Cosby ancestors settled in Virginia, Georgia

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Cosby family name was never very common in Covington County, but there are several that continue to reside in the area. It has yet to be determined if they are descendants of the Cosby family to be featured in today’s column. It is hoped that someone will be able to make a connection or see a kinship to this line.

The earliest Cosby ancestor to be located by this writer is Ann Cosby, born in 1720 in Louisa County, Va. She married Griffith Dickerson who was born in 1715 and died in 1785. It is not known why their son, Hickerson Cosby, was given the Cosby surname, but this is the way it is listed in more than one reference. Hickerson was born in 1750 in Louisa County and died in 1807 in Wilkes County, Ga.

The family moved to Georgia during the late 1780s. Hickerson had served during the Revolutionary War, and for his service he received two draws in the Land Lottery of 1803. At some point, he was appointed to serve as Constable for Groves Bath in the John Wingfield District.

In 1780 in Louisa County, Hickerson Cosby, Sr. was married to Nancy Ann Harris (1764-1827), daughter of Archelus and Frances (Smith) Harris. They began their family there, but they moved during 1780s to Wilkes County, Ga. They had the following 13 children: Garland, b. 1781, d. 1830, m. ca 1799 Lucy Edison; Mary A., b. 1782, d. after 1850, m. 1807 William Betts; Louisa, b. ca 1783, d. 1786 as child; Hickerson Jr., b. 1784, d. 1850, m. Mary Williams; Wingfield, b. 1786, d. 1860s, m. (1) 1815 Martha Williams (2) Nancy Modisett; Nancy, b. 1787, d. 1fter 1850, m. 1806 Stanton Porter; John Overton, b. 1788, m. 1818 Mary Hargre0s/Hargis (1802-1866); William Robert, b. ca 1790, m. 1825 Matilda Harrison; Barbara, b. 1794, m. ? Griffin; Frances, b. 1795, m. 1811 Mordecai Johnson; Rebecca, b. 1796, m. 1815 Hurcley Johnson; William Terrell Sr., b. 1797, d. 1885, m. 1825 Nancy Height (1808-1897); and Robert Henry, b. ca 1799, d. 1859.

The oldest son, Garland Cosby, and his wife, Lucy Edison, reared the following children: Lucy, b. ca 1801, d. ca 1846; David Simmons, b. 1805; Jane, b. ca 1807; James E., b. ca 1812; Thomas, b. ca 1814; and Garland, b. ca 1816.

The oldest daughter, Mary A. Cosby, and her husband, William Betts, had at least one son, William O. Betts.

The fifth child, Wingfield Cosby, was married first in 1815 to Martha Williams. He was later married to Nancy Modisett, but the date is unknown. That means it is uncertain to which wife the following 10 children were born. A likely division of the children is the period of six years between Elizabeth Ann and Wingfield Jr. The children are Richard James, b. ca 1814; Garland Duke, b.1816; Abner, b. 1818; Elizabeth Ann, b. ca 1819, m. Henry J. Knight; Wingfield, 1825; Sophronia Ollie, b. ca 1826, d. 1894; Hickerson, b. ca 1827; Emily, b. ca 1832; John, b. ca 1831; and Mariah, b. ca 1834.

Next to the youngest son, William Terrell Cosby, Sr., was married in 1825 to Nancy Brantley Height/Hight, daughter of Howell and Lourania Frances (Houten) Height. This family resided mostly in Talbot, Wilkes County, Ga. William Terrell died in 1885 in Geneva County, Ga.

