Elijah Cook

Elijah Cook

Graves Elijah Cook and Arrinda Chandler Cook, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Graves Elijah Cook and Arrinda Chandler Cook, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

ELIJAH COOK (1816-1889)
According to Folks Huxford, Elijah Cook was born in Wilkinson County, November 22, 1816.  His father was James Cook, who was said to have come to Wilkinson from Effingham County. His grandson, Aaron Cook, served in the Spanish American War.

Elijah Cook was married twice. His first wife was Sarah “Sallie” Webb. She was daughter of Dawson Webb and Frances Phoebe Beall, and a sister of John Webb. Elijah and Sallie were married in Wilkinson County, May 14, 1837.  In their second year of marriage a child came to them; Maxie Jane Cook was born June 13, 1839. But with the delivery of her daughter, Sallie Webb Cook expired. Sallie’s parents moved with their remaining children to Lowndes County, GA some time before 1850.

Elijah Cook married Miss Arrinda M. Chandler on Sept. 26, 1841 in Wilkinson County, GA. She was born November 25, 1824, a daughter  of Pheriby and Aaron Chandler of Wilkinson County.

Some time before 1850 Elijah and Arrinda moved from Wilkinson to Irwin County, GA.

1850 Census enumeration of the family of Elijah Cook in Irwin County, GA

1850 Census enumeration of the family of Elijah Cook in Irwin County, GA: Elijah Cook, Arrinda Chandler Cook, Maxie Cook, John J.Cook, Fairiby Cook, Juda Cook, Sufrony Cook. https://archive.org/stream/7thcensus0059unit#page/n717/mode/1up

About 1852, Elijah’s daughter Maxie Jane Cook, at just 13 or 14 years old, married Aden Boyd, Jr of Lowndes County (later Berrien). Aden Boyd, Jr was a son of Nancy Sykes and Aden Boyd, who gave land in 1854 to establish Empire Church,  located on Empire Road near Five Mile Creek,  about six miles northeast of Ray City out the Sam I. Watson Highway.

Around 1856, about the time Berrien County was being created from land cut out of Lowndes County,  Elijah and Arrinda Cook came to the area. They settled in the 10th district within sight of Empire Church, and became neighbors of their in-laws, the Boyds.

The Cooks were one of a dozen or so families originating from Wilkinson county who made the move to the newly established Berrien County around that time, including  the families of Elijah’s sisters, Tabitha Cook and Piety Cook. Tabitha married Daniel Avera and Piety married Nicholas Lewis, both of these couples moving to Berrien.  Dawson Webb, father of Elijah’s first wife, also moved to Berrien.  Louisa Eliza Webb, sister of  Sallie Webb, had married Moses G. Sutton and came to Lowndes County (now Berrien) a few years earlier.

In 1859, Elijah’s daughter Fairiby Cook married Thomas Lang Taylor.  T. L. Taylor was a son of William Jackson Taylor and Samantha Jane Rogers, and a Justice of the Peace. Fairiby and Thomas established their homestead near her father’s farm on lot 218.

https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu111unit#page/n397/mode/1up

1860 Census enumeration of the family of Elijah Cook in Berrien County, GA: Elijah Cook, Arrinda M. Cook, Jasper J. Cook, Feriby E. Cook, Judah R. Cook, Emily “Amanda” Cook, Sarah Cook, Henry N. Cook, Francis M. Cook. https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu111unit#page/n397/mode/1up

The 1860 population census shows Elijah and Arrinda Cook established their homestead near the farm of Elijah’s daughter, Maxie Jane, and her husband Aden Boyd, Jr. On the neighboring farms were William H. Boyd, Moses G. Sutton,  and Stephen W. Avera, father of William Greene Avera.

“Elijah Cook was a progressive and industrious farmer, an honest and neighborly citizen and his practices as a farmer were very much in advance of the average Berrien County, citizen of his day.  He was one of the first in the county to erect gins for serving the public in preparing cotton for market, his gins being operated by horse power.”  

