About Thomas Cooper

Thomas C. Cooper*abt. 1705-1785
Mary Unknown*abt. 1710-abt. 1791
(Continued from March 2008)

[9] James Cooper Living near Job and Joel Cooper in Carter County, Tennessee, was a widow, Patience Cobb Cooper [abt.1745-1804]. Her husband, James Cooper, may have been a son of Thomas and Mary Cooper. Born about 1740, he predeceased Thomas and therefore would not have appeared in his 1785 will. A Benjamin Cobb also lived in the area. He was probably Patience Cooper’s father or brother.

James, while living in Virginia, had served in the colonial Virginia Militia under George Washington [Tennessee During the Revolutionary War, by Samuel Cole Williams, Tennessee Historical Com-mission, 1944, p.18] By 1775 he and Patience had settled on the Watauga River in what is now Carter County, TN. We find the tax bill listed under her name that year.

When the Revolution began, the Indians mostly allied themselves with the British and began to attack frontier settlements like the one in the Watauga Valley. James joined the North Carolina Militia to fight Indians and was one of the almost 100 men who signed the “Watauga Petition” to become part of the state of North Carolina. [Also signing it were John Sevier and David Crockett.] By the time that the North Carolina Provincial Council saw the peti-tion on August 22, 1776, James Cooper was already dead. [North Carolina Colonial Records X-711]

The eastern division of the Cherokees, under Chief Old Abraham of Chilhowee, followed the Wa-tauga River along the foot of the mountains toward Fort Caswell, which lay on the river. James Cooper was stationed there and the women and children were “forted up” there also. The fort was under the command of Col. John Carter, assisted by Capt. James Robertson and Lieut. John Sevier [who would gain lasting fame in that region]. The Indians made a fierce assault on the fort on the morning of July 21, 1776, but the 75-man force was able to repel the at-tack. The Indians then laid siege to the fort.

During the siege, James Cooper and a boy named Samuel Moore went out of the fort to get boards with which to cover a small cabin within the enclosure. When near the mouth of Gap Creek, they were attacked by the Indians. Cooper leaped into the river and, by diving, hoped to escape their arrows and bullets, but the water became too shallow and he was killed by them and scalped. The firing by the Indians and the screams of Cooper were heard in the fort, and Lieut. Sevier attempted to leave to rescue Cooper and the boy, but Capt. Robertson saw that the Indians were superior in force to that within the fort and held Sevier back, stating that he needed all the men inside the fort to protect the women and children. He said that he thought the firing and screaming were being done by the Indians as a feint to draw the troops outside the fort. By then Cooper was probably beyond rescue. The Moore boy was taken back to the Cherokee town and tortured to death. [Williams, pp. 45-46]

By December 20, 1776, the North Carolina Provincial Council, newly renamed the House of Repre-sentatives, was well aware of Cooper’s death and the plight of his widow Patience. On that date they passed the following resolution:

The House being informed of the distressed situation of Patience Cooper of Watauga, with eight small children, whose husband was lately killed in a scouting party against the Indians:

Resolved: that the said Patience Cooper be allowed the sum of 100 pounds for subsistence of herself and her children; that the treasurers, or either of them, pay her the same and be allowed in their accounts with the public…

[North Carolina Colonial Records, X-978]

Patience was now better off than she had ever been with James. In the 1778 tax list, she was taxed on an estate of 408 pounds and was taxed on a 400-acre “manor plantation” in 1779. In 1784 she re-ceived a 300-acre bounty land claim for her hus-band’s Revolutionary War service. [North Carolina Grants in Tennessee 1778-1791, p.24] From 1778-1788 Patience was involved in four litigations; she won at least three of them, and in February of 1789, the enterprising widow was given permission to open “a house of public entertainment,” which was probably something like a road house.

Probably working for her mother at the road house was a daughter, Mary Cooper, about fifteen, who gave birth in 1790 to a “base-born child” by John Dasey Boring. Boring was ordered to pay maintenance on May 11, 1790, in the Washington County Court. [Carter County hadn’t been formed yet.] [Washington County, TN Court Minutes, Book 1, Page 440] Mary appears to have been tainted by this occurrence because she never married and was disinherited by her mother.

Patience and James’ son, Joseph Cooper [abt.1775-1828], married Elizabeth Taylor, daughter of Andrew Taylor.  Job Cooper witnessed a deed for Andrew Taylor, which indicates a connection be-tween the family of James and Patience and our Coopers.[Deed Book A, Pages 471-472] Patience’s farm lay right on the Watauga River and was inhe-rited by Joseph. She died in 1804, the same year as Job Cooper. Her executors were Pharoah Cobb and Andrew Taylor.

Other children of James and Patience were Izza-bella Cooper[22 Nov 1769-9 June 1849], who mar-ried Andrew Taylor, Jr., [1765-22 Oct 1847], buried Taylor Family Cemetery, Taylortown, TN; Charlotte Cooper, born abt. 1770, who married Archer Evans 19 Sept 1787; Ruth Cooper, born abt. 1772; John Cooper, born abt. 1765; William Cooper, born abt. 1763; and Catherine Cooper, born 1776, who married Unknown Clowell. [Allen Papers, McClung Collection, Knoxville, TN Library]

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