Elkanah Cobb1,2

ID# 2239, (1783 - bef 1818)
FatherElkanah Cobb1,2 (21 Jan 1746/47 - 10 Aug 1795)
MotherMary Willard1,2 (abt 1749 - 1 Aug 1842)

Key Events:

Birth: 13 Sep 1783, Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont3
Marriage: Martha Jones, 8 Sep 1813, Prince George's Co., Maryland4
Death: before Dec 18185,6

Spouse:Martha Jones (about 1793 - )
     Children:

It is not certain that the following son was actually this Elkanah's child, though the evidence suggests it may have been. His obituary calls him "the only son of the late Elkanah Cobb of Vermont," and this Elkanah was known to the press as a native of Vermont, and was clearly dead by then. While the name Elkanah was common in the family, no other Elkanah Cobb is known to have lived in Vermont and had only one son, and the middle name Willard would have been appropriate in this family. The local obituary calls him "the hope of a fond mother," which may suggest he was a child, while a Massachusetts obituary omits that, and gives him the title "Col." suggesting he was too old to be the child of this Elkanah. No other record of a Col. Samuel Willard Cobb has been found, so it may be that this article was in error.26,27
  • Samuel Willard Cobb24,25 ( - 28 Sep 1824)
ChartsDescendants of Gideon Cobb
AncestryThe Cobbs of Pawlet, Vermont

Copyright Notice

Narrative:

     Elkanah Cobb was born on 13 Sep 1783 in Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont.3 He was probably one of the five males under age 16 listed in the household of his father, Elkanah Cobb, in the 1790 Federal Census of Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont.7 On 5 Feb 1801 Elkanah chose Capt. William Meacham to be his legal guardian, which was required after his father's death.8
     Elkanah established a blanket manufactory about 1810 near Bladensburg, Prince George's Co., Maryland with Daniel Bussard & Company. In Sep 1812 they announced that they were erecting a fulling mill (which cleaned the cloth to eliminate oils, dirt, and other impurities) and enlarging their blanket factory. They offered cash for wool, or to exchange blankets for wool. Customers could make the exchange at Renner & Bassard in Bladensburg if that was more convenient.9,10,11

Invention of a Machine for Making Blankets --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---


     Elkanah was issued a patent on 29 Apr 1812 for a machine for making woollen blankets that reportedly did the work of several men. His invention was well received in view of the trade restrictions with England then in effect, since England had been the principal source of finished blankets. The Washington Daily National Intelligencer offered this view on 19 May 1812:
     What shall we do for blankets if Congress do not take off the restrictions on commerce?
     The English factors and runners say we must do without such articles, as no country can furnish them but England... We shall shew those gentry that we are not at so great a loss as they imagined.
     An ingenious soldier of the army of the U. States has given proof amounting to demonstration, that we shall feel no privation, if we should never import another bale from her manufactories. Mr. Elkana Cobb is the inventor and patentee of this new mode of making blankets with the aid of machinery; a sample of the manufacture has been exhibited before Congress, and has, I hope, generally met their approbation. A plan is now forming to put this useful discovery into immediate operation, and it is contemplated that by the 4th day of July, (a day dear to every real American) this manufactory, with the labor of four hands, will completely finish 25 pairs of blankets of excellent quality, every day a savings of labor beyond the comprehension of any but those best acquainted with the advantages of machinery.
     Mr. Cobb deserves well of his country; he suffered persecution from his friends in his native state, Vermont, at one period being called a lunatic, for expressing his mind on the subject of his invention, which induced him to engage in the service of his a private soldier, that at his hours of leisure he might pursue a favorite object.
     The story was picked up and repeated in various newspapers around the country.12,13,14
     On 4 Jul 1812 the Wilmington, Delaware American Watchman and Delaware Republican reprinted the entire article, adding that it had learned that the government had purchased the patent for this "wonderful machine, which will soon be of incalculable advantage to the U. States and have liberally remunerated the past suffering of the inventor."15
     In Sep 1812 Elkanah and Daniel Bussard & Co. announced that they had erected a manufactory of blankets in Georgetown, on the principles of hatting and fulling. They said they had obtained the patent right according to law and warned others from vending or using those principles without having obtained the patent right themselves. It appears this was the same factory previously established some miles outside of Georgetown.16 The company obtained a contract with the government and supplied blankets to the troops, but when the war was over demand dropped, and the factory was closed.17
     Elkanah married Martha Jones on 8 Sep 1813 in Prince George's Co., Maryland.4
     Meanwhile, Elkanah adapted his machine for making hats and established a factory to make felt hats. The factory was located in buildings owned by Richard Snowden on the Patuxent River, about 18 miles from Baltimore. On the morning of 29 Dec 1816 the factory burned, with the loss of all the machinery and stock, estimated at about $13,000.17

Reduced to Bankruptcy --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---


     The losses seem to have been devastating. Shortly afterwards Elkanah was jailed as a debtor. He petitioned the Prince George's Co. court at its Apr 1817 term for release under bankruptcy act. The court ordered him released, and required him to run an ad weekly for three months to give notice to his creditors of the appointment of a trustee.18
     The trustee was appointed, and set a public sale for 10 Nov 1817, at Semmes' tavern in Georgetown to sell 4,280 acres of land in Grayson Co., Kentucky. The following day, at the blanket factory in Prince George's Co., Maryland the balance of his real and personal estate was to be sold. It included a house and lot called Mount Hope, on Paint Branch, Prince George's Co; one half of the nearby Paint mills and site; a house on Richard Snowden's Fairland Farm; all his interest in the Washington Blanket and Woollen Manufacturing Company; his patent right for making felt blankets and other woollen goods; and old iron and copper remaining from the burned hat factory.19
     Elkanah apparently died shortly afterwards.
     Elkanah died before Dec 1818.5,6 In Dec 1818, Martha presented a petition to the U. S. Congress "praying for a patent for certain inventions of the said deceased." The petition was referred to committee on Judiciary 30 Dec 1818. On 5 Jan 1819 the committee returned its report, recommending the petition not be granted, which was concurred in by the House.20
     