The 1860 Agricultural Census shows Elijah Cook’s farm consisted of 980 acres, 50 acres of which were improved. The farm was valued at $1200, and he owned $50 worth of farm equipment. His livestock, valued at $500, included two horses, a mule, two working oxen, six milk cows, 16 other cattle, 20 sheep, and 40 hogs. He had 150 bushels of Indian corn, and 30 bushels of oats, 1 bale of cotton, and 100 pounds of wool. He had $100 in stored meat, 50 pounds of honey and 5 pounds of beeswax.

“The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate shore batteries under General Pierre G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay.”  Elijah Cook was 44 years old when the Civil War commenced, and did not himself enlist for service with the Confederate States Army.  His eldest son, John Jasper Cook, served with Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment, but returned to his parent’s Berrien county farm and on October 9, 1864 married a neighbor girl, Lucretia Sirmans, a daughter of James Sirmans.

After the War, Elijah Cook continued to work his Berrien County farm. The 1867 Berrien County tax records show Elijah Cook’s lands  were on 730 acres of Land Lots 217 and 218, which straddled Five Mile Creek.

1870 Census enumeration of the family of Elijah Cook in Berrien County, GA.

1870 Census enumeration of the family of Elijah Cook in Berrien County, GA: Elijah Cook, Arrinda Cook, Judy Cook, [Emily] Mandaville Cook, Sarah Cook, Arkansas Cook, Henry Cook, Francis Cook, [Rachel] Arena Cook, Jackson Cook, Arinda Cook. https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0135unit#page/n437/mode/1up

 The 1870 population census placed the  value of Elijah Cook’s real estate at $500, and his personal estate at $1439.  The 1870 census also shows that three of the Cook children were mentally disabled. These children apparently suffered from a rare, debilitating form of the genetic skin condition ichthyosis, and were known locally as the “alligator children.”  According to period newspaper accounts, the Cooks were very protective of their children and refused offers from promoters, including P. T. Barnun, to put them on exhibition.  “These children were carried on the Pauper Roll of Berrien Co, where they placed by the Grand Jury at the March Term, Berrien Superior Court, 1885, under which they drew a pension from the county as long as they lived.”

Elijah’s daughter, Arkansas Cook, married William Hansford Hughes in 1872.  W.H. Hughes grew up on a farm in the same district; He was a son of Irene Shaw Hughes, widow of Henry Hansford Hughes.  Arkansas and William established their home on a farm near their parents.

In 1872 Elijah Cook’s 740 acres of property on Lots 217 and 218  was valued at $1 an acre. His personal property was valued at only $568 dollars. His son-in-law, Aden Boyd, husband of Maxie Jane Cook, also owned 50 acres on Lot 217. Son-in-law Thomas L. Taylor, husband of Fairiby Cook, owned 147 acres of Lot 218.  Aden Boyd’s sister, Sarah Boyd, and her husband Robert  Lewis Taylor (brother of T. L. Taylor), were also on 50 acres on Lot 217. To the north Fisher W. Gaskins owned all 490 acres of lot 199.  To the east, Mark R. Watson owned 1715 acres of adjacent land, situated on Five Mile Creek on Lots 197, 195, 172, and 173. To the southwest, Stephen W. Avera had 100 acres on Lot 243, and James Sirmans had 300 acres on the same lot.

Around 1874 Elijah Cook let go of his land on Lot 217, and acquired lot 198 which was just to the north.  Around that time Benjamin Thomas Cook acquired 65 acres on Lot 219.  Benjamin T. Cook was undoubtedly a cousin of Elijah Cook, although the exact relationship is not known. Like Elijah, B. T. Cook was a native of Wilkinson County, GA; he came to Berrien County after the Civil War, a former prisoner of war at Point Lookout, MD.

Elijah’s daughter Rachel Arena Cook married William Marshall Lewis in 1875. In 1879, his son Francis M. Cook married Anna J. Ford, and son Henry N. Cook married Mary Ann Boyd.  Francis and Henry settled with their wives near their father’s place. By 1879, Elijah Cook had disposed of some 200 acres of his land, keeping 680 acres on Lots 217 and 198. This move gave him  contiguous land all situated on the same side of Five Mile Creek.  Benjamin T. Cook also had 40 acres on lot 217.

