ID# 2240, (1789 - )
|Father||Elkanah Cobb4,5 (21 Jan 1746/47 - 10 Aug 1795)|
|Mother||Mary Willard4,6 (abt 1753 - 2 Aug 1842)|
|Charts||Descendants of Gideon Cobb|
|Ancestry||The Cobbs of Pawlet, Vermont|
Narrative:James Dyer Cobb was born on 24 Sep 1789 in Pawlet, Rutland Co., Vermont.7,8,9 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.13
He moved with his parents to Wells, the next town north of Pawlet, by 1792.14,15
His father died on 10 Aug 1795, when James was 5 years old.16,17,18
James attended school at Burlington, Vermont.6 He entered United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, on 8 Mar 1808, graduating 1 May 1811.19,20
A Military Career Foreshortened --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---
Upon graduation he was made a Second Lieut., Light Artillery. He served on recruiting service from 1811 to 1813, and in the War of 1812-15, in garrison at Greenbush, New York from 1813 to 1814. He was promoted to First Lieut., Light Artillery, 1 Apr 1812.21,22,23 According to the version of the story passed down by the family, he recruited a company for the war, but not being allowed by the government to command it he broke his sword and resigned his commission.6
The official version, however, is a bit different. On 21 Jul 1813, while serving at Greenbush, New York, he was arraigned before a General Court Martial assembled there by Col. S. Larned, on charges of disobedience of orders and unofficer-like conduct. He was convicted and sentenced to be cashiered. On 29 Jan 1814 the Adjutant General wrote to Col. Larned informing him that the proceedings, including those against James, were illegal and he did not have authority to institute a General Court Martial. The issue was that only a general officer had authority to convene a general court martial, and Greenbush was only a cantonment under a military district. On 3 Feb 1814 the Adjutant General issues an order to Lt. Cobb to report to Col. Larned in Albany for a new trial. But the Colonel, in correspondence with the department, described "the inconvenience that would result from the decision that the court was illegal" because the sentences had been executed, and in one instance a man had been shot for repeated desertions. On 9 Mar the Adjutant General advised Col. Larned that the President had decided that Greenbush should be a separate command, thus confirming the earlier Court Martial, and that no further proceedings were necessary. The Adjutant General advised Lt. Cobb on 28 May 1814 that the President had approved the sentence and he was dismissed from the Army.24,25,26
Seeking Redress in Congress --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---
James pursued relief in the U. S. Congress for many years, involving a number of Representatives as he moved about the country. His petition "complaining that he has been dismissed by a Court Martial, illegally constituted, and unlawfully conducted, and praying that he may be allowed his pay from the date of his pretended or unlawful dismissal, to the time of disbanding the corps to which he was attached" was presented to Congress 7 Feb 1825 and again the following year, and 7 Jan 1829 by Representative Rollin Carolas Mallary of Vermont. The Committee on Military Affairs reported in Jan 1830 that it had found that the approval of the President was insufficient to render the sentence of an illegally constituted court valid, and that Lt. Cobb was entitled to all the rights of a first Lieutenant until the time his unit was incorporated with the Artillery, which had been done as part of a reduction in the size of the Army directed by Congress in 1815 and 1821. A bill directing the Treasury to pay him from the time of his discharge until the company was disbanded, on 2 Mar 1821, was passed and signed by the President 11 Feb 1830. James received not only his regular pay, but also the extra three month's pay allowed those removed from the service by the 1821 act. The Committee commented in its report that nature of the original charges was not the issue before it, but it felt "no hesitation in saying that they did not materially implicate his character, and that the evidence adduced to support them was dubious."27,28,29,30
That did not end the matter. On 13 Mar 1844 Senator John Crittenden of Kentucky introduced a petition by James "praying a restoration to the rank in the army of the United States of which he states he has been illegally deprived by the sentence of a court martial, and arrearages of pay and emoluments." His claim now was that he was still rightly an officer, apparently ignoring the reduction in the army in 1821, and should be restored to the rolls and "allowing the promotion to which he is entitled by rules of the service." After languishing for some years it was sent back to committee by Senator William Seward of New York 21 Jan 1853 but failed to advance. On 23 Dec 1853 a new petition was filed Senator Robert Johnson of Arkansas on essentially the same grounds. That petition received an adverse report from committee. On 16 Feb 1858 Senator Sam Houston of Texas had the 1844 petition for restoration of rank and back pay revived, which again received an adverse report from committee 3 Mar 1859. Its report stated that the "great number of applications made by this memorialist to the executive and the Congress for relief has induced the committee to examine the case with great care." It concluded that despite the illegal court martial, James ceased to be an officer not in 1821, but on 17 Jun 1815 when the first reduction in the army took place. Since he had already received more compensation by reason of the longer period allowed previously than would have resulted from the supposed promotion, it was unnecessary to address whether he might have received that promotion.31,32,33
Becoming an Educator --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---
After leaving the Army James seems to have taken up education, though he occasionally engaged in other occupations. In pursuit of his varied career, he and his family moved around the country extensively. He was in Maryland in 1817, and soon moved to Georgetown, but is known to have been also in Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Ohio, and Indiana, and may well have lived in other places as well. (See map.)
