The Worldly Possessions of the Rev. Jacob Cook in 1844

by Fred Ziegler

Church Cemetery Jacob Cook, second owner of Cook's Mill in Greenville, died in debt, and because of this we have courthouse records of the value of all his household goods, farm implements and animals, and property. Jacob was the brother of Valentine Cook Jr. (Monroe Watchman, Oct.19, 2006) and they had moved here with the family in 1773. Jacob's brothers and sister married and moved to Kentucky after the American Revolution and his mother, Susannah, joined them on the death of her husband, Valentine Sr., in 1797. This left Jacob and Isabella Humphreys, his new bride, to run the farm, the mill and to oversee the sale of the rest of the 1050 acres Jacob had acquired on behalf of his mother and siblings in accordance with his father's will.

Since Jacob was left with 200 acres and a successful farm and business, the question of why he ended up in debt is an interesting and somewhat elusive one. He had three boys and three girls by his first wife, and three boys and one girl by Rachel Carden whom he married in 1818. We know that Jacob was instrumental in introducing the Methodist faith to the Indian Creek community and donated, with Rachel, the property for the Greenville United Methodist Church in 1820. He was a Methodist Circuit Rider and may have got started as early as 1788 when he accompanied John Smith, the initial Greenbier Circuit Rider, on his rounds.

Being a country preacher must have been a grueling profession as the circuit lasted four weeks and required the preacher to ride to a different venue and preach most every day of each week across an area comprising portions of seven present counties! According to Morton's history of the county, At this time the yearly allowance to a preacher was $64, in addition to traveling expenses as ferriage, horseshoeing, and provisions for preacher and horse when riding a long distance. We are not certain that Jacob was occupied in this profession his whole career and we have no idea of who ran the mill, or indeed, how active a business this was. Census data suggest that in the early 19th Century there was a live-in farm hand, and later the children would have been old enough to run the farm.

Jacob Cook died in 1844 at the age of 80 and was indebted to 26 parties for a total of $774.97 . These creditors included businesses, government offices and private individuals, and he specified that all my past debts and funeral expenses be paid out of my personal estate. A detailed list of all his belongings was prepared and these were appraised, including a few items that were reserved for family members. A second list was prepared on the occasion of the sale and this includes the names of the 54 parties who bought articles on that day. Many of these families have descendants in the area, so their names are included in the vain hope that articles bought in that sale may still be identified in local homes!

The appended lists have been derived from the actual sale data, supplemented by the appraisal, and the information has been manipulated in a number of ways. First the entries have been arbitrarily sorted into functional categories, such as the rooms in which they might have been found. A few of the prices included fractions and these halves or quarters of a cent have been left off for the sake of simplicity. These particular prices appear to represent eighths of a dollar, or "bits", thus 12 cents, but there are also values representing sixteenths of a dollar, such as 6 cents. The spelling in many cases is phonetic (Kittle = Kettle) and has been corrected, and it is fortunate that both appraisal and sale lists survive because these could be compared in cases where the meaning is unclear (Hand Irons versus Fire Irons= Andirons).

The property was divided among four sons and was appraised separately because the sons were obliged in the will to contribute to the upkeep of their two maiden sisters in proportion to the value they inherited. Only the total value of each property was included but for this article I have derived separate figures for buildings and acreage. This was straightforward in the cases of the two sons who inherited only land and I found that Lewis' land was valued at $14 per acre and Ward's at $7. Evidently this was because the former got the more valuable farm land, while the latter, a doctor, got hills and woods. For Riley's plot, which included the farm, I assumed $14 per acre, and this left a value of $600 for the dwelling place and farm buildings. Jacob A. got the mill with non-farm land and from this I derived a figure of $565 for the mill, not a round figure, so the assumptions applied here may not be correct.

The lists contain 183 items or lots, of which 157 were involved in the sale. Riley B. Cook bought 45 of these, presumably because he was obliged to maintain the household as well as his mother! Most of the items would be found in farm houses and farms today and are quite ordinary, while the prices, of course, reflect 163 years of inflation. Some categories, such as Spinning & Weaving and Harness, Wagons, etc. have been bypassed by objects now easily obtained from Walmart and General Motors. Otherwise, only a few items would raise an eyebrow, Blowing Horn, Fat Can, Cedar Churn and Lanterns in the kitchen, for instance. Children would have used the Slates for school work, while the Broad Axe, with one flat side, would be used to trim timbers for a barn or shed. Of course, technology has supplanted many of the items in the Tool and Farm Implement categories.

