Biography - George C. Cockrell

GEORGE C. COCKRELL was born in Jefferson township, Sciota county, Ohio, on the 31st March, 1813. He was the eldest child of Jesse and Lucy Cockrell, of whose family there are only three now living. Jesse Cockrell was a native of Fairfax county, Virginia, and his wife of the same state; they were both of English ancestry. The father of Jesse Cockrell was born in Turkey, while his parents were sojourning in that country. After he grew to manhood, with one of his brothers, at a very early day, he emigrated to America, and from Simon and Peter Cockrell sprang the Cockrell family in this country. They became planters on the eastern shore of Virginia, their plantations being situated on the alluvial lands lying at the base of the Blue Ridge. Jesse Cockrell was educated in the excellent schools of Fairfax. His father being among the more wealthy planters, could afford his children much better advantages for an education than many of the youth of Virginia possessed. After he finished his education, young Cockrell engaged in merchandising, which continued to be his principal business for many years. About the year 1803 he was married to Miss Harriet Wilcoxen, of Virginia, by whom he had four children, all of whom are yet living. In the early part of 1811 Mrs. Cockrell died. He afterward married a sister of his former wife, Lucy Went Wilcoxen, and his last marriage took place in the state of Ohio, where Mr. Cockrell had settled in 1806. When he settled there with his family his wealth consisted of twenty-five cents in specie, a peck of meal, and one horse. The reason of his being so poor was the fact of his losing large sums by going security for parties in Virginia. But having an untiring energy, he soon was enabled to retrieve his losses and place his family in more comfortable circumstances. Step by step he climbed up the ladder of wealth, so that in time he became among the well-to-do farmers in the county. On the breaking out of hostilities between America and England in 1812, and at the general call for volunteers, he enlisted, and, as fate would have it, was soon after transferred to that part of the army which was surrendered to the British at Sandusky, Ohio.

In 1835 his second wife died, and he afterward married Mary Glaze, by whom he had two children, who are still living. He was elected sheriff of Sciota county, Ohio, as the candidate of the democratic party, soon after becoming a citizen of the state, and held the office of justice of the peace a great many years. In May, 1871, he breathed his last at his residence.

George C. Cockrell grew up in the wilds of Ohio, and participated in most of the hardships which are incident to a new country. His early education was such as could be obtained in the district schools of Sciota county, and, like most of the boys of that period, his principal opportunity for study was by the fire-light at night, by the chimney fire-place. In the year 1835 he left home on a prospecting trip to Illinois, and first stopped in Greene county, where he entered a tract of eighty acres of land in township 6, range 11, within the present boundaries of Jersey county. His first work after landing in that county was scoring logs at one dollar per day; and after working a few months he took the mania for traveling, and started out to see the country, which occupied his time until his money was all spent. He is a genial, sociable man, and often quite humorous when in company. In July, 1839, he returned to Ohio, and on the 29th of the following September, was married to Miss Minerva Darlington, daughter of Abisha and Eve Darlington. Mr. Darlington was a native of Pennsylvania, and his wife of Virginia. He was a soldier in the war of 1812, and among those troops surrendered at Hull's capitulation. In 1813 he married and settled in Sciota county, his occupation being that of a farmer. In the spring of 1840, he settled with his family in Jersey county, on a farm situated about six miles south of Jerseyville, where he continued to reside during the balance of his life. Mrs. Darlington died in January, 1848; he survived her death until October, 1851. Mr. Cockrell says he remembers being at the place where Chicago is now situated when the Indians were being paid off by the government agents. After his marriage, Mr. Cockrell and wife settled on his farm in Jersey county, where they continued to reside for about six years. They then bought the farm where they now reside, tow miles west of the town of Kane. They have had a family of seven children, one of whom is deceased. Their oldest daughter, Mary Cockrell, is the wife of John G. Erwin, now a resident of Jersey county; Moses Cockrell is now married, and resides in southwest Missouri; Thompson W. Cockrell is also a citizen of Jersey county; Abisha D., John G., and Maggie are residing at home. Mrs. Cockrell has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church about twenty-four years. The name of George Cockrell is always associated with efforts for the amelioration of mankind whenever opportunities present for such benevolent enterprises. Honesty is a leading trait of his character. In tracing back his ancestorial lineage, we find him descended from one of the ancient families of the "Old Dominion." Democracy seems to have been an inborn principle in his composition. His first vote was cast for Andrew Jackson, and he has continued in that political line ever since. In 1860 he became a member of the order of the "mystic tie," and was a Baltimore at the convention of the Sir Knights of the United States in 1871. In Mr. Cockrell we find a gentleman with many of the virtues of social and private life, and he is highly esteemed by his fellow-citizens.

Extracted 07 Sep 2018 by Norma Hass from Atlas Map of Greene County Illinois, 1873, page 47.

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