Four of the sons of Gideon Dyer Cobb and Modena Chittenden Clark engaged in extensive business activities in Eddyville and the surrounding countryside, including many real estate transactions. Given the close-knit nature of the small community, it is not surprising that a number of those transactions involved members of their extended family. While some were the expected simple transfers of property, some were apparently adversarial in nature. Others seem to have been cases of assisting needy family members.

     The four brothers involved were:
  • Caleb, the oldest, born in 1797
  • Robert, the second child, born in 1875
  • Gideon, the seventh child, born in 1817
  • Giles, the youngest child, born in 1820

Joshua, the fourth child, moved to Tennessee and was involved in very few transactions in the Eddyville area. The daughters all married, but they and their husbands were not involved in the same types of businesses as their brothers. The following describes the transactions that have been found.

Caleb and Robert's Purchases

The first transactions we find seem to be ordinary purchases of property. Caleb bought a parcel on the Cumberland River from his father on 3 Aug 1823, for $160.1 He bought a parcel of land and lot no. 67 in Eddyville from Samuel C. Clark, a long-time associate of his father and likely a close relative to his mother, on 27 Jun 1824, for $300.2

On 9 Sep 1826 he purchased the property where his uncle John Cobb lived after it was ordered sold by the court in a suit again John and Caleb's father. No record has been found of what became of the property after that. It would appear that Caleb was trying to help his uncle keep his home.3

On 13 Jan 1835 Robert bought two half-acre lots in Eddyville from his sister Hannah and her husband, John Hallick, for $1000.4

Between 1836 and 1843, before his marriage to his second wife, Caleb had a series of complex transactions involving her, her mother, and her siblings. For details, see The Mysterious Relationship with Louisa Long.

On 20 Jan 1844 Robert bought 72 acres on Livingston Creek, in Crittenden Co., from Thomas W. Catlett, whose daughter would marry Giles six years later, for $5. He sold it six months later to Robert Smith for $72. There is no indication why the purchase price was so low.5 He bought 260 acres on the waters of Lick Ck. from John Hallick on 26 Jan 1844, for $500.6

George M. Marshall's Mortgages

At least one relative, George M. Marshall, husband of their sister Persis, seemed to be perennially in debt to the Cobb's businesses.

On 18 Apr 1842 George mortgaged a female Negro slave, Hanah, about 40 years of age, and her future increases, to Joshua, then in Stewart Co., Tennessee. The mortgage was to secure a note for $200.7

On 16 May 1842 he mortgaged his household goods to Robert and Gideon to secure two notes to them. He mortgaged:

four feather beds, bed steds, an under bed boulster, pillows and all coverings, a bureau, a press, two folding leaf tables, two sets of windsor chairs, yellow and black, a set of split bottom chairs, a windsor rocking chair, a map and book of the USA, and eight-day clock, a brindle cow and calf, a cow marked with under slope and upper nick each ear, a gilt dressing glass, a work stand, a cradle and bedding, a yearling brindle heifer marked crofe and split in right ear and swallow fork in left, two sets silver spoons, table and tea, two sets of ivory and bone handle knives and forks, pots, ovens, skillet, dishes, plates, cups and cancers, all kitchen furniture and cooking utensils of all sorts and kinds, and five window curtains.
The notes had been written 1 Jul 1840, for $168.36, and 14 Jan 1841, for $366.46.8

On 20 Aug 1847 he gave them a new mortgage, this time on his present crop of corn growing on 28 acres on the premises where he resided, a yoke of oxen and a cart. This mortgage was to secure two notes, one for $165.44 and the second for $78 .06.9

On 1 Apr 1851 he signed a new mortgage, this time to Robert and Giles, to secure $244.41 on account. The mortgage was on:

a female Negro slave Hanah, about 51 years old, beds, bed stids and bedding, a beauro, a dinner table, a small table, a clock, nine Windsor chairs, a two-horse waggon, three plows, a gray mare, a sarrell mare, a bay colt, three cows and calves, and 37 head of hogs.10
On 11 Jun 1855 he mortgaged his present growing crop of corn, wheat, rye, an oats, in all about 60 acres, to Gideon, to secure $178.17 in accounts. On 7 May 1860 he gave yet another mortgage to Gideon, this time with his new partner John Gallatly, to secure $200 in notes and accounts. This mortgage was on:
his present crop of corn of about 20 acres, 18 acres of oats, 8 acres of wheat, 30 head of stock hogs, four head of cattle, a cow and calf, and three yearlyings.11

Hallick Loses Lots to Robert in Suit

William H. Scott brought suit against John Hallick & Co. in Caldwell Co. Circuit Court to collect $425 with interest from 1 Sep 1845, $200 with interest from 16 Nov 1844, and cost of suit, apparently from a defaulted mortgage. In its Apr 1849 term the court ordered sale at the courthouse door of as many lots as needed to pay that amount. On 18 Apr 1849 a commissioner deeded six lots formerly owned by Hallick to Robert, selling them for $395.12

John Hallick Sues His Brothers-in-law

A pair of apparently related suits brought the Cobb brothers into conflict with their brother-in-law at the Nov 1846 term of the Caldwell Co. Circuit Court. In one, John Hallick brought suit against Richard T. Archer and Steven C. Archer, and also against Caleb and Robert, although it appears the Archers were the real targets. In the second, Robert and Gideon, as surviving partners in the firm of Cobb, Bell & Co. brought suit against the Archers and Caleb.

