Mordecai's father William Cooke (1740-1819) often told a tale to his children passed down by their grandfather about emigrants traveling near the Blue Ridge Mountain.They had begun their journey from the port of Philadelphia and flooded down the Shenandoah Valley and up the eastern slope of the Appalachian Mountains. The land was not suitable for plantation farmers, and thus sparsely settled.
These emigrants walked or horse backed carrying their belongings on pack animals. But in their passing, a time worn route through the Shenandoah Valley became usable for wagons.Movement westward beyond the mountains was prohibited because the Colonial Army could not protect the settlers.And there was no passage yet found.
[Ancestors of these particular Irish had previously been displaced from the border area between England and Scotland.They constantly kept the region in turmoil due to denying their allegiance to the King.So most were captured and forcibly resettled in the sparsely populated northern Ireland bogs and hills. Years passed, and still they were not given legal possession.After yet another war with France, the King needed bounty land for the army veterans.They again were pushed off the land as if they were squatters, to make room for the soldiers.Rather than remain, many immigrated to the American Colonies in the mid 1700's.They were known as Scotch Irish.Being Prysbyterian by faith, they did not want to live amongst the other faiths already settled, so they went to the western fringe of the Colonies.A century later, because ofthe 'potato famine', numerous Catholics would emigrate from Ireland, settling mostly in the cities.]
BEYOND THE APPALACHIANS WAS THE FIRST "WEST"
During this time (1754-1763), the British had been engaged in battles with the French over control of the region, primarily along the major rivers and the Great Lakes.Fort Dequense (later Pittsburgh) played a major role.Their forces suffered numerous defeats in the beginning, but finally became victorious.General Braddock, with his young Aide George Washington (having had earlier surveying assignments in the area), played a major role in the "French and Indian War", having pushed them north and westward. The region over on the western side of the Appalachian Mountains began to be of keen interest.The Shawnee tribes from north of the Ohio River and the Cherokee and Chickasaw tribes from south of the Cumberland River had fought for control of these cherished hunting grounds; but no Indian nation actually held possession of 'Kaintucke'.
EARLY KENTUCKY PIONEERS
There may have been others who had 'topped the mountain' earlier, but it was Daniel Boone, a frontiersman from the North Carolina Colony who discovered a route westward while on a hunt for game in 1767.Later named the Cumberland Gap.He returned with a party of hunters on a 'long hunt' for an exploration of the region.Thenhe tried to lead a group of settlers through the Gap, but they were driven back by Cherokee Indians.In 1774, the first permanent settlement (now) Harrodsburg, was established on the Kentucky River.Then Boonesboro, and many other settlements were created soon thereafter.The last major Indian raid in Kentucky occurred at the Battle of Blue Licks in 1782, although small skirmishes and raids would continue.Kentucky was originally declared to be a part of Virginia and was made a separate county of that state.Soon after the end of the American Revolution, a separation movement began, and in 1792, Kentucky itself became a State.But the western portion remained sparsely settled.William Cooke, having fought in the Revolutionary War, had been granted bounty land in Kentucky.But he sold his 'warrant', and purchased land in Louisa County Virginia to farm and raise his family.
The earliest western Kentucky settlers arrived about 1785, a James Davis and John Montgomery.It is said "they were from Augusta County, Virginia, and that they traversed the wilderness, embarked onboard canoes, and (eventually)....arrived at the mouth of Red River, and up that stream to what afterward became Christian County.Davis remained at this original site, but Montgomery, a surveyor, moved further northeast and settled on the creek which still bears his name.Some of these newcomers were Tories (loyal to England), who had to leave North Carolina after the close of the Revolutionary War.As their numbers increased they sold out and moved to Missouri.".In 1797, Christian County was formed from Logan County.
Many settlers gravitated toward the northern part of the County because of its timber and many hillside springs. The southern portion was gently rolling, and surprisingly without much timber, only near streams.Ideal crop land.
Two Tandy brothers arrived by 1814 from Orange County, Virginia.William and Mills Tandy settled near Salubria Spring, southeast of Hopkinsville.Both were landowners, but William also served as school teacher.Then came brother Ralph and his wife Matilda (McGehee) and their young children, arriving in early 1818.
JOURNEY TO CHRISTIAN COUNTY KENTUCKY
Perhaps to Mordecai, Kentucky meant greater opportunity and possibility than was foreseen in Virginia.He emigrated from Orange County in the late part of 1818, the year Congress adopted the flag of the United States as having 13 red and white stripes and one star to be added whenever a new state is added to the Union.
Mordecai (born 1782) and Nancy (McGehee) Cooke, and their children Mary Ann, Elizabeth, William, Charlotte, Sarah, Andrew, and infant James were likely accompanied by his brother Edward, wife Nancy (Baker) and their two children.And possibly Dillard Collins, a future son in law.
We do not know the details of their journey, but perhaps it unfolded as follows:
[In the early years of the Virginia Colony, river craft were the only means of distant travel practicable.Gradually trails became roads maintained by Counties, and were improved for wagon travel.After the Revolutionary War, States urged creation of market roads, but depended on private enterprise for their construction.Tolls werecollected for recoupment and subsequent profit.]
They traveled in two wagons.One for Mordecai's family, and the other for his brother Edward's.Dillard Collins rode his horse, with a small trunk stowed in a wagon.After extensive preparation of wagons, teams, and reducing their possessions to the essentials, saying their farewells, they began their journey to Kentucky.Their wagons may have been simple farm wagons, but likely they were of the popular Conestoga type.The teams to pull them were either horses or oxen.The latter, being less expensive, though slower, were usually chosen, as their strength was superior and dispositions were gentler.On an average day such a wagon might travel 15 miles.
First they proceeded to Charlottesville, where final provisions were bought, including a large bucket of axle grease.Then west to Rockfish Gap on Notch Road.After crossing the mountain pass, they reached the Great Valley (or Wagon) Road at Staunton, and could go either north or south.This Road originated in Philadelphia, and had been used by thousands of immigrants heading to the Carolinas.If their destination was in the southeastern part of Kentucky, they would turn south, then spurring west on the Wilderness Trail.But their destination was western Kentucky, so they would turn north up the Shenandoah Valley and proceed to yet another Road to reach the Ohio River as earlier western Kentucky settlers had.It took only a week to reach Winchester, where they halted a day to grease the wagon axles while the women folk shopped for groceries.The Road, being well traveled, was easily passable with only a few river crossings.Grass was plentiful for the oxen team's browsing when stopping at night, and was supplemented by grain.
Mordecai and his party soon developed a routine for travel.Up at dawn, the men hitched the teams while the women made breakfast, with the older children assisting them.Once moving, the men would walk alongside their team, with the others trailing behind.Only mothers and their infants rode in the wagon, or a tired child.Collins would ride his horse to scout ahead for the water crossings and into the foothills to find an occasional deer or turkey to supplement their menu.Day after day would pass, gazing at the beautiful Blue Ridge to the east and the Allegheny Mountains to the west.An occasional stop to meet and greet a southbound wagon, inquiring of the conditions that lay ahead.A couple of hours before sundown they would stop for the night, and after supper there would be a time for relaxation.Some would sleep in a wagon, but most on the ground cloths under a tent.Overnight the men took turns watching their animals and for possible intruders; and gazing into the heavens at the Milky Way, and an occasional 'falling star'.Up at dawn to do it again.
After a fortnight on their journey, they found themselves watching a huge thunderstorm to the south, thankful that they had not been deluged.But by morning, it had flooded the Shenandoah River crossing ahead, causing them to pause for most of the day.Finally they reached Hagerstown, leaving the Great Valley Road which continued northward.Here they replenished at a general store and inquired about a tavern at which to overnight.Advice was to enjoy a good meal, but sleep with the wagons, as tavern rooms may be more comfortable but lice and bedbugs are likely bedfellows.The road ahead would lead them to the trail head of the National Road at Cumberland, Maryland.
[Winding through the Allegheny Mountains from Cumberland Maryland to Wheeling, Virginia, the National Road provided a gateway for early America to the beckoning lands of Ohio and beyond. It was first proposed in 1802 as the Territory of Ohio began its journey to statehood. The project gained momentum the following year with the addition of the Louisiana Purchase to U.S. territory.The moving force behind the road was Senator Henry Clay.President Thomas Jefferson signed legislation that paved the way for the road's construction and the initiation of America's first national public works project.
Construction of the National Road had begun in 1811 and followed the path of old buffalo and Indian trails through the Allegheny Mountains, and eventually to the plains of the Mid West.Sections of the road were turnpikes that charged a fee to travelers.It was a greatly improved route to the West for pioneers.Within a few years it had become a bustling conduit of commerce with freighters hauling manufactured goods westward and farm produce and other resources eastward, with stage coaches, taverns and livery stables in abundance.]
