Joel Cook (c1745 – after 1805); Sold Out and Disappeared into Thin Air – 52 Ancestors #388

Joel Cook was the father of Sarah Cook who was born about 1775. She married James Lee Clarkson in 1799 in Russell County, VA.

That was the easy part, or comparatively easy.

Joel, it turns out, is quite the mystery man.

Mysterious in that we don’t know where he came from, nor where he went. In fact, we only have about 10 years’ worth of information about Joel Cook, and beyond that, he simply dissolves into the mist.

I don’t like to publish ancestor articles until I have what I think is a “full story.” I’m making an exception with Joel Cook because I’m hoping that someone, someplace can help flesh out this story. There’s power in collaboration!

We are probably looking for Joel Cook’s family in Virginia. We know his daughter says she was born in Virginia in 1775, but Joel could have been anyplace before that. There are a lot of Cook men in North Carolina, and the name Clayton Cook, a man closely associated with Joel, is found there. It’s not the same Clayton Cook, but the name is distinctive. After 1805, we’re probably looking for Joel Cook in Kentucky.

However, nothing, but nothing, about Joel is certain. In fact, I think his middle name is “Uncertain.”

Joel’s First Appearance

Joel Cook first appears in the Russell County, Virginia records in 1795. He was clearly an adult in 1775 when his daughter was born, so he would have been living someplace in the 1790 census. But where?

Utilizing Binn’s Genealogy master list for the Virginia reconstructed 1790 census reveals no Joel Cook, nor a Clayton Cook who is often found with Joel. In 1850, Sarah reports that she was born in Virginia, so it makes sense to look in Virginia in 1790, although there’s nothing that precludes Joel from moving to North Carolina or elsewhere after Sarah’s birth and before arriving in Russell County.

There is a Joel Cook in Bertie County, NC in 1790, but no Clayton which is a pretty distinctive name. Joel does have 3 males under 16, so it’s possible that Clayton could fall in this family group. However, Joel in Bertie married Bellison Floyd in 1784 and continued living in North Carolina through 1805, which eliminates him as our Joel.

Early Russell County, Virginia

Russell County was on the wild, unsettled and dangerous side of the frontier line. A petition was submitted to form Russell County in 1785 by about 300 petitioners, but no Cook was yet living in Russell County at that time.

The petition of sundry inhabitants of Clinch River, Moccasin Creek, Powells Valley, and others, citizens of Washington County humbly represent that your petitioners are situated from the line of Montgomery as it crosses near the source of the Clinch River, down the same eight miles; thence to the extreme settlements of Powells Valley forty more.

The greatest portion of your petitioners have to travel from twenty five miles and some eighty or an hundred; moreover are generally interrupted by Clinch Mountain and the north branch of the Holstein River; the former affording very difficult passes; the latter much danger and difficulty in crossing it in spring and after considerable rains; continuous to its southern bank, a chain of hills almost as difficult as Clinch Mountain; so that great difficulty arises to your Petitioners not only in attending Courts, but Courts Martial. And from the extent of schism between our small settlements make it exceedingly difficult to arrange companies without subjecting some to travel 15 and 20 miles to private mustery. There are two difficulties in the militia law that principally affect your Petitioners. There are evils small indeed to the feelings we constantly undergo when obliged to leave our helpless families exposed at so very great distances to obey the laws of our country. And however evident the danger may appear to us will not certainly on our failure of duty plead our excuse. Circumstance alone is sufficient to claim the human respect of the Legislature to remove the grievance. We therefore pray your Honorable House will take our case into consideration and divide the county. We further pray a line may be fixed along Clinch Mountain to the Carolina line; or with the line at present dividing the county into two regiments to the aforesaid Carolina line; then with the said line to Cumberland Mountain including that existing county between Cumberland Mountain and Montgomery line and Clinch Mountain, or the aforesaid regimental line for the new county and southeast of the said Clinch Mountain remain Washington County; and we your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.

Forts and Stations lined the Wilderness road through western Virginia to the Cumberland Gap.

The first mention of a Cook occurred in relation to the Indian incursions.

From the unpublished manuscript, Indian Atrocities Along the Clinch, Powell and Holston Rivers, page 39.

From Draper Mss 2 DD 193, is a copy of the pension statement of William Barron, State of Tennessee, Washington County:…on this 23 January 18__, William Barron, aged 78 years…That while living in Montgomery Co., VA he was drafted as he believes in the fall of 17__ and entered the service under Sergeant John Brooley and served about one month. That he again enlisted or volunteered in the company commanded by Sergeant Alexander Neeley (Draper appends a handwritten note “perhaps Alexander Neely) under whom he served between two and three months in guarding the Lead Mines of Montgomery County. That he again enlisted under Lt. Frederick Edwards and served three months under Captain (John) Stevens (at Long Island). That after remaining at Long Island, a few days, an express came to Col. Preston (who was also at Long Island) from Rye Cove Fort on Clinch requesting assistance as the Indians had made some incursions in that quarter and killed a few of the inhabitants. That Captain Stevens Company marched to their assistance affiant being one of them. That after remaining a few days at the Rye Cove Fort intelligence was received that Mr. Cooke, who had been sent out as a spy, had been killed by the Indians that affiant with the balance of Stevens company spent a few days in scouring Powells Valley with the view of discovering the Indians, but failing in this, they buried Cooke and returned to the fort. (Data courtesy of Gordon Aronhim, Bristol, VA)

Who was that Cook man? Cook is not exactly an unusual surname, but neither is it Smith.

In the 1780s and 1790s, many deaths occurred as a result of white settlers settling on land claimed by the Indians.

The Musick Family

Joel Cook settled near the Musick Family, along Musick Spring Branch.

David Musick lived on a farm in the Big A Mountain section in 1792, near present-day Honaker, with his wife, Annie McKinney, and their four children.

His home had been once previously burned, which damaged his gun. On August 12, 1792, David’s sons were surprised by Indians when going for firewood, but made it back to the house. Unable to defend the homestead due to the warped gun, the Indians broke in, killed and scalped David, and kidnapped his wife and children. The Shawnee set out with their captives for the Ohio Valley, on foot.

Thirty miles and three nights later, a posse of settlers caught up with the party and rescued Mrs. Musick and the children, including the babe in arms.

The last Indian incursion in this part of Virginia occurred in April 1794 near Yokum Station in neighboring Lee County, but of course, the people didn’t know it was the last incursion at that time.

It was here, on the dangerous frontier, near the Musick home, that Joel Cook, for some reason long lost to time, chose to settle in 1795.

Joel’s Arrival

We learned about Joel Cook from his daughter, Sarah, in her War of 1812 application for pension and bounty land after her husband, James Claxton or Clarkson perished. James, born in 1775, died in 1815 during the War of 1812, but Sarah’s depositions that provided her father’s name and details of her marriage to James were filed in 1851, many years after James’s death.

Joel Cook was in Russell County by about 1795, although he may have arrived earlier. He was closely associated with Clayton Cook who is believed to be his son. Whether Clayton was his son or another family member, it’s clear that those two men were closely associated.

We believe that Clayton eventually went on to live in Kentucky near Salyersville in present-day Magoffin County.

Please note my “weasel words of uncertainty,” such as “believe.” There’s frustratingly little proven about these connections.

Joel’s Family

There is only one proven child of Joel Cook (the elder), daughter Sarah Cook, born about 1775, who married James Clarkson (Claxton) in 1799 in Russell County. From her 1851 widow’s pension application, we know when and where she was married, and who was present.

A second child is probably Clayton Cook who reportedly went to Floyd Co., KY about the same time Joel Sr. disappears from the records. Clayton eventually settled near Salyersville, Kentucky. Clayton and Joel could be brothers, father and son or some other relationship. It’s likely, given that they witnessed documents together that they were somehow related.

Based on the age of Sarah alone, Joel Sr. is believed to have been born before 1755, but he could have been born significantly earlier. Sarah was born about 1775, married in 1799 with her first child born in 1800. Men in Virginia during that time very rarely married before age 25 and more likely 30, so Joel was probably born in 1750 or earlier.

If Clayton is also Joel’s son, which is certainly feasible, he is on his own by 1794 or so, so probably age 25 or 30 by then, born 1764-1769, pushing his father’s birth to before 1745. I think this is a more likely scenario. One piece of conflicting information is that the Clayton Cook found in Kentucky wasn’t born until about 1777, which means that this Clayton, on his own in 1795 would have had to have been born before 1777. This is just one of about a million frustratingly conflicting tidbits.

Are these two different Clayton Cooks, or is the information incorrect?

We do know that Joel Cook Sr. was living in Russell Co. because Sarah was married at his house.

George Cook and John Cook, also found early in Russell Co., could be related, but we have nothing except their names on the tax list to potentially connect them to Joel Sr.

The 1794 Magoffin County, KY Settlement Attempt

It’s possible that Joel Cook attempted to settle in present-day Magoffin County, Kentucky in 1794. Several settlers from South Carolina, including Clayton Cook, were reported to have settled at Prater’s Fort, only to have been repelled by Indians. They returned in 1800, trying once again.

