Referred to By Name

One of the first references to Thomas Cook, by name, occurs in a benchmark history entitled, Carolina Cradle: Settlement of the Northwestern Carolina Frontier, 1747-1762 by Robert W. Ramsey.17 He traces the migration of the Scotch-Irish from arrival in America to their settling in the Piedmont district of North Carolina. Ramsey uses the Chester (Pennsylvania) Tax Lists for the years 1737-38, 1741 and 1747 to claim that Henry Potts and Thomas Cook applied for land warrants in Anson County in the fall of 1750.18 It is useful to remember that several years could elapse between an application for land and its procurement.

There is little evidence to indicate the origins of either, but what there is seems to show that Potts came from Dorchester, Queen Annes of Kent County, Maryland. Cook evidently originated in Donegal Township, Lancaster County or New London Township, Chester County and thence removed to Carolina. Potts settled on the Catawba near Alexander Osborne, while Cook’s land was located on a branch of Coddle Creek19

By the way, Coddle Creek is located six miles eastward of Davidsons Creek where the McConnell families lived.

In a more recent book, Johanna Miller Lewis wrote of these same settlers in Artisans in the North Carolina Backcountry. She traced the line from the times of the proprietors to early settlers between the Yadkin and Catawba Rivers. She indicates many of the settlers had known each other before they moved south.20 While farming was their chief occupation, early artisans practiced trades that served the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter and transportation, for which the raw materials were readily available on the frontier. Flax, wool and leather, for instance, were accessible.

From the records Lewis has been able to link early artisans with their crafts.

“At Davidson’s Creek between 1747 and 1751, three grantees out of the original twenty-five were artisans. George Davidson Jr. was a tanner, John McConnell was a weaver and Thomas Cook a tailor”.21

No doubt there were other artisans as well, skilled in weaving, quilting and all sorts of needlework, but the times were much too early to recognize their contributions outside the family home.