The Cockayne Farmstead, originally "Glen Dale Farm"
1111 Wheeling Avenue
Glen Dale, West Virginia
By Nila Chaddock, Chairman
Cockayne Historic Preservation Committee
In November, 2001, Samuel A. J. Cockayne, a lifelong resident of Glen Dale, Marshall County, West Virginia, and a descendent of an early pioneer to the area, passed away. In his will, he bequeathed his aging 1850's farmhouse and its immense collection of 19th and early 20th Century Cockayne furnishings, artwork and other family memorabilia to the City of Glen Dale, which town bears the name of the farm. The City subsequently leased the property to the Marshall County Historical Society, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, for the Society's preservation efforts.
The Cockayne Farm was at one time an internationally recognized Merino Wool producing farm. The 19th Century Cockaynes were social, political and agricultural leaders in the community. The daughters were artists, musicians and social activists. Their farmhouse was a showplace, befitting the family's agricultural and social standing.
In the 20th Century, the Cockaynes continued to farm in southern Glen Dale while the town sprung up around them. Other than adding rudimentary electrical, heating and plumbing resources in the first half of the century, the farmhouse remained intact to its 19th Century appearance. As for the land, as each successive generation cut away portions of the Cockayne property, often in the form of bequests to various children, the farm diminished in size.
The latter half of the Century also saw little change to the farmhouse as it was inherited by Samuel A. J. Cockayne. Sam's only ambition had been to farm the land as his ancestors had before him, but World War II intervened. Sam was inducted into the Army, mastering Morse Code and light signals to serve in the 75th Signal Corps in the South Pacific. While in basic training, his letters to his family reveal his concerns that his parents could handle the farmwork in his absence and they reveal his deep connection to his family. Sam was discharged from the Army in September, 1945, having earned nine battle stars for the action he had seen in the war effort. Unfortunately, his beloved mother passed away just three months before. Sam's father would follow a few short years later.
Sam became more and more reclusive after his return to civilian life. He lived in only two rooms of the farmhouse and shut off the remaining rooms with decades of 19th and 20th Century Cockayne furnishings, original artwork, written family correspondence and other memorabilia. He continued to farm until 1967 when much of the remaining farmland was sold to build John Marshall High School. At the time of his death in 2001, the once 303 acre farm had been reduced to the Cockayne Farmhouse and one-half acre of yard.
The house and contents are a living museum, representative of the lifestyles, values and work ethic of those Americans who helped to build this State and this Nation. Behind the house is an Indian Burial Mound long protected by the Cockaynes that was reunited to the farmhouse in 2004. The burial mound adds another dimension to the project.
The purpose of the Cockayne Historic Preservation Project is to create an educational and cultural center that will benefit all West Virginians.