James married Rachael J. Cecil on 24 Apr 1817 in Prince George's Co., Maryland.10,11,12
He was a tutor to a private family for fifteen months, then decided to open his own school. In Jun 1817 he advertised in the Washington newspaper that he "had lately purchased a healthy situation in the country" about two miles west of Vansville, Prince George's Co., Maryland. There he offered to "devote the whole of his time and attention" to instruct no more than 10 pupils whose parents wish to have their children educated at a boarding school in the country.34
Apparently the boarding school did not live up to his expectations, because by 1820 James and Rachael had moved a dozen miles or so into the District of Columbia. James appeared on the 1820 Federal Census of District of Columbia with a household consisting of three males under age 10 (son George and two others), and one aged 26 to 45 (himself), one female under age 10 (unknown), and two age 16 to 26 (his wife, Rachael and another.)35
In Feb 1821 James opened the Union Academy of Georgetown and Washington, offering instruction to youth of both sexes in spelling, reading, penmanship, arithmetic, English grammar, Latin and Greek, geography, history, chronology, maps and globes, and the various branches of the mathematics. The school was located west of the residence of the Russian minister in Washington.36,37
The Washington Literary, Scientific & Military Gymnasium --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---
James opened the Washington Literary, Scientific and Military Gymnasium on Prospect St., Georgetown, District of Columbia, on 4 Sep 1826. He was superintendent, and taught in the science department and the English branches. A Mr. Chauncy W. Fitch taught Greek, Latin, and French. A "gentleman of high literary attainments" was engaged to give lectures in natural history, and there were also lectures in "chymistry and mineralogy." Students were known as cadets, and required to dress in "uniforms of a military cut and fashion." The hours of instruction were from sunrise to sunset, with study and recitations for eight hours, and the remainder for military and gymnastic exercises. He promised parents that "cadets are never to be out of the knowledge of the superintendent." Cadets from a distance could board with his family for $130 per year. They would pass their evenings with him "in a room for the purpose," and lodge in rooms adjoining his. Board, clothing, and tuition were not to exceed $275 per year, including a $2 per year charge for firewood.38,39,40 His nephew, Joshua Cobb, studied there during the school's second year, and he wrote a letter of recommendation for the boy in support of Joshua's application to West Point.41
A Board of Visitors, several identified as military officers, published their report on the school on 3 Jul 1827. After pontificating at length on the methods of instruction of youth over the centuries, they declared themselves "highly gratified with the examination and military exercise of the cadets." They mention the "rigid" examination in the branches of mathematics, and were satisfied by those in Latin, Greek, and French, and noted the accomplishments of the students in drawing. They seem to have been especially impressed with the military maneuvers "which would have done honor to more experienced troops."42 James continued to superintend the school until 1829. No further record of it has been found, so it may well have closed then. There are notices in the newspapers for a number of similar institutions, so there may have been considerable competition for students.43
The Move to Ohio, Indiana, then Back to Ohio --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---
James appeared on the 1830 Federal Census of Lebanon, Warren Co., Ohio, with a household consisting of two males under age 5 (son Joshua and another), one age 5 to 10 (unknown), two age 10 to 15 (George and another), and one aged 40 to 50 (himself), two females age 5 to 10 (daughter Mary and another), one age 15 to 20 (unknown), and two age 30 to 40 (his wife, Rachael and another). There was also one free Black woman, aged between 10 and 24, perhaps a servant.44
