Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Story of Lafayette Cocke

George Lafayette Cocke/Cox
My great great grandpa, George Lafayette Cocke (Cox) was born October 28, 1843 to Sarah Cocke in Laurel Fork, Carroll County, Virginia. He had nine brothers and sisters: Mariah, James Edward, Granville, Enoch, Gabriel, Ward, Sarah, Wava & John. Everyone always called him "Fate".   I suspect that Fate might have been a twin because in the 1850 census records, he and his brother, Granville are both listed as being 9 years old.

In 1861, war came to our nation. Fate, who was 17 years old when the war broke out, joined the Confederacy on May 29, 1861 at Wytheville, Virginia.  (Military records give his birth year as 1841, which made him appear to be 19 when he joined.)  He was in the 45th Virginia Infantry, Company I--The Reed Island Rifles from Carroll County, Virginia under Captain Thomas D. Bolt.  After mustering in Wytheville, they began to drill at Camp Jackson where disease spread through the camp, killing many in the regiment.  Fate was listed as being sick when the regiment moved from Wytheville on July 12, 1861 until he finally recovered in October 1861. Many of these young boys fell ill when they joined because they were suddenly exposed to many diseases for which they had no immunity.   Fate was one of the lucky ones because he survived.

In the regiment records, Fate is listed as being 5'7" tall with grey eyes and red hair.  When you look at his photo above and imagine him with grey eyes and red hair, he must have been very striking in appearance!

Fate was elected Corporal in May 1862.  Just a few days later, he was captured at Lewisburg on May 23, 1862 and sent as a prisoner of war to Camp Chase in Columbus Ohio.   His company thought that he had been killed and so they replaced him as corporal.  Fortunately, he only remained in the prison camp, where so many died, for three months.  He was sent  from Camp Chase to Vicksburg, Mississippi to be exchanged on August 25, 1862.

Fate's company was involved in the fighting at the Third Battle of Winchester where he was captured on September 19, 1864. This time, he was sent to Point Lookout, Maryland.  The prison camp at Point Lookout must have been a slice of hell on earth for a young man from the beautiful, rolling hills of Carroll County.

He was released from Point Lookout when he took the Oath of Allegiance to the US Federal Government on October 17, 1864.  Fate then joined the US Army.

Leah Ann Marshall

After the war, he returned to Carroll County, Virginia.  At the age of 25, he married Leah Ann Marshall, a "tailoress", on July 21, 1869 and they had a daughter, Martha Jane Cox who was born on November 27, 1870 (Martha was my great grandmother who married Marion Columbus Burnette)

Martha Jane Cock/Cox

Fate and Leah's marriage ended in divorce on August 13, 1874.  Family stories indicate that it was not a cordial divorce and that it involved the home being set on fire and burned to the ground!  (Maybe my temper is a Cox temper rather than a Burnette temper!)

Fate then moved to Meadow Bridge West Virginia where he married Eunice Wilson on February 18, 1875.  They had one daughter, Emmor Cocke.  (I am unaware of any other children.)

Leah had 8 children other than her daughter, Martha:   Elijah Marshall, Lula Ayers, Jathany Ayers, Alice Ayers, Sylvania Ayers, Carrie Ayers, Sheridan Ayers, & Molly Ayers

Fate died on October 31, 1887 and was buried in Meadow Bridge, West Virginia.


  1. That he survived not one but two imprisonments is remarkable. Camp Chase, in particular, was one of the worst, if not the worst, camps in the North. I'm sure he saw unspeakable things.

    His overall commander at Third Winchester was Jubal Early, a little ways down from you in Franklin County. Two other people were there, future presidents Hayes and McKinley. Maybe Fate took a shot at them. Who knows? An excellent story.

  2. I will bet that he had some very interesting stories to tell. Unfortunately, since he got a divorce and moved to WVA when his daughter (my g-grandma) was only 4 years old, there are no family stories about him.

    I do know that one of my cousins did contact his second family in WVA years ago, but I was only in the 7th grade when that happened and I didn't really pay attention like I should have.

  3. Thank you SOOOO VERY MUCH for posting this wonderful family account! I have some family pics if your interested.

    1. You are most welcome! I will be contacting you via email!

  4. Just a correction: As far as I have researched, Sarah only had six children. They are:

    Mariah Jane Cock-Cox 1833–1909

    James Edward COX 1839–1909

    Granville W Cox 1841–1914

    George Lafayette COX 1843–1887

    Gabriel (aka Harvey G Bolt) COX 1844–1912

    Enoch Ward COX 1845–1917

  5. Ps Per chance do you know what year the house was burnt down? Any pics or newspaper stories your aware of by chance?

    Thank you so much!


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