It’s uncertain if this is the same Clayton Cook as the Clayton Cook found in Russell County with Joel Cook. I have also seen no documentation that the Clayton Cook who attempted to settle in Kentucky in 1794 was actually from South Carolina. It’s possible that the other settlers were, but he was not.

Earliest Land and Court Records and Tax Lists

Lack of records is our biggest impediment in our search for Joel Cook, both in Virginia and Kentucky.

Please note that marriage, birth and death records don’t begin in Russell County until 1853, will and probate books do not exist before 1803 and tax lists are sporadic. Court and land records begin in 1786 and 1787, respectively. No census before 1810. I have created a timeline using all available records related to all early Cook records in Russell County.

  • In 1795, 18 acres to Joel Cook from the WPA book, assignee of Daniel Wilson, on Swords Creek.
  • Joel Cook, grantee, assignee of David Nelson, Russell Co., warrant 13687 issued Aug 3, 1782, 18 acres on the S side of Clinch River, surveyed July 1, 1795.
  • In 1796, Joel and Alexander Cook were on the tax list. Alexander Cook never appears again.
  • In 1797-1799, both Joel and Clayton Cook were on the tax list.
  • Page 156 – December 31, 1798 between Moses Damron, Jr. of Fleming Co., KY and John Tollet of Wythe Co…300 ac granted to John Bredon by patent dated December 17, 1792…on Clinch River…Beginning…corner to John Bredons settlement right…by the ford of the River…to the mouth of a gap of a ridge…through the gap…by Weavers Creek…Signed: Moses Damron & Sarah Damron. Witnesses: John Stinson, C. Holliday, Abraham Musick, Martin Honaker & Joel Cook
  • Court Notes 5 – June 25, 1799 – Henry Smith vs. Joel Cook, debt
  • Court Notes p.23 – Sept 24, 1799 – Joel Cook member of Jury Comm. vs. John Osborne
  • Court Notes p.26 – September 25, 1799 – Henry Smith vs. Joel Cook, debt dismissed
  • Court Notes p. 35 – November 26, 1799 – Walter Preston vs Jeremiah Patrick Jr, dept, Joel Cook undertakes for the defendant.
  • Court Notes p.36 – November 26, 1799 – Henry Smith vs. Joel Cook, debt, Jeremiah Patrick, Jr. undertakes for the def.
  • 346 – Joel Cook – March 25, 1799 – 100 ac – part Treasury Warrant 12364 – on the north side of the north fork of Clinch River – at the mouth of Musicks Spring Branch – corner John Wilson.

Note – I surely wish I could locate Musick’s Spring Branch, today.

  • 346 – March 25, 1799 – Joel Cook – 50 ac – part Treasury Warrant 2320 – on the south side of the Stone Mountain.
  • 1799 – Court Notes p. 436 Martin Honaker vs Clayton Cook, petition and summons, dismissed. There is a town named Honaker today.
  • 17 – January 25, 1800 – Henry Bowen – 500 ac – part of Treasury Warrant 2320 dated November 18, 1797 – on both sides of the north fork of Clinch River – on the bank of said fork in a line of Fowlers Orphans Tract – by the side of a path – corner to a 50 ac tract of Joel Cook – corner to Richard Colier
  • Court Notes p.50 – March 25, 1800 – Daniel Collins vs. Joel Cook, petition & summons
  • Court Notes p.51 – March 25, 1800 – Jeremiah Patrick, assignee vs. Clayton Cook, petition & summons
  • Court Notes p.62 – June 24, 1800 – Joel Cook member of Jury, Comm. vs. Benj. Harris
  • Court Notes p.63 – June 24, 1800 – Indenture between Moses Damron & Sarah to John Tallet “oath of Joel Cook
  • Page 148 – October 28, 1800 – between James Connard and Joel Cook…50 ac on the north side of the upper north fork of Clinch River…Beginning…in a Valley on the south side of the Stony Mountain…Signed: James Kinnard. No witnesses.
  • Page 149 – October 28, 1800 between James Kinnard and Solomon Ward for “…150 ac… on both sides of the north fork of Clinch River … Beginning on the north side of a Cedar Clift … to the mouth of a cove … to the top of the River Hill … at the mouth of a branch then crossing the river … at the foot of Kents Ridge then crossing the River …” Signed: James Kinnard & Molley Kinnard. Witnesses: Joel Cook, John Watson & Claton Cook.

Kent’s Ridge is the ridge running on the south side of the Clinch River but parallel to Stone Mountain.

  • Page 151 – October 28, 1800 between Joel Cook and Henry Smith…18 ac, part of a survey dated July 4, 1795..on the south side of Clinch River…Beginning…along the River Bend…Signed: Joel Cook. No witnesses.
  • Court Notes p.91 – October 28, 1800 – Indenture James Kinnard to Joel Cook
  • Court Notes p 91 – Indenture Joel Cook to Henry Smith
  • In 1801, Clayton, Joel and John Cook are all on the tax list.

  • A petition signed on December 17, 1801 includes the names of both Clayton and Joel Cook, adjacent, along with several of the neighboring landowners. The petition references the incursions of savages, then a road that has been opened in Russell and Lee Counties, except for 10 or 12 miles which the petitioners who live near the border with Kentucky request to be opened.
  • 36 – November 24, 1801 – Andrew Hebourn – 4300 ac – part of Treasury Warrant 1856 dated March 18, 1796 – on the north side of the north fork of Clinch River and on the east side of Swords Creek, including the Stone Mountain – corner to Joel Cook – corner to Henry Bowen – corner to another tract of Hebourn – corner to Patrick Kindrick – corner to a tract of land granted to Josiah Fugate – corner to Fugate & Harry Smith – corner to Jesse Evans – corner to Evans and Richard Smith surveys #1 & 5 of 10,000 ac – corner to Richard Smiths survey of 7223 3/4 ac – corner to Jeremiah Patrick – corner to Harris Wilson – corner to Jeremiah Patrick, Jr. – corner to Patrick Kindrick, Jr. – corner to John Wilson – corner to Wilson & Joel Cookopposite the mouth of a branch in a survey made for Elexious Musick – in a valley.

Please note that while I found the transcribed surveys, I would love to locate the actual drawn surveys which would allow me to pinpoint this land much more accurately. Assistance is welcome.

  • Elexious Musick (1788-1874) was the son of David Musick who died in the massacre. He is buried in the Musick Cemetery, just above Fullers. An earlier Elexious Musick (1718-1798), born in Spotsylvania County, VA died in 1798 in Russell County and was a member of the same Musick family.
  • Joel Cook, grantee, Dec. 11, 1801 – warrant 2320, issued Nov. 18, 1797 – Russell Co. – 50 acres on the S side of the ____ Stones Mountain adjoining his own land (note – see also Cooke it says)
  • Joel Cook, grantee, Dec. 12, 1801 – warrant 12364 May 18, 1782, Russell Co., 100 acres on the N side of the N fork of Clinch River beginning at the mouth of Musick’s Spring Branch.
  • Page 573 – April 6, 1802 – between Solomon Ward & Susannah and William McCormack for “… 150 ac on the north fork of Clinch River … Beginning … at the mouth of a cave … crossing said branch joining James Kinnard & John Wilson … to the mouth of the branch … to Abednego Whites line …” Signed: Solomon Ward & Susanna Ward. Witnesses: George Kindrick, Clayton Cook, Joel Cook.
  • Page 342 – October 26, 1802 between James Connard and Joel Cook…on the waters of the north fork of Clinch River…50 ac…adjoining the tract of land of Connard…Beginning in the road and crossing the road…Signed: James Cannard & Mary Cannard. No witnesses.
  • Court Notes p. 227 – October 26, 1802 – Two indentures from James Canard and Mary, 1 to James Nesbet and 1 to Joel Cook, recorded.
  • Court Notes p. 227 – October 26, 1802 – Indenture from Solomon Ward & Susanna to William McCormick, oath of Joel Cook, continued for further proof.
  • Court Notes p. 229 – October 26, 1802 – George Cook exempted from paying levies & poor rates on account of age & infirmities.

This means George was probably over age 45 and could have been over age 55 or 60. If George was 45, he was born in 1757ish. He was probably more likely born before 1750. The other possibility is that he was disabled, referenced as “infirm.” Of course, we don’t know if he’s connected to Joel.