Pushing onward five days, they arrived at Uniontown Pennsylvania.Here the Cumberland Road struck a northwesterly direction, whereas earlier travelers had to take the old Braddock Road north to Pittsburgh.Seventy years earlier, it had been surveyed by George Washington, later the first President of the United States.
Crossing the Monongahela River at Brownsville they paid for the ferry service.It employed a stout rope anchored on both sides of the stream.At both ends of the ferry, a length of smaller rope were attached to pullies which were rove on to the anchored rope.By varying the length of one smaller rope in relation to the other, thus angling the stern slightly downstream, a portion of the current was used to propelthe ferry to the opposite bank.
As the wagons rolled off, the ferry tender mentioned that he heard a squeaky wheel. "Best have a blacksmith look at it."Upon inspection, a wheel's steel rim appearedto be slightly loosened.A small wedge was fashioned and pounded between the rim and wooden wheel as a temporary repair.Arriving at Washington, it was repaired by a wheelwright, completing the task by heating and expanding the steel rim and slipping it over the wooden rim, contracting tightly as it cooled.The wheelwright said it was a 'creeper', but by occasionally soaking it in water it would be serviceable.
[Washington, Pennsylvania, was the center for the 'Whiskey Rebellion' of 1791, which was one of the first open rebellions against the new U.S. government and Constitution. The rebellion was centered around a tax being imposed on whiskey distillation in the region.]
Three more days and they should be at the Ohio River's edge in Wheeling Virginia.But it would be the toughest part of the journey, the backbone of the Allegheny Mountains. They had already past the highest point between Monongahela and Ohio River valleys (about 1500 feet) upon entering Washington.From here creeks and rivers would flow into the Ohio River.
Now travel was a succession of creek crossings and around and over ridges, which would have been impossible for wagons if not for the bridges, fills, and cuts of the new Road.One evening they camped not far from a church, and the next morning the pastor invited them to attend services.They found it much like their accustomed Sunday service, but differed in small ways.Afterwards they joined the congregation in enjoying dinner on the grounds.
[These mountain inhabitants were descendants of the earlier Scotch Irish settlers.People of this class were small farmers and livestock producers who tilled their own land.Admired by President Jefferson, he had called them "yeomen".Like the Quakers, they detested slavery, but unlike them, never sought to befriend the Indian.They had limited contact with the market economy and depended for subsistence on the yield of the fields and the surrounding forests.But the Road was bringing changes, and many moved deeper into the wilderness.]
Upon reaching West Alexander, the Road followed a creek that led all the way to Wheeling.The journey so far had been a month, covering about 450 miles.Now to find a riverboat to travel down the Ohio River.
[Wheeling Virginia, a river town, was being transformed by the National Road into one of the nation's most important trading centers and rest stops for pioneers heading west.Having experience in building flatboats and keelboats, it had built its first steamboat in 1816, and would become a rival of Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in that trade. Soon glass and iron products would put it on the national stage.]
After finding a suitable hotel in which to rest and sheltering their animals at a livery stable, they enjoyed a good supper.Next morning the men began inquiring about river transportation, and the women and children explored the town.
The two steamboats at the wharf were a marvel to behold by their eyes.When the wives and children were quickly rounded up, all went aboard the Shreve.It was beautifully painted, had a dining room, and tiny passenger cabins.The 150-foot-long boat was a sternwheeler, with a shallow hull, horizontal boilers on the main deck, twin smokestacks and a pilot house.
Having lunch nearby, an officious appearing man they had seen aboard the steamboat was invited to dine with them.Mentioning their need for transportation down river, the man said he was the Mate on the Shreve, and if you have animals and wagons asmost do, there's simply no room.A flatboat will suit you fine.Talk to Mister Yoder at the far end of the wharf, he advised.
When the men approached Mister Yoder, he was not hesitant to exclaim his credentials as a riverman.His father was one of the first to build and take a flatboat from Pittsburgh to New Orleans.Actually started at Brownsville on the Monongahela River.You likely crossed on a ferry there a week ago.It is run by a cousin of mine, fine fellow.Edward interjected with his 'creeper wheel' story.Anyway says Yoder, my daddy made several trips down the Ohio and Missip' Rivers carrying flour and other goods.One way of course, they being flatboats.Had to trek back home by way of the Natchez Trace, and the Wilderness Road.Made about two, three trips a year.Maw and us children saw little of him, but often enough I guess.Paw, having a savvy river reputation, was hired by that Captain Lewis to pilot an extraordinary keelboat.Named 'Discovery' it was.Had to rendezvous with a fellow named Clark down river.Those two led a exploration party commissioned byPresident Jefferson all the way to the Pacific Ocean.They are mainly to blame for enticing folks to head out West.You all going out there?To make a long story short, it was about fifteen years ago and Paw took me with him, and a few other trips to Cairo Illinois.Been piloting the Ohio ever since, but never ventured down the Missip' like my Paw.His last trip was in 1812, found the River had a new course, made by an big earthquake shakeup. [A large region, including western Kentucky was heavily damaged by a series of earthquakes near New Madrid in Missouri Territory, the largest recorded earthquake in the contiguous United States.These earthquakes caused the Mississippi River to change course, and Reel Foot Lake was created.Brick chimneys were knocked down as much as 250 miles distant.]
So, I can git yuh to Cairo alright.I'm itching to go right now on that larger flatboat tied up here.Would have left a few days ago, but two parties backed out on me.They hired out to work on the National Road over on the west bank.The two remaining families are rarin' to go.It's bigger than most, so whatcha got.
Collins spoke up quickly and said two wagons, eight oxen, one horse, and the families. Adding that their destination was the Cumberland River, not Cairo.Yoderreplied that would add an extra stop, but $80 will do for the lot of ye'.Sixty dollars Collins shot back!Well uhhhh... seventy and its a deal, but bring feed for your teams.Have the livery send enough for a month.Load up this afternoon. We will leave in the morning!
[Large flatboats were about 100 feet long by 20 feet wide with gunwales (sideboards on the perimeter) to prevent losses overboard.They were called Broadhorns, or Kentucky Boats.Built for an extended river journey, they were used by farmers and traders seeking profitable markets for produce and goods, and also by families moving West.They had a shed or a pen in the rear for livestock, and a cabin forward for the owner.The larger middle portion was for cargo and wagons.A flatboatrequired a pilot (usually the owner), and four deckhands.]
That afternoon, Yoder awaited the arrival of the two wagons, which fitted nicely into the vacated spots in front of the shed.When his crew had securely fastened them to cleats and chocked the wheels,he personally inspected the entire boat for readiness to depart.Then he went up the hill to spend one last night with his family, having left a trusted crewmember to remain onboard.The other crew skiddadled to town.
At the first break of light, the sleepy passengers in their usual berths in and under the wagon, heard a staccato of commands 'haul in all lines, haul in all lines!' and loud reply's.It was Mister Yoder and his crew taking the ropes off the bollards on the wharf.Feeling the flatboat beginning to move, they saw two women and some children waving, families of Yoder and a crewman.
[For navigation, flatboats were rigged with 30 foot sweeps on the sides, a rudder or steering-oar, and a short front sweep called a 'gouger'.The great side sweeps, resembling horns from a distance, gave rise to the name Broadhorn.The side sweeps were used for directing the flatboat into the current, or for pulling into slack water when landing, rather than for propulsion.Some flatboats also had hawsers mounted to reels; the hawser (rope) would be attached to a tree or stump and wound in to 'warp' the boat off a sandbar, or to assist landing.A punt (small boat) was carried for emergency use.]
After well out in the river, they stood watching the shore lines drifting by.The Virginia shore had cliffs nearly down to the waters edge, but occasionally leaving huge spits of flat land; while the Ohio side had a more sloping bank.The water was clear, as it had not had not rained upstream recently.Yoder gathered the passengers together and explained that because the current was slow, it would take about twenty or so days to reach the Cumberland, and then a day or two more to Cairo.They would put into shore at night, normally in an unpopulated stretch so as to avoid unwanted encounters.He asked that the men keep their powder dry.As he was concluding, they heard a bell clanging behind them.Yep, said Yoder, that's the Steamboat Shreve coming, headed for Cincinnati and beyond.It soon overtook them and within a short while was around a bend and out of sight.
The rest of the day, passengers watched the crew responding to Yoder's orders.Usually they gently eased the boat back into the current with the rudder, but had to look lively when manning the sweeps as they rounded a tight bend.As the sun was setting, they expected to soon be tying up on the shore.But one of the children excitedly reported that a man was making a torch to see at night.
Yoder explained they would continue through the night because this stretch of river is fairly straight; then pointing into the eastern sky, said that rising full moon will give good light to steer by.The torch would be used to warn other craft of our presence.So the first night offered a view of sparkling watery reflections and somewhat ghostly shorelines.As the animals were being fed after sunrise, there was some 'mooing' being exchanged with their kindred on shore.And there was Parkersburg off the port (left) side, slowly gliding out of sight.
