Category Archives: Cobb

Do You Have a Mystery Man in the Family? Looking for Henry, Francis and William Cobb

This is going to be a short post because this has been a brick wall for 25 years. My husband has a Williams branch in his family and I spent a couple of decades tracing as many of the collateral lines as I could find up to the end of the Civil War.

There are a few people who have completely eluded me, but I think this is the only case of three brothers disappearing off the face of the earth at one time.

Charles Williams of Cumberland County, Virginia moved to eastern Tennessee with his brothers and some cousins. They were in the Roane County area by 1805. The name of Charles’ first wife is unknown, but he left a will naming his children when he died in 1825 next door in Morgan County, which is a burned county.

Those children were Reuben Williams, who married Mahuldah Cobb in Roane County in 1819, Susannah Williams who married Shadrach Stephens in Roane County in 1817, Amanda Williams who married Joseph A. Davis about 1825, probably in Morgan County, Tennessee, Malinda Williams who married David Rector between 1825 and 1828, William G. Williams, who may have married Dianah White and removed to Illinois, Charles C., who died before March 1844 in either Kentucky or Illinois and, finally the mother of our mystery family, Mary Williams, who married William Cobb before 1825 and removed to Mississippi.

Charles Williams’ second wife, Elizabeth, was apparently the widow Cobb. She died in 1843 and there is a court record settling the estate in March 1844. She had two daughters, Susannah Cobb (Williams) who married Ethelbert Ezell in 1846 in White County, Illinois and Frances Cobb, who married Thomas Rattorree and moved to Tallahatchie County, Mississippi before 1850.

By the time of the March 1844 term of court, Mary and William Cobb were both deceased, but the record stated that they had three children, Henry, Francis and William, “living in Mississippi when last heard from.”

Mary was probably born about 1800 and living in Morgan County when she married William Cobb. Morgan County was formed in 1817, but lost its records in an 1862 courthouse fire. She likely married before 1820, but the birth years for her sons are a guess-timate. They might have been born a bit earlier or a little later and there might have been other children who died young, creating gaps in their birth years. Regardless, they were named as William and Mary Cobb’s surviving children in March 1844.

It is possible that one or more died before 1850, but it would also be very coincidental if all three were not of age by 1840 AND had all died in that ten year span.

Children: (Cobb)

i. Henry, born c1820
ii. Francis, born c1822
iii. William, born c1824

I have never picked up the trail of William and Mary Cobb and the county in which they might have settled in Mississippi, nor have I found any Cobbs with the names of Henry, Francis or William, who could possibly be part of this family.

There is only one Cobb in Mississippi in 1820 – Jesse Cobb, who lived in Lawrence County. He was 16-18 years old and there was one female 10-15 years old. Jesse was probably an 18 year old newlywed making his fortune with a 15 year old bride in the new state of Mississippi. Jesse is a common name in the Cobb family. He could have been part of the Tennessee group.

The 1830 census has six Cobbs in the state – James in Yazoo County, Absolem in Copiah County, James Cobb and Martha Cobb (two separate households) in Jefferson County, Samuel Cobb in Simpson County and Jesse Cobb in Franklin County.

By 1840, there are 17 Cobb households in multiple Mississippi counties, including an H. Cobb in DeSoto County, who is too old to be Henry (30-39 years old in 1840) and Wm. Cobb in Leake County, who is the right age at 20-29, but I have found no evidence of his parentage.

This just doesn’t seem like it should be a brick wall unless all three did die young and/or unmarried. If you have a Henry, Francis (even a Frances, female) or William Cobb in your family tree that is a dead end brick wall, but might be one of these three children of William and Mary (Williams) Cobb, please contact me.

Azariah Cobb & the Non-Population Schedule

My husband’s Williams family has intrigued me for decades. I even self-published a 150 page book about the various lines of Roger, Thomas and Matthias Williams, who lived in Cumberland County, Virginia in the 1700’s.

However, there is one small branch of the tree that has frustrated me for years. Charles Williams, grandson of Thomas Williams of Cumberland County, VA, had several children, one of which was a son named Reuben.

Reuben Williams was born about 1798, probably in Wythe County, VA, as the family was heading west to Tennessee. His father appears in the county court records to prove a marriage record during that time. Reuben married Mahuldah Cobb, sister of Asa Cobb, in Roane County, Tennessee on 7 December 1819. Reuben died by October 1835, probably in Roane County. By that time, he and Mahuldah had had six children, Joseph Miller Williams, Asa Cobb Williams, Robert T. Williams, Deborah R. Williams, Reuben Williams and Francis (male) Williams.

In 1840, a court record mentioned that they were all minors; Mahuldah had apparently taken the children and moved to Franklin County, Alabama with some of her own relatives and her brother, Asa Cobb, was guardian to the children.

By March 1844, Reuben and Francis had both died. The four remaining heirs of Reuben Williams were again named. On 24 October 1850, Deborah R. Williams (apparently unmarried at this time), living in Franklin County, Alabama, filed a deed of sale for her portion of the inheritance from her father’s estate in Roane County, Tennessee.

The Franklin County courthouse burned in 1890 with major loss of records.

No member of this Williams family has been identified in any census records in Tennessee, Alabama or Mississippi. They all seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth. I have even read the 1850 Franklin County census page by page in case they were missed in the indexing.