  • 1802 – Joel Cook, Clayton Cook, George Cook, and John Cook on tax list. This is the first mention of John Cook.
  • 1803 – Joel Cook, Clayton Cook, John Cook, James Cook on tax list. I never find James again.
  • 1803 – 3 Nov., Thomas Cook of Russell Co VA sold 150 ac of land to Thomas Stanley of Iredell co NC originally granted to Henry Cook.
  • Page 450 – March 6, 1803 between Harris Wilson and Richard Wilson…on the waters of the north fork of Clinch River…100 ac, part of a survey of 350 ac granted by patent dated September 23, 1789…Beginning…crossing a branch above Nathaniel Barnetts improvement…a conditional line between Richard & John Wilson…Signed: Harris Wilson. Witnesses: Andrew Shorbridge, C. Holliday, Joel Cook
  • Page 452 – March 6, 1803 between Harris Willson and John Willson…, part of a survey of 350 ac granted to Harris Willson by patent dated September 23, 1789 on the waters of the north fork of Clinch River…100 ac…Beginning at the foot of the Stony Mountain…Signed: Harris Willson. Witnesses: C. Holliday, Joel Cook, Andrew Shortridge
  • Court Notes p.260 – July 26, 1803 – Joel Cook, surveyor of road in place of Harry Smith.
  • Court Notes p. 262 – August 23, 1803 – Indenture from Harris Wilson by oath of Joel Cook.
  • 1803 – Patrick Kindrick will September 10, 1803, beneficiaries children William, Jane Lock, Frances Ritchie, Patrick, Rachel Johnson, George; others, Molly Horton, Isabel Horton; executors, none named but George Kendrick appointed by the court; witnesses Harry Smith, Travis Kendall, Joel Cook, probated June 4, 1805, page 87
  • 1804 – Thomas Cook, Clayton Cook, Joel Cook, and John Cook on tax list. Thomas Cook is never mentioned again.
  • Court Notes p.332 – August 28, 1804 – 2 Indentures, Joel Cook & Aley to Abednego White
  • Court Notes p.332 – August 28, 1804 – Indenture from Sol. Ward & Susanna to Wm. McCormick, oath of Clayton Cook
  • Page 571 – August 28, 1804 – between Joel Cook & Elisy and Abednego White…on the south side of the Stone Mountain…50 ac by survey dated March 25, 1799…Beginning corner to said Cook…near a spring…to the top of the Brushy Ridge…Signed: Joel Cook & Ailey Cook. No witnesses.
  • Page 572 – August 28, 1804 between Joel Cook and Abednego White…on the waters of the north fork of Clinch River…50 ac….Beginning on the top of the Brushy Ridge…on the south side of the Stony Mountain…crossing the valley…Signed: Joel Cook & Ailey Cook. No witnesses.
  • Court Notes p. 349 – October 23, 1804 – Court expenses, Clayton Cook for killing one old wolf
  • In 1805 Joel Cook witnessed a will for Patrick Kerchick or Kerchill.
  • Page 626 – July 29, 1805 – between Joel Cook & Alice and James Canard…100 ac on the north side of the north fork of Clinch River…Beginning at the mouth of Musicks Spring branch…corner of John Wilsons tract of land…Signed: Joel Cook & Alice Cook. No witnesses
  • Page 627 – August 6, 1805 between Joel Cook & Alice and Abednego White…on the north side of the north fork of Clinch River…50 ac…Beginning corner of John Youngs tract by the side of the road…near the mouth of a wet-weather spring …Signed: Joel Cook & Alse Cook. No witnesses
  • Court Notes – August 6, 1805 – Two Indentures from Joel Cook and Alice, 1 to James Cannard and 1 to Abednigo White, recorded

Joel Cook has sold the last of his land by August 1805. He had probably moved on at this point.

However, in 1809, we find Joel and John on the tax list once again. This is believed to be the younger Joel, possibly either a son of the older Joel or the son of John Cook.

  • 1809-1811 – Joel and John Cook on tax list
  • 1812 – Joel Cook on tax list and sporadically through 1820
  • 1812 – James Cook placed under good behavior bond
  • 92 – August 19, 1816 – James Taylor – 330 ac – part Treasury Warrant 11962 dated May 10, 1782 – on both sides of the north fork of Clinch River – corner to a big survey of Andrew Hebourn – corner to John Wilson – corner to Hebourn, James Madison & Harris Wilson – on the west side of a gap – corner to Joel Cook – at the mouth of Musicks spring branch – corner to Abednego White – corner to Henry Bowen.

This is clearly the description of Joel Cook’s original land and involved James Taylor who witnessed the marriage of Sarah Cook. This description does not mean that Joel still lived on this land.

Joel’s Land

The Virginia Archives includes a 1937 record for Joel Cook’s land in their Historical Inventory Project. Apparently, his land included an old Indian campground on the Clinch River where spears and other relics emerged and were plowed up for decades. In 1937, it was owned by Sam Hale.

The challenge is that the road directions are given with some road numbers that have been replaced over time.

On this old map that shows the county road numbers, I was able to confirm the location. Virginia Route 82 is now 67.

How Much Land Did Joel Own?

According to the various land records, Joel owned either 250 or 300 acres. One entry may have been recorded twice as it appears to be very similar. We are very fortunate because these descriptions of Joel’s land that include his neighbors allow us to place his land relatively accurately.

Based on the 1937 historical information, there are only two locations where you can turn left and drive along the Clinch River.

The first is Gardner Road, in green, and the second is Kent Ridge Road, in red which is on the south side of the river, as described in the original land grant and survey.

There are only two locations where there is a valley on the south side of Stone Mountain and a road where Joel could own land on both sides of Clinch River. We also know this is on the east side of Sword’s Creek, which narrows the site to the land with the red arrows.

Stone Mountain is directly north of the red arrows, and east of Swords Creek Road.

It would help immensely if we knew the names of the small creeks to locate Musick’s Spring Branch, but we don’t. Those small branches aren’t labeled, at least not that I can find today.

The most likely location for Joel’s land is at the intersection of Clark’s Valley Road just east of Swords Creek Road for maybe 1000 feet. It’s the only location where the Clinch River is close enough to the road to fulfill the various location criteria, although given that Joel owned at least four pieces of land, he could have owned land in both the green and red locations.

Since Joel Cook had more than one land grant, we can use the locations described in his other grants to assist our search.

TopoZone shows Stone Mountain and the Clinch River, right at the intersection of Sword’s Creek Road.

Based on the descriptions of Joel’s land, we find:

  • Swords Creek
  • North side of the north fork of Clinch River at Musick’s Spring Branch
  • South side of Stone Mountain
  • North side of the upper north fork of Clinch River…Beginning…in a Valley on the south side of the Stony Mountain
  • South side of Clinch River…Beginning…along the River Bend
  • North side of the north fork of Clinch River and on the east side of Swords Creek, including the Stone Mountain – corner to Joel Cook
  • South side of Stone Mountain joining his own land
  • N side of the N fork of Clinch River beginning at the mouth of Musick’s Spring Branch
  • Waters of the north fork of Clinch River…50 ac…adjoining the tract of land of Connard…Beginning in the road and crossing the road
  • south side of the Stone Mountain…50 ac by survey dated March 25, 1799…Beginning corner to said Cook…near a spring…to the top of the Brushy Ridge
  • North side of north fork of Clinch, beginning at mouth of Musick’s Spring Branch
  • North fork of Clinch River…50 ac….Beginning on the top of the Brushy Ridge…on the south side of the Stony Mountain…crossing the valley
  • North side of the north fork of Clinch River…50 ac…Beginning corner of John Youngs tract by the side of the road…near the mouth of a wet-weather spring
  • On the west side of a gap – corner to Joel Cook – at the mouth of Musicks spring branch

Above and below, the intersection of Swords Creek and Clarks Valley Road. This appears to be the only location that includes both a road in the valley, and the Clinch River, that’s east of Sword’s Creek and at the base of Stone Mountain. Kent’s Ridge is also mentioned, and Kent’s Ridge Road is shown on the south side of the Clinch River. This section of road is about 1500 feet west to east, or about one third of a mile. Joel owned significantly more than this, but very likely included this land along the road to the river.

The intersection of Swords Creek Road and Clarks Valley Road is shown above. Joel Cook’s land is found here, but I don’t know the exact location. Based on our several hints, I suspect that Joel’s land is just to the right (east) of that intersection. Gardner Road is just to the left of that mining operation.

The Russell County, VA Surveyor’s Books are available at a Family History Center or Library, so I’ve added these surveys to my research list for February.

Today, the railroad runs along the Clinch river between the road and the river.

Using Google Street View, I “drove” down Clark’s Valley Road heading east from the intersection with Swords Creek.

Clarks Valley road looking at Stone Mountain. Joel’s land was strikingly beautiful and is still very remote and unspoiled today.

Visiting Joel

I visited Russell County in 2009 and located the portion I believe to be Joel’s land on the Clinch River, near Sword’s Creek, according to the various deeds.

In this region, you can’t traverse the smaller roads using Google Street View, which is most of what’s there, so I’m very glad I visited in person.

These pictures that follow may or may not be Joel’s exact land, but it’s close.

The Clinch River area in Russell County is still quite rugged. Much of the mountain area is used for mining today.

It’s interesting that there was a swinging bridge crossing the Clinch on Joel’s land. I have to wonder if this was the location.

Moving On – Someplace

 In 1805, Joel Cook sold his land and moved on, someplace. That million-dollar question is where?

Joel Cook, Cla(y)ton Cook and James Claxton (Clarkson) are found throughout the first part of the Russell County, VA court book in a normal way, meaning the swearing of signing of deeds, witnessing for people, road work, etc.  However, the last entries we find for Joel are in 1805 when he sells his land and after that, there is nothing for Joel. At least not for this Joel.

Clayton Cook, if this is the same Clayton, was supposed to have returned to Magoffin County, KY (then Floyd Co.) again in 1800. However, we find Clayton in Russell County in 1801, 1802, 1803, and 1804. The records could be “off,” or it could be two separate Clayton Cooks. If it’s two Claytons, then were did the Russell County Clayton, and a few months later, Joel, go?

It’s worth mentioning that there is a Clayton Cook in Granville County, NC in 1800, age 26-44, but he appears to have stayed in North Carolina during and after this time.

It’s difficult to know whether this Russell County Clayton Cook is the same Clayton who was reportedly in Magoffin County, KY. The Original Clayton Cook who supposedly attempted to settle in 1794 before Indians pushed the party of settlers back was reportedly from South Carolina. There’s no documentation for the SC location that I’m aware of.

I do know that according to the Cook DNA project there is a Cook line from Anson County, NC that descends from a Clayton Cook born around 1720 in VA, and a separate Cook line from Russell County, VA.

The line for John Cook born in 1804 in Russell Co., VA does not match the above line.

These are very clearly not the same family lines.

I searched my Family Finder matches for Cook males fitting the description of any of these people, with no luck.

We first find Joel Cook on the Russell County tax lists in 1796, which would make sense because his land was surveyed in 1795 and he probably moved onto it at that time. Clayton Cook is on the same list in 1797, so likely has a home of his own and one could surmise is at least 21, so born about 1776ish or earlier.

In 1802 we find a Joel, Clayton, George and John Cook on the tax list, although I don’t know if they are in the same district or not. Unfortunately, the tax lists are woefully incomplete for this timeframe. Note the John born in 1804 was probably the son of John Cook, by process of elimination based on what we know about the other Russell County Cook men. George Cook was elderly, Joel was in his 50s or 60s too, Clayton was young but moved on and would not have left an infant son. That only leaves John as a candidate to be the father of the John born in 1804.

In 1799 (with 2 polls meaning he paid tax on 2 men) we find a William Hullum. The Hullum, Hellom, family is somehow connected to Sarah Cook as she is the estate executor in 1820 in Claiborne County, TN for a William Hellom. Living with her in the 1850 census, John Hellom, a 70 old man, just five years younger than Sarah, is labeled as an idiot.

In 1810 in Russell County, VA we find George, Joel and John Cook, plus William Hullum. This is probably the younger Joel, not Joel Sr.

Joel Cook, Sr. began selling his land in 1801, sold the last of it in August 1805 and disappeared from the records. He had to live someplace and earn a living somehow. Clayton Cook was last found in Russell County in October 1804.

I couldn’t keep the various Joel Cook’s straight, so I created a table and numbered the Joels. Documentation is provided below, followed by the table.

Joel Cook the Elder (#1)

Joel the elder, father of Sarah Cook, had to be born prior to 1755, probably in VA Sarah was born in VA in 1775, which tells us that’s where Joel was in 1775 too, someplace.

If Clayton Cook was born about 1767, and if Joel is indeed his father as well, then Joel the elder was likely born before 1742. Joel the elder disappears from Russell Co. VA in 1805, when he would have been about 60 years old, and we do not find him again.

However, there are some Joel Cooks. Are any of these men possibly the Joel Cook who left Russell County in 1805 or his descendants?

Joel’s Birth

Before we go searching for Joel, what do we actually know unquestionably about his age and birth year?

We know that by 1795, he was living in Russell County and transacting business for land. However, he had been living elsewhere, because his daughter, Sarah, was born in 1774 or 1775.

The youngest Joel could have been was to have been born 21 years or so before his daughter, if she was his eldest child.

In that case, Joel would have been born no later than 1754, and much more likely before 1750, assuming Sarah was his eldest.

If Sarah was his youngest child by his first wife, Joel might have been born as early as 1730.

For purposes of this search, we are looking for a man born in 1754 or earlier.

Let’s start with Russell County, VA, itself.

Russell County Census

By 1820, the older Joel is not found in Russell County. I suspect the entire family moved in 1805 or so, Clayton Cook to Kentucky, James Lee Clarkson and his wife Sarah Cook to Claiborne County, TN.In the War of 1812, a young Henry Cook died, a drummer and fifer, typically a boy between 12 and 15, died in the unit along with Sarah’s husband.

In 1817, the Claiborne Co., TN court shows the State vs Henry Cook alias Hulins. He pled guilty. The word “alias” was often used in early court records to denote a man who was born outside of wedlock. His legal name could have been his mother’s surname, but if he was using his father’s surname without his father legally recognizing him in court, the word “alias” would have been used. The Cook and Helloms family were somehow connected.

In the 1820 census in Russell County, we show:

  • Joel aged 26-45 so born 1775-1794. He has 1 young son, 1 young daughter and possibly an older daughter. This is possibly the son of Joel Sr. or perhaps John Cook. There is no will or estate for Joel Sr. or Jr. that I have been able to find.

This younger Joel Cook found in Russell County after the elder Joel sells his land and leaves is Joel Cook #2.

In 1830, the Russell County census shows quite a few Cook families. But where were they in 1820?

Henry and Jacob are side by side

  • Henry – 20002 10001 (he is age 20-30)
  • Jacob – 00201 age 20-30 and one female 50-60
  • Elizabeth – 0011 0010001 (Elizabeth appears to be 40-50)
  • Joel – 0110001 10111 (he is age 40-50 so born 1780-1790 – so clearly not the father of Sarah)
  • John – Male 20-30 and female 15-20

In 1840 we find:

  • Henry
  • Shelton
  • Anderson
  • Jacob
  • Solomon

By 1850 there is:

  • Anderson Cook age 32 farmer born Russell Co wife Priscilla 28
  • Jacob Cook 42 (born 1808) born in Russell Co.
  • Henry Cook (Polly 45) age 42 (born 1808) farmer born in Russell Co. Va.
  • James Cook (Polly 24) age 24 farmer born Russell Co.
  • John Cook (Hannah 38) age 46 (born 1804) farmer born in Russell Co. (have child Sarah age 6.5)

The only men living in Russell County in the 1808 timeframe that were of child-bearing age were John who appears on the tax list in 1801, and Joel #2 who appears on the 1809 tax list.

In 1860 we find:

  • Joseph 26
  • William 31
  • Henry 32
  • Polly Hannah 56

In 1880 Jacob Cook born in 1808 says his parents were born in VA and W. VA.

The Younger Joel Cook (#2) in Russell County, VA

Joel Cook #2, is the Joel Cook found in Russell Co. in the 1820 census (age 26 to 45) and the 1830 census (age 40-50). He appears to have been born between 1780 and 1790 and is probably the man who married Elizabeth Ring. He is not on the 1826 and later tax lists but is on the 1830 census. All other Cooks are gone or were missed in 1820. In 1830 Joel appears to have either a younger wife (20-30) or possibly a second wife or older daughter. He is on the 1831 tax list, but not on the 1840 census. This family is found in Dickensonville district which is about 28 miles southwest of Sword’s Creek where our Joel Cook lived.

In 1848 a Joel Cook is indicted for assault with Jesse Cook. He has probably the same 4 counts recorded in 1849 and 1850 as well. He is not on the census in Russell Co in 1850. Is this one or two different Joel Cooks? What happened to him, who was his father, and where did he go?

Joel Cook (#2) and Elizabeth Ring – The younger Joel Cook in Russell County married Elizabeth Ring sometime before 1823, the date of Elizabeth’s father’s will. By 1820, they had two children.

A researcher shows a son Joel, with no further information, and one researcher shows a daughter Rachel who is born in 1823, married in 1838 in Carter Co., KY to Andrew Stuart, and who subsequently had children and died in Carter County. This may imply that is where Joel Cook and Elizabeth Ring also settled, given that their daughter married there in 1838. If this is the Joel Cook who died in Carter County in 1854, his father’s name was George Cook.

Given the lack of and spotty documentation, perhaps this would be a good place to start. The Joel Cook who married Elizabeth Ring could well be the Joel with a second wife and family living in Carter County in 1850. He could also be the Joel who was living in Russell Co in 1820 and 1830.

Russell County Virginia Law Order Book No. 7 page 47 March 6, 1823 – It is ordered to be certified to the War Department of the United States that it is satisfactory proven to this court that Rachel Ring is the widow and relict of Stephen Ring deceased late a private in the Army of the United States, that she resides in this county and is unmarried.

Russell County Law Order Bk. 7, pg 47 on 6 Mar 1823 Rachel Ring proven widow of Stephen Ring, “Elizabeth … who hath intermarried with Joel Cook” proven as daughter of Stephen Ring.