All the second day they continued till near sundown.They saw little activity on the river, save a canoe or two, and a keelboat going upstream about noon.As the boat rounded a bend, the crew maneuvered it into slack water.Hawsers were run out to three trees, secured for the night.There would betributaries, coves and island chutes that would provide good anchorage or landings for most every night thereafter.
The families had become acquainted, the two Cooke's, Murray's, and Mayfield's, and Collins.They decided to make a potluck supper; sausage, scrapple, vegetable stew, cheese, beans, and cornbread.They invited the crew to share with them.As the women cleaned up and the men tended to the animals, Yoder instructed one of his crew to remain vigilant.They then chatted about the first two days of travel.Finally the talk turned to their plans after their river journey.Mordecai said their destination was Christian County, not far up the Cumberland river.The Murray's and Mayfield'srevealed that they were on the way to Missouri Territory. [A few settlements had sprung up on the Missouri River all the way to its joining with the Kansas (Kaw) River.Beyond that point Indian hostilities prevailed. (Five decades later, one of Mordecai's grandsons would be settlingin nearby Lexington.)]We were told it has good farming land, and is probably in need of a doctor, so that is our destination.Yoder interjected that they would board a Mississippi River steamboat at Cairo and go north to Saint Louis.And I'll sell my cargo at Cairo, and the flatboat as lumber for building material, and return upriver.
Edward asked Yoder about his experiences during his years on the River.Well, Ohio became a state the year of his first trip down river in 1803.Early pioneers first populated little communities on tributaries. The river has many high bluffs along the bank, some communities are built on the narrow spit of flat land between the river and the bluffs.Cincinnati has grown considerable, and became a gateway to the hinterlands.Two years ago Indianagained statehood, and Illinois recently gained statehood.Course Kentucky has been a state for over twenty five years.Land is being filled up, so that's why many folks are headed to Missoury, like some of you.
As for the River itself, itfollows a roughly southwest and then west-northwest course until Cincinnati, then bending to a west-southwest course for most of its length.In the winter, it freezes over at some of the narrower places.This assists Kentucky slaves in seeking freedom in Ohio, though most are caught.The River for the most part is about fifteen to twenty feet deep, somewhat deeper just below Louisville.
Nancy asked how he had become so skilled.Its evident that good carpentry builds a flatboat, but how do you safely navigate the river?Well, obstructions such as snags, sandbars, rock ledges, or sunken tree trunks are the obvious things to watch for. Piloting, as it is called, is almost entirely dependent on memory, and constantly updating it.I have a map and a telescope, but they are just aids.Once the map is drawn, it will be outdated in a short while.All 'pilots' commit to memory all the little details as they make a passage.Some of my close associates share the changes we observe each trip.Even put it in a notebook.Things like where the best current is, where new shoals (shallow water) have built up.That's a heap of important knowledge right there, especially when considering it is for the whole length of the river.Additionally we read 'sign', that forewarns us, such as eddies and counter currents.Today, for instance, I used my scope to check the water level at a protruding rock, and found it more exposed.Meaning the river level is low.If the water had been up on the berry bush growing there, that would indicate might near flood level.If we meet a steamboat coming up river, I might get a 'heads up' from the pilot.But some of'em are becoming hifalutin', andpay us no mind.Oh, and the wind can help or hinder progress.Of course a pilot must have a good responsive crew as well.We've made about 110 miles so far.Tomorrow, after a few bends, the river straightens out some what, so we'll continue through a moon lit night again.So we better turn in.
On they went through the day till sunset, when Yoder pointed out to the activity on the left bank as Point Pleasant and said we were at a major tributary, the Kanawha River.Soon thereafter the moon was up, and the 'lookout' was placed on watch on the cabin roof.Toward morning when the moon was low in the west and all was quiet,he shouted out 'steamboat coming up river, steamboat!', then lit the torch.Yoder rousted the crew, and went to look himself.He studied for a moment, then ordered the crew to man the sweeps and push the boat to the right.They replied, 'aye, to starboard, to starboard!'A short time elapsed and the steamboat with its funnel smoke glowingwith cinder, passed safely on the port side.A signboard declared it the 'Sunshine'.For a few minutes the boat gently rocked in its wake.
Morning came and went.Having passed the Big Sandy River, Yoder announced that Kentucky was now on the left bank.Funny thing happens here.Normally when a river is the boundary between two states, it is in the middle.But Kentucky rightfully owns the whole river, right up to the low water line on the Ohio side. [This boundary would be legally disputed from time to time by Ohio and Indiana, and finally resolved as a compromise by the courts in 1980. Thus those States would have added lands in the River, allowing them to control their river commerce.] Yoder added that night time travel is over.We could go one more night with the moon, but my crew needs rest. We've passed three main river tributaries, seven more to go.
About noon, when approaching Portsmouth at the Scioto River, a bateaux (small boat) paddled out, offering pork, fresh vegetables, cider, and sweets. The women haggled a bit, and soon the peddler was near sold out.In parting, he said he had heard that the Falls was pretty low.
Days had passed pretty much the same.Some river traffic, mostly ferry's crossing, but no steamboats.The women mostly chatted about family, the men discussedfarming and compared the attributes of their horses and oxen, while all enjoyed the passing scenery and riverbank activity.At night, a trotline would be strung from the outboard side of the boat to try their luck at fishing, sometimes rewarding, sometimes not.The men often took turns 'standing watch' (lookout) with the crew at night.Doctor Murray offered to school the children.He taught the basics to all, and some science and history to the older ones.
One week into their river journey, Cincinnati was visible as darkness fell.We'll stop here for tonight, but move to a dock in the morning, after much of the river craft have cleared.I want y'all to see this city up close, a sight to behold!
[In the early 19th century, Cincinnati was an American boomtown in the heart of the country to rival the larger coastal cities in size and wealth.Because it is the first major American city founded after the American Revolution as well as the first major inland city in the country, Cincinnati is sometimes thought of as the first purely American city.It developed initially without European immigration or influence that was taking place at the same time in eastern cities.]
Everyone went ashore next morning, exploring the streets and stores. So many specialty stores! Took a carriage ride up into a growing residential section.And along the bustling riverfront.Largest city they had ever seen. Yoder returned with news that the Shreve could not proceed further downstream, due to low water at the Falls.And said there would soon be additional livestock aboard the flatboat.Four piglets.
Overnight Mordecai watched his passel of young pigs, two of each sex, as they made their home in the enclosure with the other animals.At the livery stable arranging for a oat and hay delivery, he had observed some hogs, that to his eye, were fine specimens.Large, long in the back, and good legs.The proprietor said they were of a breed recently developed just up the river valley.Strong boned and muscled for ranging about searching for food.Finish them off with corn, and you got a fine hog for home consumption or for sale.Said they were called Poland-China.Those over there have been recently weaned.Two barrels of corn were added to the delivery, for the piglets.
After departing the Cincinnati dock, all agreed it was a spendid city.Dillard, got with Mordecai and together set about constructing brackets for the wooden enclosures the pigs were delivered in.They could be easily attached to a wagon's side for transporting the pigs on the road.Later Yoder announced, that's Indiana on the right bank, as they passed the mouth of the Miami River.Mike Fink's gang often laid out there, but had recently went West.He and his keelboat crews preyed on river traffic, but probably saw their tactics would be no match for the steamboats.That night conversation turned to steam power; river transportation is being revolutionized Yoder commented, and the others speculated whether it would affect farming.
THE OHIO FALLS
Four days later at the widest point of the entire river, the flatboat was maneuvered into a Kentucky side stream, just above Louisville.Yoder told the passengers he was going into town to confer with a local river pilot.Someone who he trusted to get them through the Ohio Falls at low water.Soon, he returned with a man named Buchanan, who came aboard and commenced to measure the flatboat's 'freeboard' (distance from the waterline down to the boat bottom). He then conferred with Yoder, who announced all the wagons and teams would have to be taken off before proceeding.This they would do the following morning.After shifting the boat to a dock and placing the 'gangplank', the crew went into town, as did the families. All returned by dark, having enjoyed a tavern meal.Before turning in, Yoder explained that the Falls was not a precipice, but normally a drop over two miles, but now the river had a few exposed islands across it's breadth.Buchanan would guide them between an 'island' and the Kentucky bank.And off handedly mentioned that across the river is Clarksville Indiana, wherethe keelboat "Discovery" brought the explorers together, Lewis and Clark.
Next morning early, Buchanan got a depth measurement of the 'chute' the flatboat would be going through, and then arrived at the boat just as all the wagons and teams had been offloaded.He and the six husky men with him came aboard, carrying long poles.Again he took a freeboard measurement, and declared it ready to run the 'chute'.Buchanan told the pioneers to take their wagons down the road to a place where they would be reloaded, led by his young son.