He was a counselor at law in Ohio, supposedly from 1832 to 1842.45,46 But on 16 Apr 1835 James was granted a patent for 80 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, and the minimum purchase to 80 acres, but required payment in cash, not on credit. His tract was described as the west half of the southeast quarter of section 29, twp. 10 north, range 10 east.47
James and Rachael were living in Greensbury [Greensburgh ?] Indiana in Apr 1836 when their son George returned there from college and died shortly afterwards.48 James was apparently an active member of the community while he was there. At a meeting held 22 Apr 1837 in Greensburgh to address citizen concerns about the tax burden of the system of Internal Improvements adopted by the state legislature in 1835-36, he was appointed one of a committee of seven to draft language urging reconsideration.49 On 20 Aug 1838 he was granted a patent for two more parcels under that act. One was 80 acres, described as the north half of the southwest quarter of section 28, and the other of 160 acres, the east half of the southeast quarter of section 29, both of twp. 10 north, range 10 east.50
The family apparently moved back to Ohio, as James appeared on the 1840 Federal Census of Dayton, Montgomery Co., Ohio, with a household consisting of one male age 10 to 15 (son Joshua), two aged 15 to 20 (unknown), and one aged 40 to 50 (himself), two females under age 5 (daughters Georgiana and Alice), one age 5 to 10 (Caroline), one age 10 to 15 (Mary), one age 15 to 20 (unknown) and one age 30 to 40 (his wife, Rachael J. Cobb.)51
While at Dayton James apparently tired to open a school there modeled on the one he had started in Georgetown. He place an advertisement in the Washington newspaper on 9 Oct 1841 for his Western Literary, Scientific, and Military Gymnasium, using much of the same language he had used to describe his earlier school. The notice included eleven references, including the governor of Ohio, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John McLean, three colonels, and his cousin, Caleb Clark Cobb, of Eddyville, Kentucky. No further record of the school has been found, so whether it actually opened, and if so for how long, is unknown.52
Then to Arkansas --- Text Stolen from ReigelRidge.com !! ---
James and Rachael appeared on the 1850 Federal Census of Washington, Hempstead Co., Arkansas, enumerated 3 Oct 1850, reporting real estate valued at $2,000. Their children Mary, Joshua, Caroline, Alice and Georgiana were listed as living with them.53
He was a special agent to visit land offices in Arkansas in 1851, and a clerk in the Third Auditor's Office of the Treasury Department from 1851 to 1853. He was a professor of Mathematics in Franklin College, Holly Springs, Mississippi, in 1854 and in Andrew College, Trenton, Tennessee, in 1856. He became president of La Grange College, Alabama, in 1857.45
James's long-running efforts in Congress do not seem to reflect any ongoing conflict with the Army. In addition to the various officers who served as references for his schools, he was appointed one of the 15 members of the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Military Academy in 1850. In the announcement of his appointment he was shown as Capt. James D. Cobb of Arkansas, and in the 1850 census claimed as his occupation to be a Lieut. Col. U.S.A. In the report of the board dated 18 Jun 1850, he is listed first among the members of the Committee on Police, which reported on "the physical wants, the health, and the moral condition of the Cadets." They were generally satisfied with the facilities, and seemed particularly impressed that the barracks included "bathing-rooms, where the Cadets, at a very slight expense, can bathe once a week, or oftener, if desired."54,55,56
Children with Rachael J. Cecil
Given the number of unidentified children in their household in the 1820, 1830 and 1840 censuses, it seems likely that James and Rachael had other children in addition to those listed here.62
- [S862] Births, Marriages and Deaths, Pawlet, Vermont, 1768-1856, pg 5, shows name as James Cobb.
