Oliver Perry Cobb1,2,3

ID# 16621, (1817 - 1891)
FatherJoshua Cobb4,5,6 (27 May 1776 - 27 Aug 1860)
MotherNancy Crawford4,5,6 (6 Aug 1782 - 3 Aug 1864)

Key Events:

Birth: 25 Apr 1817, Greene Co., Pennsylvania7,8,9
Marriage: Caroline S. Foulk, 3 Aug 184310,11,12
Death: 28 Mar 1891, Aurora, Dearborn Co., Indiana13,9,14
Burial: Riverside Cemetery, Aurora, Indiana15,16

Spouse:Caroline S. Foulk (21 Nov 1822 - 29 Aug 1907)
     Children:

ChartsDescendants of Gideon Cobb
AncestryThe Cobbs of Pawlet, Vermont

Copyright Notice

Narrative:

     
O. P. Cobb
from Eminent and Self-made Men of Indiana17
Oliver Perry Cobb was born on 25 Apr 1817 in Greene Co., Pennsylvania.7,8,9 He moved to Aurora, Indiana, in 1819 with his parents.5 He was probably one of the two males under age 10 listed in the household of his father, Joshua Cobb, in the 1820 Federal Census of Laughery, Dearborn Co., Indiana.18 He was probably one of the two males age 10 to15 listed in the household of his father, in the 1830 Federal Census of Decatur Co., Indiana.19
     Oliver was taught a home until he was twelve years only, when he started attending a log school house two miles away. He attended for three months a year until he was twenty, except when began early, cutting short his school year. After his initial excursion in business he decided he needed further education, and enrolled in a three-month course in writing and arithmetic at the Greensburg Seminary.20
     Oliver married Caroline S. Foulk, daughter of Aaron Foulk and Nancy Smith, on 3 Aug 1843.10,11,12
     Oliver and Caroline S. Foulk appeared on the 1850 Federal Census of Aurora, Dearborn Co., Indiana, enumerated 24 Jul 1850, reporting real estate valued at $35,000. Their children William, Louis and Nancy were listed as living with them, as were four others, three apparently her relatives; Nancy Foulk, age 18, Jesse H. Foulk, age 10, and Esau S. Foulk, age 24, and a river trader, as was 23 year-old Harvey Rowling.21
     Oliver and Caroline appeared on the 1860 Federal Census of Aurora, Dearborn Co., Indiana, enumerated Jun 1860, reporting real estate valued at $30,000 and personal estate of $50,000. Their children William, Louis, Nancy, Martha, Oliver and Caroline were listed as living with them, as were Adaline Bitner, a 16 year-old servant, Richard Block, age 18, and two apparently her relatives; Nancy Foulk, age 24, Homan Foulk, age 21. His brother John and his family are listed six households previously, apparently living close by.22
     He and Caroline appeared on the 1870 Federal Census of Center Twp., Dearborn Co., Indiana, enumerated 1 Jul 1870, reporting real estate valued at $40,000 and personal estate of $18,000. Their children William, Louis, Nancy, Martha, Orris and Frank were listed as living with them, as were N. M. Falk, age 37, apparently a relative of hers, and Jacob Mann, age 20, a farm laborer. His brother John and his family are listed five households previously, apparently living close by.23
     Oliver and Caroline appeared on the 1880 Federal Census of Center Twp., Dearborn Co., Indiana, enumerated 3 Jun 1880. Their son Frank was listed as living with them, as was Nanie M. Foulk, age 42, identified as a companion, Mary Foulk, age 22, a servant, and 3 year-old Oliver G. Bailey, a grandson.24

Becoming a River Trader --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---


     Oliver's father allowed each of his boys to work for themselves a year before they reached age 21, and Oliver chose to hire himself to his father to work on the family farm. He earned $13 a month and a dollar a day for a month during harvest. He took his pay in weather-boarding (siding) cut from poplar trees in his father's saw mill, and use of the four-hourse team to haul it to Aurora. He obtained a position as oarsman on a flat-boat going down the river to Natchez, Mississippi, which included the privilege to taking his lumber free of charge. Arriving there he sold his lumber, for which he had pad $12 per thousand, for $40 per thousand, and worked as a salesman until Spring. He returned home having earned nearly $1,000.20

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


     Oliver and his brother John 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 During the war he was appointed by the federal government as an agent to furnish forage for it. Aurora was at the time the second largest hay market in the western states.31,32

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.33,34,35
     Oliver seems to have been a prolific inventor, or perhaps he had employees who were. In 1876 he was issued a patent for a nut lock. Then his interest seems to have turned to nail making. In 1880 he received a patent for a machine for sorting nails and in 1882 for pile for nail plate. In 1885 he obtianed a patent on "trace and ham connection," evidently related to the pork packing businesss.36
     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.37
     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."38
     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.)39,40,41
     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.42,43

Cobb's Iron and Nail Company --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---


     Cobb's Iron and Nail Company filed articles of incorporation 23 Aug 1881. Capital stock was listed as $450,000, and the directors were Oliver Perry Cobb, his son William, his nephews James and Thomas Cobb, James Greer, John D. Dwyer, and James A. Stratton. The Aurora Iron and Nail Company, now bankrupt, was merged into the new firm.44,45,46 There seem to been labor troubles at the mills as well. On 3 Nov 1881 a newspaper reported that after a five-month strike, work would resume at the mills the following Monday.47
     A highest flood of Aurora then known occurred in Feb 1883, when the Ohio River flooded a substantial part of town. The water was eight feet ten inches deep in the store of O. P. Cobb & Co. Cobb's Iron & Nail company was drowned out and had to stop operations, but aside from the loss of time the losses were reportedly not great.48 In 1885 the company disposed of the sheet and bar mill and the right to use Cobb's patent process for manufacturing nails on 50 machines to another company. Both companies were then making 400 to 600 kegs of nails per day.49
     Oliver died on 28 Mar 1891 in Aurora, Dearborn Co., Indiana, at age 73.13,9,14 He was buried in Riverside Cemetery, Aurora, Indiana.15,16