After the gangplank and hawsers were removed from shore, the flatboat slowly eased away.With the crew assisting the six men, they manned four poles on either side.When Buchanan barked his orders, 'push together!', then 'come forward!' the boat began to gain speed.This was done by shoving the poles aft against the river bottom; when the polemen reached the stern, they went forward in unison to begin again.The remaining two men used a pole up front to push the 'bow' away from obstructions.
The chute was about a mile long at it narrowest.First, all went smoothly, but occasionally the flatboat could be felt rubbing the river bottom.Then more so on the right, and the gouger pole was employed to turn the bow to the left.When Buchanan knew they were at the shallowest portion, he instructed the polemen to push extra hard; dig in harder he encouraged, that's it, hardest part coming up now, bear into it!As they were near exhaustion, the flatboat seemed to lurch ahead.Finally, they were through the shallows.After a moment to catch their second wind, they maneuvered to a dock at the Shippingport waterfront.Not long afterward, the families appeared, having watched the action from shore side.
After all was reloaded, Buchanan was paid with sacks of flour, and one 'pork barrel' for the dock owner.We'll leave after we've rested up.But right now lets take our pilot friend and his men to the tavern. (As always, a crewman was left aboard for safety and security.)
When getting underway, it was explained that at normal or high water, the river bottom depth increased several feet after passing the Falls.Not near as much this time Yoder said, after using his leadline to take a measurement.We'll be at Smithland on the Cumberland River in less than a week.Cairo, a day or two later.
Up till now, westward movement had occurred without any need of official urging. President Monroe changed this by enacting policy that actively encouraged pioneers to fill the westward lands quickly.
Before they departed, a new passenger had come aboard.He carried a large satchel to the cabin, then stepped out to introduce himself.I'm Caleb Snelby of Nashville.Would have taken the 'Shreve' down river, but she's held up in Cincinnati as you know.He mingled about, asking where the pioneers were headed for, etc.When tied up for the night, and mid way through supper he took the lead in conversation.
Ever heard of the Jackson Purchase in Kentucky, he inquired.No, none had.Well that's because it is a recent occurence.The Chickasaw Indians have sold their hunting grounds between the three Rivers, the Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee.At a pretty price to, even though Andrew Jackson and my father Izak Snelby were top notch negotiators.Never the less, President Monroe was more than pleased, for it would be fine land for settlers; [and an example of his westward expansion efforts.Later Monroe would, in his "Manifest Destiny" declaration, warn foreign powers not to seek further 'colonization' of this hemisphere.]
Being advantageously located, the land was ripe for settlement, he continued.Covered with timber, yet it had great expanses of savannah and grasslands. A farmers dream!The weather is mild, allowing farmers to do more work.Its crops will yield more profit because they were cheaper to raise.And on the banks of those rivers, towns will flourish, being gateways for commerce both coming and going, as there is about to be dozens of steamboats facilitating the trade with New Orleans, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh, and all points between. All will prosper, farmers and city folks alike.The land will be sold in portions of 40 acres or more, warrants guaranteed by the federal government.
Ever heard of 'ranges, townships, and sections'?They are how land is legally described by scientific surveying.Not the 'metes and bounds' description you are familiar with, whereby a creek might change course or a marker tree removed.So you will have a title with firm boundaries to pass on to your heirs.After he paused to let all this sink in, Mordecai spoke up, saying the land sounds much like Christian County, where his family was going.Snelby said it is, for I know that area well also.He knew he wouldn't persuade the Cooke's, but the other two families might be.(Snelby's role of land settlement promotion would play out over several decades, referred to as 'boosterism'.)
[Next day they passed Rockport Indiana, where Abraham Lincoln would start his flatboat journey to New Orleans ten years later.]Four days after the Falls, they passed the Wabash River.Next the Green, and the Cumberland tomorrow, Yoder announced.These days were spent by hearing Snelby extol the grand future of the Jackson Purchase.After supper he pressed on and said it would be easy to go up the Tennessee from Paducah and find the choicest lands.When asked about when a person could actually purchase land, Snelby humhawed around, and admitted that the surveying had not yet begun.But you could 'occupy' and buy later.With that, Doctor Murray announced that would take the children for one last lesson.
Their parents listened as he asked the children to search the dark sky and point to the North Star.When they did so, he asked how they found it; by using (the stars forming) the 'Drinking Gourd' they cried!After a spiel on Greek mythology, he showed them the Orion Constellation rising in the East. See the three star belt in the middle, they point downward to the brightest star in our heavens, Sirius. Then he focused their attention on a triangle of prominent stars toward the West.I call that the 'Summer Triangle'.Look closely, and you can see a fainter cross formed within.As the star party was breaking up, Nancy huddled the parents and suggested a contribution for his instructing the children over the past weeks. The teacher thanked them profusedly, and politely refused their offer.
By mid afternoon, the Cooke's were ashore at Smithland.Mordecai, on bidding Yoder farewell, thought to himself what a knowledgeable and skillful man he is.I bet he'll soon be hired as a steamboat pilot.And he wondered if the Murray and Mayfield families would settle in the Jackson Purchase. (Two years later, he saw an official notice at the Post Office, that announced the tracts of land for sale.)
[SMITHLANDIn it's early days, the town had a reputation of being a lusty, brawling river town, full of unsavory characters. Soon however lots were bought by people of a much different and better character who built homes and established businesses including inns and taverns.]It lay on the left descending bank of the Cumberland River, and a few keelboats were tied up, but the largest part of the wharf was occupied by the new steamboat 'General Jackson'.
Soon the wagon teams were eagerly taking up the pace and by nightfall they were at the Iuka Crossing.Mid morning before boarding the ferry, the'General Jackson' raced by headed upstream.Four days later they passed through Hopkinsville, where Nancy's sister Matilda and her husband Ralph Tandy greeted them.Their journey had taken them eight weeks.Five by road, three by river. And over 1400 miles.Overnight temperatures had been brisk at times with some cool days, but they experienced no stormy weather, excepting a half day wait at a river crossing.The pigs had fared well, to Mordecai's satisfaction.
They were among the latest to make the westward migration that begun decades before, and the tide of emigrants would continue to rise with increasing intensity.
MORDECAI NELSON COOKE(1782-1822)
Mordecai Nelson was born in Louisa County, Virginia on 12 December 1782 to William Cooke (1740-1819) and Ann (Nelson).He was named Mordecai after his grandfather, and his mothers family, as was customary.He had one sister born earlier, and followed by seven more siblings.
When growing up, his tasks might include cutting, splitting, carrying firewood for the stove or fireplace, tending to the farm animals, carrying water to the house, putting up or repairing fencing, working in the fields and orchards, and hunting, trapping or fishing to provide food for the family.
All grew up in a home that valued 'doing the right thing' and education, where books were valued.Respecting their neighbors, and in turn, respected by them.A Christian home, as his father became the pastor of the Little River Baptist Church, after many years of farming.
Being the eldest son, Mordecai took on the task of managing the'river farm'.First in small steps, then entirely when his father purchased more land five miles distant.Soon Edward, the second son was managing the 'upper farm'.Their father, preoccupied as a minister, advised them and made the major decisions.
Sitting in a left side church pew every Sunday with other young men, Mordecai marveled at the pretty and full of life young maiden in a pew across the aisle.He had often seen her when her family wagon passed on the road, and occasionally she would visit his sisters.From the pulpit, William his father, noticed this intense interest.He greatly admired the McGehee family, so thereafter he would occasionally send Mordecai on errands to their farm.
In the following months, Mordecai and Nancy were seen together often.Finally both families proudly announced the engagement.On 23 November 1803 they were married by Reverend Cooke.
[At this time near St. Louis, in Louisiana Territory (later Missouri),Meriwether Lewis and William Clark are gathering boats, equipment and crew, as they have been commissioned by President Jefferson to explore the northwestern part of the Louisiana Purchase, then search for a river route to the Pacific Ocean (the hoped for Northwest Passage), and return with a scientific report.]
Mordecai farmed for a few years more for his father.But in 1807, he purchased a 273 acre farm in Orange County, about twelve miles northwest on the North Fork of the North Anna River.[Now known as Pamunkey Creek.]His father likely helped him, knowing he had other sons growing to manhood that could farm his 'river farm'.
Mordecai's farm was much like his fathers.He raised cattle, chickens, and hogs, and grew corn, fruits, garden vegetables, hay, wheat, oats, barley, and possibly tobacco for cash.Pulled behind oxen, he used an iron plow, improved with interchangeable parts, making repair easier.Except for this plow, few devices had been introduced to make farming an easier task.
Crops were hand planted, a hoe was used for weeding, and hand harvested. A sickle or cradle scythe was used for harvesting grain crops.Threshing, separating the seeds of grain from the husks and straw using a hand held flail, became an easier task by the recent invention of a machine operated by hand crank.The grain was fed to livestock, or taken to the gristmill to make flour.(Decades later, threshing would be a first use of steam power on the farm.)Tobacco still required much labor, and was becoming less lucrative.He may have considered raising hogs for sale as his farm had ample nuts/mast from trees on the river bottom.
Typically constructed of timber beams, it had a hearth and chimney, clapboard siding, a gabled roof with a rear shed extension, and a side porch.It likely had a sleeping loft for the children, a few shuttered glass windows, and lit by candle light.She cooked over the open fireplace, but soon had a new stove, made available from the general store by special order.Made of cast iron, it had a firebox underneath a flat plate which heated skillets, pans, and pots.Aside from therub-board for washing, and the pass down spinning wheel, there were few labor saving devices in the home.A cellar was her principle food storage facility, as most foods fare best in cool, dry places.Bread and other foods were wrapped in cloth, placed in containers, and cured meat hung from the ceiling. [The icebox had recently been invented, but was not practicable in warmer climes.]
Her household chores were somewhat easier than her mother's, but not much.
She and her girls spent their days cooking, milking cows, collecting eggs, churning butter, making breads and cheeses, preserving foods, cleaning, making soap, doing laundry, making candles, sewing clothes for the family, spinning and weaving, and caring for younger children.The daily tasks of the boys was much like their fathers youth, bringing in fire wood for the day, working in the fields and barnyard, herding the livestock, and hunting in the woods.
In their sparse leisure time they would play games such as rolling the hoop, nine pins, tag, marbles, and leapfrog. They often had a few whittled or corn husk toys. Mordecai, Nancy, and the older children likely enjoyed board games and reading. [Some books of the time were: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Swiss Family Robinson, Rob Roy, and Ivanhoe.]Socializing opportunities were community events and church on Sundays.
Although the Revolution had won the colonies their freedom and were now a new nation, protecting assets and gaining equal status proved difficult.France and Great Britain commenced yet another war, and each wished to control American trade.Great Britain further irritated the United States by capturing its merchant seamen for its Royal Navy ships.This had made it all but impossible for the United States to function as a neutral nation.
So President James Madison led the new nation in a second war with Great Britain, The War of 1812.All men between 18 and 40 were required to serve.It ended with victory, although the Capitol had been burned.(The valiant First Lady Dolly Madison had saved many valuable items, including a portrait of George Washington.)And the commander who gave the British a sound drubbing in a battle at New Orleans would soon emerge on the national scene, Andrew Jackson.The war ended in 1815, and if nothing else it convinced Britain that the United States was on the map to stay.The Navy had gained a fighting reputation on the high seas, which would thereafter be the nation's first line of defense.Americans began to develop a culture and way of life that was truly their own.
"A farming community is where the products of the soil is exchanged for those other commodities necessary for human comfort, enjoyment and health."
In addition to the churches, general store and post office, blacksmith and wheelwright, tavern 'ordinary', a gristmill on the creek, and a livery stable, it probably had a busy cooper.A cooper was a craftsman who turned wood into barrels and buckets to hold flour or liquids, and other useful things such as tubs and butter churns.Most in demand were the hundred gallon hogsheads used to transport tobacco.
Other tradesmen would be added to the mix as the population grew, such as a physician.Doctors were beginning to use a stethoscope, but had few other tools.They were not able to offer many treatments that were significantly more effective than home remedies. Drugs like calomel as a purgative, opium for moderate diarrhea and to relieve pain, and camphor to induce perspiration were common.Surgeries, mostly resetting broken bones, were endured without anesthesia, although morphine was experimental. One major health advance had recently occurred though, vaccine for smallpox.Most doctors had secondary occupations.
If there were enough children in the community, the church building might serve as a school.Most rural children were still taught their lessons at home, perhaps by a hired teacher, who sometimes boarded with the family.
Unlike many towns on the eastern seaboard that were developing a manufacturing base, agriculture remained the backbone of the rural regions, dependent upon its farmers' success. (Pamunkey likely was the nearest community, but Orange and Louisa were the closest towns to Mordecai's home, being county seats.)
CHURCHBeginning as a spiritual challenge to the established order, Virginia Baptist ministers (such as Mordecai's father) and other 'evangelicals' brought an 'awakening', which in the tone of their sermons admonished those who were accustomed to sitting passively in their pews. They identified as sinful the traditional standards of masculinity which revolved around gambling, drinking, and brawling, and arbitrary control over women, children, and slaves. New standards were enforced.Black members (both free and slave) were welcomed.
Mordecai's family may have experienced a spreading custom begun in Kentucky; for families to load provisions into their wagons and drive to centralized meetings, where they pitched tents and settled in for several days.Congregational singing became a major part of the worship service, aided by the new 'shaped note' music."Silent Night! Holy Night!" was to become a popular Christmas carol.
CIVIC DUTYAlthough Mordecai did not hold elective office, like his father, he served their County Court as an Appraiser.With James Madison, a statesman on the national level livng in nearby Montpelier, he may have had some interest in politics.[In 1808, Madison was elected President, having defeated Charles C. Pinckney.And in 1817, James Monroe succeeded Madison as President.]
No document found explains why they moved, but perhaps it was as follows:
After the War, Mordecai returned to find some neighbors had moved West.Many of Henry Tandy's sons had moved to Kentucky after he and his wife had died.And now, Ralph and Matilda (Nancy's sister) were posting letters encouraging them to follow.The land is verdant and the people wonderful.There are blossoming markets for farm commodities, including Nashville, and with steamboats for transport coming to the Cumberland River soon, we are set to prosper.My brother William is master of the local school, and you know how learned he is. So you can enroll your children with him.Finally a letter came offering to sell 100 acres of his property.
Mordecai and Nancy discussed the advantages, but were undecided.They sought their parents advice.The McGehee's having lost Matilda, thought she was terribly lonely in Kentucky, despite her letters.Maybe she needed Nancy.After his wife Ann had died three years earlier, Mordecai's father's thoughts had turned to his legacy.Would his land divided amongst his children be adequate for all.He spoke of his Revolutionary War service Warrant for land in Kentucky, but had chosen to remain in Virginia.Do not remain here, if you will be unceasingly tormented for not pursuing your dream.
Once decided (summer of 1818), it took a while before an adjoining neighbor William Stevens bought Mordecai's land for $1638.An adjacent land owner, Quarles, had to swear that a boundary line marked by a pile of stones was an accurate marker. [As was the law, Nancy was spoken to privately by the official to determine if she freely consented to the sale.] With the transaction complete, they prepared for the journey.And Mordecai's brother Edward and family may have had decided to go as well.
SETTLING IN CHRISTIAN COUNTY KENTUCKY
Settlers chose, by inclination, either to settle in thenorthern part of Christian Countythat is hilly and broken, and abounds in the finest of timber for general farming. Or the southern portion ofthe County that favored crop farming, being level or gently rolling, with the frequent sinks or basins.
Not long after the family arrived, as was customary the local Justice of Peace came, asking if Mordecai had brought any slaves with him.An Oath was subsequently recorded on 7 December 1818 at the Courthouse, that he had not.He then purchased Ralph Tandy's 100 acres the following March for $1000, a part of Ralph's original 273 acres.It was located about four miles south of Hopkinsville near the Nashville Road on a branch ofthe Montgomery Creek.After settling in, he and Nancy likely joined the Bethel Baptist Church of the Salubria community, where Mills and William Tandy were founding members.The older children were enrolled in school with William as schoolmaster.That summer Mordecai and Nancy's eldest daughter, Mary Ann, married Dillard Collins.And both their fathers, back in Virginia, had died.
When Censused in 1820, Mordecai's neighbors were Ralph Tandy, DM Collins, Nancy Brooks, Michael Walters, and James Mason.He had five slaves, which his wife Nancy had recently inherited from her father.
Hopkinsville was initially claimed in 1796 by Bartholomew Wood as part of an land grant for his service in the American Revolution.By 1798, a log courthouse, jail, and 'stray pen' had been built. Gradually the village of Hopkinsville grew with assorted merchants.Two brothers established a blacksmith and gunsmith trade.
"In those days goods were bought mostly in the East, and sometimes hauled in wagons all the way from Philadelphia, but generally to Pittsburgh, and shipped from there down the Ohio, and up the Cumberland River to Clarksville.Groceries, such as sugar, coffee and molasses, were bought in New Orleans and brought up the river, sometimes being on the road (or rather on the river) three or four weeks. A merchant bought about two stocks of goods a year-spring and fall.....".
In 1821 (when Stephen F. Austin was pursuing a land grant to form a Colony for American settlers in northern Mexico (Tejas)), Mordecai purchased 208 acres located a few miles north in the Little River watershed for $832. (At $4 per acre, it was half the price of his original 100 acres. And the two purchases added together equaled the selling price of his Virginia land.)It was located about four miles northwest of Fairview, the birth place of Jefferson Davis (1809), who decades later would become President of the Confederate States of America.[Abraham Lincoln, who was born that same year in Hodgenville about 100 miles distant, became the USA's 16th President.]Whether he moved his family there is not known, but daughter Elizabeth married a James Berry, who had family nearby.
The future looked promising for Mordecai.But his life was cut short when he died in the summer of 1822 at age 39.He was denied the many joys of a long life; operating a farm with his sons, marrying his daughters to respected families, building the great house he and his Nancy dreamed of, and enjoying grandchildren.His burial site is unknown.
"He died without a Will, but the inventory of his estate shows 34 head of hogs, 7 head of cattle, 1 heifer, 3 horses, some geese, 2 plows and an assortment of other farm implements and household items.He also had a small collection of books.After the crops were harvested, an additional appraisal showed 45 barrels of corn, along with fodder and oats.He had five slaves, inherited from Nancy's father.The total value of his personal estate (excluding Deeded property), from two appraisals, was $3,120."After debts were paid, by dower rights, Nancy inherited one-third of all assets, and the children's two-thirds was held in trust.
Ann McGehee was born 16 March 1784 to Edward and Frances (Lumsden) in Louisa County Virginia.She had four siblings; two of which were influential throughout her adult life, Matilda and Dabney.Ann was her given name, Nancy was a nickname.
As a widow, by law she had some rights that married women did not have.She could legally make decisions and act in her own interests without consulting anyone.She could conduct business and manage the affairs of her minor children.Likely though she did seek advice from family members and their spouses.
There were some trying circumstances after Mordecai's death.How she managed the family's affairs is notknown, but something went awry.
In 1824, her daughter Mary Ann moved to Tennessee with her husband, after they sold their portion of her and Mordecai's original 100 acres.Then her eldest son William was assigned by the court to become a farmer Apprentice to William Dickinson.And her minor children were assigned a Court appointed Guardian, Ralph Tandy, with Edward Cooke as security.(This is the only documented instance of Edward (Mordecai's brother) being in Kentucky.Dickinson probably was a neighbor of Edward's in Virginia, who also emigrated to Kentucky.A William Dickinson appears in Census' in adjoining Todd County.)
Perhaps it seemed to Nancy that she was being besieged by requests for favors and money at every turn.Her sister Matilda may have sided with her husband Ralph even though he was found abusing his Guardian fiscal duties.A series of Court proceedings over many months implicated Ralph Tandy as being indebted to the children's Trust.By the time his debt repayment was approved by the Court, Nancy's brother Dabney had arrived to support her.He assisted in concluding her sister's affairs, and moved her and the children to his home in Springfield Alabama in 1826.He was appointed Guardian of the children, but the situation with Ralph was never fully resolved until a few years later.
We do not know the details of their journey, but perhaps it was as follows:
Leaving her Kentucky home, which at the beginning held promise to be a fulfilling life for the family, she had a sense of relief, but not much hope.Most of the household items had to be disposed of to lighten the load, but she probably hung onto a favorite item of Mordecai's.What lay ahead, Nancy pondered.She had seven minor children, ranging in age from six to sixteen.
Their belongings were loaded aboard the steamboat at the Clarksville wharf and they were soon underway. (Later when passing Dover, they would have been at the site of future Fort Donelson, where a grandson would die in a war.)But she thought of the wistful weeks she had spent with Mordecai on that flatboat floating down the Ohio River.Once in Paducah, they took the Steamboat Atlas up the Tennessee River to Florence, Alabama, the trip taking a day and a half.Then a stagecoach to Tuscaloosa Alabama where they were met by family, who had two wagons to take them home.
Near Springfield, on the west bank of the Warrior River, Nancy and her children began their new lives, with Dabney, his wife Esther (Meriwether) and their twelve children. They all worked in the home, in the barnyard and fields; and were schooled by Dabney.The children matured, and most married here.Nancy remarried, to Thomas Eskridge in 1829.On the same date as her marriage, she made an official"deed of gift" to her brother Dabney.Her property was to held in trust for her use till her death, after which it would be divided amongst her children, less what she owed him.She died about five years later at the age of 49.(Her burial site is unknown, but might have been at (what is now) St. Paul Cemetery, near Dabney's land.)
Mordecai, born in Virginia like his father and mother, well educated for his time and remote location, grew to maturity as a farmer.Family and faith was paramount in his life, as a young son and in marriage.After managing a farm for his father, he acquired one of his own.But he sold it and began anew in Kentucky.Initially buying crop land, his second and larger purchase favored raising livestock.Yet his wife's inheritance brought slaves back into his life.His life ended all to soon.Nancy had to continue without Mordecai, but probably had a few more years of happiness after moving to Alabama.
Mary Ann, b. 1805, VA, m. Dillard W. Collins 14 July 1819, in Christian County KY,
d. about 1880 in Henry County TN.Collins was much older than Mary Ann.Most of their life was spent farming at the Chapel Hill community near Paris TN, although one of their nine children was born in KY.
Elizabeth, b. 1807, VA, m. James W. Berry 4 July 1822, in Christian County KY.
Presumably she died in Christian County, as a James Berry appears on a land owner map of the County in 1878.(Berry's still live in the County (2014).)
William P., b. 4 Jan 1810, VA, m. Judith Jenkins Lay 26 Dec 1829, in Greene County AL, d. 25 July 1898.They had eleven children.Buried at Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery near Slate Spring, Calhoun County MS.
Charlotte M., b. 1812, VA, m. (1st) Dr. Zach Meriwether Sr. 4 Feb 1828 (a widower who had grown children), (2nd) Edmond C. Eames 1838, after Meriwether had died.Both marriages were in Greene County AL. She had one child with Meriwether, and seven with Eames.Her family lived in New Hampshire for many years before she died about 1855.Said to be a very beautiful woman, small, with black hair and blue eyes.
(The only description we have of a family member of that generation or earlier.)
Sarah, b. 1813, VA, m. Mitchell, d. unknown.She lived for a time in NH, and had one daughter, Lottie.
Andrew J. b. 1816, VA, d. about 1838 in KY.Andrew returned to KY when grown, perhaps to a relative's farm.
James Montgomery, b. 10 Mar 1818 VA, m. Martha Denton 17 Oct 1839 in Yalobusha County MS, d. 22 Mar 1889, Calhoun County MS. The formative period of his life was spent with Dabney and Esther McGehee.James taught school before he married, then become a farmer. They had six children.
Barbara, b. 20 Feb 1820 KY, m. James G. Lay 22 Jun 1835 in Greene County AL,
d. 23 Apr 1888. Buried Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery near Slate Spring, Calhoun County MS.She and James (a brother of Judith Lay) had nine children.
Martha, b. 20 Feb 1820 KY (a twin), m. Lewis Davis, d. before 1880. They lived near Slate Spring MS, and had eight children.
This family had been in Virginia since the mid 17th Century.Mordecai became acquainted with the family when he bought his land in Orange County.Nancy (his wife) may have introduced her sister Matilda McGehee to Ralph Tandy, and they subsequently married.Ralph's father and mother, Henry and Ann (Mills) had land holdings on the North Branch of the North Anna River.Both had died by 1810, leaving their assets to twelve children, and Mordecai was involved in the official Appraisal.Many of the children soon moved to Kentucky; Mills and Williamto Christian County and were founding members of the Bethel Baptist Church near Salubria Springs (southeast of Hopkinsville).Both were landowners, but William became the local school teacher as well.It is said "he was an excellent teacher, and taught for many years with great acceptability. He was succeeded by William Casky."Then their brother Ralph and family arrived in early 1818. The Tandy's prospered and have many descendants in Kentucky. For a period of time William Tandy served as Pastor of a Baptist Churchin Hopkinsville.
However, Ralph and Matilda moved to Alabama near Nancy and Dabney (where they were founding members of a Beulah Baptist Church).It is said that they then went to Robertsons Colony (now Washington County Texas) where he diedin 1837, and Matilda in 1885.Their son William died in Throckmorton County.Daughter Frances Ann died in Leakey.She had married Calvin Boales when in Kentucky and had numerous children. Calvin enlisted in the Robertson's Rangers in January 1836.Mordecai's family was intertwined with the Tandy's for many years.
Nancy was the daughter of Edward and Frances (Lumsden) McGehee. He owned a large tract of land on the North Anna River in Louisa County Virginia, not far from the William Cooke farm.The McGehees had been in the Virginia Colony by the 1720's, maybe earlier.They were said to actually have been McGregors in their homeland of Scotland where they had had a long standing clan quarrel with the King, who subsequently banished their name.When Edward died, he left no will, and his estate was described as quite wealthy.Assets were divided amongst the five children, after his wife Frances was allotted her one third dower.Of Nancy's four siblings, she was probably fondest of Matilda.However it was Dabney who intervened for her and the children after Mordecai's death.The other two were Oswell and Francis.