- [S2607] Cleveland and Cleveland, Genealogy of the Cleveland and Cleaveland Families, vol 1 pg 44, shows name as James Dyer Cobb.
- [S4230] Cobb, Elder Henry Cobb Family, shows name as James Duncan Cobb.
- [S862] Births, Marriages and Deaths, Pawlet, Vermont, 1768-1856, pg 5.
- [S1171] Hollister, Pawlet for One Hundred Years, pg 179 and pg 261, article attributed to Henry Willard.
- [S1171] Hollister, Pawlet for One Hundred Years, pg 261, article attributed to Henry Willard.
- [S862] Births, Marriages and Deaths, Pawlet, Vermont, 1768-1856, pg 5, shows date. Since the entries for his older siblings show other places, it appears the absence of a place entry indicates a local birth.
- [S2210] Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates at U. S. Military Academy, shows state.
- [S2213] James D. Cobb household, 1850 U.S. Census, Hempstead Co., Arkansas, shows age 61 and state.
- [S2988] "Married," Daily National Intelligencer, 5 May 1817, shows date.
- [S2246] Prince Georges Co. Marriage Licenses, pg 107, dated 8 Apr 1817.
- [S2213] James D. Cobb household, 1850 U.S. Census, Hempstead Co., Arkansas, shows them apparently living as husband and wife.
- [S1781] Elkanah Cobb household, 1790 U.S. Census, Rutland Co., Vermont.
- [S2395] Wells Land Records, C:272-3, notes of town meeting 6 Mar 1792 at the schoolhouse near Nathan Warram and meeting of authority & selectmen afterwards for the appointment of tavern or houses of intertainment, shows Elkanah nominated for license; C:425, town meeting 14 Feb 1793 at schoolhouse near Elkanah Cobbs does not mention tavern license; notes for 1794 meeting not found; B:423 notes of town meeting 10 Mar 1795 held at school house near Elkanah Cobb's, and meeting of authority afterwards for the appointment of tavern or houses of intertainment, shows Elkanah nominated for tavern license.
- [S863] Cobb, History of the Cobb Family, pg 154, shows that in probate proceedings he is called "Elkanah Cobb late of Wells.
- [S2395] Wells Land Records, B:99-100, deaths 1782-1811, shows date.
- [S500] Findagrave.com, online, memorial #28545418, Elkanah Cobb, shows date, and includes tombstone photo showing same.
- [S2222] "Register of Deaths," The Rutland Herald, 7 Sep 1795, shows town, as Pawlet.
- [S2210] Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates at U. S. Military Academy, pg 95, shows dates.
- [S1171] Hollister, Pawlet for One Hundred Years, pg 179, shows that he was in the War of 1812, and, at its close, entered the Academy; pg 261, article attributed to Henry Willard, shows he graduated at West Point and was in the war of 1812.
- [S2210] Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates at U. S. Military Academy, pg 95, shows ranks, service dates.
- [S2718] Journal of Executive Proceedings of the Senate, vol 2, pp 169-72, 27 Feb 1811, nominations, including that of James Cobb, Cadet at the Military Academy for 2nd Lt. in regiment of Light Artillery, received by Senate; pg 173, 1 Mar, nomination approved; pp 269-71, 25 May 1812, nominations, including 2nd Lt. James D. Cobb promoted to 1st Lt.; and pg 274, 2 Jun 1812, nominations approved.
- [S1171] Hollister, Pawlet for One Hundred Years, pp 179, 261, shows that he was in the War of 1812.
- [S2202] American State Papers, Millitary Affairs, vol 4, pp 82-3, report of the Commitee U.S. House of Representitives Committee on Military Affairs on the petition of James D. Cobb, communicated to the House 3 Feb 1839, provides history of the case.
- [S2720] United States Congressional Serial Set, House Doc. No. 204, 35st Congress, 2nd session, Report of the Committee on Military Affairs, 3 Mar1859, pp 2-3, recounts history of court martial, including charges, and basis for stating the court martial was unauthorized, and correspondence that re-instated it.
- [S2210] Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates at U. S. Military Academy, pg 95, shows discharged 9 Mar 1814 by order of the President.
- [S2211] Journal of the House of Representatives, 18th Congress, 2nd session, pg 209, 7 Feb 1825, petition presented; pg 294, 2 Mar 1825, leave to withdraw; 19th Congress, 1st session, pg 209, 30 Jan 1826, petition re-introduced; pg 610, 20 May 1826, pg 610, tabled; 20th Congress, 2nd session, pg 129, 7 Jan 1829, petition re-introduced; pg 237, 3 Feb 1829, Military Affairs committee reported with bill H. R. 411; 21st Congress, 1st session, pg 50, 16 Dec 1829, referred to committee; pg 86, 23 Dec 1829, reported by committee with bill H. R. 25; pg 135, 6 Jan 1830, pg 135, H. R. 25 passed by House; pg 258, 5 Feb 1830, reported passed by Senate; and pg 284, 11 Feb 1830, reported sent to President.
- [S2212] Journal of the Senate, 21st Congress, 1st session, pg 69, 6 Jan 1830, House bill read; pg 72, 7 Jan, referred to committee; pg 75, 11 Jan, reported by committee without amendment; pg 122, 4 Feb, ordered third reading; pg 124, 5 Feb, passed; pp 138-9, 15 Feb, report of House Clerk that bill was signed by the President.
- [S2720] United States Congressional Serial Set, House Doc. No. 204, 35st Congress, 2nd session, Report of the Committee on Military Affairs, 3 Mar1859, pg 2, recounts legislation in 1815 and 1821 directing the President to reduce the size of the military; pg 3, recounts early appeals to Congress, and his payment as a result.
- [S2202] American State Papers, Millitary Affairs, vol 4, pp 82-3, report of the Commitee U.S. House of Representitives Committee on Military Affairs on the petition of James D. Cobb.
- [S2212] Journal of the Senate, 28th Congress, 1st session, pg 162, 13 Mar 1844, petition presented and referred to committee; pg 384, 15 Jun 1844, committed discharged from further consideration; 29th Congress, 1st session, pg 124, 29 Jan 1846, referred back to committee; 30th Congress, 2nd session, pg 360, 8 Mar 1849, petitioner given leave to withdraw; 32nd Congress, 2nd session, pg 121, 21 Jan 1853, referred to committee again; pg 204, 17 Feb 1853, leave to withdraw; 33rd Congress, 1st session, pg 63, 23 Dec 1853, new petition introduced; pg 106, 17 Jan 1854, adverse report from committee; 35th Congress, 1st session, pg 172, 8 Feb 1858, petitioner given leave to withdraw; see House Journal for Senator Houston's revival of 1844 petition; and 35th Congress, 2nd session, pg 621, 3 Mar 1859, adverse report from committee.
- [S2211] Journal of the House of Representatives, 35th Congress, 1st session, pg 392, 16 Feb 1858, Senator Houston's motion to refer the 21 Jan 1853 petition (which was actually the one filed 13 mar 1844) to committee [It is not clear why this appears in the House Journal, since Houston was a Senator, and the petition had been filed in the Senate]; 35th Congress, 2nd session, pg 621, 3 Mar 1859, Millitary Affairs committee made adverse report.
- [S2720] United States Congressional Serial Set, House Doc. No. 204, 35st Congress, 2nd session, Report of the Committee on Military Affairs, 3 Mar1859, pp 1-5.
- [S2684] "Country Boarding School," Daily National Intelligencer, 24 Jun 1817, same ad appeared in 16, 19, 23, and 24 Jun and 3 and 10 Jul editions.
- [S2217] Jas. D. Cobb household, 1820 U.S. Census, Oneida Co., District of Columbia.
- [S2685] "The Union Academy," Daily National Intelligencer, 24 Feb 1821.
- [S2735] Chew, Centennial History of the City of Washington, D. C., pg 476.
- [S2690] "Prospectus of the Washington Literary, Scientific and Military Gymnasium," Daily National Intelligencer, 25 Jul 1826, outlines curriculum, opening date, rates; same notice also ran 22, 26, and 27 Jul.
- [S2691] "A Card," Daily National Intelligencer, 30 Aug 1826, shows instructors and hours; same notice ran also 2 and 4 Sep.
- [S2692] "Prospectus of the Washington Literary, Scientific and Military Gymnasium," Baltimore Patriot & Mercantile Advertiser, 26 Dec 1826, shows address and outlines curriculum, opening date, rates; same notice also ran 13 and 16 Dec in the Patriot, and 20, 21, 22, 28, 29 Nov and 4, 6, 7, and 8 Dec in the Daily National Intelligencer.
- [S1012] Cobb, USMA Cadet Application Papers, 9 Jan 1828 letter of recommendation from Congressman Chittenden Lyon, shows he had been a student there for "near a year past;" and Jan 1828 letter of recommendation from James D. Cobb, Superintendent of the seminary, shows he had been a cadet there for nearly a year, and lists studies.
- [S2693] "Report of the Board of Visitors," Daily National Intelligencer, 3 Jul 1827.
- [S2210] Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates at U. S. Military Academy, pg 95, shows he was superintendent from 1826 to 1829.
- [S2216] James D. Cobb household, 1830 U.S. Census, Warren Co., Ohio.
- [S2210] Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates at U. S. Military Academy, pp 95-6.
- [S2215] James D. Cobb household, 1840 U.S. Census, Montgomery Co., Ohio, shows one person in the household employed in "learned professions and engineers."
- [S2357] Cobb, cash sale land patent, 16 Apr 1835, Bureau of Land Management, Indianapolis Land Office.
- [S2645] Martin and Metcalf, Marriage and Death Notices from the National Intelligencer, pg 838, citing 6 Apr 1836 edition, death notice for George Mortimore Cobb.
- [S2695] "Public Meeting," Indiana Democrat, 10 May 1837.
- [S2356] Cobb, cash sale land patent, 1 Aug 1839, Bureau of Land Management, Indianapolis Land Office.
- [S2215] James D. Cobb household, 1840 U.S. Census, Montgomery Co., Ohio.
- [S2696] "Prospectus of the Western Literary, Scientific and Military Gymnasium," Daily National Intelligencer, 9 Oct 1841.
- [S2213] James D. Cobb household, 1850 U.S. Census, Hempstead Co., Arkansas.
- [S2697] "Examination of the Cadets," Daily National Intelligencer, 27 Apr 1850, list Capt. James D. Cobb, Arkansas, as one of 15 examiners to start 1 Jun next.
- [S2213] James D. Cobb household, 1850 U.S. Census, Hempstead Co., Arkansas, shows occupation as Lieut. Col. U.S.A.
- [S2698] "Report of the Visitors," Daily National Intelligencer, 14 Aug 1850.
- [S1171] Hollister, Pawlet for One Hundred Years, pg 179, shows he moved to Georgia and that "it is understood that Howell Cobb, conspicuous in the late rebellion, is his son;" pg 261, article attributed to Henry Willard, shows "from him [James] sprung the Hon. Howell Cobb."
- [S2607] Cleveland and Cleveland, Genealogy of the Cleveland and Cleaveland Families, vol 1 pg 44, shows he "rem. to Ga." His treatment of the Cobb family seems largely drawn from Hollister, so this appears to simply repeat the earlier assertion.
- [S2214] "U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles," Ancestry.com, citing Georgia Confederate Pension and Record Department, Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia 1861-1865, 7 vols. (Hapeville: Longino & Porter, 1955-58), shows birth date as 7 Sep 1815.
- [S2987] "Deaths," Daily National Intelligencer, 6 Apr 1836.
- [S2213] James D. Cobb household, 1850 U.S. Census, Hempstead Co., Arkansas, shows them apparently living as parent and child.
- [S4230] Cobb, Elder Henry Cobb Family, shows, in addition to the children listed, James A., Jacob J., James E., John G. D., Sophia W., Sarah C., and Rhoda (may be Alice R.), each with no details other than the name, but omits George Mortimer and Caroline L.