Research Note, 10 May 2009:

No positive evidence establishes that the Elkanah Cobb in Maryland was the son of Elkanah and Mary, though it seems likely. No record of the younger Elkanah has been found after 1801 in Vermont. No grave has not been found in Pawlet with other family members, suggesting he did not die young, but more likely left the area. His younger brother James is known to have lived in Prince Georges Co. and Georgetown about the same time, and various sources show that the Maryland Elkanah was from Vermont. An 1824 death notice from Georgetown, District of Columbia, for Samuel Willard Cobb, "the only son of the late Elkanah Cobb of Vt." may well be for his son. While the name Elkanah was common in the family, no other Elkanah Cobb is known to have lived in Vermont and had only one son, and the middle name Willard would have been appropriate in this family.21,22,23

Citations

  1. [S862] Births, Marriages and Deaths, Pawlet, Vermont, 1768-1856, pg 5.
  2. [S1171] Hollister, Pawlet for One Hundred Years, pg 261, article attributed to Henry Willard.
  3. [S862] Births, Marriages and Deaths, Pawlet, Vermont, 1768-1856, pg 5, shows date, and since the entries for his older siblings show other places, it appears the absence of a place entry indicates a local birth.
  4. [S2265] "Maryland Marriages, 1667-1899," Ancestry.com, record for Elkanah Cobb and Martha Jones.
  5. [S2211] Journal of the House of Representatives, 15th Congress, 2nd session, pg 144, 30 Dec 1818, shows Martha J. Cobb as his widow.
  6. [S2744] "Died," Daily National Intelligencer, 29 Sep 1824, death notice for Samuel Willard Cobb, shows his father as the late Elkanah Cobb.
  7. [S1781] Elkanah Cobb household, 1790 U.S. Census, Rutland Co., Vermont.
  8. [S2396] Probate Records , vol 4 pg 6.
  9. [S2735] Chew, Centennial History of the City of Washington, D. C., pg 426, shows blanket factory established about 1810, gives location as Georgetown.
  10. [S2736] "Fulling Mill," The Courier, 7 Sep 1812, announces fulling mill and enlargement of blanket factory, gives location as 12 miles from Georgetown and 5 miles from Bladensburg, describes products.
  11. [S2742] "Public Sale," Daily National Intelligencer, 2 Oct 1817, describes blanket factory as in the neighborhood of Bladenburg, in Prince Georges' County.
  12. [S2202] American State Papers, Miscellaneous, vol 2, pg 199, item No. 333, "List of Patentees," report of James Madison to the House of Representatives 22 Jan 1813, shows patent issued for "combining wool into bankets and other manufactures."
  13. [S2733] Simons, Social Forces in American History, pg 149, shows Elkanah Cobb "of Vermont" invented the machine that did the work of severa2l men.
  14. [S2737] "Communictan," Daily National Intelligencer, 19 May 1812, portions found reprinted in the Bennington, Vermont Green-Mountain Farmer 1 Jun and the Hudson, New York Bee 2 Jun.
  15. [S2738] Untitled article, American Watchman and Delaware Republican, 4 Jul 1812, portions found reprinted in the Bennington, Vermont Green-Mountain Farmer 1 Jun, the Hudson, New York Bee 2 Jun, and the Wilmington, Delaware American Watchman and Delaware Republican 4 Jul.
  16. [S2739] "Blanket Manufactory," The Courier, 30 Sep 1812.
  17. [S2741] "For the National Intelligencer," Daily National Intelligencer, 25 Feb1817.
  18. [S2740] "Prince Georges County Court, April Term 1817," Daily National Intelligencer, 20 Aug 1817, same notice appeared in other editions.
  19. [S2742] "Public Sale," Daily National Intelligencer, 2 Oct 1817.
  20. [S2211] Journal of the House of Representatives, 15th Congress, 2nd session, pp 144, 155-6.
  21. [S2243] Muff, "Cobbs et. al.," e-mail to author, 8 May 2009, after searching her books on cemeteries in the area, states she found no record of his grave.
  22. [S2737] "Communictan," Daily National Intelligencer, 19 May 1812, shows he was a native of Vermont.
  23. [S2645] Martin and Metcalf, Marriage and Death Notices from the National Intelligencer, pg 351, citing 29 Sep 1824 edition, death notice for Samuel Willards Cobb.
  24. [S2744] "Died," Daily National Intelligencer, 29 Sep 1824, shows him as the only son of the late Elkanah Cobb of Vermont.
  25. [S2745] "Died," Salem Gazette, 5 Oct 1824, shows him as "only son of the late Elkanah Cobb, of Vermont."
  26. [S2744] "Died," Daily National Intelligencer, 29 Sep 1824, shows the deceased as "the hope of a fond mother" and "only son of the late Elkanah Cobb of Vermont," with no age mentioned.
  27. [S2745] "Died," Salem Gazette, 5 Oct 1824, shows him as "Col. Samuel Willard Cobb, only son of the late Elkanah Cobb, of Vermont."