ZACHARIAH M. COOKE12 March 1851 - 2 November 1918Mississippi>TexasNARRATIVE
His parents WP and Judith (Lay) Cooke, and four of their siblings had emigrated from Springfield, Alabama to sparsely populated north-central Mississippi in 1836, to a settlement that would become known as Slate Springs.By the timehe was born in 1851, he had three sisters, Sarah, Angeline, and Virginia; three brothers, John, William, and James Vincent; and two other brothers that had died young, Thomas and Edgar.Later an additional sister Frances (whom would be visited by nephew Ellis and son George Earl decades later), and a brother Samuel who died a young man.
His father was a farmer, as were his grandfather Mordecai of Kentucky, and great-grandfather William of Virginia, (who late in life became a Baptist preacher). The farm was in a hilly hardwoods/pines region near the Yalobusha River, so most crops were for feeding family and livestock, although some cotton was raised as a cash crop. The big cotton plantations were in the Delta, 50 miles to the southwest. As a youngster, Zach would have been helping around the barnyard, tending livestock, working in the fields, and eventually graduating to the horse drawn plow and McCormick reaper; all the while soaking in the intracies of agricultural practices. In the home, his mother and sisters would have begun to use the new food preservation method, Mason jars.
So in the early years, life evolved around family.An occasional 30 mile trip with his father to Grenada (nearest railroad) to market the cotton crop was probably his few ventures out of the community. (WP and his neighbors had made up 'wagon trains' and employed local Indians to protect them in the first few years, having learned some of their language.)
As there were no publicly funded schools at the time, teachers were hired by community families.For a time, his uncle James served as a school teacher, and later his cousin Samuel.Zach probably completed all grades available.It was not until afterward that public school districts were created, with most of the revenue support coming from a section of land within a township, or 'school land'.
Weekly, the family attended Bethel Baptist Church, which his father had helped establish, and served as a deacon, and as Clerk.Church played a big role in his family's life; and was the center of religious and social life of the community.In addition to Sunday School and regular services, this is where revivals, baptisms, weddings, and funerals were held.Singing was a big part of a service and "Amazing Grace" would have been heard drifting through the woods.As he grew older, Zach became a member 'by experience'.When he reached maturity, he was assigned responsibilities, such as Delegate to the regional Baptist Association.And his future wife would come to this congregation, after the War.
He saw three brothers leave home to fight in the Civil War.John and Vincent returned, but William died in a military hospital in Tennessee.Zach helped his father gather foodstuff and horses from surrounding farmers to send to the Army.His mother and sisters knitted and made clothing, while quietly suffering the unknown terrors that faced their soldiers.Angeline and Virginia's husbands were killed in action. The closest that a large Union Army came near Slate Springs was at the Battle of Coffeeville, 40 miles distant.This was General Grants Army enroute to beseige Vicksburg in 1862.
ELLEN : (Zach's wife)Her grandfather Thomas, arrived in the area a year or two before WP.He had emigratedfrom Tuscaloosa, Alabama along with several siblings.Marriages resulted between the Cooke and Fox families, including Ellen andZach.Her father Jesse farmed and blacksmithed about a mile from WP's farm.When their marriage occurred is not known, but their first child was born in 1874.
ZM (as he was known in adult life) owned forty acres, but he sold it that year. Perhaps to pay off a debt.Likely he farmed with his father on the home place.The end of the War halted the dying, but not the prolonged suffering.Mississippi was eventually readmitted to the Union, but with radical governance during the Reconstruction period.What cash crops were harvested, getting a decent price was difficult, as a financial depression had set in.Taxes were raised, and raised yet again.The local general mercantile store (owned by his sister Sarah and her husband Joseph Fox) could not obtain steady stock, so families found it necessary to be self-sustaining now more than ever. If an item could not be produced on the farm, it simply was not had.Even as circumstances slowly improved, many of Slate Springs' inhabitants had moved elsewhere.By mid 1878 Ellen's parents, Jesse and Virginia had moved to Texas, even as Ellen was expecting her second child.
By 1880, they had followed Ellen's parents to Texas.His father and mother, WP and Judith, and siblings were surely heartbroken to see them leave; but the future looked bleak for a young family in Mississippi.James Vincent, wife Molly (Edmond) and their young son had already moved to Lexington, Missouri a year or so earlier where her parents were .(Decades later, his son Elias Vincent would settle near Jerome, Idaho.)ZM likely never saw his parents again, keeping in touch by mail.
Carrying only a few belongings in trunks, the journey would have taken several days, starting with a train from Grenada south to Vicksburg. A ferry across the Mississippi River, and a train trip that ended in Denison Texas, Jesse's farm being nearby.(Part or all of his land was later absorbed into Perrin Air Force Base in the 1940's.)
The first indication of them being in Denison with her parents, sister Jennie and brother James, is the June 3rd, 1880 Federal Census.Zachariah is age 27, Ellen 25, Agnes 6, and Thomas 2, were listed a boarders. They actually may have been there since late 1879, because the Bethel Baptist Church Record back inMississippi noted they were 'Dismissed'in October.(A task that his father would have half-heartedly undertook as Clerk.)Their third child, William Pinckney was born two months later on 4 August.
In September that same year ZM had bought a 50 acre farm for $650 northeast of Valley View in Cooke County. He was a yeoman (general) farmer, as his father had been. Utilizing the newly available barbed wire and mesquite trees to fashion as posts, he found that putting up a fence an easier chore than the split rail type. Again, though crops were good, the railroad's shipping charges for cotton was so high that little profit was made.The railroads seemed to have a strangle hold on the nations economy.He paid taxes on the land, a wagon, and two mules for the next ten years.Here, the family grew by three, twins Ellis and Earl in 1885, and Leroy in 1890.But sadly, their beloved daughter Agnes had died.
It is not certain when they moved to Coryell County, some 150 miles south.It probably was in 1893, as he purchased by mortgage a farm of 104 acres for $1500.It was near Jonesboro on the County boundary northwest of Gatesville; the Leon River being a portion of the property boundary.Ellen was pleased with her home, it had the recently available metal window screening to keep out pesky insects while enjoying the breeze.Their last child, son Leslie was born in 1897.
By the turn of the Century, 1900, Zachariah and Ellen and all six boys, plus Jennie and Virginia (Ellen's sister and mother) are living on the farm.Ellen's father had died, as had ZM's parents.Living nearby is Emmett Tatum, brother of Iris Tatum, who is the (future) wife of William Pinckney.Zachariah is managing the farm, with all the boys working long hours to make the Jonesboro place a success.Although tractors were entering the farm environment, they probably used mules to pull their disc, harrow, and 2-row planter.The more expensive threshers and binders may have been hired for harvesting.They may have raised livestock to sell at the auction, as an alternative income.With her boys at courting age, Ellen is probably eyeing prospects and dreaming of grandchildren.She had five when she died in 1907.She was buried at King Community Cemetery southwest of Gatesville.
ZM, a widower and no longer a farmer, lived in the King community but was managing a General Merchantile store in nearby Arnett in 1910. Leslie, his son lives with him, and works on neighbor's farms.Son WP's family is living on German Road; Leroy's is on Pearl Road; Earl's is on Evant Road;Tom's family is still on Jonesboro Road.Son Ellis' family is in nearby Bosque County. All were renting their farms.
Evidently ZM was liked and respected by neighbors and acquaintances, because he was elected County Treasurer in 1914.His grand daughters Ethel and Agness both recalled going to his office in Gatesville as teenagers. He also remarried in 1917.
A life ending illness took him in 1918; perhaps it was the devastating 'Spanish Flu' that had made it to central Texas that fall.He was buried alongside his wife Ellen, and her sister Jennie.His estate was probated, and after the debts were paid, his sons shared the remainder.His new wife refused a share.
OBITUARY, from a local newspaper, November 1918:
On Saturday evening last at the home of his son at Coryell City, Z.M. Cooke passed away after a brief illness.He was 68 years of age and had been a resident of this county for many years.His wife preceded him to the grave by about eight years.He was a member of the Baptist church and was an active worker in the church since his conversion many years ago.He had an abiding faith in his Savior and was always ready to do good where the opportunity permitted.He was at one time treasurer of this county and made a faithful and efficient officer.He was a native of Mississippi, but came to Texas when a young man.The remains were taken to King, his old home, and Sunday afternoon at 3:30 were laid to rest in the cemetery at that place, the service conducted by Rev. R. O. Hood, assisted by Revs. B. F. White and Theo. Frey.Many of his former friends and associates were present to pay the last sad rites.He is survived by six children, all boys and living in this county except Roy, who lives in Fort Worth.The youngest son, Leslie, is in the Army.They have the sympathy of many friends.
Over the next decade, most of his sons (now married with children) had moved from Coryell County.Leroy and Clara, William Pinckney and Iris, and Tom and Claudie went west to Winters; Ellis and Beulah to southeast Texas, settling in China; Leslie, unmarried, to Fort Worth.Earl and Mozelle remained, but when she died, his new profession as salesman eventually took him to Florida.
Zachariah's descendantshave multiplied over the years.We greatly out number the few descendants of James Vincent in Missouri and Idaho.John Mordecai's line in Mississippi ended with the death of his grandson Verner in 1945.I'm speaking of the brothers; the sisters lines are difficult to follow because of marriages.
[Zachariah's narrative is based upon research of government documents such as: Censuses and Courthouse records, Church records, a book "Ancestors of Anselm Cooke" by Frances Cooke Chan, 1998, newspaper accounts, and a technology timeline.Many ofEllen and ZM's descendants are listed in "Eight Generations of the Family of Henry Fox (1768-1852) and His Wife Sarah Harrel Fox (1772-1848), of SC, TN, AL, and MS", published by Dr. Wm D. McCain , Hattiesburg MS, 1975.]