At issue appears to be some 556 acres originally patented to Richard Archer, on the Cumberland River adjoining and below the town of Eddyville, which Caleb purchased from the estate of George Loftus on 8 Jan 1830, who had purchased it for taxes due. This parcel was one of 18 Caleb sold to Robert, Gideon, and David Bell (Cobb, Bell & Co.) on 2 Aug 1841. Apparently, Robert had transferred 350 acres of this property to John by a deed which has not been found. At the time of the suit, John was living on this property. It would seem that the Archers had claimed that these actions were invalid, but the court found for the complaints, and ordered the Archers to convey title to John for his parcel and to Robert and Gideon for the remainder. When they failed to do so, the appointed commissioner did on 29 Apr 1847.13

Robert and Gideon Sue Hallick's Heirs

Robert and Gideon brought a suit, on grounds not now clear, against the heirs of John Hallick, which was decided at the Apr 1851 term of the Caldwell Circuit Court. The heirs, un-named in the suit, would appear to have been the brother's nephew and niece, James and Auelia Hallick. The decree called for sale of as many of the lots in Eddyville and parcels as needed to pay of the amount due. On 3 Jul 1852 a commissioner deeded six town lots John had purchased from Minervia Catlett to Gideon. On 11 Feb 1853 he deeded a 350-acre parcel adjoining the town to Robert, apparently the same one Robert had earlier transferred to John, and where John was living at the time of the 1846 suit.14

Gifting Land to a Sister

Gideon bought a 185-acre parcel on the waters of Livingston Creek and the Cumberland River in Crittenden Co. from Theophilus Killen and his wife Malinda on 2 Dec 1850, paying $550. On 16 Aug 1851 he gave this parcel to his sister Persis and her children John, Edwin, Ellen, Gideon, Henry, Mary and Charles. Her husband, George M. Marshall, subject of the mortgages described above, was not mentioned in the deed.15

Saving a Cousin's Home

In one unusual transaction Robert and Gideon's firm, R. L. & G. D. Cobb, bought a tract on Eddy Creek from the partners' cousin, Elijah Galusha Jr., on 8 Sep 1852. They paid $625 for 124 acres, but the seller retained the use of that portion lying north of the turnpike with all its appurtenances (presumably including his home), and the spring, for his life and that of his wife. He retained the right not only to use it himself, but also to rent it out, and to cut wood and timber for his own use. He had mortgaged the property to them two years before to secure a $270.90 note and up to $200 in credit for goods from their store over the next two years. This appears to be a case of resolving the debt and providing cash to a needy relative.16, 17

Buying a Sister's Home

In what may have been another charitable transaction, on 20 Apr 1857 Robert and Gideon bought lot no. 51 in Eddyville from their sister Mary and her husband, Dr. James Clark, who was by then blind.18 This apparently was their home, as they lived afterwards with Gideon in Dycusburg.19 The brothers paid $1,000 for the lot, and sold it on 11 Nov 1862 to Jacob T. Young, who was then living on the property, for the same amount.20

Marshall Buys Property

In what would appear to reflect a reversal of his fortunes, on 31 May 1858 George M. Marshall bought a 21-acre tract on the on waters of Livingston Creek in Crittenden Co. from his brother-in-law Gideon. He paid $105.21

An Indirect Sale to Family

Demonstrating how small the community was, in at least one case a transaction that began as a sale to someone outside the family later did involve another family member. On 1 Jan 1859 Gideon sold 200 acres on the waters of Claylick Creek in Crittenden Co. to one H. P. Williams for $775, paid by two notes for $387.50 each, due one and two years later. Williams failed to repay the notes, and on 26 Jan 1864 Thomas Jefferson Cobb, Gideon's nephew, son of his brother Caleb, paid them off. Williams endorsed the deed to Thomas, but apparently the deed was never recorded. After Gideon's bankruptcy, it appeared the title was clouded, so the bankruptcy assignee made a new deed to Thomas on 5 Apr 1872.22