Russell County Virginia Law Order Book No. 7 page 233 November 2, 1824

“It is satisfactorily proven to this court by the testimony of Andr. Caldwell and Stephen Gose, Junr. two credible witnesses that Elizabeth Cook who hath intermarried with Joel Cook, Thomas Ring, Delilah Keith who intermarried with William Keith, Jesse Ring, Lavina Ring, Mahala Barty who intermarried with Jesse Barty and Nancy Ring are the sons and daughters and all the sons and daughters and heirs at law of Stephen Ring late a private and who died in the Army of the United States in the late war with Great Britain.”

We find a Joel Cook in Carter County on the 1839 tax list, so some Joel Cook is there by then. What we don’t know for sure is if he’s the same Joel Cook that married Elizabeth Ring.

Where is Joel Cook Sr.?

The 1810 Russell County, VA census is lost, but Joel Sr. sold his land in 1805 so probably isn’t there in 1810 anyway.

The 1820 census shows us these possibilities for Joel Cook Sr, assuming he is still living at that time.

  • Sumner Co. Tn – Joel Cook 1 male 16-26, 1 26-45 (born 1775 or earler), 1 over 45, 1 female under 10, 2 10-16, 1 over 45, 3 people engaged in agriculture. This Joel is later eliminated because this man came from Bertie County, NC and was living there when our Joel’s daughter, Sarah, was born in Virginia in 1775. This Joel married Bellison Floyd on March 26, 1784 in Bertie County, then married again in Bertie County on May 9, 1797 to Patience Brassell during the time when Joel the Elder was living in Russell County. The Joel in Sumner County did have a daughter, Sarah, but she wasn’t born until 1808.
  • Isle of Wight Co., VA – this Joel is age 26 to 45 in 1820 and 40-50 in 1830 so too young. Isle of Wight proved to be a red herring and this Joel is not a candidate.
  • Union, Ross Co., Ohio 1 male 10-16, 1 male over 45, 1 female 16-26, 1 female over 45 and 1 person engaged in agriculture.

This person is enumerated beside Isaac Cook, age 45 and up, with 2 males 10-16, 1 16-18, 3 females under 10, one 10-16, 1 26-45. If Joel is Isaac’s father, and we don’t know that he is, then Joel has to be 65 or older, so born 1765 or earlier. The name Isaac has not been seen before in this family.

The History of Ross County, Ohio states that Isaac Cook is a descendant of Henry Cook who came to Plymouth, Massachusetts. No Joel is mentioned, but a son, Joe is. I believe this family can be eliminated as our Joel.

  • Owingsville, Bath Co., KY – Joel Cook, age 45 or older (so born before 1775) with 2 males under 10, 1 female under 10, 1 female 10-16, 1 female 26-45 – This is probably not our elder Joel unless he remarried to a younger wife, which is not unheard of. This is not the younger Joel Cook from Russell County because he’s listed in the Russell County census in 1820.

The 1830 census shows us the following for older Joel’s:

  • Morgan Co. KY – Joel age 60-70 (1760-1770) with a younger woman, 30-40, probably a daughter or daughter in law, with younger children, 2 males under 5, 1 10-15, 2 females 5-10 and 2 15-50. This is probably Joel Cook #3.
  • Gasconade Co. Missouri – Joel B. Cook age 60-70 (born 1760-1770), wife same age, also a couple age 30-40 and younger children. This man is 70-80 in 1840 but dead by 1850. Our Joel never goes by Joel B., and a later man, probably his son, Joel Burton Cook was born in New Jersey. I am eliminating this man from consideration.
  • Cook – Bath Co., KY listed twice, once with David Young and once with Jonathan Burns – not old enough. Is this the younger Joel?

None of these man can be Joel the elder, and this analysis has eliminated all Joels except the Bath and Morgan County, KY men for Joel #2 and Joel #3, Joels appearing in the next generation.

More (and More) Joels

The two volume “Pioneer Families of Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky” focuses on early adventurers and explorers, pioneers in the region that originally included the counties of Floyd (1799), Knox (1799), Greenup (1803) and Clay (1806), as formed by the General Assembly of Kentucky. Many of the early Russell County, VA families are also found in these early Kentucky counties, including the Honaker family. The crossroads town in Russell County closest to Joel’s land is named Honaker. Joel Cook is mentioned several times.

Clayton Cook is found among the 550 families on the tax list in 1810, but no other Cook family is listed.

Joel Cook #3 is the Joel who died in Carter Co., KY in 1854. He was born in 1767 in Virginia, and may be the son of the George Cook who was indeed elderly (or infirm, or both) in about 1800 in Russell County, VA. There are so many questions.

  • Is this the Joel who was the ordained minister in 1817 in Floyd Co., Kentucky?
  • Is that the same Joel in Bath County in 1820 over age 45 (so born before 1775)? Morgan County was established in 1822 from Floyd and Bath. If so, he is not the younger Joel in Russell County, who is there in both 1820 and 1830.
  • Is he the Joel who is in Morgan County in 1830 age 60-70 (born 1770-1780) with a younger wife (or older daughter,) age 30-40 and either her children from a former marriage or a blended family with new children of his own? The older kids listed in the 1820 census would be gone by 1830.
  • Joel Cook, the minister is mentioned in the Pioneer Families book several times. Is this the Joel who died in 1854 in Carter Co. KY?

The 1854 death certificate of Joel Cook is the source for the following: Cook, Joel (born about 1767) aged 87; d. Aug. 3, 1854; born in Virginia; died in Carter Co., Kentucky. Parent: Father: George Cook. In Russell County, George Cook was exempted from paying levies & poor rates on account of age & infirmities.

Prior to his death, some Joel Cook appeared in the 1820 census (Bath Co.), the 1830 census (Morgan Co.) and the 1850 census (Carter Co.).

By 1839 a Joel is on the tax list of Carter County. Carter was formed in 1838 from Greenup and Lawrence Counties.

In 1850, Joel Cook in Carter Co. is age 83 and born in VA which puts his birth in 1767. He dies in 1854 and his death certificate say his father is George. This Joel Cook was married to Euda Patrick, daughter of Jeremiah Patrick who once lived in Russell VA. Jeremiah’s will was probated in January 1824 in Bath KY. Joel Cook is listed in 1820 in Bath Co., KY census, and Morgan Co., KY in 1830. A portion of Bath in 1820 abutted what would become Morgan, and eventually Carter. This is probably the Joel in Bath County in 1820, but that means he’s not the Joel that married Elizabeth Ring and was living in Russell County in 1820.

By 1850, it’s very clear that our Joel #1 would have been deceased. I was hoping to find some proven family members, or records. Something to connect with our Joel, wife Alice and daughter, Sarah, with other people.

In Carter County on the 1850 census there is a Joel Cook McKinney, age 59 (same as the head of household, Daniel McKinney), that appears to be Joel Cook. The McKinney ditto mark may be incorrect. Researcher Maureen states that Daniel McKinney was from Russell County, VA. In 1860 Joel is in Lewis County & gives his state of birth as TN. In 1870 Joel is in the household of John Dickenson, grandson of Archelous Dickenson of Russell County, VA, and in this census he gives his state of birth as TN. John Dickenson married Sarah Francis Cook on January 10, 1865 in Carter County, KY and Maureen believes her to be the younger Joel Cook’s daughter or granddaughter.

1853 – John S. Cook died on March 6, 1853 at age 25 in Carter KY. Parents listed as Joel & Ealdy Cook. Born Morgan Co. KY 1828. John is living with Joel in 1850, so this pretty much confirms that this Joel is the Joel in Morgan Co. in 1830. However, that means he can’t be the Joel who married Elizabeth Ring because that Joel was still living in Russell County in 1830.

The Bath, Morgan and Carter County Joels, meaning #4 and #5, seem to be one and the same.

1856 – Angelina Cook died on 12 Dec. in Carter County, KY age 15 (born 1841), parents names given as Joel & Elizabeth Cook. Note that in 1850 Angelina Cook is living in Carter County but with John Haney, age 63, two Elizabeth Haney’s, age 28 and 17, one baby Sarah Haney age 1 and then Angelina 8 and Martha A. Cook age 5. This points to a different Joel Cook, not the Joel married to Ealdy, perhaps Joel #2.

John Haney married Elizabeth Cook in 1843. Elizabeth was likely the older sibling of Angelina.

Are these females the children of the Joel Cook who died in 1854? If so, his wife was Elizabeth and she was deceased by 1850. That Joel was 83 in 1850, so born in 1767,

The Elizabeth Cook, wife of John Haney, who was 27 years old in the 1850 census, so born about 1823 in Kentucky, is clearly not Elizabeth Ring, but she could have been the daughter of Joel Cook and Elizabeth Ring, meaning Angelina’s sister. The challenge with this is that Elizabeth claims to have been born in KY in 1823 and the Joel Cook married to Elizabeth Ring was still in Russell County in both 1820 and 1830.

