There were several people named William Cook in Surry County. The 1782 tax list, for example, lists a whopping six men named William Cook. Two of these were “my” William Cook Sr. and his son William Cook Jr. A third was a close neighbor and contemporary of William Cook Sr. named William Nichols Cook.
The other William Cooks seem to be unrelated to one another. The presence of so many persons named William Cook has confused other researchers, and I have seen any number of resulting family trees that appear to mix them up. For some individual Surry records, particularly some of the court records, it seems impossible to identify which of these William Cooks are being referenced. However, from land records and tax lists we can differentiate them reasonably well. Recall that early Surry County encompassed the present-day counties of Surry, Stokes, Yadkin, and Forsyth. The groups of Cooks, and most of the William Cooks, were geographically widely separated.
Robert Cook and his son William Cook
One William Cook was the son of a Robert Cook, presumably from Caroline or Lunenburg County, Virginia. Presumably it was this Robert Cook who was on the 1772 Surry County tax list with 5 polls, and three of his sons may have been on the 1768 tax list. The sons appear on the tax lists from 1771 through the formation of Stokes County. Robert Cook himself appears on no further Surry tax lists, but left a will dated 1 January 1780 and proved a month later, naming a wife Mary, and grown children John Cook, Abel Cook, William Cook, Thomas Cook, Mary Blackburn, Ursula Bunns, Elizabeth Cook, and sons-in-law Richard Beaslee and Samuel Taylor.1 His four sons and widow subsequently appear on the tax lists of the 1780s. William Cook and Thomas Cook both appear in the state census taken in late 1785. This family of Cooks, including the son William Cook, lived on or near Neatman’s Creek in the northeastern part of Surry County which became Stokes County in 1789, and none appear in the Surry records after that date.2 The son William Cook appears to have been born by about 1750. He was perhaps the William Cook whose Stokes County will dated 9 March 1823 (proved in 1825) named a wife Ann, a son William Cook, “my other lawful heirs” and mentioned the heirs of his brother Thomas Cook.3
William Cook, Preacher
Another William Cook was a Baptist preacher, probably born about 1737 or so. He lived both in southern present-day Yadkin County and across the border in Rowan County, in the general vicinity of Dutchman’s Creek. He served as minister of several churches in the area, mainly in Rowan County and was the first minister of Eaton Baptist Church in 1772. He owned land on both sides of the Surry-Rowan county line and is frequently mentioned in the records of both counties. He left a will in Surry County dated 31 March 1812 (at the age of 74 according to the minutes of the Flat Rock church), naming his wife Elizabeth, sons John Cook and Miles Cook, and daughters Ursla Bunns and Mary Holeman. The inventory of his estate included a 320-acre parcel in southern present Yadkin County, and two town lots in Huntsville, which help identify him in prior transactions.4 Elizabeth Cook’s own 1817 will named her son Miles, with son John her executor. Although John Cook was the executor, James Holeman filed an inventory of her estate on 11 February 1824. This implies that Lucy Cook Holeman, wife of James Holeman (and brother of Reuben Holeman), was probably another daughter. His son John Cook , who also lived in both Surry and Rowan, was his executor. Quite a bit of information on this William Cook can be found in both volumes of George Washington Paschal’s History of North Carolina Baptists.
Two More William Cooks
Another William Cook was located in the general area of Mt. Airy in northern Surry County, about 20 miles northeast of “my” William Cook. He appears in the tax lists of 1784-1786, and in the 1785-6 state census with three males under 16. The 1791 tax list show William Cook Sr. and presumably his three sons: William Cook, Moses Cook, and Mercurius Cook. By 1793 Mecurius Cook disappeared and Aaron and Matthew Cook appear in the same district. I have not traced this family.
Still another William Cook entered 100 acres in Surry in an undated claim, recorded in 1780. He was listed as a single man in the 1782 tax list, in the same district as Henry Cook. Both Henry and William Cook were listed as landowners on Blew’s Creek, near the border between present-day Stokes and Forsyth Counties. He does not seem to appear in later records, unless he is the same William Cook listed in 1784 and 1786 in the Germantown area of present Stokes County.
- Surry County Will Book 1, p138. [↩]
- Robert Cook had received a grant in 1784 of 300 acres on Big Neatman’s Creek (on which his wife later paid tax), and his son Thomas received two grants a the same time. [↩]
- Stokes County Will Book 3, p132. [↩]
- Filed in loose estate records, Surry County and signed by John Cook, Elizabeth Cook, and Thomas Wright. [↩]