I wrote about the missing Asa Cobb in the 1850 census of Franklin County, Alabama. While he appeared in the slave schedule, the census taker apparently forgot to enumerate the family in the population schedule. However, Alabama took a state census in 1850 and Asa appears there. The down side is that only the head of household is named with other family members grouped by age and sex.

Alabama either didn’t take a non-population census that year or else it has been lost to time. By 1860, Asa Cobb had moved to Coahoma County, Mississippi. It also appears that Mississippi either took no non-population census in 1860 or else it, too, has been lost to time.

However, there was another Cobb, Azariah, enumerated in the 1850 state census and he lived only two doors from Asa Cobb. I believe Azariah might be a younger brother of Asa and Mahuldah. He was born about 1807 in Tennessee. He married Julia Colvitt in 1831 in Lawrence County, Alabama and they named their son born about 1853 “Asa.”

Like Asa, Azariah was well-to-do and the owner of a large plantation. He appears in the 1860 regular and non-population schedules of Franklin County, Alabama:

In the standard census, Aziah is a farmer with real estate valued at $32,000 and personal estate valued at $23,000.

The schedule included 48 questions, but I will include only the ones for which something was entered for Aziah:

1. Land Owner – Aziah Cobb
2. Acres of improved land – 600
3. Acres of unimproved land – 358
4. Cash value of farm – $32,000
5. Value of farming implements and machinery – $600
6. Horses – 1
7. Asses and mules – 6
8. “Milch” cows – 8
10. Other cattle – 4
11. Sheep – 50
12. Swine – 80
13. Value of livestock – $2000
16. Bushels of Indian corn – 3000
17. Bushels of oats – 200
20. Ginned cotton, bales of 400 lbs. each – 59
21. Lbs. of wool – 80
22. Bushels of peas and beans – 30
23. Bushels of Irish potatoes – 50
30. Lbs. of butter – 75
47. Value of homemade manufactures – $150
48. Value of animals slaughtered – $550

Aziah was more than prosperous, with good sized crops of corn and oats grown on 1,000 acres of land. It is likely that if Asa also appeared on this schedule, his crops would have been similar.

Perhaps all of these small puzzle pieces will come together one day to reveal what happened to Mahuldah Cobb Williams and her children.



Missing: Asa Cobb, Franklin Co., AL 1850

Asa Cobb holds the key to one of my husband’s collateral Williams branches. Asa Cobb lived in Coahoma County, Mississippi in 1860.

AsaCobb1860MSCensusAsa Cobb, fifth household

He was married to Adeline, likely a second wife since there is a large age gap between them, and had children Thomas, Georgianne, Abner, Mary and Robert in the household.  A public member tree on Ancestry gives a birth date of 7 Aug 1805 in Roane County, Tennessee and a death date of 20 Nov 1875, no place cited. His wife, Adeline, is identified in the family tree as Adeline Ligon, born 1826 and died in 1882. Neither is found on

Here is the problem: Mahuldah Cobb married Reuben Williams in Roane County, Tennessee on 7 Dec 1819. Mica Sellers, MG performed the marriage ceremony.

Reuben died about 1835 in Morgan County, TN, leaving children Joseph Miller Williams, Asa Cobb Williams, Robert T. Williams, Deborah R. Williams, Reuben Williams and Francis Williams.

By March 1844, a court record omits children Reuben and Francis, so they likely died 1835-1844. The children were living in Franklin County, AL at that time. A land deed in 1847 identified Joseph M., Asa C., Robert T. and Deborah R. Williams; I believe Deborah may have come of age and her father’s estate was being settled.

Asa Cobb appears to be a brother of Mahulda Cobb Williams. Azariah Cobb, living in Franklin County, Alabama in 1850 and 1860, is probably also a brother to Asa and Mahulda. Undocumented sources identify Asa Cobb of Fentress County, Tennessee as the father of these Cobbs.

It appears that the family of Reuben Williams migrated to Franklin County with the Cobbs. I have never been able to pick up a trace of Reuben’s descendants other than in these two court records.  I had hoped that the 1850 census of Franklin County might shed some light on what became of them.

I looked high and low for Asa Cobb in Franklin County, Alabama in 1850. He is nowhere to be found in the federal census schedule.

Asa does appear in the Alabama 1850 and 1855  state censuses.

However, the state census only lists head of household and age ranges for males and females in the home. It also had a column to enumerate the number of slaves owned. Asa was the owner of 37 slaves and had one free person of color living in the household.

Next, I search the 1850 slave schedules for Franklin County, AL; Asa was, indeed, listed in that schedule:

Cobb1850SlavesAsa enumerated as the slave owner, 1850

So where is Asa Cobb in the regular 1850 federal census record? I thought perhaps he was misindexed so I looked at the neighbors listed in the slave schedule – James Alexander and William Winston.

This is what I found in the regular schedule:

Winston1850Jas Alexander and William Winston, 1850

Notice households #5 and #6. Both James Alexander and William Winston are given the occupation of planter. There is no Asa Cobb to be found. Perhaps it was late in the day. Perhaps the census taker was tired. Whatever the reason, I think the census taker carefully enumerated all the slaves belonging to Asa Cobb, but forgot to enumerate his family.

It appears that the 1850 federal census record for Asa Cobb’s family isn’t going to provide any clues to the whereabouts of Reuben Williams’ family.