1880 Census enumeration of the family of Elijah Cook in Berrien County, GA.

1880 Census enumeration of the family of Elijah Cook in Berrien County, GA.
https://archive.org/stream/10thcensusl0134unit#page/n391/mode/1up

The 1880 population census shows Elijah and Arinda continued to provide care for their three disabled children, Juda, Amanda, and Sarah. Their youngest children, Jackson and Arinda continued to reside with them, as well as John Ford, who was a brother of Anna Ford Cook.  Jackson and John provided the farm labor. By 1880, the old man had given up most of his land, retaining just 80 acres for himself on Lot 198.  His son, Francis M. Cook had acquired 390 acres of the land on Lot 217, and 100 acres on Lot 198, and son Henry N. Cook had 100 acres of Lot 198. Benjamin T. Cook now had 390 acres on Lot 215.

In 1882, Elijah’s youngest son Jackson J. Cook married Mary Melissa Lewis. She was a sister of William Marshall Lewis, husband of Rachel Arrinda Cook.

Meanwhile, the Cook family land deals continued. Elijah had re-acquired 290 acres of Lot 217 in 1881. In 1882, in yet another family transaction, Elijah took back another 100 acres of the land on Lot 217, while son Francis M. Cook moved to 100 acres on Lot 198. The following year, Francis left Lot 198 for 125 acres on Lot 190. Elijah continued to hold 300 acres of Lots 198 and 217. Henry Cook stayed with his 100 acres of Lot 198, and Benjamin T. Cook remained on his 300 acres of Lot 215.

By 1884, Francis Cook returned to 100 acres on Lot 198. Benjamin gave up 160 acres on Lot 215, retaining 130 acres there. Elijah’s eldest son, J. J. Cook, acquired 100 acres of the land on Lot 217, and Elijah retained 250 acres spread across Lots 198 and 217.  Elijah had $75 in household belongings, $432 in livestock, and $20 worth of tools and books.

Children of Elijah Cook and Arrinda Chandler:

  1. John Jasper Cook, born June 13, 1839;  married October 9, 1865 to Lucretia Sirmans, daughter of James Sirmans; died May 30, 1924; buried Empire Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery
  2. Juda Cook, born March 12, 1845*; suffered from a crippling congenital disability, never married; died October 29, 1895; buried Empire Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery
  3. Fairiby G. Cook, born 1846; married Thomas L. Taylor, 1859; died December 26, 1920; buried Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery (about 8 miles northeast of Ray City, GA).
  4. Emily Amanda Cook, born June 10, 1849*, suffered from a crippling congenital disability, never married; died May 15, 1915; buried Empire Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery
  5. Sarah J. Cook, born 1851, suffered from a crippling congenital disability, never married.
  6. Arkansas Cook, born November 13, 1853; married 1) 1872 to William Hansford Hughes, 2) July 20, 1909 to George Washington Nix; died December 24, 1911; buried Empire Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery next to her first husband.
  7. Henry N. Cook, born 1855; married Mary Ann Boyd, May 25, 1879; died May 14, 1940; buried Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery (about 8 miles northeast of Ray City, GA).
  8. Francis M. “Frank” Cook, born October 3, 1859; married Anna J Ford, February 27, 1879; died February 13, 1936; buried Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  9. Rachel Arrinda Cook, born July 6, 1862*, married William L Lewis; died March 26, 1937;  buried Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery (about 8 miles northeast of Ray City, GA).
  10. Jackson “Jack” Cook, born about 1862; married October 5, 1882 to Mary Melissa Lewis;
  11. Arinda Cook, born about 1867

* census records inconsistent with birth year on grave marker

The Valdosta Daily Times edition of Saturday, February 16, 1889 reported “Old man Elijah Cook, about 80 years old, one of the oldest settlers in Berrien County, was at the point of death yesterday, and is likely dead by to-day. He was a Primitive Baptist, and a man highly respected by his neighbors.”

But Elijah held on for another nine months.  He died on his farm at Five Mile Creek on November 15, 1889. Arrinda Chandler Cook died October 18, 1893. They were buried in the cemetery at Empire Church of which they were members.

 

Three Wives of George Washington Nix

George Washington Nix was born March 12, 1858 and lived all his life in Berrien  or Lanier County, GA. His mother was  Margaret Ann Mullis.  His father, William Varnell “Varn” Nix, fought in the Civil War, enlisting in Company E 54th Georgia Infantry Regiment on May 6, 1862 in Milltown (Now Lakeland), GA.