The books reflect the interests and needs of the country preacher. The authors Coke and Wesley were early Methodists, and Arminius and Fletcher were also prominent Protestant writers. The variety and number of farm animals is impressive and crops included corn, wheat, and rye, and presumably hay as indicated by the unharvested meadow entries. Mill machinery is not included, and in those days would have been handmade out of wood and an integral part of the mill. Apart from this, we can conclude that the lists give a pretty complete idea of a 358 acre farm/mill complex that supported Jacob and Rachel and four sons and two daughters, all adults by 1844. The other four children had married and moved to Madison County, Indiana about 1833.

The appraisal had suggested a total value of $976.70 for the objects to be sold and this figure included the books ($26.50) and beds ($65.00) which were reserved. The sale netted $866.94 which exceeded the debts of $774.97 so the creditors could be paid off. The property was appraised at $5505.00 so adding this to the proceeds of the sale and the value of the reserved items gives a total of $6463.44 for the value of the farm/mill complex. Subtracting the debts yields a figure for the net worth of Jacob Cook to be $5688.46 at the time of his death at the age of 80.

1 Oven & Lid $0.62 Zebide B. Lewis
1 Oven & Lid Hooks $0.50 Henry Peighn (Payne?)
1 Old Table & Trays $0.20 R.B. Cook
1 Pot Rack $1.12 Adison Scaggs
1 Pot Rack $0.40 R.B. Cook
1 Tea Board & Contents $0.25 Henry Peighn (Payne?)
1 Large Kettle $2.37 John & Armstead Ross
1 Large Kettle $3.50 R.B. Cook
1 Small Kettle & Hooks $1.00 R.B. Cook
1 Brass & Tea Kettles $1.66 R.B. Cook
1 Large Kettle, by Lewis $3.06 R.B. Cook
1 Grid Iron (Griddle) $0.40 A.D. Shanklin
1 Frying Pan $0.32 Adison Scaggs
1 Pair of Waffel Irons $1.25 John & Armstead Ross
1 Skillet $0.31 John Houchens
1 Tea & Coffee Pot $0.55 Rufus Lively
1 Blowing Horn & Coffee Pot $0.25 William Broyles
1 Fat Can $0.32 F.F. Neel
1 Cedar Churn $0.25 R.B. Cook
4 Crocks @ $0.06 R.B. Cook
1 Milk Strainer $0.06 R.B. Cook
1 Pewter Basin $0.25 R.B. Cook
1 Glass Lantern $0.24 William Mann
1 Lantern $0.06 John Houchens
1 Pair Stilyards (Scales) $2.00 Thomas McCarty
1 Round Leaf Table $2.62 David Hinton
1 Old Table $0.25 R.B. Cook
1 Cupboard & Dishes $6.75 R.B. Cook
1 China Press, by Caroline $6.25 R.B. Cook
3 Chairs @ $0.50 Augustus McNeer
3 Chairs @ $0.48 George Walters
3 Chairs @ $0.33 Peter Hinton
1 Small Chair $0.25 Smithen Holden
2 Sets of Table Spoons @ $0.12 Josh & And. Canterbury
2 Small Tin Waiters @ $0.06 R.B. Cook
1 Oil Cloth Cover $1.00 R.B. Cook
1 Arm Chair $0.50 R.B. Cook
6 Windsor Chairs @ $1.00 R.B. Cook
1 Table $3.00 Augustus McNeer
1 Book Case $5.10 Madison Lawrence
1 Wooden Clock $6.12 R.B. Cook
