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John Cobb

JOHN COBB was born in Henry County, Kentucky, May 19, 1814. His father was a farmer. When John was but a child, his father moved to Indiana where they remained for six years, when they returned to Kentucky. When John was sixteen years of age, they returned to Indiana and his father resided in Jefferson County for five years, and then moved to Arkansas, where he died.

In 1832, John went to Vigo County, Indiana, on the Wabash River, where he followed keel-boating, carrying freight to all the towns on the river. In October, on one of his trips, he laid up for the night at the foot of Coffee Island, eight miles below the Grand Rapids and two miles below Mount Carmel. About eight o'clock, he noticed quite a commotion taking place with the stars; they all seemed to be falling towards the earth; they seemed to increase thicker and faster until about midnight, when all of them seemed to part in the center above, falling towards the earth in all directions. They resembled many balls of fire, each leaving a brilliant light behind it; one would not get out of sight til another would be coming on the same line. The whole firmament seemed to be in a blaze of fire; it was the most beautiful sight he ever saw in his life. The stars seemed to gradually decrease in motion until about four o'clock in the morning, when all was quiet and every star was in its proper place.

He then proceeded down the river into the Ohio, and down that stream to Paducah, at the mouth of the Tennessee River; he then went up the Tennessee with the keel-boat to Florence, in Tennessee; then he returned to Indiana - to the Grand Rapids, on the Wabash River. There he put in a crop of corn, sold it out, and went to Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, where he got a team and went back to Madison, in Jefferson County, after his mother, two sisters and brother and moved to Iowa Territory. They stopped at a place called Bloomington, which had one house in it, owned by John VANATER, the proprietor of the place. It soon grew up, however, to be quite a village and place of trade. It is located on the banks of the upper Mississippi River, thirty miles below Rock Island and sixty miles above Burlington. The name has since been changed to Muscatine City, Muscatine County.

He then resided in that place where he followed farming and trading, for three years. In 1839, he took his mother on a visit to her mother who resided in Madison, Indiana, left her there and went south to New Orleans February 29, 1840. His mother died during his absence. He returned to Madison, Indiana in April of that year. From there he returned to Iowa; staying there until fall, and started for Texas; got as far as Arkansas and was taken sick with the white swelling, which left him a cripple for life. He gave up the trip to Texas and returned again to Iowa in the spring of 1841, and remained there until 1843.

He then went to Quincy, Illinois. Was married to Miss Jane Ann LEYPOLD, April 18, 1845, who was a native of Ohio. Their first child, a son, was born February 18, 1845 and died August 15, 1845. The next, a daughter, was born January 13, 1847. He lost his wife on January 12, 1848 and his daughter died January 16, 1848.

On August 17, 1848, he was married to his second wife, Miss Esther E. DEMING, who is still living. She is a native of Ohio, and the mother of six children, whose names are as follows: John Rufus, George Oliver, Joseph Deming, Mary H. O., William Thomas, and Hester E., who are all living. The first one, John R. was born September 22, 1849, and the sixth one, Hester E., was born July 8, 1858.

In the spring of 1850, he started across the plains with an ox-team en route for California, bringing his family, consisting then of his wife and one child with him. They reached Salt Lake, August 17, 1850, but owing to the delicate health of Mrs. COBB, they remained there until the spring of 1851, when they crossed the mountains, and arrived at Ringgold, near Placerville, California on July 1st of that year. He then engaged in mining for about three weeks, when he bought into a grocery store and kept boarding house, which business he followed until September.

He then sold out and moved to Napa Valley, Napa County and rented a place of John S. STARK, about four miles below Calistoga Springs, which he farmed one year. He sold his crop and went to Oregon in September 1852, and spent one year there, and returned to Napa County in August 1853. He then rented a place of John TUCKER and Peter TEAL for farming purposes.

In October of the same year, he went north of Napa Valley, towards Clear Lake, and took up a place in what is now known as Cobb Valley, which took its name after him, he being the first settler there. He then moved his family there in November 1853; a wild wilderness of a place, inhabited by various kinds of wild game and animals; elk, deer, bears, panthers, wolves, wild cats and foxes. In 1854, he was solicited to run for the office of County Assessor and was elected. He assessed Napa County in 1855. He lived about five years in Cobb Valley, then sold out and moved to Napa Valley again; bought a tract of land in the said valley of M.D. RITCHIE, and remained on it about eighteen months, and sold it out. He then moved out to Calyomi Valley and settled near where Middletown is now. He then farmed and raised stock on that place about three years.

About that time, Lake County was segregated from Napa County. He was then put in charge of the grants by Robert WATERMAN. He farmed that ranch two years, and leased out the farms on the grants to the settlers.

He then moved to Sonoma County; remained there two years educating his children, and then returned to Lake County with his family to his place that he had previously entered, containing five hundred and twenty acres.

He resided on this farm about four years, improving it; then moved to Healdsburg; resided there about eighteen months, completing the education of his children.

He then returned with his family to Lake County, to his farm, where he has resided ever since. By referring to the dates, it will be found that Mr. COBB is about the first white settler, or the oldest settler, now in Lake County.�

The History of Lake County, 1974, reprinted from History of Napa and Lake Counties, California, 1881.
Lyman L. Palmer, 1881
p. 227.

Submitted by Margie Hinton - used with permission.

Margie's Notes

"John COBB died 12 November 1893 at his home in the Little High Valley, Lower Lake, Lake County, California.

"Ralph HINTON's manuscript, The Cobb Family states 'the COBB family built a house in the meadow where Nutmeg Spring comes off the mountain and the Windy Mill Road turns uphill� planted a garden and an orchard along the creek. The house was on the east bank of Nutmeg Creek about 100 feet south of the present road. There were two large pines nearby, which John was afraid might blow over on the house in a storm, so he topped them. One of these trees was still standing in recent times, according to Henry MAULDIN, Lake County historian.'

"John COBB's birth date and place has not been proven to my satisfaction, though it is probably correct. Other dates have been found which show that John might have been born up to about 1824 (including a page from Henry ENDERLIN which states John�s birth year as �1823 - died at age 70�).

It is now (in 2003) known that John COBB�s two sisters were named Mary and Hester. The names of their brother and their parents are still unknown."

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