In the census of 1860, he appears in the household of William S. Allen, who was a Berrien County miller.

About 1881 George W. Nix married Piety Ann Rowe.  She was the daughter of Charlotte Williams and Joseph Josiah Rowe. Her father served as a Private in Company I, 50th Regiment Georgia Volunteer Infantry and died of pneumonia during the war. Piety Anne was two years old when her father died.

After marriage George and Piety Ann raised crops and children in Berrien county, GA.  Between 1882 and 1902, Piety Ann gave birth nine times.

Children of George W. Nix and Piety Ann Rowe:

Joseph Varn Nix (1882-1963) – served as Sheriff of Berrien County, GA
Eli Lester Nix (1884-1927)
William Frank Nix (1886-1978)
Missouri Arzilla Nix (1888-1966)
Maggie Lee Nix(1891-1921)
Elbert James Nix(1893-1971)
Richard Miles Nix(1895-1978)
Thomas Calvin Nix(1897-1973)
Annie Belle  (1897–1973)
Charlie Columbus  Nix (1902-2002)

In the census of 1900,  the first eight of these children were still at home.  In addition, Piety Ann’s mother, Charlotte “Lottie” Williams Rowe was living with the family in 1900. At the time, she was drawing a Confederate Veterans Widow’s Pension of $100 annually from the State of Georgia. The Nix farm was located in the 1148th Georgia Militia District, in the community of “Hill.”

Piety Ann Nix died May 16, 1908.

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The widower George Washington Nix was left with a household still full of minor children and with his mother-in-law, Lottie Williams Rowe.

On July 20, 1909 G. W. Nix married Arkansas Cook Hughes in a ceremony performed by Noah Tyler, Minister of God.  Born Laura Arkansas Cook , she was  the 54 year-old widow of William Hansford Hughes, and her own children were already   grown.

Marriage Certificate of George W. Nix and Arkansas Hughes, July 4, 1909, Berrien County, GA. The marriage ceremony was performed by Noah Tyler, Minister of God. Marriage Books, Berrien County Ordinary Court, Georgia Archives. http://cdm.sos.state.ga.us/u?/countyfilm,189046

Marriage Certificate of George W. Nix and Arkansas Hughes, July 4, 1909, Berrien County, GA. The marriage ceremony was performed by Noah Tyler, Minister of God. Marriage Books, Berrien County Ordinary Court, Georgia Archives. http://cdm.sos.state.ga.us/u?/countyfilm,189046

Grave marker of Arkansas Cook, b. Nov. 13, 1853 d. Dec. 24, 1911. Born Laura Arkansas Cook, she was the second wife of George Washington Nix. She is buried next to her first husband, William Hansford Hughes, at Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=38845663

Grave marker of Arkansas Cook, b. Nov. 13, 1853 d. Dec. 24, 1911. Born Laura Arkansas Cook, she was the second wife of George Washington Nix. She is buried next to her first husband, William Hansford Hughes, at Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=38845663

G.W. and Arkansas made their home in the upper 10th district of Berrien county, where George and his sons continued to farm.  The census of 1910 enumerates the household of George and Arkansas,  with George’s children Elbert, Miles, Thomas, Belle, and Columbus.  Also still residing in the Nix home was Lottie Rowe, mother of his first wife.

The marriage of Arkansas and George Washington Nix was not to endure for long.  Arkansas died December 24, 1911.  The short union of Arkansas Cook Hughes and George Washington Nix was without issue.

Arkansas Cook was buried next to her first husband, William Hansford Hughes, a few miles northeast of Ray City, at Empire Primitive Baptist Church, Lanier County, GA. The two graves share a single white marble monument.

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G.W. Nix, the subject of this post, married a third time. On March 5, 1912, at age 53 he married Dicy Valeria Tyler Hill, believed to be the daughter of Noah and Lucindy Tyler.  She was the 30-year-old widow of  Walter W. Hill.  She had four children of her own; Bessie Lee Hill, Lewis Felton Hill, Agnes V. Hill, and Walter Hill all under age 10.

