 men. George Chambers, son of John W. Chambers, was a lieutenant in the same company, and Robert, Samuel, Andrew, and Doctor Cook served in the same unit.
The children, from the above articles and census records, were the following:
- Jesse Mercer Cook (12 January 1830 – 25 July 1897) He enlisted in the Army on 14 May 1847 (giving his age as 18), for which service he later received a pension. He apparently followed his father to Texas, as was in Red River County in 1849 and 1850 as noted above. By 31 March 1852 he was living in Titus County, when he was appointed postmaster at Oak Grove. He also appeared on the tax list later that year. He is in the 1860 Titus County census with a wife Fanny P. (ne Hughes according to cemetery records) and one child, listed with eleven slaves and nearly $40,000 in property. As mentioned above, he was Captain of the Daingerfield Grays, organized in July 1861 with 65 men, which a year later became a company of Whitfield’s Texas Legion, organized 31 August 1862 with 73 men. In 1870 he was in the Limestone County census, with his wife Fanny P. and four children, but moved to Denison, Texas according to Reuben Cook. Indeed he was taxed on land in Titus County from 1852 through 1881, but in the last few years was listed as a non-resident, living in Grayson County. He is listed in the 1876 Denison city directory as a real estate dealer, living near his brother Samuel. The 1880 census shows him living in Denison, his occupation again a real estate dealer, with his wife Fanny P. Cook and six children. He is buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Denison, and a lengthy obituary appeared in the Dallas Morning News two days after his death. His widow is in the 1900 census, listed as married 43 years earlier and as the mother of eleven children, six of whom were living. She died in 1920 and is buried near her husband as Fannie Hughes Cook (1838-1920). The children who appeared in censuses were William Ivey Cook (1856-1923), Mattie B. Cook (c1865), Robert H. Cook (1867), George E. Cook (1870), Winifred Cook (c1872), Frances Cook (c1876), and Jesse M. Cook (1880). The son William Ivey Cook and his wife Missouri Matilda Nail owned a huge ranch near Albany on which oil was discovered in the early 1900s. His widow founded the W. I. Cook Memorial Hospital in Ft. Worth in 1929.
- John Bunyan Lamar Cook (c1831 – c1858?) He was in his mother’s 1850 household, age 19, as John B. Cook. It is apparently him who appears in the Titus County tax lists as John Cook (1852, 1853), B. L. Cook (1854), and John B. Cook (1855). In 1857 his brother Samuel A. Cook appears in the tax list as guardian of John B. Cook, and in 1858 Jesse M. Cook paid tax as agent for J. B. Cook. Whether some tragedy incapacitated him or whether the younger John B. Cook was his orphan is unclear. No one of this name appears in later tax lists, and he does not appear under any name in the 1860 or 1870 Titus County censuses. His full name comes from records of Andrew Barney Cook’s children, though they knew nothing of him beyond the name.
- George Enoch Cook (c1833 – 1858/9) He was in his mother’s 1850 household, age 17, as George E. Cook. He married Alitha Jane Chambers, the daughter of his stepfather John G. Chambers, and died after appearing in the tax list of 1858. In 1859, Jesse Cook paid tax as agent of Jane Cook, evidently George Cook’s widow. Thereafter she appears in tax lists variously as A. J. Cook, Aletha J. Cook and A. Jane Cook. She was listed next door to her father in 1860 and 1870 with two daughters: Louella Cook (c1855) and Nella W. Cook (c1857). The 1860 census lists her with eight slaves. In 1880, she is listed in her father’s household as a widowed daughter, both of her daughters out of the household by then. The 27 May 1884 will of John G. Chambers calls her his daughter Alitha Jane Cook and leaves her nearly his entire estate in exchange for her “much care and services bestowed on me in my ending years.”24
- Andrew Barney Cook (3 April 1836 – 19 November 1902) See separate page.
- Samuel Asa Cook (c1838 – 1894) He is age 12 in his mother’s 1850 household, and first appears in the tax lists of Titus County in 1857. In 1860, he is listed as a 22-year old merchant with more than $4000 in assets. He served in the CSA in a Titus County company with three of his brothers. He was said by a nephew to have given his home in Daingerfield to his sister Louisa when she married. I did not find him in the 1870 census, but by 1876 he had joined his brother Jesse in Grayson County. As Samuel A. Cook he was listed in the 1876 Denison City Directory (Grayson County) as a “capitalist”, living on the same street as Jesse M. Cook. He is listed in the 1880 census of Grayson County as a lawyer, age 41 with a wife named Sally (age 22) and her parents, brothers and sisters (all with the surname Thomas) in the household. He moved to Galveston where he died in 1894 with his wife Sally T. Cook appointed executor.25
- Robert Ivey Cook (March 1840 – aft 1900) He is in his mother’s household in 1850, and living with his elder brother Jesse M. Cook in 1860, apparently working for him as a clerk. He served in the CSA in a Titus County company with his three brothers. He is in the Titus County 1870 census, age 30, with a wife [Sara? Lou?] and two children. The 1880 census shows him (age 40) in neighboring Cass County, now with a wife named Isabella and four children. He is in the 1900 census of Wood County as a widowed farmer with several children, but does not appear in the 1910 census. A modern gravestone in Wood County’s Shady Grove Cemetery reads “Robert Ivey Cook (1843-1903)” although censuses clearly put the date of birth in 1840. His last wife is buried next to him as “jeanie Allen Cook (1839-1896).” His children, from censuses, were Hulet Cook (c1866), Samuel E. Cook (c1868), Allen B. Cook (1875), Mattie L. Cook (c1878), Alvah Cook (1879), Bertie Cook (1882), Alice Cook (1883), Maude Cook (1884), Myrtle Cook (1888), P[atsy?] Cook (1892), and Lera Cook (1894).
