Today's Pawlet Marker
photo by Mary Mettlers
The Cobb family are Nancy's ancestors, her mother's paternal ancestors.
Our story begins with Gideon Cobb and his wife Abigail Dyer, who moved, before 1780, from Connecticut to the new town of Pawlet, now in Vermont, with several of their adult children and their families. Both had ancestors who were early settlers in Plymouth and environs and had been in the forefront of establishing new communities in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Their descendants continued this tradition, if anything, more strongly than their ancestors.

A Family of Entrepreneurs

While the Cobbs seem to have been drawn to the frontier, they were not loners, like the Daniel Boones, who spent long months away from their families hunting and trapping. Nor were they the sort to eke out a substance living on rocky farms (for a glimpse of the lot of that group, scan the mortgages the Cobb brothers received from them in Caldwell and Crittenden Counties). Rather, from their early days in the new world they were mostly entrepreneurs, building communities and business enterprises. They moved their families to towns that existed for the most part only on paper and built homes and businesses in the wilderness.

A number of Gideon and Abigail's descendants carried this spirit forward. They seem to have caught the sense of opportunity that seized the young nation after the Revolution, adventuring to the frontier in New York, Kentucky, and Indiana to make their marks and make comfortable homes for their families. We have hoped to capture some sense of their entrepreneurial energy in their stories here.

The Barnstable Cobbs

There are a number of totally unrelated Cobb families in the United States. This Cobb family descended from Henry "the Elder" Cobb of Barnstable, Massachusetts. We do not provide details for the earlier generations on our site because we have not done research on them, in part because Henry's New England descendants have been well-researched over the years by others. A brief outline of Henry's story and his connection to the Cobbs of Pawlet, is provided in our Cobb Ancestors Chart.

The most recent, and most authoritative, account of Henry's immediate descendants is provided by recognized Mayflower researcher, Susan E. Roser, in her recent book, Early Descendants of Henry Cobb of Barnstable, Massachusetts. A more extensive source, but older and less scholarly, is Philip L. Cobb, A History of the Cobb Family (Cleveland: 1907), which is still available in reprint and online. An online source listing many of Henry's descendants can be found on the Cobb and Cobbs website, but its reliability varies.

For information on other Cobb lines, a good place to start is with the Cobb page on the Guild of One-Name Studies website.

Mayflower Connections

While Henry arrived in Plymouth a few years after the colony was established, our Pawlet branch can claim descent from two Mayflower passengers. Gideon descended, by his paternal grandmother, from John Howland, who is perhaps best known for having fallen overboard during a storm the Mayflower encountered and being recovered. Abigail descended from the well known William Bradford, the second Governor of the Colony.