1 Pair of Window Curtains $0.50 R.B. Cook
1 Carpet $0.25 R.B. Cook
1 Slate $0.05 John Houchens
1 Slate $0.15 Robert Scags
2 Pair Hand Irons (Andirons) @ $0.03 R.B. Cook
4. BOOKS (Appraisal only) PRICE INHERITOR
Coke's Commentary, 4 Vols. $10.00 Four Sons
Universal Gazeteer $2.00 Four Sons
Field's Scrapbook $0.50 Four Sons
Greek Revolution $0.75 Four Sons
Riley's Narative $1.75 Four Sons
Wood's Dictionary, 2 Vols. $2.50 Four Sons
Arminian Magazine, 2 Vols. $0.75 Four Sons
Home on the Plains $1.00 Four Sons
Military Biography $1.00 Four Sons
Memoir of Benson $0.50 Four Sons
2 Geography Books @ $0.25 Four Sons
Portrait of St. Paul $0.50 Four Sons
2 Grammar Books @ $0.25 Four Sons
3 Arithmetic Books @ $0.25 Four Sons
2 of Fletcher's Works @ $0.37 Four Sons
Wesley's Life and Journal $0.50 Four Sons
3 numbers, Walsh $0.25 Four Sons
15 Other Old Books @ $0.13 Four Sons
5a. BEDROOM (Appraisal only) PRICE INHERITOR
1 Bed & Furniture $35.00 Caroline Cook (Daught.)
1 Bed & Furniture $30.00 Rachel Cook (Wife)
1 Feather Bed $7.93 A.C. Humphreys
1 Bed & Furniture $7.40 George Walters
1 Bed & Furniture $6.50 Robert Scags
1 Double Cover Lid (Coverlet) $2.35 John Miller
1 Bureau, Old $4.25 George Walters
1 Small Bureau $1.50 John Maddy
1 Chest $1.00 Sally Cook
1 Small Table $0.41 George Walters
1 Spinning Wheel $0.25 George Walters
1 Flax Wheel $0.40 John & Armstead Ross
1 Flax Wheel $0.40 R.B. Cook
1 Flax Hackel $0.90 Jacob Piles
1 Reel $0.19 James Johnson
1 Weavers Reed $0.87 Charles Maddy
1 Weavers Reed $0.50 Meredith Upton
1 Weavers Reed $0.40 Meredith Upton
1 Weavers Reed $0.38 Joshua Lowe
1 Loom & Tacklings $5.25 David Hinton
1 Smoothing Iron $0.39 R.B. Cook
1 Axe $1.01 Meredith Upton
1 Broad Axe $0.62 R.B. Cook
2 Axes @ $0.10 R.B. Cook
1 Axe, Old $0.25 Thomas McCarty
1 Iron Wedge $0.31 John & Armstead Ross
1 Iron Wedge $0.37 R.B. Cook
1 Crosscut Saw $0.61 Thomas McCarty
1 Hand Saw $0.38 William Allen
1 Mason Hammer, Old Irons $1.00 Robert Shanklin
2 Dogs, Crowbar, Clasps, etc. $2.50 Jacob A. Cook
2 Large Augers @ $0.31 Adison Scaggs
1 Grind Stone $0.15 John & Armstead Ross
1 Square $0.32 Jacob A. Cook
1 Tar Can $0.06 F.F. Neel
1 Bull Tongue Plow $0.26 John & Armstead Ross
1 McCormick Plow $3.06 John Hinton
1 Shovel Plow $0.10 R.B. Cook
1 Iron Harrow $4.31 R.B. Cook
1 Patent Plow $1.91 R.B. Cook
1 Mowing Scythe $0.12 A.D. Shanklin
2 Sickles @ $0.14 James Sullivan
1 Mowing Scythe $0.50 John Miller
2 Scythes, 2 Hames & Bands @ $0.15 Samuel Miller
1 Mattock $1.00 John Hinton
2 Hoes @ $0.13 John Miller
1 Shovel $0.25 R.B. Cook
1 Pair Sheep Shears $0.50 Richard Thomas
1 Old Sack Chain $0.35 John Thomas
1 Wheat Fan $8.50 James Johnson
1 Feed Trough $1.50 John & Armstead Ross
1 Cutting Box $0.62 R.B. Cook
1 Wheat Fan $8.50 James Johnson
1 Rifle Gun, by Lewis $7.05 R.B. Cook
