David Cook Letters (1816)

There are two letters written by David Cook, son of Samuel Cook, in 1816, one to his mother and one to his brother-in-law Daniel DeJarnette, in the possession of a descendant of Daniel DeJarnette.  Both are dated 1 December 1816.  They contain some very useful genealogical information, in that they mention three of his brothers and three of his sisters in addition to four of his own children.  He does not mention where he was living, but it seems to be Barren County, Kentucky.

Punctuation (and perhaps some spellings) are uncertain, as these are transcripts by another from two very faded documents.  Some words were obviously uncertain.

December 1, 1816

My Dear Mother:

I received your letter dated August 16, 1816 which gave me a great deal of satisfaction that you were in the land of the living, although you wrote that you had gone through a severe spell of influenza.  A person of your age must have a good constitution to live through such a spell.My dear mother, I should be wonderfully pleased indeed to see you one more time.  And I have concluded myself and John Shugart to come and see you next August if we should live and that you are alive.

I have sold my land in this country and expect to move next fall somewhere, but not certain where yet.  John Shugart was here about four weeks ago and we have agreed to go and see new country that Jackson purchased from the Indians about the ig bend of the Tennessee ——- on Fort ——- and if we like it we shall purchase and move there next fall.

Myself, wife and children are all well at present.  My son William has not yet increased his family.  His wife has had several miscarriages.  Keziah Waggoner has not increased ——– yet.  Patsy married a brother to the man that married Keziah December last. They had a daughter born about five weeks ago.  Thomas is in the —- army.  We get letters from him about every three or four months.  He is well and well pleased in the army. My brothers John and William and families were well not long since.  ——— sister Meredith and sister Shugart are well and families.  I have had several letters from brother Sam since I have been in this country.  But expect you have heard from them more than I do.

I took a journey out to Georgia last May to see Anthony [Virgil?] to get some money that he was owing me.  I had a tiresome time of it through the Indian nation.  Was gone four weeks, completed my journey and returned much fatigued.  I would have went on further and seen you all before I returned but I had a large crop on hand.

I have made nine or ten thousand weight of tobacco this year and have a large crop of corn, although crops are generally short in this country.  The neighborhood fared pretty well.

My dear mother, I hope to see you once more.  I know no more at present but remain a dutiful son til death.

David Cook


Keziah Cook married Richard Waggoner in Barren County 25 February 1812.  The Patsy who “married a brother to the man that married Keziah December last” refers to Martha W. Cook, who married Reuben Waggoner in Barren County on 19 December 1815.  [Chances are she was named Martha White Cook after he maternal grandmother.]  According to a secondary source, Keziah Cook carried the middle name “Burch”.1   This and other research (see the footnote) may give a clue to David Cook’s whereabouts after 1816.2   Tommy, apparently another son, is also mentioned in the second letter.

A valuable genealogical item is David Cook’s mention of brothers John, William, and Samuel – showing that the former two are still alive, and apparently living near enough to visit or hear from.  He also mentions his sister Hannah Meredith, “sister Shugart”, and (in the second letter) sister Keziah DeJarnette.  Sister Shugart, by elimination, must be Elizabeth Cook.

Jackson’s Purchase, given the date of the letter, obviously refers to northern Alabama.  Although the recipient is not identified, it was obviously his brother-in-law Daniel DeJarnette.

December 1, 1816

Dear Sir

I received your letter of the 25th of August, 1816, which gave an account of your health and family which I am pleased to hear of as also of my connections in that quarter, except my mother who was worsened.I hope she will recover that I may once more see her again.  I expect to move from here next fall to Jackson and purchase on the Tennessee if we should like, as Mr. Shugart and myself are going to that country next summer.  And if we should like it there and move there we shall not be farther from you than we are at the present, and should be glad to have you come and live by us.  But would not want you to move as long as mother lives, as I think it would not be against your interest to stay as long as she lives, as you have an interest in the estate and then you would not have to return.

You wrote to me about some business of Venson Hale.  I saw Hale and his wife and they affirm solemnly that they never took one cent on that bond of fifty dollars on John Wisner and if you do not get it out of Wisner, the chance is bad to get it out of Hale.  He has sold his land that he was on when you was there and he’s been helping at mill in our neighborhood, and has been turned in for dishonesty and —— are not worth fifty dollars in the world.  They have been parted for some time but have got back together again.  I would do anything in my power that to your advantage but if you never get anything out of Wisner your chances will be bad to get it out of Hale.  He does not deny the contract but solemnly says he never received one cent of the fifty dollars.  He got his horse off Moody, I got the cow off Hale and I let Mr. Shugart have it.

You wrote to me that Tommy would recall the contract between you and Hale.  I have never seen Tommy since the February after you was here.  He is out of the regular army and is now acting as Sergeant Major on the Illinois River about 250 miles above St. Louis at Fort Clark.  He was recommended to the Secretary of War for a commission as Captain but the recommendation did not go through, thereafter peace was declared and there was no more officers to be commissioned.  He did not get his appointment.  I saw the Colonel commanding the regiment, he said he was a promising young man.

I must conclude by assuring yourself and sister Keziah and the children.  My best regards and love for them all, my wife and children and all,

D. Cook

I am sending my love to you all and I shall insist on you and mother writing often.

The item about Vinson Hale and John Wisner is a mystery to me.  John Wisner appears in the 1820 Stokes County census, and a Vincent Hale is in the 1820 census of Hopkins County, Kentucky.

Tommy is apparently the same person as Thomas in the other letter.  He appears to be a son of David Cook, who clearly was willing to tell his brother-in-law more than his mother about Tommy’s army situation.   Ft. Clark was in Illinois, in what became the city of Peoria, but was destroyed in 1819 by Indians and rebuilt in 1832.  Tommy Cook must have returned to Kentucky, for a muster roll of Captain John Gorin’s company of Kentucky Mounted Volunteers dated 29 August 1818 shows a Thomas Cooke as 3rd Sergeant and his brothers-in-law Richard Waggoner as Ensign and Reuben Waggoner as a private.3

  1. Genealogies of Virginia Families, Volume II, pp 535-6.  This appears to confirm that Richard Waggoner was the same person as the one in Franklin County, Alabama in the 1820 and 1830 censuses, but had moved to Weakly County, Tennessee by 1833. []
  2. Richard Waggoner appears in the 1820 state and 1830 federal censuses of Franklin County, Alabama.  This is perhaps a clue that David Cook may have followed through on his intention to move into northern Alabama.  Indeed a David Cook appears on the same 1820 state census (a male over 21, a female under 21, and 7 slaves).  Richard Waggoner and his brother Reuben were in Weakley County, Tennessee by the mid-1830s.  The 1850 Weakley County census shows Keziah (age 56) in her husband’s household and the 1860 census shows her (age 62) in the household of her son Henry.  There is no sign of Martha or her husband, who were apparently dead by 1850.  The birthplaces of the children of Keziah Waggoner are given as Alabama through about 1830, so they are probably the people in Franklin County, Alabama in 1820 and 1830. []
  3. Kentucky Soldiers of the War of 1812, p177. []