William Marion Cook was born in 1809 and Amos Cook was born in 1813 to Mary Cook. We do not know their father's name and he died when the boys were young. In 1824, their mother married Benjamin Stephens, a much older man who was a Revolutionary War soldier and who received a pension for his services. The family lived in Laurens County, GA. William and Amos would have had an older step-sister named Elizabeth Stephens who was born in 1800. As young men, William and Amos went to Wilkinson County, GA and raised large families there. From the 1827 Land Lottery Records we find that there was a land lot drawn for Frederick Cook's orphans who, at the time, were living in Laurens County. The name Frederick does appear elsewhere in the family but we do not have any other evidence that this was their father's name. There is also a family Bible which states that William and Amos' father was named Lewis but this has never been proven. There is also flawed research circulating that their parents were James Cook and Margaret Hawthorne. This is proven false. The search continues for information on Mr. Cook.
William Cook married Nancy Vann and had nine children. Many of their descendants still live in Wilkinson County. Please see the William Cook link for a genealogy report on this family.
Amos Cook married Mary "Polly" Watson and had eleven children. Please see the Amos Cook link for a genealogy report on this family. Many Watsons lived in Laurens County at the time and we suppose that the wedding occurred there. Their firstborn, Joseph, was killed in the Civil War. Their next four children, Henry, Silas, Mary and Nancy, all died of fever in 1860. The remaining children grew to adulthood, married and lived in Wilkinson County until 1903 when four of them sold their properties and moved to Telfair County. Those who made this move were Marshall Bryant "Boss" Cook, William Franklin "Ranter" Cook, Amos Alexander "Aleck" Cook and Hosea Cook. Boss and his family settled near Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Rhine, GA near (and sometimes across) the border with Dodge County. In his 1959 memoir of family history, Amos Otis Cook said that all the Cooks lived within two miles of each other in Wilkinson County when he was growing up and that he knew them all. He was about 21 years old when the four families made their move.
According to the 1850 Census Amos Cook owned 300 acres. Evidence points to the fact that at the turn of the century the acreage to be divided among his heirs had not increased and with such large families (Ranter had ten children and Boss had eight) they felt they could do better by moving away. They were able to buy more and better land in Telfair County and the homes they built were improved over the ones in Wilkinson County. Much of the land was purchased from Norman E. Dodge (of the Dodge Lumbar Company) Otis Cook and his sister, Mary, write of these families packing all their possessions in three wagons and leaving Wilkinson County on New Year's Day in 1903. It took three days to make the trip with them stopping to camp each night. Ouida was the youngest of the whole group, not quite six months old. She remembers being told that when they crossed one of the creeks her brother Grady fell out of the wagon into the cold water! When they got to Telfair County they spent the first night out from Milan on the Rawlins farm. Later they split up and settled in different parts of the area. A family of Cannons and Berrys moved about the same time and Ouida writes that they all were referred to as the 'Cannons Cookin' Berries'.
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