It appears that we have multiple generations of Joel Cooks. All of them confusing.

1850 and Later

By 1850, it’s very clear that our Joel #1 would have been deceased. I was hoping to find some proven family members, or records. Something to connect with our Joel, wife Alice and daughter, Sarah with other family members.

In Carter County on the 1850 census there is a Joel Cook McKinney, age 59 (same as the head of household, Daniel McKinney), that may actually be Joel Cook, and the McKinney ditto may be incorrect.

If so, this man may be the Joel (b KY) age 69 in Lewis County in 1860 with wife Eliza and daughter Louisa age 10, although I feel this is unlikely as Louisa is stated as age 10, not age 9 and in 1850 this man was living with another family.

In the 1870 census, we find Joel Cook in Carter Co., with the Dickison family, age 70, so born about 1800 born in TN. It’s very unlikely that any of these 3 men are the Russell Co. Joel Cook of 1820/30.

In 1871 Joel Cook of Carter County applies for a War of 1812 pension stating that he was drafted in Knoxville. The unit in which he was drafted was from primarily Greene, Sullivan, Washington, Carter, and Hawkins Counties, not Virginia.

The researcher who found this data proposed that this is the Joel that is the father of Sarah, but that’s impossible. Sarah was born in 1775 and all of these Joels were born after her.

The Joel Chart

Groupings are color coded, but open to correction based on additional research. Earliest appearance is shown in red. Highlights in the first row for family clusters.

Year Joel #1 elder – Russell Co. Clayton Cook – Floyd Co. (records < 1808 burned) Joel #3 Floyd Co, KY Joel #2 – the Younger in Russell Co. m Elizabeth Ring Joel #4 Carter County, KY Joel #5 Bath & Morgan Co., KY Joel #6 the Younger in Carter Co. KY Joel #7 Lewis Co., KY
Birth Before 1754, probably before 1750, possibly as early as 1730 Abt 1767-1777 Before 1800 1780-1790 1767 VA father George Before 1775, prob 1760-1770 Born TN 1799/1800 Born TN 1791
1795 Russell Co., VA land
1799 Sarah Cook married James Claxton
1805 Sells last of  land Russell Co., VA
1808 Road work order
1809 Tax list
Tax list
1810 26-44 1765-1784 Tax list
1810 tax list – only Cook
1817 ordained minister
1820 census 26-45 1775-1794 16-45 b 1775-1794 Bath >45 bef 1775
1823 Husband of Elizabeth Ring – father’s will
1830 census 50-60 1770-1780 40-50 1780-1790 Morgan 60-70, 1760-1770, also Bath Co. J. Cook but younger *2  


1831 In Hamilton Co., IN
1839 Tax list
1840 Hamilton Co., Indiana
1848 Assault *5
1850 LaClede Co., MO age 73
1854 Died, father George
1856 Angeline dies father Joel mother Elizabeth
1860 Age 69 b 1791
1870 B 1800 with Dickison family
1871 1812 pension app drafted Knoxville *4
Comment *1 *3

*1 Joel’s daughter reported by researchers to have daughter Rachel born in 1823 married in 1838 in Carter Co., KY to Andrew Stuart.

*2 Morgan Co. formed from Floyd and Bath in 1822.

*3 Carter County formed in 1838 from Greenup and Lawrence.

*4 Knoxville unit in which he was drafted was from primarily Greene, Sullivan, Washington, Carter, and Hawkins Counties

*5 Probably a different Joel.

The Joel Cook Chart Analysis and Discussion

Fortunately, or unfortunately, this chart helped a bit, but not enough.

  • Joel #1 is the Joel we are seeking, of course – meaning him or his descendants. He’s clearly associated with Clayton Cook who disappears from Russell Co., VA and is believed to be the Clayton who appears in Floyd Co., KY. There are no other good candidates for Clayton.
  • We can set aside Joel #6 and #7 because they are later generations.
  • That leaves us with Clayton Cook and Joel #3 who is also found in Floyd Co., KY.
  • Joel #3, associated with Clayton, is the man who is the minister, recorded such in 1817.
  • Joel #3 is NOT the same man as Joel #2, the younger Joel who is living in Russell County in 1820, because they are both on the 1820 census in different locations. They are in the same age bracket.
  • There is also a Joel #5, born before 1775, found in Bath County, KY in 1820, so he is not Joel #2 (who is in Russell County) but may be the Joel #3 (who is in Floyd in 1817.) In 1830, he’s in Morgan County.
  • Some researchers lump Joel #2, Joel #3 and Joel #5 together as one person, but that’s impossible based on the census and the fact that Joel #3 was ordained and recorded in Floyd County in 1817, but Joel #2 is still living in Russell County in both 1820 and 1830.
  • Joel #2, the younger man in Russell County, and Joel #4 who died in 1854 and gave his father’s name as George could be the man from Russell County, EXCEPT, we linked Joel #4 and #5 as the same man and Joel @ and #4 are both in different location in the 1820 census.
  • The connection between George Cook and Joel #1 in Russell County remains unclear, if there is a relationship.
  • However, it appears that Joel #4 from Carter County was living in Morgan County in the 1820s, which introduced another quandary, because it means that Joel #2 and #4 cannot be the same person.

In summary (yea, I know, too late:)

  1. Clayton Cook and Joel Cook #1 are associated in Russell County, VA.
  2. Clayton Cook is associated with Joel #3 in Kentucky. The presumption (dangerous word) is that this is the same Clayton that was found in Russell County, VA.
  3. I have no idea who Joel #5 is, but he’s not Joel #2 and he’s the same age as Clayton Cook, so he’s clearly not Clayton’s son. He’s probably not the man ordained in 1817.
  4. Joel #4 and Joel #5 appear to be the same Joel who was born in 1767 in Virginia to George Cook.
  5. Joel #2 and #4 cannot be the same person if Joel #4 is the same as Joel #5 who was living in Morgan County in 1830 because Joel #2 was living in Russell County in1830.

If you’re scratching your head and thinking to yourself, “what a mess,” I’d certainly concur. I feel like every time I find a sliver of evidence it calls into question or disproves something else that was previously believed to be “proven.”

I’m hoping that by reading the following information that other researchers may have more information than I do, and might be able to piece something together, or have relevant DNA matches.

Floyd Co., KY Extracted Data

Floyd Co. KY records prior to 1808 burned. Floyd County probate records begin in 1812. If Joel Cook from Russell County, VA went with Clayton to Floyd or Magoffin County, KY, around 1805, and died before 1812, we find no record of him.

Magoffin County was created from this portion of Floyd County in 1860.

Annals of Floyd Co., KY – 1800-1826

  • Page 12 – June 4, 1811 – Indenture by William Winslow etc to Mason Williams and Jacob Henry in consideration of $150 in horse flesh for 300 acres of land on Licking River. Attest: William Prater, Claton Cook, Jacob Cook and Elizabeth Stone
  • 13 – June 4, 1811 – Indenture by William Winslow to Clayton Cook and Samuel Hanna in the amount of $150 in horse flesh for 120 acres land on Burning Fork of Licking River. Attest: William Williams, William Prater, Ezekiel Stone
  • 13 – Dec. 18, 1811 – Indenture between Samuel Hannah and Claton Cook, Hannah selling his interest in 120 acres of land on the Burning Fork of Licking River, Witness: Joseph Hannah, Ebenezer Hannah, William Prater and Mason Williams
  • 50 – October 1808 – Court close levy, payment made to Clayton Cook and a long list of others.
  • 56 – Clayton Cook appt surveyor of the road from where the road stricks the last fork of Middle Creek to John Williams to replace the said Williams who resigned.
  • 58 –Oct. 1809 – Ordered Clayton Cook and his hands help James Cope open his road.
  • 74 – May 28, 1811 – Archibald Prater appt surveyor of the road from where the road from the Floyd Courthouse strickes the last fork of Middle Creek to John Williams to replace Clayton Cook who resigned.
  • 104 – July 3, 1815 – Clayton Cook appt surveyor of the road from the Burning Spring to John Williams. Also on Sept 25, 1815, Jeremiah Patrick was subpoenaed to show cause why he failed to give their list of taxable property.
  • 115 – May 19, 1817 – Joel Cook produced credentials of his ordination in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • 180 – June 21, 1819 – William Patrick Sr is appt to administrator of the estate of Jeremiah Patrick, decd. Isaac Williams, Clayton Cook, William Carter and Lewis Power are appt to appraise said estate.
  • 210 – August 1823 – Clayton Cook appt surveyor of the road from the Morgan County line to Kezee’s Mill. Daniel Gullet is assistant.
  • 226 – May 22, 1826 – Danie Clark appt surveyor in place of Clayton Cook who resigned.
  • 229 – Aug. 28, 1826 – On the motion of Christopher Gullett, ordered that Clayton Cook, Daniel Clark, James Cook and William Cook view and mark the best way for a road around said Gullett’s farm.
  • 244 – July 20, 1822 – Indenture from Thomas Patrick to John Cook in the amount of $70 for a tract of land on Burning Fork of Licking Creek.
  • 249 – June 24, 1824 – Indenture from Mason Williams of Morgan Co, Ky to Daniel Clark of Floyd Co for $200 for 60 acre tract on the waters of Licking Creek. Attest: John Williams and Clayton Cook. I also noticed that on April 27, 1824 Jeremiah Patrick sold 50 acres on Licking River to Samuel Regen for $285.