William Terrell and Nancy reared the following 11 children: Mary Elizabeth, b. ca 1826, m. Edwin Goolsby; Barbara Jane, b. ca 1828, m. William Isom; Henry Height, b. 1830, d. 1909; James Madison, b. 1832, d. 1913, m. Mary Elizabeth Ellis (1837-1930); Martha Isabella, b. ca 1835, d. 1870, m. 1856 Clement Washington Gholson; Sarah Ann, b. 1839, d. 1923, single; Lourania Frances, b. 1892, d. 1935, m. Young Harris (1833-1879); Nancy Harris, b. ca 1894; William Terrell Jr., b. 1897, d. 1900; Louisa Antoinette, b. ca 1899, m. Francis Marion Burnette; and John Winfield, b. ca 1850, m. Susie Strickland Thomas.

The youngest son, Robert Henry Cosby, and his unknown wife had the following three children: Henry Franklin, Sarah; and William Henry, b. 1840.

Some of the next generation in this family include the children of Richard James Cosby, oldest son of Wingfield Cosby, Sr. Richard James and is wife, Laura N., reared the following children: Abraham, b. ca 1839; William G., b. ca 1841; John H., b. ca 1843; James, b. 1845; and Thomas, b. 1848.

The next son of Wingfield Sr., Garland Duke Cosby, and his first wife, Rachael Knight, daughter of Samuel and Permelia (Stafford) Knight, were living in Heard County, Georgia, in 1860. They had the following children: Frances C., b. ca 1845; Sarah A., b. ca 1848; John Rufus, b. 1850, d. 1920; Saphronia Rachel, b. ca 1853; and Thomas S., b. 1854, d. 1945. Garland Duke and his second wife, Thenia A. Levens, had a daughter, Mary Anne, b. 1856, d. after 1920.

William Terrell Cosby’s son, James Madison Cosby, brought this family to Covington County circa 1857. James’s daughter, Mary Ella, was identified in the census records as having been born in Alabama in 1858. This family was enumerated in the 1860 federal census as residing in Covington County in the Rose Hill Precinct. James was a farmer and had the following in his household: James N. (or M.), 28; Mary E., 23; Nancy A., 4; and Mary E., 2; and Emma S., 3 months.

James Madison rendered service in the Confederate Army in the 6th Alabama Cavalry. After the war, he returned to his family and continued to farm. Some of his and Mary Elizabeth’s descendants have their family Bible, which has offered valuable family records.

The family was in Crenshaw County in 1870 and had three more children. They were listed in Covington County in 1900, and James M. Cosby acquired 160.23 acres of land in Crenshaw County in 1901. In 1910, James was 79 and Mary E., 73, and they were living next to their son, Arthur Cosby, in Bullock of Crenshaw County. Arthur Y. Cosby was 35, and his wife, Myrtie H., was 23 with one child, Ira J., 20 months. Arthur was residing in Baker, Florida, in 1920. He and Myrtie reared nine children. At their deaths in 1960 and 1961, Arthur and Myrtie were buried in the Beulah Cemetery. Ira Q. and Marialyce Cosby were buried there in 1971 and 1973.

James Madison Cosby and his wife, Mary Elizabeth (Ellis), reared the following 13 children: William Whit, b. 1854; Nancy A., b. 1856, d. 1893; Mary Ella, b. 1858; Emma S., b. 1860; William Madison, b. 1862; Theodocia, b. 1864; Henry, b. 1866; Clay, b. 1868; Theodore W., b. 1870, d. 1944, m. Fannie Azile; James M., b. 1872; Catherine Kate, b. 1873; Arthur Y., b. 1867, m. Myrtie ?; and Robert B. b. 1878. Theodore W. and Fannie Azile were buried in the Fairmount Cemetery in 1944 and 1921 respectively.

A later Cosby descendant, Travis “Jack” Cosby, was appointed in 1946 to fill a vacancy in the Office of Mayor of the Town of Opp when Horace Danley resigned. In 1978, Jeffrey Graham Cosby was buried in the Magnolia Cemetery.

Sources for this writing were family records, census records, and communication with C. Max Cosby II, great grandson of James Madison Cosby.

Anyone who has a correction to any of the above or additional information on this family is requested to contact Curtis Thomasson at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-222-6467; or Email: