John Cobb1,2,3

ID# 16614, (1809 - 1895)
FatherJoshua Cobb1,4,2 (27 May 1776 - 27 Aug 1860)
MotherNancy Crawford1,4,2 (6 Aug 1782 - 3 Aug 1864)

Key Events:

Birth: 10 Jun 1809, Cumberland, Greene Co., Pennsylvania5,6,7
Marriage: Maria Caffin, 11 Jul 1841, Decatur Co., Indiana8,9
Death: 15 Jun 1895, Aurora, Dearborn Co., Indiana10,11,12
Burial: Riverside Cemetery, Aurora, Indiana13

Spouse:Maria Caffin (13 Jul 1816 - 19 Aug 1901)
     Children:

Mary was adopted about 1860, and is later shown with the surname Cobb.18,49
ChartsDescendants of Gideon Cobb
AncestryThe Cobbs of Pawlet, Vermont

Copyright Notice

Narrative:

     John Cobb was born on 10 Jun 1809 in Cumberland, Greene Co., Pennsylvania.5,6,7 He was probably one of the three males under age 10 listed in the household of his father, Joshua Cobb, in the 1810 Federal Census of Cumberland Twp., Greene Co., Pennsylvania.14

Moving West to Indiana --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---


     He moved to Aurora, Indiana, in 1819 with his parents.15 He was probably one of the three males age 10 to 16 listed in the household of his father, in the 1820 Federal Census of Laughery, Dearborn Co., Indiana.16
     On 11 Apr 1834 John was granted a patent for 40 acres of land in Decatur Co., Indiana, under the Cash Entry Act of April 24, 1820. That act reduced the minimum price of public land to $1.25 per acre, but required payment in cash, not on credit.17
     John married Maria Caffin, daughter of Sydia [surname unknown], on 11 Jul 1841 in Decatur Co., Indiana.8,9
     John and Maria Caffin appeared on the 1850 Federal Census of Aurora, Dearborn Co., Indiana, enumerated 26 Jul 1850, reporting real estate valued at $6500. Their children James, Davis and Thomas were listed as living with them, as was is younger brother, Elkanah, and Elizabeth Turney, age 15, who may have been a servant.3
John Cobb home built 1855
photo courtesy Glen Campbell

     John and Maria adopted Mary Walsh, apparently about 1860. She is shown as adopted, with the surname Walsh, in the 1860 census, and with surname Cobb and no notation in the 1870 census.18
     John and Maria appeared on the 1860 Federal Census of Aurora, Dearborn Co., Indiana, enumerated Jun 1860, reporting real estate valued at $50,000 and personal estate of $50,000. Their children James, Davis and Thomas were listed as living with them, as were their adopted daughter, Mary Walsh, and Ann Suring, age 15, a servant. His brother Oliver and his family are listed six households later, apparently living close by.19
     He and Maria appeared on the 1870 Federal Census of Aurora, Dearborn Co., Indiana, enumerated 1 Jul 1870, reporting real estate valued at $40,000 and personal estate of $50,000. Their son Thomas was listed as living with them, as is their adopted daughter Mary Walsh, their eldest son James and his wife Martha Ella Trumbower. There was also an unknown apparent relative, Carrie Cobb, and a servant, Louise Rupker, age 17. His brother Oliver and his family are listed five households later, apparently living close by.20
     John and Maria appeared on the 1880 Federal Census of Aurora, Dearborn Co., Indiana, enumerated 4 Jun 1880. Their son Thomas was listed as living with them, as was her mother, Sydia, two servants, Carie Achman, age 22, and Augustus Gould, age 16, and Mary Criswell, age 26. Mary appears to be a daughter of a neighboring family, as there are several households with that surname nearby, including a widow with three daughters and son with her.21
     In 1868 John purchased the Aurora Commercial, a newspaper established in 1859. In June of that year a joint stock company, which had purchased the presses of that paper, established the Dearborn Independent. This paper was edited by John's son, Thomas, until Apr 1873, when it was sold to his cousin, Louis Willard Cobb, who then operated it.22,23,24

Very Successful Businessmen --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---


     John and his brother Oliver were very successful businessmen, with interests in southeast Indiana, Cincinnati, and Mississippi. They owned a shipping business, chair factory, nail and iron works and a pork house.25,26,27 While Oliver seems to have regarded himself as a farmer initially, it is clear that both he and John were engaged in business in Aurora by the mid-1840s. They were engaged in pork packing extensively, shipping their product south, where they also had a business.28,29 They built a store room and pork house in 1850 at a cost of $5,000.30

The Aurora Iron and Nail Company --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---


     The Aurora Iron and Nail Company filed articles of incorporation in Nov 1875. It was formed from the Aurora Iron Company, which had its origin as a rolling mill established in 1873 by John B. Evans, and the Haddock Nail Machine & Nail Manufacturing Company of Cincinnati. Capital stock was listed as $1,000,000, and the directors included Evans and Oliver Perry Cobb. It is not clear who the original officers were, but by 1881 the Cobbs were clearly in control. At that time, Oliver was the president and a director, and his brother John, his sons William and Frank, nephews John Dwyer and James A Stratton, and brother-in-law Lewis M. Foulk were all directors. Stratton was also the Secretary, and Foulk was the Treasurer.31,32,33
     By Mar 1881 the company was apparently not doing well, and a group of Cincinnati share-owners filed suit, blaming the Cobbs. The suit, naming the officers and directors, and their banks as defendants, was brought by ten share-owners, owning about 5,900 of the 20,000 shares outstanding. They charged that management had purchased from O. P. Cobb & Co. large amounts of materials at much higher price than that company paid for them, and had let contracts for "certain pretended improvements" at the plant to Stedman & Co., a close associate of the Cobbs, at "extravagant prices." Some of the directors, including Oliver and John Cobb, were accused of taking "pretended and fictitious mortgages" from the company. The suit asked for appointment of a receiver and recovery of damages.34
     The company's defenders lost no time; two days after the reports of the suit, three letters appeared in the Cincinnati newspapers. One, signed by management, save Oliver, denied all the charges, stating instead that the company would have failed had Oliver not provided nearly all the working capital. Another, by three "citizens of the city of Aurora," said that the charges were unjust, and that they had faith that a full investigation would show that. The third, by a committee of the firm's employees, said the employees had never been compelled to deal at the O. P. Cobb & Co. store, refuting a charge not reported in the earlier articles, and saying the works was "as good and systematic as any we ever worked in."35
     The trial for appointment of a receiver ended 19 Apr 1881 with the share-owners withdrawing their request after the judge suggested he was not inclined to appoint one. Oliver then announced he intended to begin the next day to start foreclosure proceedings on the mortgage he held against the company. A few days later a long article in the Cincinnati Commercial recounted the "great injustice" that had been done by a letter in the Cincinnati Enquirer containing "false and malicious statements." The article continued that "the hostility of the Enquirer to Mr. Cobb can easily be explained from the fact that one of the editors has had a personal difficulty with a son of Mr. Cobb's, and hence the paper never fails to have anything published against" him (the Enquirer article has not been found.)36,37,38
     After a three week trial in the counter-suit by the Cobbs to foreclose on their mortgages, the judge ruled on 13 Jun 1881 that the mortgages were valid and the foreclosure could proceed.39,40

The Aurora Chair and Furniture Manufacturing Company --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---


     The Aurora Chair and Furniture Manufacturing Company, established about 1868, was purchased by John Cobb & Co. two years later. The factory, located on Third and Bridgeway Sts., made wood and cane-seated chairs from locally produced materials.41 On 4 Sep 1882 a fire originating in the factory destroyed a substantial section of downtown Aurora. The lost property was valued at $75,000. Of that $30,000, offset by $8,000 of insurance, was due to loss of the entire chair factory and a large amount of stock.42 Within 100 days the factory was again in full operation, rebuilt with largely brick buildings.41
     By 1885 the factory employed about 130 workmen earning over $30,000 annually. They were supplied with planners, band saws, lathes, boring, mortising and tenant machines, circle saws and other appliances, turning out some 200 dozen chairs a week. The factory produced principally fine walnut chairs in a large variety of styles, marketed in the northern states, from New York City to San Francisco, and to the federal government. A branch factory in Butlerville, Indiana, produced lesser quality goods, such as maple chairs, rawhide frames, and other cheaper kinds. The company then consisted of John, his two sons James and Thomas, and Stedman & Co.43
     John died on 15 Jun 1895 in Aurora, Dearborn Co., Indiana, at age 86.10,11,12 He was buried in Riverside Cemetery, Aurora, Indiana.13