Marriage certificate of G.W. Nix and D.V. Hill, Berrien County, GA. Marriage Books, Berrien County Ordinary Court, Georgia Archives. http://cdm.sos.state.ga.us/u?/countyfilm,189046

Marriage certificate of G.W. Nix and D.V. Hill, Berrien County, GA. Marriage Books, Berrien County Ordinary Court, Georgia Archives. http://cdm.sos.state.ga.us/u?/countyfilm,189046

For at least a short time it is likely that the household of Valeria and George W. Nix  was a blended family that included children of his first marriage, his step children, and children by his third wife.  But there is little enough published evidence of this connection.

What is known is that Thomas Nix, son of G.W. Nix, married Bessie Hill, daughter of Dicy Valeria Hill on December 24, 1913 in Berrien County, GA.  Father and son married mother and daughter.

Marriage Certificate of Tom Nix and Bessie Hill, Berrien County,GA.

Marriage Certificate of Tom Nix and Bessie Hill, Berrien County,GA. Marriage Books, Berrien County Ordinary Court, Georgia Archives http://cdm.sos.state.ga.us/u?/countyfilm,189098

As further evidence of the blended Nix family , Lucius and his mother,Valeria, appear together with other children of George Washington Nix in a photograph taken about 1965.  Missouri Arzilla Nix, daughter of Piety Ann Rowe Nix, died in 1966.

Dicy Valeria Tyler Hill Nix, Wife of George Washington Nix, and the Nix children,  photographed circa 1965. Front Row: Dicy Valeria Tyler Hill Nix, Joe Varn Nix, William Franklin Nix, Missouri Arzilla Nix Ray. Back Row: Lucius Nix, Columbus Charles Nix, Thomas Calvin Nix, Elbert Nix. Lucius was the son of Valeria and G.W. Nix. All others were the children of Piety Ann Rowe and G.W. Nix. (image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

Dicy Valeria Tyler Hill Nix, Wife of George Washington Nix, and the Nix children, photographed circa 1965. Front Row: Dicy Valeria Tyler Hill Nix, Joe Varn Nix, William Franklin Nix, Missouri Arzilla Nix Ray. Back Row: Lucius Nix, Columbus Charles Nix, Thomas Calvin Nix, Elbert Nix. Lucius was the son of Valeria and G.W. Nix. All others were the children of Piety Ann Rowe and G.W. Nix. (image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

By the time of the 1920 census, all of the children of George W. Nix and his first wife had left home. George and Valeria owned a home on Washington Street in Nashville, GA.  He was self-employed as the merchant of a “fish store.”  Enumerated in the Nix household are his step-children (Valeria’s previous children apparently took the Nix surname),  and the children of George and Valeria:

George W Nix 60
Velora Nix 40
Felton H Nix 16
Agnes Nix 12
Walter Nix 9
Lucius Nix 6
George W Nix 4
Lucindy Nix 2

Some time prior to 1930, George W. Nix moved his family to Ray City, GA. His son, Eli Lester Nix, resided at Ray City where he managed his own crosstie operation. Eli Lester Nix died in 1927, leaving behind his widow, Eliza Jane, and five small children.  Perhaps the loss of his son influenced George W. Nix’s decision to move to Ray City.

At the time of the 1930 census, George W. Nix owned a home in town at Ray City valued at $700, free and clear of mortgage. He was working for hire as a drayman. A drayman was historically the driver of a dray, a low, flat-bed wagon without sides, pulled generally by horses or mules, that were used for transport of all kinds of goods.

The 1930 census enumerated the following in the  Ray City household of George W. Nix:

George W Nix 72, Head of household
Velora Nix 48, wife
Gladys Nix 9, daughter
Noah Nix 5, son

As given in the previous post, George Washington Nix Killed by Automobile, G.W. Nix died on February 10, 1932.

After his death, his widow, Dicy Valeria Tyler Nix, continued to live in Ray City,  GA.  She  died there on 7 Oct 1967.  She is buried at Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church, Nashville, GA along with many others of the Nix family connection.

Grave marker of Valeria Tyler Nix, b. Dec. 29, 1881 d. Oct. 7, 1967, Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church, Nashville, Berrien County, GA.

Grave marker of Valeria Tyler Nix, b. Dec. 29, 1881 d. Oct. 7, 1967, Poplar Springs Missionary Baptist Church, Nashville, Berrien County, GA.

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