The Patrick and Kenard families are the same as had been neighbors in Russell County.

  • 256 – December 7, 1820 – bond by Samuel Kenard and Daniel Gullett for marriage shortly to be had between Samuel Kenard and Joanna Cook. To the clerk of Floyd Co. This will authorize you to give marriage lisons for my son Samuel Kennard and Joanna Cook as I am willing to the mach. Given under my hand this 5th of December 1812. signed James Kennard.  Marriage date is given as Dec. 10, 1820.
  • 288 – Bond dated April 28 1826 by James Cook and James Lacey for a marriage shortly to be had between James Cook and Ealy Ann Lacy. Marriage date is given as April 28, 1826.

County Court Records 1821-1835 Court Records

  • 36 – June 1822 – On the motion of Elijah Prater ordered that Clayton Cook, William Prator, Christopher Gullett, Isaac Adams view road up the State Road Fork to intersect the road leading to Keezees mill.

  • 111 – Daniel Clark appt surveyor of the road from the 22-mile Branch to the forks of the road near the head of the State Road Fork and that he call on the hands of Clayton Cook and Price Baily to assist him to keep the same road in repair according to law 15 and 9 feet.
  • 118 – On motion of C. Gullet ordered that Cook, ? Clark, James Cook and William Cook being first sworn do view and mark a way for a road around his land and report to court according to law.
  • 245 – 1830 or 1831 – Ord that Elizabeth Cook be subpoenaed to appear before the next county court to show cause if any she can or hath to say why her Stephen, Jesse and Eliza shall not be bound out as the law directs.
  • 246 – Elizabeth Cook continued

County Court Records 1835-1847

 105 – 1838 – Commonwealth against Solomon Cook, deft, vagrancy, the def appeared in open court in discharge of his recognizance entered into herein who was craved in custody of the sheriff and being demanded of him whether he was guilty or not guilty.  He stands charged as stated and says he is in no wise guilty thereof and there upon came a jury (names omitted) who say the defendant is not guilty and the def is discharged.


No Cooks

County Court Records 1865-1873

  • 176 – 1868 – Solomon Cook be exonerated from the payment of county levy in the future on account of age and infirmity.
  • 160 – William Cook, Judge in 1871 and forward, did not extract his entries

County Court Records 1873-1880

  • 214 – 1876 special term – Commonwealth of KY against Solomon Cook on a charge of lunacy and jurors impaneled (names omitted) and an attorney appointed to defend for said lunatic…we the jury find the def to be on unsound mind, that he is a lunatic, has lost his mind within the last 6 months, cause not known, was born in Pike Co., KY and has resided in this county 9 or 10 years, owns no estate, parents dead, 3 children living, wife has no estate, Solomon is a pauper, he is vicious and dangerous and uncontrollable and should be transported to the asylum, but not alone. (Part of the last part is half cut off, page 215.)

Note he was age 30 in the 1870 census.

  • 338 – 1879 – Ordered that Thomas Hopkins, Samuel H. Isaacs and Harvy Johnson be appt as reviewers to review a new road beginning at the house of Miles Hall on Right Beaver thence up the same by way of John Henry Cook’s and across the mountain to intersect with the proposed new county road being made by Pike County.

County Records 1897 – 1901

  • 81 – 1898 – George W. Cook in dist 6 stands charged upon the assessors books with personal property amounting to the sum of $247….said Cook has left the county and left no property.
  • 83 – 1898 – N. Cook in dist 6 stands improperly charged upon assessors book for the year 1898 with 35 acres land valued and $77…said Cook is not the owner of any land.

Floyd Co. Marriages 1800-1850

  • George W. Cook married Ealiann Lacy April 28, 1826
  • William Cook m Sally Prater March 22, 1829
  • Samuel Kennard m Joanna Cook Dec 10, 1820 by William Coffee (see file #499) (she age 30-40 in 1840 census, found among the Patrick’s, probably the daughter of Clayton)
  • James Randall m Elizabeth Cook 18, 1859

Deaths 1852-1859

No Cooks

Rev Soldiers

No Cooks

1810 taxpayers – heads of household

Clayton Cook – no other Cooks

Cemetery book is only indexed by cemetery. I did not search those.

Index to Survey Books A, B, C and D

  • Clayton Cook, book A, p 459, 50 acres on Licking River in 1825
  • Pierce Cook, book B, p 278, 200 acres on Dry Creek, 1881
  • Soloman Cook, book B, page 82, 100 acres, Dry Creek, 1869
  • William Cook, book B, page 145, 70 acres on Dry Creek, 1872

Floyd County, KY Census:


  • Clayton Cook 1 male under 10, 2 10-16, 1 16-18, 2 16-26, 1 26-45 (born 1775-1794), 5 females under 10, 1 10-16, 1 26-45 (page 7)
  • Henry Cook – 1 male under 10, 1 26-45 (born 1775-1794), 1 female 16-26 (page 20)


  • Clayton Cook – 1 male 10-15, 1 50-60, 1 female 5-10, 2 10-15, 2 15-20, 1 50-60 (he was born 1770-1780, she was probably born about 1777 given the age of the youngest child, so he is probably older than her so closer to the 1770 than the 1780) (page 27)
  • William Cook lives next door – 1 male under 5, 1 20-30, 1 female 20-30 (likely the son of Clayton) (William Cook married Sally Prater in 1829.)
  • An Elizabeth Cook lives in Prestonburg, 1 male 5-10, 1 10-15, 1 female under 5, 1 15-20, 1 30-40. We know from the court case three of her children’s names.


  • Sally Cook, 1 male under 5, 1 female under 5, 2 5-10, 1 30-40 (page 35) This is the same group of Cooks because she is among the Praters and Patricks where the Clayton group was previously. She is likely a young widow of one of Clayton’s boys. William Cook married Sally Prater in 1829 and this is likely her.
  • The only Clayton Cook in 1840 of the age to potentially be this Clayton is found in Clay, Hamilton, County, Indiana and is age 60-69, so born in 1780-1790.

Tracking Clayton Cook

Clayton Cook is quite relevant to Joel Cook, so let’s track Clayton forward in time.

  • November 19, 1831, Clayton Cook entered a tract in Deerfield Township, Hamilton County, Indiana: The East Half of the Northeast Quarter of Section 9, Township 17 North, Range 3 East, containing 80 acres.
  • Clayton Cook obtained a land grant for 80 acres in Hamilton County, Indiana in 1834 and for 40 acres in Marion County, Indiana in 1837. This Clayton’s daughter, Sally Cook married Fieldon Clark in Marion County, Indiana on August 8, 1833.
  • Hamilton County, Clay Township, Indiana history states that Clayton Cook arrived about 1832 as well as the following people; John Pierce, Elias Harvey, Abraham Jacob, William Jessup, William Hawkins, Jacob Cook, Stephen Hinshaw, Jonas Hoover, Eli Johnson, David Smith, Micajah Elston, Robert Ellis, James Sanders, John Essex, Joshua Wright, Owen Williams, Nathaniel Webber, Henry Davis, Daniel Smith and Absalom Harold.
  • January 19, 1836 Rec. November 8, 1836Book “E” page 230: Clayton Cook conveys to James Cook: A part of the East half of the North East quarter of section number Nine in Township number seventeen north of range three east Beginning a‑ stake on the line dividing section nine and ten where there is two white oak witness trees thence north on said line dividing section nine and four thence west sixty nine poles thence South Eighty poles then East thirty six poles thence south fourteen poles thence east forty six poles thence North fourteen poles to the place of beginning containing forty acres more or less. SIGNED: Clayton Cook, Anna Cook. ACKN0WLEDGED: Clayton Cook and Anna Cook, she being ex­amined separate and apart from her said husband, before Y. Carey Davis, seat, a Justice of the Peace in and for Hamilton County, Indiana.
  • In 1850, a Clayton Cook, age 73, so born in 1777 in Virginia is found in Laclede, Missouri, with a 42-year-old female, Virginia.

WikiTree provides a relatively complete bio for Clayton, here, along with a Find-a-Grave entry, here. Unfortunately, no Clayton Cook descendants are listed as having taken DNA tests at WikiTree.

Are there multiple Clayton Cooks who are intermingled and actually not related?

Do these men descend from one Clayton Cook, born about 1720 in Hanover County, Virginia, the son of Abraham Cook and Martha Clayton? Here’s a great discussion of what is and is not known of this early lineage, and here as well.