- Doctor Alphonso Cook (14 June 1842 – 19 May 1913) He enlisted in the Confederate Texas 11th Cavalry in 1861. A doctor he appears in censuses as D. A. and as D. Alphonso, and his first name coincidentally appears to have been “Doctor”. [Note that his brother Andrew named one of his sons Doctor Alphonso.] He is apparently the “Doc A.” referred to in the biographical statement of his brother Andrew. According to interviews with Andrew Barney Cook’s children in the 1960s, he was a doctor who lived in Mexia (Limestone County), Texas, married a woman named Elizabeth, and had a daughter named Mary [Mary Winfield Cook] who married a King [Floyd King]. Indeed, he married in Freestone County to Elizabeth Karner on 4 November 1873 and is listed in the 1880 and 1900 censuses of Limestone County as a physician with wife Lizzie and a daughter Mary born c1875. In 1900 they were in the household of Lizzie’s father John Karner. By 1910 they were enumerated in Houston, Harris County, where he died a few years later and was buried in the Glenwood Cemetery.
- Louisa Maria Cook (23 December 1845 – 20 July 1917) She was still living with her mother in 1860, but married James Young Bradfield (1834-1903) in Titus County on 20 September 1865. Bradfield was a doctor who practiced in Daingerfield according to the History of Titus County, and he is listed there as a physician in the 1870 and 1880 censuses. Louisa appears in both the 1900 and 1910 censuses, which list her as the mother of ten children. Louisa was said to have been one of the first female bank presidents, of the National Bank of Daingerfield. She and her husband are buried in the Daingerfield Cemetery. The children, from censuses, were: William D. Bradfield, Margaret L. Bradfield, Anna Bell Bradfield, Elizabeth Bradfield, Joseph Bradfield, Myrtle May Bradfield, Flora Bradfield, Mary Bradfield, Woodie Ward Bradfield, and James Y. Bradfield. The 1900 Morris County census shows her birth date as above.
- Lionel Brown provided me with a transcript of a family Bible belonging to Samuel Cook’s daughter Caroline Cook Weaver, in the possession of Mary B. Williams of Thomaston, Georgia as of 1999. [↩]
- 27 March 1816 issue of the Georgia Journal. [↩]
- Macon, Georgia Newspaper Clippings (Messenger), Tad Evans, Vol. 1, p92. The Messenger article appeared in the 8 March 1826 issue, but was as of January. [↩]
- Jones County Will Book C, pages 170-174. Recorded 1 September 1828. [↩]
- Jones County Deed Book O, page 285. [↩]
- Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas (F. A. Battey & Co, 1889), page 197. [↩]
- History of Titus County, Volume I, Traylor Russell, (1965) p159. [↩]
- Marriages and Obituaries from the Macon Messenger 1818-1865, Willard R. Rocker (1988). Issue of 25 April 1829:. “Married on Thursday, 2d instant, by the Rev. Mr. Hand, Mr. Asa B. Cook, of Jones County, to Miss Elizabeth W. Ivey, daughter of Robert Ivey, of Baldwin.” [↩]
- Houston County Deed Book E, p184. [↩]
- Houston County Deed Book E, p27. [↩]
- Houston County Deed Book F, p166 [↩]
- Upson County Superior Court Writ Book F, pp291-305. [↩]
- History of Upson County, Georgia, Nottingham & Hannah (1930), p282. [↩]
- Henry County, Georgia Land Records, Freda Reid Turner (1993), p 57 — Deed Book J, p257 [↩]
- Henry County, Georgia Land Records, Freda Reid Turner (1993), p 327 – Deed Book L, p353 [↩]
- Macon, Georgia Newspaper Clippings (Messenger), Vol. IV 1843-1847, Tad Evans, p247 [↩]
- Red River County, Texas, Deed Book I, p4. Acknowledged by heirs of Askey in Lamar County Court. [↩]
- Northern Standard issue of 16 December 1848, page 2. [↩]
- Ibid., p414, 415, etc [↩]
- Red River County, Texas, Deed Book I, p378. [↩]
- Titus County tax lists on film at Texas State Archives. [↩]
- Confirmed by conversations with several descendants in Morris and Titus Counties in the late 1970s [↩]
- History of Titus County, Volume II, page 88. [↩]
- Morris County Probate Book “A”, pages 373-377. [↩]
- The Galveston Daily News, (Galveston, Tex.), Vol. 53, No. 179, Ed. 1 Tuesday, September 18, 1894 . [↩]