21 Lbs. Wool @ $0.31 Charles Miller
10 Lbs. Wool @ $0.30 William Mann
1 Sheep Skin $0.50 John Keatly
6.75 Lbs. of Sole Leather @ $0.45 William Mann
100 Bushels of Corn @ $0.30 A.C. Humphreys
1 Field of Corn, 50 Bushels @ $0.21 Ward Cook
33 Bushels of Corn @ $0.30 R.B. Cook
116 Dozen Sheaves Rye @ $0.40 R.B. Cook
20 Doz. of Rye @ $0.13 F.F. Neel
10 Doz. Sheaves Oats, Wheat @ $0.20 Thomas McCarty
3 1/2 Acres of Meadow @ $0.56 A.C. Humphreys
3 Acres of Meadow @ $1.30 Ward Cook
1.5 Acres of Meadow @ $0.60 R.B. Cook
21 Head 3 Year Old Steers @ $9.00 Barnabas Johnson
8 Head 2 Year Old Steers @ $5.14 Anderson Pack
6 Yearling Steers @ $4.06 John Hinton
5 Head Steers in the Woods @ $7.40 Anderson Pack
5 Head Calves @ $2.17 Andrew A. Scags
1 Cow $8.00 Cantervill Hargo (?)
1 Cow $7.12 Garner Calloway
1 Cow $6.10 Henderson Shanklin
1 Cow $7.10 James Gwinn
1 Milk Cow $6.75 John Hinton
1 White Face Cow $4.00 R.B. Cook
1 White Cow $3.00 R.B. Cook
1 Cow $7.85 Smithen Holden
1 Bull $4.50 Eben Willey
1 Small Heifer $2.25 R.B. Cook
10 Head of 1st Choice Sheep @ $0.76 R.B. Cook
10 Head of Sheep @ $0.52 John Hinton
10 Head of Sheep @ $0.45 William Allen
13 Head of Sheep @ $0.43 John Hinton
10 Head of Large Hogs @ $3.15 John Hinton
3 Head of Hogs @ $1.29 Andrew A. Scags
2 Head of Fat Hogs @ $1.56 R.B. Cook
2 Sow & Pigs @ $0.58 R.B. Cook
1 Sow & 5 Pigs $1.56 William Allen
10 Geese @ $0.10 Charles Maddy
10 Geese @ $0.09 William Mann
1 Bee Hive $1.05 Robert D. Humphreys
1 Bee Hive $1.55 William Mann
1 Gray Horse, Charles $38.50 John Keatly
1 Gray Horse, Jef $37.00 John H. Walker
1 Bay Horse, John $28.30 R.B. Cook
1 Black Mare, Polly $24.00 John Keatly
1 Man's Saddle $3.25 Jacob A. Cook
1 Side Saddle, by Mother $0.50 R.B. Cook
1 Pair Stirrups $0.31 Richard Thomas
1 Singletree & Backbands $0.31 John & Armstead Ross
1 Pair of Hip Straps $0.38 King Thompson
1 Clevis $0.06 R.B. Cook
1 Pair of Stretchers $1.00 R.B. Cook
1 Fifth Chain (?) $1.75 James Sullivan
1 Bell & Collar $0.31 George McCoy
1 Pair of Gear $1.60 George McCoy
2 Pair of Hind Gear @ $2.06 John & Armstead Ross
1 Large Wagon, 4 Horse $40.00 John & Armstead Ross
1 Small Wagon $32.50 Barnabas Johnson
4 Wagon Boxes @ $0.03 Henry Peighn (Payne ?)
136 Acres @ $14.00 Riley B. Cook (Son)
Farm House & Buildings $600.00 Riley B. Cook
55 Acres @ $7.00 Jacob A. Cook (Son)
Mill & (?) Millhouse $385.00 Jacob A. Cook
126 Acres @ $14.00 Lewis G. Cook (Son)
41 Acres @ $7.00 Ward Cook (Son)

Thanks are due to Donnie Evans and the helpful staff in the County Clerk's office. Also, Jim Costa helped to interpret the lists. Watchman readers are again asked for copies of any documents relating to Cook's Old Mill, including 20th century materials.

Published in the Monroe Watchman, March 8 & 15, 2007

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