Citations

  1. [S1097] Campbell, "Descendants of Henry Cobb."
  2. [S4079] The William Crawford Memorial, pg 287.
  3. [S1554] John Cobb household, 1850 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana.
  4. [S1166] Kennedy, "Re: The Joshua Cobb Family," e-mail to author, 29 Jan 2007.
  5. [S1166] Kennedy, "Re: The Joshua Cobb Family," e-mail to author, 29 Jan 2007, shows date and state.
  6. [S1098] Campbell,[no subject] e-mail to author, 14 Feb 2006, states John Cobb's death certificate shows date, town, county, and state.
  7. [S4079] The William Crawford Memorial, pg 287, shows date, as 10 Dec 1809.
  8. [S1105] "Indiana Marriage Collection, 1800-1941," Ancestry.com, record for John Cobb and Maria Caffin, citing FHL films #1516965 & 1516616, shows date and county.
  9. [S1097] Campbell, "Descendants of Henry Cobb", shows date.
  10. [S2279] Greenwood, "Holman, Harvey, Greenwood family tree" family tree, Ancestry.com, citing Milton A. Masing, Dearborn County Indiana Cemetery Records, Volume B (Heritage Books, Inc.: 2000), shows date, as 15th, city, county, and state.
  11. [S1097] Campbell, "Descendants of Henry Cobb", shows date, as 15 Jun 1895, town, and state.
  12. [S4079] The William Crawford Memorial, pg 287, shows date, as 14th.
  13. [S1098] Campbell,[no subject] e-mail to author, 14 Feb 2006, states he visited the grave recently.
  14. [S1099] Joshua Cobb household, 1810 U.S. Census, Greene Co., Pennsylvania.
  15. [S4077] Biographical History of Eminent and Self-made Men of the State of Indiana, pg 83.
  16. [S1173] Joshua Cobb household, 1820 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana.
  17. [S2358] Cobb, cash sale land patent, 4 Nov 1834, Bureau of Land Management, Indianapolis Land Office.
  18. [S1123] John Cobb household, 1860 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana, shows "adopted" in Mary's occupation field.
  19. [S1123] John Cobb household, 1860 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana.
  20. [S1124] John Cobb household, 1870 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana.
  21. [S1549] John Cobb household, 1880 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana.
  22. [S2276] History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, pg 183.
  23. [S2278] Shaw, History of Dearborn County, pg 378.
  24. [S1124] John Cobb household, 1870 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana, shows Thomas' occupation as editor.
  25. [S2276] History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, pg 345, shows John was engaged in the boating business for many years, and connected to mercantile, manufacturing, and other businesses from the earliest history of the city of Aurora.
  26. [S2276] History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, pg 315, shows John in a list of businesses in Aurora in 1858-9, as a coal dealer.
  27. [S1123] John Cobb household, 1860 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana, shows occupation as merchant, with $50,000 in real estate and $50,000 in personal estate.
  28. [S1553] Oliver P. Cobb household, 1850 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana, shows occupation as farmer.
  29. [S2276] History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, pg 315, shows O. P. Cobb & Co. in a list of businesses in Aurora in 1858-9, as pork packers, grocers, etc.; pg 666 describes the pork packing business.
  30. [S2276] History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, pp 318-9.
  31. [S2281] "Iron and Nails," Cincinnati Daily Gazette, 1 Dec 1875, shows the firm filed incorporation papers in Indianapolis and shows directors and capital stock.
  32. [S2276] History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, pp 346-7, describes the history of Aurora Iron & Nail.
  33. [S2282] "Allegations of Fraud," Cincinnati Daily Gazette, 29 Mar 1881, shows the directors, officers, and relationships to Oliver.
  34. [S2282] "Allegations of Fraud," Cincinnati Daily Gazette, 29 Mar 1881, also reported in "The Aurora Nail Works," The Cincinnati Commercial, 29 Mar 1881, pg 7.
  35. [S2283] "The Other Side Heard From," Cincinnati Daily Gazette, 31 Mar 1881, see also "The Aurora Iron and Nail Company," The Cincinnati Commercial, 31 Mar 1881, pg 2.
  36. [S2284] "Aurora Iron Company's Troubles," Cincinnati Daily Gazette, 20 Apr 1881, shows date and Cobb's decision to foreclose.
  37. [S2285] "Aurora Iron and Nail Company," Cincinnati Commercial, 23 Apr 1881, shows complaints about the Enquirer and recounts the withdrawal of the motion at trial.
  38. [S2286] "A Card," Cincinnati Commercial, 24 Apr 1881, provides and alternate version of the withdrawal of the motion for receiver.
  39. [S2287] "Aurora Iron and Nail Company," Cincinnati Daily Gazette, 15 Jun 1881, shows the trial was three weeks long, decided "last Monday," and summarizes the decision.
  40. [S2288] "Aurora," Cincinnati Commercial, 15 Jun 1881, after letter by O. P. Cobb, prints entire decision.
  41. [S2276] History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, pg 344.
  42. [S2276] History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, pp 320-1, 344.
  43. [S2276] History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, pp 344-5.
  44. [S4079] The William Crawford Memorial, pg 288.
  45. [S1554] John Cobb household, 1850 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana, shows them apparently living as parent and child.
  46. [S1123] John Cobb household, 1860 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana, shows "adopted" in her occupation field.
  47. [S1124] John Cobb household, 1870 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana, shows them apparently living as parent and child.
  48. [S1166] Kennedy, "Re: The Joshua Cobb Family," e-mail to author, 29 Jan 2007, lists Mary among the children of John and Maria.
  49. [S1124] John Cobb household, 1870 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana, shows Mary's surname as Cobb.