  1. [S1975] Caldwell Co. Deeds, D:234, Gideon D. Cobb to Caleb C. Cobb, 1 Jul 182.
  2. [S1975] Caldwell Co. Deeds, D:233, Samuel C. Clark to Caleb C. Cobb, 7 Jul 1824.
  3. [S1975] Caldwell Co. Deeds, G:16, John Bradley, Sheriff to same dated 16 Apr 1832, $12 for 29 ac. where John Cobb lived, sold in settlement of suit decided by Circuit Court in favor of Peter Purtte against John Cobb & G. D. Cobb for $110, interest, and costs of $10.24.
  4. [S1975] Caldwell Co. Deeds, G:451, John Hallick to Robert L Cobb, 13 Jan 1835, signed by Hannah though she is not named in deed or clerk's statement.
  5. [S2793] Crittenden Co. Deeds, A:320-1, Thomas W. Catlett to Robert L. Cobb, 22 Jan 1845; A:245-6, Robert L. Cobb to Robert Smith, 2 Oct 1844.
  6. [S1975] Caldwell Co. Deeds, L:227, John Hallick to Robert L. Cobb, 7 Feb 1844.
  7. [S1975] Caldwell Co. Deeds, K:424-5, George M. Marshall mortgage to Joshua Cobb, 28 May 1842.
  8. [S1975] Caldwell Co. Deeds, K:425-6, George M. Marshall mortgage to R. L. Cobb, D. R. Bell & G. D. Cobb of the firm of Cobb Bell & Co. dated 16 May 1842.
  9. [S1975] Caldwell Co. Deeds, N:246, George M. Marshall mortgage to Robert L. Cobb & Gideon D. Cobb, merchants trading under name & style of R L & G D Cobb, and surviving partners of Cobb Bell & Co., 21 Aug 1847.
  10. [S2793] Crittenden Co. Deeds, B:727, George M. Marshall mortgage to Giles L Cobb & Charles M Jackson of Crittenden & Gideon D Cobb of Caldwell, trading as Cobb Jackson & Co., 14 Apr 1851.
  11. [S2793] Crittenden Co. Deeds, D:72, George M. Marshall mortgage to Gideon D. Cobb, 27 Jun 1855; and F:247, George M. Marshall mortgage to Cobb Gallatly & Co. of Dycusburg, 21 Jun 1860.
  12. [S1975] Caldwell Co. Deeds, O:176-7, Edmund P. Watkins, Commissioner of Chancery to Robert L. Cobb, 30 Apr 1849.
  13. [S1975] Caldwell Co. Deeds, F:269-70, James Loftus of Christian Co. executor for George Loftus to Caleb C. Cobb, 8 Jan 1831; K:249-52, C. C. Cobb to Robt. L. Cobb, David R. Bell & Gideon D. Cobb, 16 Sep 1841 item #1; N:184-5, Rezin H. J. Davidge, Commissioner in Chancery, to Robert L. Cobb and Gideon D. Cobb, 17 May 1847: and N:185-6, same to John Hallick, recorded same day.
  14. [S1975] Caldwell Co. Deeds, Q:2-4, John H. Rackerby, commissioner in chancery to Gideon D. Cobb, 23 Sep 1852; and Q:241-3, same to Robt L. Cobb, 6 Apr 1853.
  15. [S2793] Crittenden Co. Deeds, B:754-5, Theophilus Killen & wife to Gideon D. Cobb, 29 May 1851; and B:893-4, Gideon D. Cobb to Persus C. Marshall & her children John C. Marshall, Edwin M. Marshall, Ellen A. Marshall, Gideon D. Marshall, Henry B. Marshall, Mary E. Marshall & Charles U. Marshall, 15 Dec 1851.
  16. [S1975] Caldwell Co. Deeds, Q:102-3, Elijah G. Galusha to R. L. & G. D. Cobb dated 8 Sep 1852; and P:87-9, Elijah G. Galusha mortgage to R. L. & G. D. Cobb, merchants of Eddyville, dated 24 Aug 1850.
  17. [S826] Lyon letter to Witherell, 5 Apr 1828, describes Galusha as "a poor farmer."
  18. [S1697] Gideon D. Cobb household, 1860 U.S. Census, Crittenden Co., Kentucky, shows him as blind.
  19. [S1697] Gideon D. Cobb household, 1860 U.S. Census, Crittenden Co., Kentucky.
  20. [S3152] Lyon Co. Deeds, A:428, James Clark & wife to R. L. & G. D. Cobb, 1 May 1857; and B:556-7, Robt. L. Cobb & Gideon D. Cobb to Jacob T. Young, 24 May 1865.
  21. [S2793] Crittenden Co. Deeds, E:357, Gideon D. Cobb to George M. Marshall, 29 Jul 1858.
  22. [S2793] Crittenden Co. Deeds, K:420-1, F. W. Clements, Assignee of G. D. Cobb in Bankruptcy, to Thos J. Cobb, 8 May 1872.