Assembling the Pieces

Considering their proximity to each other in Russell Co. combined with the proximity of Joel Cook and Clayton (or Claton) Cook in Floyd County, it’s likely that this Clayton Cook is the same Clayton found in Russell County, and that this Joel in Floyd County is somehow related to Clayton – probably a son. I wish we had more evidence.

The Joel in 1817 who was ordained as a minister is clearly not the elder Joel, but he could easily have been a son of Clayton. Unfortunately, we have no record of what ultimately happened to this Joel.

However, there is a connection between the minister Joel and Russell County, VA. The Montgomery family was found in Russell County in 1799 and also migrated to Floyd County, KY. We find:

I Joel Cook minister of Gospel in the Methodist church do hereby certify that I this day solemnized the Rites of Matrimony between Joseph Montgomery and Matildah Howard agreeable to the ceremonies od said church given under my hand the 29th of Oct 1817.

Kentucky Historical Marker No. 202 in Magoffin County, KY, near the Salyersville City limits states the following:

Archibald Prater, John Williams, Ebenezer Hanna, Clayton Cook and others attempted to settle here in 1794 but were driven out by Indians. They returned in 1800 and settled Licking Station.

If indeed Clayton arrived on the frontier in 1794, he would have been born prior to 1774.

Salyersville was originally called Licking Station and Prater’s Branch is located maybe half a mile east. Henry Scalf, in Kentucky’s Last Frontier, page 120, states that the settlement attempt was made somewhat earlier in time and states that:

“wandering bands of Indians forced them either to retreat back to Virginia or plunge deeper into Kentucky. They decided on the latter.”

This doesn’t say anything about Russell County, but it might well explain why Joel and Clayton both appear in Russell County, VA in 1795, and then a few years later again back in Floyd County, with some families of the same surnames of their neighbors in Russell County before 1808 when the first records appear.

Floyd County records in the Annals of Floyd Co 1800-1826, record court payments to Clayton Cook and various appointments as surveyor for road work beginning in 1808. Claton Cook and Jacob Cook witnessed a deed for 300 acres of land on Licking River in June 1811. Given that Jacob was likely related to Clayton, he had to have been born wherever Clayton came from, because Jacob would have been at least 16, and likely 21 to witness a deed.

In 1810, Clayton is listed in Floyd Co., KY as between 26 and 44 with 7 children and a female 16-25. In 1820, he’s still between 26 and 45 and now has 12 children and a female 26-45. I’m guessing they are both around 45, but if so, Clayton would have been born about 1775. In 1830, Clayton is in Floyd Co. and is age 50-59, so born 1770-1780.

The question is, who is this Joel in Kentucky and how is he related to Clayton. The Joel in Floyd County clearly is not Joel, the father of Sarah who married James Claxton in 1799 in Russell County, VA. And our Joel is not the Joel found in Russell County in 1820 or so.

What happened to our Joel and is he the father of Clayton who went to Kentucky, and then on to Indiana, then Missouri?

Did our Joel the elder die in eastern Kentucky, living near Clayton before 1808 when the Floyd County records begin? Maybe buried along the trail? Or did he go someplace else entirely and perhaps live with a child?

Where did our Joel come from before arriving in Russell County? The fact that the Y DNA lines for different Cook lineages that seemingly “should” be related, aren’t, given the name of Clayton and geographic proximity of Russell County is both confusing and frustrating. Clayton Cook is a very uncommon name.

The family descending from Abraham Cook through son Clayton in early Virginia is one haplogroup, and the later John Cook (born 1804) descendants in Russell County descent from a completely different Cook line.

It’s certainly possible that we have two (or more) distinct Cook families in Russell County. It’s also possible that these lines began as one, but then had a genetic fork in the Russell County group.

Autosomal DNA

Customers can search their DNA matches at Ancestry, MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA by Ancestral surname, but not by ancestor. Cook is a fairly common surname, but having the ability to search for either Joel Cook or Clayton Cook would narrow those matches to only those that are potentially significant.

Unfortunately, that’s not an option.

While I clearly wouldn’t match all of Joel’s descendants, I should match some of them. Joel is my 5th great-grandfather, or 7 generations back in time, and I match several people through his daughter, Sarah.

Brick Wall Standing Firm

As of today, we are still firmly brick-walled with Joel Cook in in Russell County, Virginia who disappeared from the records in 1805. I feel like this is more like an infinity knot than a brick wall – no matter where you pull on a string, it only gets tighter. Will Joel ever give up his secrets?

Given that Joel seems to be connected to Clayton Cook who we think is the same Clayton Cook that went to Floyd County, KY, and on to both Indiana and Missouri – I’d love to make contact with any descendants. Also, I’d love to connect with any descendants of the various Joels in Kentucky. Maybe, eventually, multiple relevant autosomal DNA matches will reveal something resembling an answer.

If you descend from any of these Cook families and have DNA tested at any of the vendors, please check and see if I’m on your match list, or anyone with the ancestral surname of Clarkson or Claxton that descends from Sarah Cook and James Lee Clarkson/Claxton. I’d be oh so grateful.

If you’re descended from these lines, please do reach out.


Follow DNAexplain on Facebook, here or follow me on Twitter, here.

Share the Love!

You’re always welcome to forward articles or links to friends and share on social media.

If you haven’t already subscribed (it’s free,) you can receive an email whenever I publish by clicking the “follow” button on the main blog page, here.

You Can Help Keep This Blog Free

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Uploads

Genealogy Products and Services

My Book

Genealogy Books

Genealogy Research

8 thoughts on “Joel Cook (c1745 – after 1805); Sold Out and Disappeared into Thin Air – 52 Ancestors #388

  1. excellent research you have done – with more to come you say! Good Luck! I am not related to anyone in this line but read through because a) my paternal GG grandparents all came from the area around Campbell Cty/Lynchburg with some time also in Montgomery Cty (1865) and b) I read Demon Copperhead a few weeks ago and that took me far down into Lee Cty…!!! So all of this history is fun to read!

  2. First, I have to say that I am not familiar with eastern U.S. genealogy at all and I have only read the beginning section of this article so far, but what came to mind was the date, 1795, that Joel Cook first appears.

    This is shortly after the Revolutionary War. Where I live in Ontario, Canada we have a large number of families who came from the U.S. after the war. They were United Empire Loyalists, loyal to Britain and given land grants in Canada. Along with them came a number of Hessian soldiers, soldiers that were hired by the British from the German states to assist them in the fight against the Americans. All this to say that perhaps Joel’s name was changed. “Koch” in German is “Cook” in English – I believe that a number of the soldiers stayed behind in America also, instead of returning to Germany.

    Were there not also French soldiers assisting the Americans in the war? French for “Cook” is “Cuire” or “Cuisiner”.

    This is probably not what happened at all, but, I was thinking that we need to broaden and entertain possibilities here with respect to what else was going on in that area around this timeframe. Due to the prevalence of German names here where I live around the same time period and where they came from, this is what came to mind.

    Wild idea, out of left field, but who knows? The article above shows others who have thought this.


  3. Wow, and I thought I had problems!
    Great layout of your evidence.
    I have done a few of these – way less complicated.
    Some have been impenetrable due to lack of clear evidence… and then for one or two, the right piece of the puzzle has turned up at last.
    Still have 6 serious puzzles outstanding.
    Yes, and when I have solved those, of course I will construct more.

    One suggestion.
    Sure it is impossible to search your DNA matches for a specific ancestor.
    (Only an ancestor surname at Ancestry.)
    But you can run a Search on a specific ancestor, and look for family trees containing that person. And then check if the person who put up the family tree has taken a DNA test or is a match.
    By chance I found a key puzzle piece that way last week. (Only because I was not consciously trying.)
    And you have given us a new expression to use: that’s a bit of a Joel Cook!

  4. Did you pull the sting on Jeremiah Patrick? He is repeatedly mentioned with Joel or Clayton in court records. He even takes Clayton to court? Could he be an in-law whose history may lead to more clues or associations? I did find an old publication containing information on a line I was researching in VA now WVA. About that same time frame. I thought they intermarried with some Cooks. I will have to look it up again – my memory not being what it once was. I will let you know if it looks like a lead based on your article here.

    • I don’t think I did. A few years ago, I spent a couple days at the library in Knoxville researching the neighbors to no avail. I need to do that again.

  5. My goodness Roberta Estes you’ve certainly researched Joel Cook extensively! I believe I descend from Bertie County Joel. Finding son Benjamin Sumner County Tn. b. 1800. His son Thomas F Cook my x3 who married Louisa P Knowles.
    I have thought for many years Joel, Benjamin and Thomas moved to Equality, Gallatin Illinois. Several land purchases and census. At some point prior to 1830 all three along w other family living near Jacksonville, Morgan County Il. Including wife named Patience. Joels will 1830 mentions everyone above. Including- Reuben, Wiley, Sarah, Turner, Carissa, Taliltha others.

    Definitely curious of this possibility and would love to know your thoughts.
    Im a typical retired genealogy nerd up at 2:40a wondering about the elusive Joel!!
    Best Regards, Laurel

Leave a Reply