Citations

  1. [S1097] Campbell, "Descendants of Henry Cobb", shows name as Oliver Perry Cobb.
  2. [S1166] Kennedy, "Re: The Joshua Cobb Family," e-mail to author, 29 Jan 2007, shows name as Oliver Percy Cobb.
  3. [S4079] The William Crawford Memorial, pg 287, shows name as Oliver Perry.
  4. [S4079] The William Crawford Memorial, pg 287.
  5. [S4077] Biographical History of Eminent and Self-made Men of the State of Indiana, pg 83.
  6. [S1166] Kennedy, "Re: The Joshua Cobb Family," e-mail to author, 29 Jan 2007.
  7. [S4077] Biographical History of Eminent and Self-made Men of the State of Indiana, pg 83, shows date, county, and state.
  8. [S2276] History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, pp 666, shows date and state.
  9. [S4079] The William Crawford Memorial, pg 287, shows date.
  10. [S1097] Campbell, "Descendants of Henry Cobb", shows date.
  11. [S1166] Kennedy, "Re: The Joshua Cobb Family," e-mail to author, 29 Jan 2007, shows married.
  12. [S1553] Oliver P. Cobb household, 1850 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana, shows them apparently living as husband and wife.
  13. [S2280] Shaw, History of Cincinnati and Hamilton Co., pg 603, shows date.
  14. [S500] Findagrave.com, online, memorial #14893154, O P Cobb, Jr, shows date.
  15. [S2279] Greenwood, "Holman, Harvey, Greenwood family tree" family tree, Ancestry.com, citing Masing, Dearborn County Indiana Cemetery Records, Vol B.
  16. [S500] Findagrave.com, online, memorial #14893154, O P Cobb, Jr.
  17. [S4077] Biographical History of Eminent and Self-made Men of the State of Indiana.
  18. [S1173] Joshua Cobb household, 1820 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana.
  19. [S1100] Joshua Cobb household, 1830 U.S. Census, Decatur Co., Indiana.
  20. [S4077] Biographical History of Eminent and Self-made Men of the State of Indiana, pg 86.
  21. [S1553] Oliver P. Cobb household, 1850 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana.
  22. [S1552] O. P. Cobb household, 1860 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana.
  23. [S1551] O. P. Cobb household, 1870 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana.
  24. [S1547] Oliver P. Cobb household, 1880 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana.
  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. [S2276] History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, pg 666.
  32. [S2280] Shaw, History of Cincinnati and Hamilton Co., pp 602-3.
  33. [S2281] "Iron and Nails," Cincinnati Daily Gazette, 1 Dec 1875, shows the firm filed incorporation papers in Indianapolis and shows directors and capital stock.
  34. [S2276] History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, pp 346-7, describes the history of Aurora Iron & Nail.
  35. [S2282] "Allegations of Fraud," Cincinnati Daily Gazette, 29 Mar 1881, shows the directors, officers, and relationships to Oliver.
  36. [S2096] Annual Report of the Commissioner of Patents, 1876, pg 39; 1880, pg 40; 1882, pg 56; and 1885, pg 69.
  37. [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.
  38. [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.
  39. [S2284] "Aurora Iron Company's Troubles," Cincinnati Daily Gazette, 20 Apr 1881, shows date and Cobb's decision to foreclose.
  40. [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.
  41. [S2286] "A Card," Cincinnati Commercial, 24 Apr 1881, provides and alternate version of the withdrawal of the motion for receiver.
  42. [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.
  43. [S2288] "Aurora," Cincinnati Commercial, 15 Jun 1881, after letter by O. P. Cobb, prints entire decision.
  44. [S2277] "Local Brevities," The Indianapolis Sentinel, 24 Aug 1881, shows the firm incorporated "yesterday" and shows directors.
  45. [S2289] "Aurora Iron and Nail Company," The Daily Inter Ocean, 24 Aug 1881, shows articles filed "to-day," directors, that Aurora Iron and Nail Company which went into bankruptcy "about four months ago," the suit against Oliver Cobb and others, and that it was still pending.
  46. [S2276] History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, pp 346-7, describes merger.
  47. [S2646] "Nail Mills to Resume Operations," Cincinnati Commercial, 4 Nov 1881.
  48. [S2276] History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, pp 321-3.
  49. [S2276] History of Dearborn and Ohio Counties, pp 346-7.
  50. [S4079] The William Crawford Memorial, pg 288.
  51. [S1553] Oliver P. Cobb household, 1850 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana, shows them apparently living as parent and child.
  52. [S4079] The William Crawford Memorial, pg 289.
  53. [S1552] O. P. Cobb household, 1860 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana, shows them apparently living as parent and child.
  54. [S1551] O. P. Cobb household, 1870 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana, shows them apparently living as parent and child.
  55. [S1552] O. P. Cobb household, 1860 U.S. Census, Dearborn Co., Indiana, shows Horace apparently living as child in the household.
  56. [S2280] Shaw, History of Cincinnati and Hamilton Co., pg 602.