The Most Interesting Family Members

To read this family's stories you may choose to begin with Gideon Cobb, the patriarch of the Pawlet branch. Several of his sons were active in the Revolutionary War in Stillwater and in Vermont. Or you may prefer to start with those about whom we have the most interesting information. They include:
  • Gideon's namesake grandson, son of his third son John, Gideon Cobb, who was a pioneer in Rochester, New York
    • John's granddaughter Abigail Mayo Cobb, whose very respectable marriage to a prosperous businessman from Michigan ended in a very messy divorce, twice
    • John's grandsons Carlos and Oscar Cobb, who made fortunes trading in grain in Buffalo and New York City
    • John's grandson James Dyer Cobb, who apparently fathered a daughter by his long-time housekeeper who was raised with the family but triggered ugly battles over his wife's will then his
  • Gideon's ambitious fourth son Elkanah Cobb, whose sons founded enterprising families in Kentucky and Indiana
    • Elkanah's son Gideon Dyer Cobb, one of the earliest settlers in Eddyville, Kentucky, and father of several sons prominent in trade and iron making in the area
      • Gideon Dyer's son Robert Livingston Cobb, over-achieving entrepreneur, father of R. L. Cobb of Cobb's Battery fame in the Civil War, and grandfather of humorist Irvin S. Cobb
      • Gideon Dyer's son Dr. Joshua Cobb, Nancy's ancestor, iron-monger and prominent public figure in Clarksville, Tennessee before and after the Civil War
        • Dr. Joshua's eldest son, Capt. Robert Linah Cobb, who served briefly in his cousin's "Cobb's Battery" before achieving note as a pontooneer in the Engineering Corps
        • Dr. Joshua's younger son, Edwin B. Cobb, whose story provides our best description of the life of a private in that war
        • Dr. Joshua's son-in-law, Julian F. Gracey, who considerably expanded his father's business empire, and also left a legacy of small towns named after members of the family
          • Edward Valentine Goerz, briefly husband of Dr. Joshua's granddaughter Anna Maria Williams, who was very successful in high finance, but whose marital life was full of turmoil
    • Elkanah's son James Dyer Cobb, whose varied career as an educator took him to at least eight states, while he maintained a long-running battle in Congress to restore his military reputation
      • Elkanah's grandsons, sons of his son Joshua, John and Oliver Perry Cobb, who founded industies in Indiana
        • Oliver's son-in-law, Professor Gilbert E. Bailey, a tireless teacher, miner, and promoter who married three more times after the death of Oliver's daughter
        • Joshua's grandsons, Newton and Oscar Christy, sons of his daughter Maria, whose questionable business practices kept them in hot water in Cincinnati
      • Warren Corbitt, husband of Joshua's granddaughter Maria, the only member of the Cobb family known to have served in both the Confederate and Union Armies in the Civil War
      • Elkanah's grandson, son of his youngest daughter Sophia, Rev. Elkanah Franklyn Remington, who preached tirelessly against the evils of tobacco and rum, then have his only son, Edward, become a habitual drunk and die young; and his brother John Henry Remington, whose ill health lead to a life in poverty and a six-year struggle to gain a pension based on his son's Civil War service
      • Elkanah's grandson, son of his daughter Hannah, John Gideon Hallick, who joined the California gold rush and became an Indian fighter
      • Elkanah's great-grandson, grandson of his son John, John Brisco Cook, who was anxious to join the Confederate Army, then displayed the drive to move to the frontier of his Cobb ancestors
      • Elkanah's great-grandson, grandson of his son Willard, Webster T. Dart, whose business success mirrored many of his Cobb ancestors, but whose weakness for hard drink made him an energetic temperance lecturer
  • Gideon's grandson, son of his sixth son Joshua, Simeon Cobb , who decided at age 60 that a trip "west" by covered wagon through Indian country would be good for his health
You may also enjoy the stories of some of their more distant relatives who played similar parts in building frontier communities:
  • Elkanah's father-in-law, Jonathan Willard, principal founder of Pawlet
  • The first governor of Vermont, Thomas Chittenden, grandfather of Gideon Dyer Cobb's wife Modena Chittenden Clark
  • Matthew Lyon, the firebrand Congressman who won the wrath of President John Adams and the Federalists and was a target of the infamous Sedition Act of 1798. He lead the party that migrated from Vermont to Eddyville. His second wife was Modena's aunt.
  • Josiah and Jesse Cobb who lived in Eddyville while Gideon Dyer Cobb and his sons were there. Their relationship to the other Cobbs in our site has long been a mystery, but recent research suggests they may also have been descendants of Henry (the Elder) Cobb of Barnstable, but by a different son, thus making them quite distant cousins.

Maps, Charts, and Military Service Index

If you prefer, you can look for specific people in the index on the left, or explore the family in the Cobb Descendants Chart, which offers links to each person's narrative.

A collection of Maps traces the migrations of many of the descendant lines and shows the principal locations where the family lived. In addition, many of the places mentioned in the narratives about each person contain this icon, which is a link to display that place in Google Maps. For more information about these links see the Map Links section on our main page.

Many members of the Cobb family served in the military in various wars. Those included in this site are listed in the Index of Military Service