History of the Cockayne Family 1795 to 2001

By Nila Chaddock.

The Cockaynes Arrive In Western Virginia

      Samuel Cockayne (1768-1856) arrived with his brother, Carter, in Western Virginia from Maryland circa 1795. This was same year that the Greenfield Treaty was signed, pushing the Indians further west and solidifying peace in the Upper Ohio River Valley.

      Samuel purchased a tract of land north of Moundsville one mile square from a Revolutionary War soldier. In 1798, he built a farmhouse along Wheeling Pike from virgin walnut logs and engaged in farming. He also operated an “ordinary,” or hotel out of the farmhouse called the “Andrew Jackson Inn.” Samuel would eventually acquire 539 acres of farmland, comprising all of present-day southern Glen Dale. The farm bordered the Ohio River on the west, crossed the valley to Little Grave Creek and crested the hillside on the east.

      The Cockayne Family continued to grow and disperse. Samuel’s sons Samuel and Hiram headed for Iowa and William settled in Wheeling. Upon their father’s death, Bennett and Vincent would divide the 539-acre Cockayne Farm. Vincent took the original homestead, known as Valley Farm, and the southern land. Bennett (1805-1875) had already built the present Cockayne Farmhouse and thus acquired 303 acres of the northern land. Bennett served as postmaster in Moundsville and kept a general store in Elizabethtown. His first son, Alexander, graduated from law school in Virginia and operated a law office in Moundsville. He also reportedly taught the first school in Glen Dale from the Bennett Cockayne farmhouse.

      But it was Bennett’s son, Samuel A. J., (1841-1904) who would next inherit the farm and bring the farm to international prominence for the merino wool it produced. Perhaps this was fitting, as Samuel A.J. had left his mark on the farmhouse as a child...his footprint and initials are imprinted in the stone hearth of the farmhouse. Samuel A. J. married Hannah Jane Alexander in 1863. According to a Cockayne family genealogy provided by John Cockayne and printed in the History of Marshall County, W.Va. published by the Marshall County Historical Society in 1984, Hannah gave the name “Glendale Farm” to the homestead, and this is the derivation of the Town of Glen Dale, which incorporated in 1924.

      While he operated the farm, Samuel A. J. raised purebred, fine-wooled American Merino sheep and took first prize at the International Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876 for “one fleece of good Merino wool.” Other awards would follow and the Cockayne stock would be sought after by British and Australian as well as American breeders. A print of the farm was published in an 1877 Illustrated Atlas of the Upper Ohio River Valley from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati. Samuel A. J. and Hannah had five daughters, Ella, Sara, Gertrude, Dora and Irena, and one son, Samuel A. (1874).

      Of the next generation, Samuel A. (1874-1953) inherited the farmhouse and most of the farm upon his mother’s death in 1917. Samuel A. was a member of the Washington District Board of Education in the early 1930's and Postmaster of Glen Dale from 1935 to 1950. He was also designated a “county wool dealer” in 1918. In addition to raising their own wool, the Cockaynes gathered wool from local rural farmers and distributed it to eastern markets Samuel A. married Beulah Smith in 1919 at 45 years of age. Samuel and Beulah had two sons, Samuel A.J. and John.

      Upon Samuel A. death, the farm passed to Samuel A. J. Cockayne. Samuel A. J. was born in 1921. His only ambition was to farm the land of his ancestors; and he quit high school in his sophomore year and took over the running of the farm. World War II intervened, however, and Sam was inducted. His letters from basic training are in the farmhouse, and he wrote many letters from Camp Crowder, expressing concern about the ability of his aging father and younger brother to manage the farmwork and bring in the crops in his absence. Sam served his country honorably in the 75th Signal Corps (JASCO) stationed in the South Pacific. But on his return to civilian life, he slowly adopted a reclusive lifestyle, refusing to modernize the farmhouse he inherited and living with only the most rudimentary of basic necessities.