Dabney had married Esther, niece ofDr. Zachary Meriwether Sr. in Louisa County.By 1818, their family, and her uncle's family had moved to Springfield (now near Eutaw Alabama), after a brief period in South Carolina.All obtained farmland, and soon after, Alabama became a State.
With his farm located on the Warrior River, Dabney had access to Mobile, a major cotton ocean shipping point to the textile mills of the New England states.Dabney set about raising his family, and prospered.He was also a neighborhood teacher, and taught Nancy's children, including farming skills to the boys. (They evidently were fond of Esther, as some spoke of her like a mother later in life.)
An insight into a farmer's daily lifeis recorded in Dabney's 'Memorandum Book'. See excerpt below.
Dr. ZACHARY MERIWETHER Sr.
As stated, his family accompanied Dabney's family to Springfield, or more likely, they him.He was both a planter and a medical doctor, and also was a partner in a saw and grist mill.He built a palatial mansion at Meriwethers Landing on the River.After his wife died, he later married Charlotte Cooke, who was much younger.Before he died in 1836, they had a child, Mary.In his will he left Charlotte the house and land for life, and a cotton gin.A bit eccentric, he asked that he be buried in an upright position.(The writer has viewed this family cemetery, but did not find his grave amongst his descendants.Interestingly, one of the few readable headstones was for Charlotte and her second husband's child, E. C. Eames. The cemetery is known locally as the Braxton Cemetery, later owners of the farm. )
He was born in Virginia, probably in Orange County.He likely accompanied a Tandy to Kentucky, or the Cooke's.He was near the same age as Ralph and Mordecai.He might have become a farm partner with his father-in-law, had Mordecai not died.He and his wife Mary Ann lived and died near Paris Tennessee.His brother Nemrod likely encouraged the move.
EDWARD N. COOKE,who possibly accompaniedhis brother Mordecai to Kentucky, or went a year or two later, is documented only once in Christian County.As the County was partitioned in 1820 to form Todd County (boundary was a few miles east of Tandy and Cooke properties), a search for Edward may be fruitful there.
Decades later, after the Civil War, Mordecai's nephew JOHN SNELSON COOKE moved from Virginia to the area.It is said by a local descendant, Ann (Cooke, Adams) Embry that a relative had encouraged him to relocate.Other descendants of John later went to southeast Texas, one to Carthage.
Mordecai's CHRISTIAN COUNTY LAND totaled 308 acres, 278 after selling 30 acres to son-in-law Dillard Collins.Resulting from his death, Nancy would have received 93 acres, her one third dower.The children received the remaining 188 acres, or 21 acres each.No County documents have been found regarding the sale ofthe lands to subsequent owners, perhaps because some Court House records were burned in 1864.Dillard Collins and wife Mary Ann as complainants, filed a Circuit Court summons to defendants (the other heirs of Mordecai) in 1845. The nature of the complaint is not stated in the record. (The defendants probably did not show up, not being residents of Kentucky, excepting Elizabeth.)
Mordecai's property inventory documented 34 hogs and a few other assorted livestock.When crops were later harvested in the fall, there were barrels of corn, along with fodder and oats.Noticeably absent is tobacco.He evidently intended on selling hogs for his cash income; first to nearby Hopkinsville, Clarksville, and eventually Nashville.Had he lived, the family might eventually have been selling to the huge Cincinnati market, where hogs were processed and meat products sent eastward to the larger cities.
This conclusion is based on the following:1) A general farmer owned four or five hogs for their own use; providing meat, fat, leather, bristles, etc.Their hogs were expected to forage for acorns, glean fields after harvest, consume dairy waste, and eat windfall fruit from orchards, 2) The farmer raising numerous hogs (like Mordecai) was doing so for the market.As surrounding town and distant city populations grew, demand greatly increased.A farmer would sell locally, or to drovers who would herd them many miles to markets, 3) Mordecai's major acreage favored a livestock enterprise rather than cash crops.
[A half century later, Texas cattle would be driven northward on the thousand mile Chisholm Trail to satisfy the burgeoning beef demand.]
POST OFFICES were federally operated, but mail bag transport between Offices was contracted by private entities or individuals.Routes could be as short as six miles and upwards of 200 miles. Mail from the Tandy's probably came overland, and Mordecai would have retrieved his mail at Orange, where the recipient paid the postage.Soon, steamboats would be transporting US Mail on the Ohio River.
CONESTOGA WAGON.The precise origins of the this wagon are unclear, but most likely a farm cart was adapted first to travel the wooded hills of Pennsylvania and ultimately to travel out West.A wheelwright and blacksmith took two months to build it and cost $200-$250 when completed.An average Conestoga wagon was 18 feet long, 11 feet high, and a bed 4 feet in width.A wagon of shorter length could be had, thus requiring smaller teams to pull it.It featured a canvas cover and a curved wagon bed shaped to stop cargoes from shifting.The cover leaned outward at both ends, giving protection from the weather.Wheels were large, with the front ones somewhat smaller.This enabled the wagon to turn easier, cross rough terrain, drive over tree stumps and even ford rivers without the contents getting wet.Pulling a lever connected to a brake on one wheel would cause a complete stop, but was normally used to slow the wagon when going down a slope. The inside of a covered wagon featured wooden hoops and hooks for hanging items, such as milk cans, spoons, bonnets, jackets, dolls and guns.On the outside, water barrels were hung, and a feed trough on the rear.
NATIONAL ROAD (first called the Cumberland Road) contracts were let in 1811.A strip 66 feet wide had to be cleared of all trees and underbrush, grubbing out the roots, then leveling the roadbed to 30 feet in width, which was a pick-and-shovel job.Hills had to be cut down and earth, rock and stones hauled away.It was necessary to fill culverts and bridge abutments, hollows, and valleys.Side slopes could not exceed 30 degrees. Twenty feet of the road surface was to be covered with stones ranging in depth from 12 inches to 18 inches.Over that would be smaller stone.During the early miles of construction, the level of the road surface was at terrain level; but later the road surface was built above ground making it less subject to rain washout.In modern times US Highway 40 generally parallels this Road.
The workaday STEAMBOAT was 150-200 feet long, three-hundred-ton, low-draft (drawing only two to three feet) stern-wheeled craft with few fancy trappings and an average life span of five years. Peak shipping time occurred during high water, when steamers carrying flour, pork, whiskey, tobacco, cotton, livestock, and passengers dotted the Ohio, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers.Steamers on these waterways carried crews of twelve, including a captain, pilot, engineer, mate, and deck hands. The men varied in age according to their rank and occupation.The common hands included farm boys, city urchins, and an increasing number of Irish and German immigrants.Free blacks and slaves also worked aboard steamers.
In regions lacking navigable rivers, CANALS were being built for cost effective transport of bulk goods.Towboats were pulled by oxen or mules with a stout rope along a path adjacent to the canal.The Erie Canal opened on October 26, 1825.It was the first transportation system between the eastern seaboard (New York City) and the western interior (Great Lakes) of the United States that did not require portage. The canal fostered a population surge in western New York State, opened regions farther west to settlement, and helped New York City become the chief US port.Another Canal, the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) opened its first part in November 1830. Originally planned to reach Pittsburgh, it terminated in Cumberland Maryland upon realization of highly unrealistic construction costs. Soon, another form of transportation would arise, the far reaching RAILROAD.
STAGE COACHES could carry nine inside, and six more on top if needed.They were pulled by four horses or mules, which were swapped out every ten miles or so at 'stations'.The station serving as an inn for passenger meals.Early coaches were attached to the carriage by leather straps, making for a rocky ride.Later, iron springs made it a more comforting ride.A typical fare differential would be: 1st class rode all the way, 2nd class had to walk at bad places on the road, and 3rd class same as above, but also had to push at hills.
Many thought the practice would shrivel to a end.But the lucrative cash crops of tobacco, and then cotton, only encouraged it.So the southern states slave population grew, in spite of the federal ban on importation.Kentucky, wanting settlers, allowed them to bring slaves, but they could not be sold (or bought) in the state.Mordecai came to Kentucky without slaves, and knew he could not purchase any, but perhaps reluctantly accepted his wife's inheritance from her deceased father.He, like his father William, wondered what slavery's future would be.
FARMERS DAILY LIFE
Excerpts fromDabney McGehee's 'Memorandum Book' point to the daily life of a farmer in Mordecai's time. (It was not until 1828 that Webster's dictionary standardized spelling.)
July 17thPlanted corn this side the pond. Esther's field was planted the 10th.
20thdug and put away my irish potatoes. Also planted a short row of yam slips
Aug8thWe have a storm that blowed our corn down.Corn just silking.
15thJames & Wm. Logan began school.
3rd OctA little warmer today and look likely for rain by morning.
Oct 4thI don't go to Mustertoday.Kill a doe over 5 Mile Creek.
5thAt school - the river is falling fast. The weather clear and serene.
25thLawson came to my houseand proposed for me to finish his crop & give
him his part.I object without a deduction.He gets angry & goes off.
8th Octrec'd a summons to show cause why I was not at Gen'l Muster.
Nov 1stThis morning we see the first frost this fall.
Nov 4thKilled a large bear in my cane break.
Dec 8thTom is making shoes at my house.Has done all the negros shoes.
Jan 9thAt Judge White's sale.Bot two lots of sheep, one for myself, one for Dr. Z
Jan 23swimFive Mile Creek and attend to my trial before Esquire Williamson.
Mar 22ndSat turkey hens (16 eggs).April 20th hatched 11 turkeys.
Apr 8thBegin to plant cotton.(The seed bad, had to plant over again.)
June 27thHad a ripe watermelon.
July 1stStorm of wind, without rain - ruined my corn.
July 27thAt Finches Ferrycock fighting
Aug27thCaught a very large Buffalo fish.I am sick& can not purge.
20th SepAt Dr Meriwethers at a quilting.
Sept 1stWent to R. Eskridge's & got a dark red cock to breed from.
23rd SepMorgan's Boat starts this evening to Mobile.I sent for 5 sacks of salt.
19th OctFinished hauling in corn.
25th Nov(at Buck's store) sold a hog which weighed 275 lb at 8cts per lb. Rec'd of
him 35 lbs of sugar and 6 sacks of salt.
Dec 2ndWent to Erie got the appointment of City Surveyor
22ndBot in Erie - 23/4 yds Blue Casamere at 3.50 per yd - 1 silk twist 121/2.
Dec 30thKilled hogs (10) 2021 lbs of pork.
6th JanBegan to hawl my cotton to Anderson's gin
Jan 20thLast night a very heavy rain. We hang up our meat this evening.
Feb 9thSnowy morning - a snow fell nearly 4 in deep.
March 5thMy hands gone to bring the Barge to take my cotton.Rain today.
7thStart to Mobile
Apr 8thMuschettoes plenty.
SUGGESTED RELATED READING
"Centennial", by James A. Michener; read about Levi Zendt's pioneer journey from Pennsylvania to (now) Colorado.
"Life on the Mississippi" by Mark Twain; Samuel L. Clemens early career as a river pilot.
(The writer experienced a similar career as a pilot on the Mississippi River, primarily south of New Orleans.However, modern navigational aids made the task easier.)
1)"Ancestors of Anselm Cooke" Frances Cooke Chan, 1998, Langford Publications, ISBN 0-9585308-1-5(Thanks to our cousin Frances, my major source. I urge you to read her book for more details about our related families, available at local libraries by 'interlibrary loan'.)
2) a William Pinckney Cooke family narrative (1919) of Bessie Fox, provided by Faye Ellen (Cooke) Shipman
3) VAGenWeb Genealogy Project Orange County VAhttp://usgwarchives.net/va/orange.htmhttp://usgwarchives.net/va/orange.htm
4) Newsletters, Orange County VA Historical Society;http://orangecovahist.org/Newsletters.htmlhttp://orangecovahist.org/Newsletters.html
5) 1700's Orange County Road Orders;
6) Land Deeds, Orange County VA Clerk of Court
a] Deed Book 24, page 165, 26 Jan 1807
b]Deed Book 27, pg 441, 10 Sep 1818
7) website for two 1860's Orange County historical maps;
8) National Road:http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/nationalroad.htmhttp://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/nationalroad.htm
9) River boats:http://steamboattimes.com/flatboats.htmlhttp://steamboattimes.com/flatboats.html
10) The Ohio River, its influence on westward expansion; http://www.academia.edu/6123788/One_River_One_Nation_The_Ohio_River_in_an_American_Borderland_1800-1850http://www.academia.edu/6123788/One_River_One_Nation_The_Ohio_River_in_an_American_Borderland_1800-1850
11) Land Deeds, and Minutes Book of Christian County KY Clerk of Court.
a] DEED BOOK K, pages 274 275, 15 Mar 1819
b] DEED BOOK M, page 146, 15 Sep 1821
c] Minute Book, page 222, 5 Nov 1822
12) Log houses of early Kentucky;http://heritage.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/6E2364AB-04E6-44B0-99AD-0FC7C912C1BB/0/pioneerloghouse.pdfhttp://heritage.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/6E2364AB-04E6-44B0-99AD-0FC7C912C1BB/0/pioneerloghouse.pdf
13) website for historical 1878 Christian County map;
14)Federal Census 1820, Christian County KY
15) Orphans Court Records, Greene County AL
16) Todd County General History,Turner Publishing Company, 1995,
17) Wikipedia websites for historical context and timelines.
LOCATING MORDECAI'S LAND
Orange County Virginia:
Mordecai bought land in 1807 from Roger Bell.When sold in 1818 it was described as 273 acres, by 'metes and bounds' as "Beginning at two white oaks on the south side of the North Fork of the North Anna River a corner of William Stevens', ..... etc etc."Adequately described for the time, but not definitive today, as the boundary markers were not permanent.On a modern map (or mapquest.com), search for "15586 Matthews Mill Rd., Orange VA".Zoom in and this location will be found on the south bank of the Pamunkey Creek.About thirteen miles north of Louisa, and nine miles east southeast of Orange.A mile or two west along the Creek is probably near where his land was located.By way of general confirmation, go to this Library of Congress 1860's historical map: http://www.loc.gov/resource/g3883o.cwh00050/http://www.loc.gov/resource/g3883o.cwh00050/
Find Brock's Bridge on the North Anna River, on the lower edge of the map.Go up four squares where you will find 'dots' for two Stevens'.Probably Mordecai's land was south of the stream named Church Run.In 1818, it was named North Fork of the North Anna; and in modern times, Pamunkey Creek.There were two prominent land features mentioned in the Deed, Bollings Branch and Gorton Mill Run. Unfortunately they do not appear on the 1860's map or a modern one.
Christian County Kentucky:
Mordecai bought 100 acres from Ralph Tandy in 1819.It was described as 'Beginning at two black oaks, thence (southwest) 209 poles (one pole equals 16.5 feet), etc, etc.There were no boundaries with other neighbors, so the land was evidently surrounded by Ralph's acreage.Thus the description is inadequate to pinpoint location.Ralph sold his land in 1829 to a Rawlins.(The writer was able to trace this land's transactions to modern times, placing it in the vicinity of "2937 US-41 S, Hopkinsville, KY".Enter this into www.mapquest.com.)This confirms whereMordecai's grandson Samuel Cooke said it was, about four miles south of Hopkinsville.
Mordecai's 208 acres was bought in 1821.Again, the usual 'metes and bounds' description.... "on the waters of Little River, a part of the original survey of Joseph Duprey, adjoins lands of George Nichols, Robert Warner, on the Creek".As there is not a 1820's map for placement, an 1878 map must be used:http://www.loc.gov/maps/?q=christian+county+kyhttp://www.loc.gov/maps/?q=christian+county+ky
Click on the map, twice.
At first, this map seems to be of little use, but there are two clues.
A paragraph of the Christian County Minutes Book (in which all official County Commissioner business is recorded), page 222."Tuesday November 5th 1822 ..... it is proposed to open a new road leading from the Highland Lick Road near the Todd County line to the Tennessee State Line .....Beginning (at) the Highland Lick Road ..... to the line betweenMason and (heirs of) M. COOKE.....(continuing south)."Highland Lick Road is located along the northern boundary of Mt. Vernon Precinct, (middle right side of map) about a half mile south.'Near the Todd County line' likely is near the J. Barnes farm.This would place Mordecai's land about where J.M. Wilkins farm is."On the Creek, on the waters of Little River" as per the description.Second, a farm owned by J. Berry is just south. Possibly he was the husband of Elizabeth, Mordecai's daughter.
Panning down on the map, you'll find Salubria.And Hopkinsville to the left. Mordecai's 100 acre farm would be near Casky.Casky and Pembroke did not exist in the 1820's.Further south, J. S. Cook, a nephew of Mordecai, can be found just north of St. Elmo.He arrived about 1870.
On a modern map, (or mapquest.com) Mordecai's second property would be about ten miles northeast of Hopkinsville. Enter "10429 Pilot Rock Road, Hopkinsville KY".
Pilot Rock, on the County line, is a promontory seen for miles.Mordecai probably took his family there to get a 'panoramic' view of the countryside.See website: