On July 25, 1809, John Hartwell Cocke II and his wife sold Mount Pleasant to Nicholas Faulcon, the husband of his eldest sister, Sally . The land that changed hands was the western part of the tract traditionally known as Swann’s Point, which John II had inherited from his father, John Hartwell Cocke I (Surry County Will Book 1 [1792-1804]:379-415; Deed Book 3 [1804-1811]:477-479; Miller 1967:19). Within a week of the sale, Faulcon, as a mortgagee, came into legal possession of the eastern part of Swann’s Point, for on August 3, 1809, Mary Kennon Cocke conveyed to him the 1,130 acres that she had just bought from her brother, John Hartwell Cocke II. She noted that she was borrowing money from Faulcon and that if she failed to repay her debt by January 1, 1817, he had the right to keep her property (Surry County Deed Book 3 [1804-1811]:503). She apparently relinquished control of her property to Faulcon, who paid her taxes, for in 1810 the tax assessor credited him with 1,127 acres known as Mount Pleasant tract and 1,130 acres “at Swann’s Point” that formerly had belonged to John H. Cocke II. Faulcon was credited with both parcels through 1813 (Surry County Land Tax Lists 1810-1813).
Mary Kennon Cocke married Nicholas Faulcon’s brother, John, in 1813 and in 1814 the tax assessor transferred the 1,130 acre Swann’s Point tract into his name. The assessor also noted that the property, which was credited to Captain John Faulcon, was “from N. Faulcon, trustee for John Hartwell Cocke pr. directions of the parties and subject to the operations of the trust executed by M. K. Cocke, now Mrs. Faulcon, before marriage” . Mary Kennon Cocke Faulcon died within a short time and in 1815 the assessor commented that because she had died “with fee” (fee simple or outright ownership), her husband was credited with the property. In 1820 the tax assessor noted that there were $565 worth of improvements on Captain John Faulcon’s Swann’s Point property. Meanwhile, those at New Hope were worth $2,598 (Surry County Land Tax Lists 1812-1820; Marriage Bonds 1813) .
Nicholas Faulcon, the new owner of Mount Pleasant, was a Surry County native. He was born in 1773 and was the son of Nicholas Faulcon Sr. and his wife, the former Lucy Wyatt. Nicholas Faulcon Sr. served successive terms in the House of Burgesses and represented Surry County during the Conventions held during the Revolutionary War. His son, Nicholas, who married Sally Cocke in 1792, succeeded him and served as a delegate to the General Assembly. From 1799 to 1803 he represented Surry, Isle of Wight and Prince George Counties in the state senate (Ancestry.com; RootsWeb.com).
Sally Cocke Faulcon eagerly anticipated making Mount Pleasant her home. She also seems to have planned for her sister, Ann Hartwell Cocke Robinson, the widow of Carter Nicholas and wife of Merritt M. Robinson, to take up residence there, too. On May 18, 1812, Sally spoke of Mrs. Robinson’s illness and expressed her fear that there was little hope of Ann’s being well enough to make the move. However, Ann Robinson survived and corresponded with Anne Barraud Cocke on September 17, 1812 (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Boxes 11 and 12).
On February 29, 1813, Sally Cocke Faulcon, who was still living at Four Mile Tree, sent word to Anne Barraud Cocke that Sally’s sister, Ann Robinson again was gravely ill. She reportedly had accompanied the Faulcons to New Hope, where her condition apparently worsened. Also visiting at Four Mile Tree while Ann Robinson was there was Mary Kennon Cocke, the youngest of the Cocke sisters, who by early 1813, had wed John Faulcon. Sally said that she was sending Anne Barraud Cocke a box of cotton that she had offered to have woven into fringe and requested that she have it dyed a deep blue. Sally said that she was looking forward to keeping house at Mount Pleasant “as soon as I can be gone” and added that she had been there that very day. She commented that “the house has been cleaned out and I assure you it looks quite smart” and added “I think I shall be perfectly happy when I get there” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 12) . Little did she know that the coming of the British would disrupt her plans.
The War of 1812
During the War of 1812, British naval vessels occasionally ventured up the James River. By spring 1813 they had become much more aggressive. On March 23, 1813, Nicholas Faulcon, who was still at Four Mile Tree, sent word to John Hartwell Cocke II that the British had come ashore at Hog Island and stolen some cattle. He said that yesterday, they learned that two British vessels had been sighted coming up the river, so “We immediately began to pack up and send off some of our most valuable articles.” Later, they heard that a ship and a brig were as near as Goose Hill . Nicholas said that he had sent Ann Robinson and her husband to Mr. McIntosh’s and was waiting for the carriage to return for his wife, Sally Faulcon, who was to go to old Mr. Schammel’s, and Sally Bowdoin, who was to go to Mrs. Marriott’s . However, before the ladies had been evacuated to a position of greater safety, Nicholas learned that the ships that had been sighted were American. He said that “Most people upon the river, above and below us, have been moving off their property for several days and some families have quitted their homes.” He said that he expected the British to send plundering parties ashore whenever they needed fresh provisions. He added that he had just rented a house on Wales Bridge Road, about four miles from the courthouse, where he was going to place his wife, Sally, and her sisters and Sally Bowdoin, if the British commenced going up the river again. He said that the home he had rented was “quite commodious . . . with three rooms below and two above stairs and the necessary offices and a garden.” It was the dwelling of Benjamin Cocke, who had moved to Tennessee. Nicholas Faulcon closed his letter by saying that he expected to “spend the greater part of my time at Mount Pleasant unless the British shall deprive me of lodging there” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 12).
On March 23, 1813, Mary Kennon Cocke Faulcon sent a letter to Anne Barraud Cocke in the same packet. She expressed her concerns about the British and said that the house Nicholas Faulcon and Mr. Bowdoin had found for them was a few miles from the Crossroads. She said that her sister, Ann Robinson but was very ill but hopefully could be moved to the rental house for safety’s sake. Mary said that Sally Faulcon had asked her to tell Anne that “She has been hard at work fixing up the dear old house and promised herself the pleasure of being at home in a few days. Yesterday she was obliged to take down all of her bedsteads and pack up everything and send them away. She says she is determined that the British shan’t have what little she has gotten toward housekeeping” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 12).
The threat the British posed was a persistent one. On April 6, 1813, Sally C. Faulcon sent a letter to Anne Barraud Cocke from Four Mile Tree, articulating her fears. She said that her husband, Nicholas, had found a house that he considered a safe retreat but that they were unable to move because of the illness of her sister, Ann Robinson. She said “We have now determined to go home which I am delighted although I think it is probable that we shall soon be obliged to pack up again; but we shall be as safe at Mount Pleasant as here and I am anxious to get fixed in my own house once more.” She added, “I am going to Mount Pleasant today to prepare for our going there. Heaven grant that I may not again be disappointed” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 13).
But she was. On April 13, 1813, Sally sent another letter to Anne B. Cocke. She said:
We have made a second attempt, my dear sister, to get to our own house again. Yesterday I had my bedstead set up, my bed and a few other things brought home. Before we left Mount Pleasant we heard several guns and were soon informed that some of the enemy’s vessels were as near as Burwell’s Bay. We are now at a loss to know what to do. Our situation is an unpleasant one indeed. Last night I had a fright that I believe completely deprived me of my senses for a short time. . . . I was awoke by a violent rapping at the front door and upon looking out at the window, I saw a number of men drawn up before the house. From the dim light which the moon gave I could only discover their black heads which afterwards proved to be the bear skins of their caps. I could plainly see too that some of them were armed. Everyone in the house thought they were the British but myself, but unfortunately for me I was so fully convinced from the front view I had of them that they were not. I never once asked who they were [Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 13].
It turned out that they were Americans stationed at nearby Cobham, who had come up by water to prevent enemy raids (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 13).
John Hartwell Cocke II, then a brigadier general, visited Four Mile Tree on April 26, 1813. He sent word to his wife, Anne, that he would procure cuttings of the double flowering peaches, as she had requested. He also commented that “Mr. Faulcon has the garden at the old place [Mount Pleasant] in very nice order and the house is all ready for their reception” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 13).
In retrospect, the month of May was the calm before the storm. On June 1, 1813, Nicholas Faulcon wrote to John Hartwell Cocke II from Mount Pleasant, saying that “I have the pleasure to inform you that we have at length gotten here to live. We move our furniture the latter part of the week and on Sunday evening came down ourselves” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 13). This move occurred nearly four years after the Faulcons had purchased the Cockes’ home!
Sally C. Faulcon sent a letter to Anne Barraud Cocke from Mount Pleasant on June 23, 1813, saying that she was writing to her “in the dear old chamber.” However, Sally’s happiness at being in her own home was tempered by the recent death of her sister, Ann Hartwell Cocke Robinson. She said that she was comforted by “The full employment of housekeeping and the satisfaction I felt again getting to my own home.” Sally said that they were now preparing to leave Mount Pleasant again, as it was feared that the British were coming back upstream. She said that they had sent their belongings to neighbors and would withdraw further from the river. She added that she was distressed to be leaving “this dear old place” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 13) .
The Faulcons’ departure was timely, for the very next night, June 24th, the British landed at Mount Pleasant and did a considerable amount of damage. On July 4, 1813,Sally, who was staying at the home of the Grays, sent word to her sister-in-law, Anne Barraud Cocke, that:
The night after I wrote to you last the British landed at Mount Pleasant and have done us every injury in their power. They have not burnt any of the houses but they had as well burnt the dwelling house as to have left it in the situation they have. Almost every window broken, many of the sashes destroyed, the staircase and many other parts of the house totally ruined. Every door was left open but the one from my chamber to the storeroom. That was broke to pieces. We had nearly removed everything like furniture but all that was left was destroyed. We got your glasses hid in the woods and if the savages are not told where they are, we will I hope be safe. They have detained nearly all of the sheep and what other stock I know not. Every fowl that was o the plantation but two geese and the peacock they carried away. The night we left home, Sally [Bowdoin], her husband, Mr. Faulcon, and myself stayed at Mr. McIntoshes. We were informed long before the day dawned that the enemy was at our house. We got up in the night and dressed ourselves expecting every moment to see the monsters make their appearance. Just after our rise we received information that the Enemy were on their way to old Mr. Schammels where we had sent almost all our property that had been removed. I want words to express my sufferings on the occasion for we were fully convinced the things that we had there were the cause of the Enemy’s going to such a retired [remote] place – and of course they must have been carried there by the negroes, which would certainly have been the case, but for one of them being unexpected, he determined to go to the assistance of the family but was persuaded first to go to the crossroad where we had a few troops to see if he could get any to join him. Everything as you may suppose was in the greatest confusion and everyone overwhelmed with distress [Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 13] .
Sally Faulcon added that she, Mr. Bowdoin, and Sally Bowdoin set out to join Sister Polly (Mary Kennon Cocke Faulcon), Mr. Robinson (the late Ann Robinson’s husband, Merritt), and others, plus the children. Jack Faulcon (Mary’s husband, John) set out by carriage to retrieve the rest of the family from Mr. Schammel’s house. He reportedly left the vehicle a distance from the dwelling and to escape attention, crossed the swamp on foot and reached the Schammel dwelling. Sally said that:
The party [of British] that went to 4 Mile Tree did not do half as much mischief as those who went to Mount Pleasant. They broke to pieces the three large pieces of furniture that stood in Sally’s [i.e., Sally Bowdoin’s] room, took everything out of the storeroom, and she had left almost everything in it – carried away only 9 sheep and not all the fowls and did no injury at all to the house or garden. They have taken almost everything out of our garden. I think I have told you enough of our sufferings though not all we have suffered [Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box13].
Sally went on to say that “There was a very intelligent lad who deserted from the British the night they landed at Mount Pleasant. He says that they do not intend to [go to] Richmond or Petersburg, their object of coming up the river is to get fresh provisions and water.” Sally said that “Some of our negroes have been faithful and some have behaved most dreadfully.” She also said that “They have had a small skirmish at Jamestown. Two of the British were killed, two taken, and several wounded. None were hurt on our side” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 13).
Official records describe some of the activity that occurred at Jamestown. The British did extensive damage to the Ambler house and they raided a number of homes along the south side of the James River . A letter written by Colonel William Allen of Claremont on July 1, 1813, reveals that on June 29th, he went to Four Mile Tree, where he had learned that the British had landed and were “destroying all the Stock of sheep and cattle they can find.” They reportedly “took from Four Mile Tree and Mount Pleasant this morning 26 head of sheep and the Fowls, destroyed the furniture at Four Mile Tree and Mount Pleasant.” Allen said that the enslaved workers at Four Mile Tree informed him that the raiding party that came ashore consisted of men “only armed with swords and pistols.” There were two brigs, five or six schooners, and eight barges within two miles of Four Mile Tree and Mount Pleasant and a comparable number of sloops as far upstream as Dancing Point . Colonel Allen said that at 4 P.M., there was a brig, two launches, and eight barges within a couple miles of Four Mile Tree and a large brig at Goose Hill (Jamestown Island) on its way upstream. He said that the brig appeared to have 20 guns. Allen was unable to tell whether there were any barges ashore below Cobham. He said that at 3 P.M. a boy who was around 14-years-old, who had deserted from the British on Tuesday night at Swann’s Point, had made his way to the guard at Four Mile Tree. The youth told the Americans that there were no troops aboard the British vessels in the James and that they were heading upstream to replenish their water supply and to procure fresh provisions. He said that the small vessels had between seven and twelve men, the launches had forty, and the barges had between ten and twenty. One British officer who came ashore with a flag of truce said that his men were not supposed to be plundering (Palmer 1968:X:239-240, 252; Executive Papers, July 1, 1813).
Throughout the summer of 1813, fourteen British barges, an armed brig, and six or seven tenders moved freely up and down the James River, plundering homes near the shore and sometimes venturing inland. John Hartwell Cocke II clearly expressed his concern for his extended family, but on August 23, 1813, Nicholas Faulcon sent word that he would not abandon their property on the lower James River, even though it had become a war zone. He said that:
It is my wife’s objection to parting with Mount Pleasant. Such is her attachment to this place but I believe she could never be happy elsewhere. This attachment will probably keep me always poor but preferring poverty with her happiness to wealth even, accompanied by her misery, I have decided to remain the owner of Mount Pleasant without knowing whether we shall live to return to it [Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 13].
John Hartwell Cocke II continued to urge Nicholas Faulcon to relocate to Fluvanna, which he considered a much more healthful climate . However, they chose to stay put.
On October 5, 1813, John Faulcon, who was at New Hope, wrote his brother-in-law, John Hartwell Cocke II, that Mary Kennon Cocke Faulcon (the letter-writer’s wife) had been ill but was recovering. A week later, Mary herself sent a letter to her brother, John, asking him to tell John T. Bowdoin that he could safely return to Surry. Mary said that Sally Faulcon was eager to return to Mount Pleasant but that her husband, Nicholas, had not decided whether they should delay their move until winter was over. Mary added that if they stayed on at New Hope, Sally would suffer from rheumatism. On October 19th, Nicholas Faulcon wrote John Hartwell Cocke II that the health of Sally and Polly (Mary Kennon Cocke Faulcon) was much improved (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 15).
Tidewater residents continued to remain uneasy about the possibility of an enemy invasion, but the British failed to return to Surry. In April 1814 a high ranking American military officer recommended that a fort and battery be built on Jamestown Island or further upstream at Hood’s. Although people on the Peninsula and on the Southside continued to be uneasy, the Treaty of Ghent, signed on Christmas Eve 1814, officially ended the war (McCartney 1997:248).
As time went on, life in Surry County gradually returned to normal, although there was a certain amount of concern that the British might return. On November 16, 1813, Nicholas Faulcon sent a letter to John Hartwell Cocke II, saying that he had unexpectedly met up with John’s “old servant Phil on my return from Mount Pleasant on Sunday” and was pleased to learn that those at Bremo were well. Sally Bowdoin, who had returned to Four Mile Tree, also wrote to the Cockes. On November 22, 1813, she informed Anne that she had returned home last Saturday, after an absence of five months. She said that “Although I have a great deal to do, as you may suppose, I will take time to tell you of the happiness I feel at the event. The pleasure of arranging my broken furniture and emptied storeroom is delightful to me, and now, were my dear mama and papa [Sally Cocke Faulcon and husband, Nicholas] comfortably fixed at their home,” she couldn’t be happier. Sally Bowdoin said that “Papa had nearly finished the repairs to his house before they returned and they have determined to move back early next month. It is papa’s opinion that after winter sets in, the British will not venture up the river” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 15).
On December 20, 1813, Nicholas Faulcon addressed some of the same issues when he wrote to John Hartwell Cocke II. He said:
I have had our house repaired and had intended to commence moving home today but the inclemency of the weather [snow] prevented me. . . . We shall hardly, I fear, get home by Christmas. Although I calculate upon receiving another visit from the enemy in the Spring, still I think it is better to return home than to remain here. All our supplies are drawn from Mount Pleasant, which we find attended with inconvenience and besides, my agricultural and other matters have suffered greatly from my absence. It would be to my interest I know to break up my establishment there altogether but for the reasons I have heretofore given you I must hesitate to do so [Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 15].
On a less serious note, Nicholas told John that the peach stones and fruit he had received at Bremo were gifts from Sally Faulcon, not Mrs. Bowdoin (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 15). Two days after Christmas, Nicholas sent word to John that he and Sally were going to “do ourselves the pleasure to forward you 3 barrels of apples, one of your favorite kind, the Shacklehill. . . . I shall also send you 3 barrels of Huses [Hughes] crabapple cider and a barrel of Virginia wine” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 15).
On January 17, 1814, Nicholas and Sally Cocke Faulcon returned home to Mount Pleasant. The next day, Nicholas sent word to John Hartwell Cocke II that:
The badness of the weather has prevented our getting the last of our things from our late residence until Saturday. Yesterday morning we got home ourselves and have been very busily employed ever since in making arrangements for once more commencing housekeeping under our own roof. God knows how long we may be permitted to remain here in safety [Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 15].
He said that he expected to see the British again, as they were in the Chesapeake Bay and surely would need to take on water and supplies. He told John that the peaches and stones Sally had sent him had come from Mr. John Spratley’s in Surry (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 15). On January 31, 1814, John Faulcon, who was then at New Hope, told John Hartwell Cocke II that he had heard from Sally Faulcon’s servant, Molly, that all at Mount Pleasant and Four Mile Tree were in good health (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 15).
As winter faded into spring and Nicholas Faulcon’s thoughts turned to the growing season, he began preparing plant materials for shipment to John Hartwell Cocke II at Bremo. On February 15, 1814, Nicholas told John that he had sent him the asparagus seed that he had requested. Then, on April 26, 1814, he sent word that if the British didn’t drive them away from Mount Pleasant again, he would “inoculate [for] you the cherries you request. I shall be able indeed to furnish you with 1 or 2 of each of the sorts you wish and of the proper age for transplanting.” He added that he
. . . would take pleasure in adding some apples, which I have grafted this spring, if they would be acceptable. Among them are the Shacklehill and the Spice Apple. With the former you are acquainted. The other is the apple which you recollect to have heard me speak of. They are said to keep through the winter as well as the Shacklehill.
He inquired whether apricots did well at Bremo and said that if John would like to have some, he could “spare you a few of the clingstone propagated from Davis’s trees in Williamsburg, which are said to be superior to any in that place.” The two men continued to exchange letters and plant materials and bantered good naturedly. On May 23, 1814, Nicholas admitted to John that he had “beaten you in pease but you have beaten me much farther in cabbages.” He added, however, that John could work his garden without worrying about the arrival of the British, and that he had only been at Mount Pleasant for four weeks in 1813 and did not return until mid-January 1814. He added that “My garden as well as other parts of the plantation consequently exhibits strong evidence of neglect.” He said that he did not obtain any Early York cabbage seed until February and inquired whether John had enjoyed any Irish potatoes yet, adding that he and Sally had had some. On June 14, 1814, Nicholas told John that his “Lower Country Pride” would not prevent him from accepting the cauliflower seed that John had offered him. He also noted that the wheat crop at Mount Pleasant would be late this year (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 16).
Summer brought a certain amount of uneasiness about British foraging parties’ again raiding the plantations along the lower part of the James River. On July 25, 1814, Nicholas Faulcon, who was then at Mount Pleasant, told John Hartwell Cocke II that if the war wasn’t over by the end of the year, he intended to move his personal belongings to a place of greater safety. He said that if peace had not succeeded by that time, he would have “preferred selling Mount Pleasant and making a permanent establishment somewhere else.” He added that he realize that he could not do so without great sacrifice, even if he were able to obtain his wife’s consent, “which would have been impossible.” Faulcon said that he had thought of moving elsewhere in Surry County or of going to Southampton. He said that the local militia under the direction of Colonel Allen had been ordered to go to Richmond, which meant that they were unable to protect the people of Surry (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 16).
Safety concerns apparently caused Nicholas Faulcon to remove his household from Mount Pleasant during August or early September 1814. Nicholas sent word to John Hartwell Cocke II that he had already moved all of his books, papers, and essential household furniture to a location that was ten or fifteen miles from the river. He said that he had seized an opportunity to send John’s looking-glasses to Richmond and that he also had sent him fifty-eight dozen peach stones “of 16 different varieties,” all packed in separate parcels and labeled. He added that Sally had sent along some wooden bowls that she had bought for the Cockes as a gift (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 17).
Two months later, Nicholas Faulcon wrote to John Hartwell Cocke II from Mount Pleasant, telling him that he had just sent him some young fruit trees and a few of the double-flowering peach trees. He said that he would have added white fig trees but decided to wait until spring before moving them. He said that “The cherries and apricots are the best varieties we have of those fruits.” Nicholas enclosed a list, indicating that he had sent eighteen apple trees (six Shacklehills, six Gregories, and six Spice Apples); six cherry trees (two carnation, two May Duke, and two Bleeding Heart); four double-flowering peach; and six apricots (four clingstone and two clean stone) (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 18). This letter not only reveals some of the types of fruit trees being grown at Mount Pleasant in 1814, but also that some of that nursery stock was sent to John Hartwell Cocke II at Bremo.
Records of plants and shrubs purchased by John Hartwell Cocke II from Benjamin Prince, a nurseryman in Flushing, New York, attests to his keen interest in horticulture. He purchased numerous types of fruit trees (cherries, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, apples, pears), almond trees, mulberries, raspberries, strawberries, and a wide variety of deciduous trees and flowering shrubs. He also invested in rose bushes of various kinds. A year later, he purchased a number of additional trees and plants from Benjamin Prince. John also acquired some plants from Pauline Legrande, a friend who lived near the Charlotte County Courthouse (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Boxes 22 and 23; Oversize Box 1) .
On January 5, 1815, Nicholas Faulcon wrote to John Hartwell Cocke II from Mount Pleasant, informing him that his wife, Sally, was ill but seemed to be recovering. Then, on January 27th he had the sad task of sending another letter in which he said that John’s sister, Polly, otherwise known as Mary Kennon Cocke Faulcon, was dead. On March 7, 1815, Nicholas told John that he had caught a cold from standing upon the damp ground in the graveyard, during Polly’s burial (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Boxes 19 and 20). The nature of the illness that claimed the life of Mary Kennon Cocke Faulcon is unknown.
John Hartwell Cocke II continued to urge Nicholas and Sally Faulcon to move to Fluvanna County, insisting that it was a much healthier area in which to live. On July 17, 1815, Nicholas responded that if Sally wouldn’t leave Mount Pleasant while the British were a constant threat, she surely wouldn’t move now, so strongly was she attached to the place. He said that, “This is the place of her nativity and here lie the ashes of her parents and of many other dear friends.” Abruptly changing the subject, Nicholas said that he had inoculated some early June apples and Cherokee willows for him and he offered to graft some pears for him next spring, if he were able to procure the stock (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 19). As time went by, John Hartwell Cocke II continued to try to persuade Nicholas and Sally Faulcon to move to Fluvanna County. On September 4, 1817, when John made his will (nearly 50 years before his death) he left the Faulcons a life estate in Bremo Recess (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 25).
On September 12, 1815, Nicholas Faulcon wrote John Harwell Cocke II that the day before, they had had the highest tide he had ever seen. He said that, “It flowed over the highest points of the bank at the fort” and probably damaged John’s corn (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 20). This raises the possibility that John was renting the land that his late sister, Mary Kennon Cocke Faulcon, had been in the process of purchasing, or had been exchanging the right to use the land for part of the purchase price .
During 1815 Nicholas and Sally Cocke Faulcon suffered the loss of their close friend and neighbor, Sally Edwards Brown Bowdoin of Four Mile Tree, with whom they had stayed for several years while Mount Pleasant was being readied for occupancy. Sally Bowdoin gave birth to a daughter, Sally Elizabeth Courtney Bowdoin, on May 6, 1815, and died on November 26, 1815. Although little Sally’s father, John Tucker Bowdoin, survived until early 1821, he suffered from medical problems and also traveled a great deal. As a result, little Sally spent a great deal of time next door at Mount Pleasant with the Faulcons, who were childless, and eventually made her home with them (Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 28) .
The following year, the Faulcons suffered the loss of another close friend, for it was then that Anne Blaus Barraud Cocke died, seemingly the result of complications resulting from childbirth. On September 8, 1816, Anne gave birth to a daughter, Sally Faulcon Cocke. On September 17, 1816, Dr. Philip Barraud, who was in Norfolk, sent word to St. George Tucker that Anne (or “Nan” as the family called her) was not well, but had become the mother of “another fine daughter.” By November 1816 Anne’s conditioned had worsened. Barraud said that a letter he had had from John Hartwell Cocke on November 28th had filled him with “apprehensions for my beloved daughter’s safety.” He said that her sickness had increased and that Dr. Everett (a Richmond physician) had gone to Bremo to attend her. After Anne’s death, Barraud wrote Tucker about how his “sainted Daughter” had died, steadfast in her religious faith (Tucker Coleman Papers Transcripts I:181-182, 188; Cocke and Cocke 1967:62).
On March 6, 1821, Nicholas Faulcon informed John Hartwell Cocke II that John T. Bowdoin had died on February 25th. He apparently had been ill for at least three weeks, for he made a codicil to his will on February 5, 1821. Bowdoin left all of his worldly goods to his daughter, Sally Elizabeth Courtney Bowdoin, and named Nicholas Faulcon and John Hartwell Cocke II as her legal guardians . He designated Nicholas, John, and John Faulcon as his executors and made a modest bequest to Nicholas and Sally Faulcon. The testator asked his executors to see that a brick wall was built around the graveyard at Four Mile Tree, where he was to be buried. Personal papers accumulated by members of the Cocke family contain a list of items that John Hartwell Cocke II purchased at John T. Bowdoin’s estate sale (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Boxes 33 and 34) .
In 1820 when a census-taker visited Mount Pleasant, he identified Nicholas Faulcon as head of a household that was comprised of 66 people, 60 of whom were enslaved. There was one free white male who was over the age of 45 (Nicholas); one who was between 26 and 45; and one who was at least 16 but under 26. Free white females included one who was age 45 or older (Sally); one between 10 and 16 (perhaps one of the Faulcons’ nieces, who visited frequently); and one who was under the age of 10 (likely Sally Elizabeth Courtney Bowdoin). Enslaved male household members included four who were age 45 or older; six who were over age 26 but under 45; nine who were at least 16 but under 26; and 12 who were under the age of 14. A total of 16 household members were engaged in agriculture and three were engaged in manufactures of some sort (Surry County Census 1820).
John Hartwell Cocke III, who in December 1821 was almost 18 years old and was enrolled at the College of William and Mary, sent word to his father that he had recently seen his aunt Sally Faulcon in Williamsburg. He said that she had “complained very much of her health although I thought she looked very well and indeed I believe she came over for the purpose of consulting Dr. Galt” . He added that he had learned by a letter John Faulcon received from his father that “she was more unwell after she returned to Surry.” He added that “They were all well except Aunt Faulcon when I wrote. I shall take a day besides the one allowed us at Christmas and go over and see them all in Surry, as uncle John F. is to send his boat for John and he has asked me to go with him” (Papers of the Cocke Family MSS 9513 g).
On January 2, 1822, John Hartwell Cocke III wrote his father that he had
. . . found all our friends in Surry quite well except Uncle Faulcon who had been confined to his room some days by a violent cold. Aunt Faulcon looked much better than I expected to see her after what I had heard her of her health. I think she looks almost as well as I ever saw her. We found Commodore Sinclair at Mount Pleasant. He looks much better than I expected to see him and I think is in a very fair way to entire recovery. . . . I saw another of your old acquaintances who had come up to spend his Christmas, Mr. R. Archer. He looked I thought a little worsted by intemperance but I heard from Aunt Faulcon that he had lately changed in that respect very much for the better. . . . They were all well at New Hope except Mrs. Faulcon who was a little unwell the day we came over. I spent a very agreeable time in Surry [Papers of the Cocke Family MS 9513 g].
By March everyone in the household apparently was well.
In early November 1822 John Hartwell Cocke III sent word to his father that he had returned to Williamsburg on Saturday, having spent six or seven days in Surry. He said that everyone was well except his friend, John N. Faulcon, who seemed to be having a second bout of the ague. He said that John hoped to live in Williamsburg during the winter, so that he could study medicine with Dr. Galt. Later in the month, John Hartwell Cocke III told his father that John N. Faulcon was going to study medicine in Petersburg and that he had “left all our friends in Surry quite well except his father who has been very ill but is now recovering” (Papers of the Cocke Family MSS 9513 g). John N. Faulcon’s educational plans apparently changed again by early October 1823, for Nicholas Faulcon wrote John Hartwell Cocke II that his nephew, John N. Faulcon had gone to Richmond for medical study prior to going on to Philadelphia to continue his education (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 39).
In January 1825 Nicholas and Sally Cocke Faulcon took their young ward, Sally Elizabeth Courtney Bowdoin, to Smithfield, so that she could be properly educated. Courtney was supposed to board at Mrs. Southall’s but attend Mrs. Stillman’s School. Sally Faulcon told her sister “How strange it appears to me . . . to see her [Courtney’s] clothes separated from mine” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 42).
On June 8, 1825, when Sally Cocke Faulcon of Mount Pleasant wrote to her new sister-in-law, Louisa Cocke, she said that she had received John Hartwell Cocke II’s portrait and valued it very highly. She said that the artist had captured his image accurately except for his mouth. Sally said “I have kept it hanging in my chamber until today. I have had it hung up in the dining room that other of his friends may see it besides myself” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 43).
The letters Nicholas Faulcon and John Hartwell Cocke II exchanged over the years reflect both men’s ongoing interest in agriculture and animal husbandry. On April 5, 1818, Nicholas told John that he was in the process of having his enslaved workers prepare ground for a cotton crop and said that he usually was able to clothe his workers entirely out of what was grown upon the plantation. He said that frost had damaged his apples and pears, but that he had planted corn and peas. Two days later, Nicholas wrote another letter, apologizing for not getting grafts of a certain type of cherry tree “from the main” this spring, cuttings that John had requested . He said that it was too late in the season to procure some now, but that he would get some buds at the proper time. Nicholas said that he had set out six or eight Gelder rose bushes for John and that Mr. Bowdoin (John Tucker Bowdoin) had given Sally some young boxwood bushes, grown from the large boxwood she had planted at Four Mile Tree while they lived there (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 26).
Nicholas Faulcon sent letters to John Hartwell Cocke II twice during the winter of 1818-1819. On November 24, 1818, he said that he had not saved John any seed from his fine autumn pears, which he described as “winter-keeping,” because he had not realized that John wanted some. He added that he would be glad to do so next year. Nicholas said that he had begun selling corn harvested at Mount Pleasant and made reference to “my lot of corn before the house.” On January 5, 1819, Nicholas told John that he had been thinking about raising tobacco at Mount Pleasant, as it was the most profitable crop to sell. He added, however, that he worried about damaging the soil he had been striving so hard to improve. Nicholas said that he doubted that he would be able to hire an overseer who was experienced in growing tobacco and admitted that he himself wasn’t knowledgeable about its culture . He said that he was ready to experiment with plaster and clover as soil enrichment strategies and if that were to fail, he would give up the wheat crop on his corn land. He noted that manure had produced a good growth of Birdfoot clover (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 27) .
One reason Nicholas Faulcon may have been casting about for a way to make his land more productive in the late 18-teens was the Panic of 1819, America’s first great depression, a period of economic stagnation that followed in the wake of the War of 1812. In nearly half of the counties east of the Blue Ridge, the population dwindled, thanks to a general out-migration. In Tidewater, where relatively little attention had been given to replenishing the soil, farmland had become devoid of nutrients and relatively unproductive. Land values plummeted. During this period, many large estates were broken up and redistributed when old, well-established families moved west in search of better land. Members of the lower and middling classes also moved on, for they foresaw opportunities to better themselves. All of these changes occurred amidst agricultural prices that fluctuated wildly and economic conditions that were relatively unstable. In synch with the state’s diminishing population, Virginia’s influence on the political scene lessened. Although the economy of the new nation eventually took hold, and Virginians became increasingly interested in the development of internal improvements (such as canals, railroads, turnpikes, and better public roads), these aids to commercial development would have had little benefit to the owners of Mount Pleasant (McCartney 1997:249, 251). However, steamboat travel eventually opened up new markets for Tidewater’s agricultural products.
According to Nicholas Faulcon, spring 1819 at Mount Pleasant brought a good crop of apricots, but the young plants that John Hartwell Cocke II sent to him failed to survive. On June 15, 1819, Nicholas told John that his sister, Sally Faulcon, was fearful that the rainy weather would ruin her carnation cherries and raspberries. In September 1819 Nicholas Faulcon’s quest for plant materials took him to North Carolina. There, he arranged for a shipment of scuppernong grapevines and some other indigenous grapes (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Boxes 28 and 29).
On November 21, 1819, Nicholas Faulcon informed John Hartwell Cocke II that as he was writing to him, little Courtney (Sally Elizabeth Courtney Bowdoin, who was then 4-years-old) was running about in the garden. He said that he had received a couple of the scuppernong grape plants he had ordered from North Carolina and that he eventually hoped to get some genuine vines through some of the people he had met. He indicated that he had had a good corn crop at Mount Pleasant and that he had recently cultivated 25 acres that had been fertilized with manure from the old farm pen, the stable, and the dunghill. A couple months later, he sent word that he had produced an early crop of potatoes (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Boxes 29 and 30).
On March 16, 1820, Nicholas Faulcon wrote John Hartwell Cocke II that his strawberries and cherries had been injured by a hard frost but that Cocke’s wheat crop at Swann’s Point was fine. He added that Sally had planted a crop of pumpkins. On April 11, 1820, he said that he was beginning to harvest asparagus and that his peas were in bloom. He said that he had had good sea-kale but it was still “bitter for broccoli.” Nicholas indicated that he had planted 80,000 to 90,000 hills of corn but had not begun hauling out farm pen manure. In early August Nicholas reported that he had had an excellent garden and had gotten large melons from the Baltimore cantaloupe seed that John had sent him. He said that he expected a very good crop of watermelons. During the spring of 1821 Nicholas told John that the horse he had been keeping for him had begun to fill out and improve. A year later, Nicholas told John about the horses then at Four Mile Tree. He said that the imported mare had produced a fine filly, but that the brown mare had broken her leg trying to jump out of a stall (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Boxes 31, 34, and 36).
On June 18, 1822, Sally Faulcon, who was at Mount Pleasant, sent a letter to John Hartwell Cocke II’s wife, Louisa. She said that they had had a terrible thunderstorm accompanied by an abundance of lightening and strong wind. She said that “One of the poplars in the yard was struck and a post near it was torn to pieces,” and that the high wind had destroyed a lot of fruit. A week later, Nicholas Faulcon wrote to John and made reference to the overseer at Mount Pleasant but failed to reveal his name. On July 10th Nicholas told John that the melon crop at Mount Pleasant was the best he had ever seen and that he had gathered seventy-three muskmelons the day before (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 36).
Throughout 1822 Nicholas Faulcon and John Hartwell Cocke II continued to exchange letters about their agricultural activities. On March 19th Nicholas told John that he had sent him some apple and pear cuttings, packets of seeds, and tulip roots dug out last fall. He indicated that all of the plant materials had been stored in Mount Pleasant’s cellar over the winter. Nicholas said that he had sent John some barrels of cider and that he had discovered that four bottles stored in the cellar had been broken. Nicholas said that his wife, Sally, had wanted to send hyacinths, more tulips, and some additional flower roots, but that it was too late in the season to take them from the ground. Nicholas mentioned that the apricots were then in bloom (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 36).
Nicholas Faulcon waited until October 1822 before sending another shipment of fruit and plant materials to his brother-in-law at Bremo. Early in the month he sent John some apples (pippins and Gileses) and said that he wished that he had pears to send. At the end of the month, he sent him a box of flower roots and some barrels of apples that contained pippins, Gileses, salmon apples, and white apples). He said that he was going to try to get him some summer ducks by next summer. In late November Nicholas sent John some shrubs from the garden at Mount Pleasant, a dark cherry wilding, a sugar maple tree, two bottles of gooseberries, and some flower roots. He also sent two types of potato plantings that he had propagated from cuttings. One, he said, was “little inferior to the Barbados potato or Gem.” The other was the Pumpkin Spanish potato. Sally Faulcon also sent a letter to Louisa Cockeat Bremo. She said that Mount Pleasant’s rose bushes were beautiful and that there were twenty-six buds on her Monthly Roses. She added that her tomatoes were still quite plentiful. In November 1823 Sally sent Louisa and John Hartwell Cocke II a container of sweet meats and diced apples (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Boxes 37 and 39).
Because the strawberry and fig plants that John Hartwell Cocke II previously sent Nicholas Faulcon had failed to survive, he dispatched another shipment. On November 8, 1823, Nicholas thanked him for re-collecting the plants and told John that he had sown all of his Mexican wheat but had gotten a poor crop. During June and July 1824 Nicholas made passing references to the crops of corn and Mexican wheat then at Mount Pleasant. When commenting upon the weather, he made reference to “the thermometer in our passage” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Boxes 39 and 41).
Sometime prior to mid-April 1825, Louisa Cocke sent Sally Faulcon a moss rose bush. According to Sally, it was “flourishing” and she expected it to bloom “this spring.” She also thanked Louisa for the lemons she had sent. During the spring and early summer 1825 Nicholas Faulcon sent three letters to John Hartwell Cocke II in which he discussed the crops and livestock at Mount Pleasant. On April 19th he mentioned the status of his tobacco and corn crops. Then, on May 3rd he announced that he had had the season’s first peas and that “we have a good prospect for a plentiful crop of fruit of every description that we raise at all.” He added, however, that he had lost two or three young pear trees due to a disease. He said:
From the two dozen Hautboy strawberry plants you were good enough to send me last Spring I have had a large bed set out in the fall, which are now the most flourishing vines I ever saw, and promise to yield a very large crop. I think they will be to us a very valuable variety as they will not ripen until all our other sorts are gone. The Scotch strawberry has not increased in the same proportion. I have, however, a small bed of them [Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 43].
Speaking of his livestock, Nicholas Faulcon said that his brood mare at Four Mile Tree had given birth to a fine Arabian colt and that her filly by Sir Archie (now three-years-old) “I expect to be equal to any in the state.” He added that he “must endeavor to get some gentleman of the turf to train her in the full – and I shall be greatly disappointed if she does not make a first-rate racer” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 43).
Late spring or early summer brought what Nicholas Faulcon termed “a disastrous high tide.” In a June 7, 1825, letter to John Hartwell Cocke II he said that his recently shorn flock of sixty-four sheep had been “in the low grounds near the point” when the tide began to rise. The water rose so quickly that he was unable to move the sheep to high land. When the tide went out, he found that thirty sheep had drowned and three others were missing, probably having been carried off by the flood. Nicholas said that his “water fences and a great part of the fence between the landing place and the old Swann’s Point road were swept away.” He said that he expected to lose his wheat crop and that the corn and cotton were damaged significantly. He added that “At least one half of the apples and peaches are blown down and a good many of the trees also. The other fruits fared better. Our garden, too, has suffered immensely.” Nicholas closed by saying that he had to erect his fences again before attempting to harvest what was left of his wheat crop. Sally Faulcon also commented upon the weather damage. In a letter to Louisa Cocke, she said that the moss rose bush Louisa had sent her was flourishing and had three elegant buds. However, her “elegant Multiflora has suffered greatly from the last storm.” She asked Louisa to tell Nuna (a soubriquet for Louisa’s step-daughter, Louisiana Cocke) that “The frame which was completely covered was blown down and the vine very much broken.” She also asked Louisa to have Nuna describe “the yellow roses” to her, perhaps referring to a plant that was at Bremo (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 43).
In early August 1825, Nicholas Faulcon sent word to John Hartwell Cocke II that he was hindered by the absence of his overseer, who had become sick around July 1st and had gone to his mother’s. Nicholas said that he had decided to hire someone else to take care of Mount Pleasant while he (personally) was away. He added that he had nobody to assist with his agricultural operations “in this important month” and also had work to do at Four Mile Tree, as the overseer there had been ill. Nicholas indicated that he was obliged to expose himself to the sun much more than he would have preferred to. He told John that he had tried to obtain some Summer Ducks for him, but had been unsuccessful and probably wouldn’t be able to do so. He said that he had tried in vain to capture some in McIntosh’s Mill Pond and in Weir Neck Pond (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 44).
On October 11, 1825, Nicholas Faulcon dispatched a letter to John Hartwell Cocke II, sharing some observations about the previous growing season. He said that a bad drought had affected the garden at Mount Pleasant and that the cabbage and celery plants set out on August 22nd had grown very little. He said that his prospect for a crop of good turnips was “wretched.” He mentioned his corn, wheat, and cotton crops and indicated that he had begun sowing Mexican wheat (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 45). As it turned out, this was the last time the two men would exchange letters in which they shared their knowledge of scientific farming.
In 1822 an elaborate commemorative celebration was held on Jamestown Island, not far from Mount Pleasant, and literally thousands of visitors flocked to the island for the event. An article published in a Richmond newspaper on May 25, 1822, indicated that there was relatively little structure to the celebration. Only two speeches were given and there were no special prayers or elaborate orations, even though more people attended than had been present in 1807. The reporter said that he counted thirty-five vessels “besides the five steamboats, which together with the infinite number of small boats gliding to and fro over the beautiful bay . . . made a fine display.” He indicated that bands of picnickers roamed the island and at one point, the celebrants, in their unbridled enthusiasm, “burnt down one of the two large brick houses on the island,” the Travis house, which was located in the eastern end of Jamestown Island. Another writer said that the unruly celebrants “broke the tombstones into fragments and scattered them over the face of the earth” (McCartney 2000:I:224). It is uncertain whether anyone from Mount Pleasant attended the celebration held in 1822, but some of the activity and the large number of watercraft would have been plainly visible from the waterfront.
Personal property tax rolls reveal that Nicholas Faulcon farmed with enslaved labor and owned approximately the same number of workers that John Hartwell Cocke II had had in his possession. While some of Cocke’s enslaved African Americans stayed on for a while at Mount Pleasant, it is likely that Faulcon quickly moved his own workers to the plantation. In 1807, two years before Nicholas Faulcon purchased Mount Pleasant, he paid personal property taxes upon twenty-five enslaved persons who were age 12 or older and another twenty who were age 16 or older. He also had eight horses, asses, and mules. After Faulcon bought Mount Pleasant the number of laborers upon whom he paid personal property taxes remained constant, but rose to an all time high of thirty-eight who were age 12 or older and thirty who were at least 16. In 1814 he owned a riding chair that was worth $450 (Surry County Personal Property Tax Lists 1807-1814). When a census was taken in 1810,Nicholas Faulcon was credited with thirty-three enslaved individuals. Also in his household was a free white female under age 45 (his wife Sally) and an older woman who was over 45 (Surry County Census 1810).
In 1815 when additional categories of personal property briefly became taxable, Nicholas Faulcon was credited with a stud horse whose services were worth $45 a season; a phaeton that was worth $250; a gilt, silver or pinch back watch; and some household furnishings that were taxable. In Faulcon’s possession were eight pieces of walnut or mahogany furniture upon which he was taxed, notably, a secretary, two bookcases, a chest of drawers with a desk, a bedstead, two mahogany tea tables, and a walnut wardrobe. He also owned an oil painting (a portrait), two gold or silver plated candlesticks, and two cut-glass decanters. Nicholas Faulcon paid a special tax that was levied upon those who owned houses worth more than $500. In 1815 Mount Pleasant was worth $3,000. Meanwhile, John T. Bowdoin’s Four Mile Tree plantation house was worth $3,500 and Bacon’s Castle was worth $4,000 (Surry County Personal Property Tax Lists 1815) . The values assigned to Mount Pleasant, Four Mile Tree, and Bacon’s Castle may have been an approximation of the fair market value in 1815.
In 1814 the county tax commissioner noted that Nicholas Faulcon’s 1,127 acre Mount Pleasant plantation adjoined the property of John T. Bowdoin of Four Mile Tree and in 1819 he simply indicated that it adjoined Four Mile Tree. In 1820 when tax assessors commenced making note of the value of the buildings that stood upon the parcels they assessed, Mount Pleasant was said to contain improvements whose assessed value was $2,254. That assessment remained constant through 1839, at which time there was a major revision in the county’s tax base. That Mount Pleasant’s structural improvements were elaborate can be seen in the fact that during this period the buildings at Bacon’s Castle (then in the hands of Richard H. Cocke) were worth $2,781 and those at Chippokes were worth only $1,300. Meanwhile, the value of the improvements on the 200 acres known as Jack’s was $200 (Surry County Land Tax Lists 1814-1839).
During the 1820s the number of enslaved persons in Nicholas Faulcon’s possession gradually increased until he reached a maximum of forty-four who were over the age of 12 and thirty-eight who were over 16. By 1823 he had two wheeled vehicles: a coachee worth $200 and a gig worth $50. In 1819 and 1820 there were two free white males in the household, both of whom were age 16 or older, probably Nicholas Faulcon and an overseer. In time the number of horses, asses, and mules in Faulcon’s possession increased to eleven (Surry County Personal Property Tax Lists 1820-1826) . In 1807 when Bishop James Madison (1807) made a map of Virginia, which he updated in 1818, he identified the site of Swann’s Point but failed to show Mount Pleasant. However, Madison’s successor, Herman Boye (1826), showed the two local roads that converged as they led to Swann’s Point, from which a ferry ran to the upper side of the James River (Figures 9 and 10).
On April 11, 1820, Nicholas Faulcon sent word to John Hartwell Cocke II that one of his most valuable male laborers had died. He said that “the young man who lives with me” had given the man a pass to go to Cabin Point on an errand. However, while he was away from the plantation, he got drunk. He reportedly died on the road, while on his way home (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 31).
During the summer of 1823, those enslaved at Mount Pleasant suffered from bouts of the ague and from fevers, according to Merritt M. Robinson Jr., John Hartwell Cocke II’s nephew. On October 5, 1823, Nicholas Faulcon also spoke of there being much ague and fever among the workers. He said that the people of the late John T. Bowdoin of Four Mile Tree also were ill (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 39).
When Nicholas Faulcon wrote to John Hartwell Cocke II on January 31, 1825, he said that he had had problems with some of Cocke’s enslaved persons. He said that he earnestly wished that the Colonization Society would succeed and “rid us of the slavery problem” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 42). The enslaved that Cocke had in Surry probably were at Swann’s Point, for there is no indication that they were intermingled with the Faulcons’ workers at Mount Pleasant.
On October 11, 1825, Nicholas Faulcon sent word to John Hartwell Cocke II that one male laborer had become ill and died, but that the others were well. This letter probably was the men’s last piece of correspondence, for on February 28, 1826, John Faulcon, who was visiting Mount Pleasant, informed John Hartwell Cocke II that Nicholas Faulcon “was taken with the prevailing Epidemic (Influenza) on Friday the 17th Instant; he has labored under severe illness since the next morning, so severe has been the disease, that there remains no hope of his surviving. Its course has been but little (apparently) arrested by the skill of Doctors Finch and Southall of Smithfield.” John Faulcon said that Nicholas’s wife, Sally, was trying to deal with the situation as she saw bereavement approaching, but “the tie of Husband and Wife is too strong with such a one as she is to be broken without causing the most severe anguish.” He asked John Hartwell Cocke II to come to Mount Pleasant and said that Sally had asked that Cousin Louisiana do so, too (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Boxes 45 and 46).
On March 4, 1826, John Hartwell Cocke II sent a letter to his wife, Louisa, from Richmond. He said that he had learned that Nicholas Faulcon had died on March 2nd at 1 o’clock. He said that he had gotten the news from Merritt M. Robinson, who had received a letter from John Faulcon. John told Louisa that he and Merritt were planning to go to Sally right away, by steamboat. He expressed his hope that Sally’s strong religious faith would sustain her (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 46).
On February 13, 1826, Nicholas Faulcon, who acknowledged that he was very sick, made his will, which was presented for probate on April 24th. He bequeathed to his beloved wife, Sally, “during the term of her natural life” the plantation upon which they resided, Mount Pleasant, along with “the tract called Jacks which I have lately purchased of her brother General John H. Cocke but for which I have not yet got a deed” . He also left her life-rights to twenty-five enslaved persons, notably old Hailey, James Hailey and his wife Betsy and daughter Betsy; Ned (a carpenter); Davy (a blacksmith); Dianna and her four children (Evelyn, Cornelius, Scipio, and Becky); Lucy and her daughter Angelina; Levinia and her two children (Eliza and Anthony); Alfred; Nelly; Moses (“commonly called little Moses”); Daniel, Werter, Abram, Almira, Old Sarah; and Old Nanny. He also bequeathed to his wife, Sally, life-rights to all of those females’ children. The testator authorized his widow to relinquish life-rights to any laborer that become unprofitable to her, “It not being my wish that she should be at the expense of maintaining and raising negroes for the benefit of others.” He added that if sales were to be made, the executors were to carry them out and see that the proceeds went to those who were supposed to receive them.
Nicholas Faulcon specified that when his wife died, he wanted his executors to sell all of his land and the enslaved peoples in which his widow had life-rights except “old Hailey and Lucy and her daughter.” He said that he wanted enslaved families to be kept together and that they were to be sold “to people they are willing to live with.” The proceeds of their sale were to go to the testator’s sisters, Lucy and Elizabeth Alston, who were residents of North Carolina, and to the three sons of his late sister, Jane, the wife of John Faulcon . If the woman called “old Hailey” happened to outlive Nicholas Faulcon’s widow, Sally, she was to go to his nephew, John N. Faulcon . He added, “I feel confident that he will cheerfully comply” with the request and take good care of old Hailey for the rest of his life . Likewise, the servant named Lucy and her daughter were to go to the testator’s “beloved ward,” Sally E. C. Bowdoin. If she were die, Lucy and her daughter were to go to John N. Faulcon.
In a separate portion of his will, Nicholas Faulcon left his wife, Sally, outright (unencumbered) ownership of all of his household and kitchen furniture, farming equipment, carpentry and blacksmithing tools, his new carriage and harness, his livestock (which included horses, cattle, sheep and hogs), all of the crops on hand (corn, grain, and fodder), plus the food, “victuals and liquors in the house, such of my books and maps as may be useful to her – she to be the sole judge,” and $5,000 in cash. Nicholas Faulcon left outright ownership of twenty-eight of his enslaved persons to his wife and named them: Old Dinah; 113 Molly and her son Leander, Inez and all her children and grandchildren (Liza Jones and her three children), Sally, Simon, and Mary, Ned, Billy, Peter Jones, Mary, Patsy, Richard, Jenny, Suckey, Lucy and Judy, Malvinia and her two children (James Henry and John) and Henry, the husband of Malvinia.
The testator bequeathed $300 to his brother-in-law, John Hartwell Cocke II, instructing him to purchase a gold watch, chain, and seals for Sally E. C. Bowdoin when she turned age 18. Nicholas also asked John to purchase a gold watch, chain, and seals for himself and one for his daughter, Sally Faulcon Cocke. Nicholas Faulcon wanted his nephew and executor John N. Faulcon to have his (Nicholas’s) gold watch, chain and seals. In closing his February 13, 1826, will Nicholas Faulcon named his executors (his widow Sally, John Hartwell Cocke II, John Faulcon, and John N. Faulcon) and instructed them not to have his estate appraised (Surry County Will Book 4 [1822-1827]:487-489). 114 Thanks to Faulcon’s exercising that privilege, as a citizen whose assets were known to be much larger than his liabilities, no inventory was made of his personal estate, which would have included the household contents at Mount Pleasant.
The accounts compiled by Nicholas Faulcon’s executors shed some light upon life at Mount Pleasant after his death. Shortly after his demise, payment was made to Dr. J. B. Southall for medicine and medical attention and Baylor Dudley was paid for making a coffin. Bishop Moore was paid for preaching a funeral sermon. Funds also were spent to purchase caster oil that was to be administered to sick laborers and Dr. W. H. Finch was paid for attendance upon Nicholas in his last illness. A man named Joseph McAllister was compensated for “completing a cotton machine at Mount Pleasant” and John D. Lane was paid as the plantation’s overseer. Others received remuneration for repairing cart wheels and funds were expended for thread used in making shoes for the plantation’s laborers. John Hartwell Cocke II was paid the balance that was due for the purchase of the 200 acre tract called Jack’s, which was part of Mount Pleasant and was the land in which Cocke and his wife had given Thomas and Margaret Schammel life-rights. Some laborers had to be sold to cover the decedent’s last expenses. A few were purchased by Nicholas Faulcon’s sisters in North Carolina. However, John N. Faulcon purchased Polly Low, Moses and Jenny (Polly Low’s daughter), Peter Culpeper, and Tillah and her son William Griffin. In June 1828 Nicholas Faulcon’s bequest of $5,000 in cash was dispensed to his widow. On May 29, 1830, Levinia and her four children were sold to Joseph Camer of Norfolk for $500 and a year later, Almira and her two children were sold to William Hartshorne, also of Norfolk, for $395. John N. Faulcon, as an executor, noted that he was deducting $80 from the $395, for Almira’s eldest daughter had been sold for Lucy Alston’s benefit. Faulcon deducted the expenses of his and the enslaved peoples’ transportation to Norfolk by steamboat (Surry County Will Book 5 [1827-1830]:369-373; 6 [1830-1834]:113-115, 197, 278-280, 623-625; 8 [1840-1845]:82-84).
One legal issue that arose on account of Nicholas Faulcon’s death was how to fulfill his role as John T. Bowdoin’s executor. Apparently a judicial opinion was sought, for on April 26, 1826,Judge Richard H. Baker sent a letter to John Hartwell Cocke II, indicating that if Nicholas had held the Bowdoin property as an executor, John should receive it in the same way. Judge Baker said that an inventory of Bowdoin’s estate was appropriate, as was an appraisal. After both were complete, John Hartwell Cocke II would be able to take over management of the estate as conservator or guardian. He would have to maintain accounts and file them regularly. The judge indicated that Nicholas Faulcon’s papers revealed that he was handling the estate as a guardian and that John Hartwell Cocke II should do likewise (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 47).
Sometime prior to May 2, 1826, John N. Faulcon qualified as his late uncle’s executor, in accord with the decedent’s last wishes. John Hartwell Cocke II may have been in Surry when Nicholas Faulcon’s will was presented at court, for he too qualified as an executor. Simultaneously, he qualified as executor of John T. Bowdoin’s estate, taking over from the late Nicholas Faulcon. John Hartwell Cocke II had returned to Bremo by May 4, 1826, when Benjamin W. Elensworth of Scotland Neck sent him a swan and recommended that he have its wings clipped (pinioned) so that it would not fly away (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 47).
Members of widowed Sally Cocke Faulcon’s extended family appear to have been extremely supportive during her bereavement. Not only did her brother, John Hartwell Cocke II, rush to her side, but brother-in-law Merritt M. Robinson did, too. Louisiana Cocke (Nuny), one of Sally’s favorite nieces, also came to Mount Pleasant to keep her company. On April 12, 1826, Louisiana sent word to Bremo that little Sally Bowdoin had been sick. By May 1st, Nicholas Faulcon’s nephew, Dr. John N. Faulcon, a physician, had reached Mount Pleasant. 115 Sally Faulcon sent word to sister-in-law Louisa Cocke that she was greatly comforted by his presence. She also said that she and her late husband, Nicholas, had been happily married for thirty-two years and she did not know how she would live without him. In one letter Sally wrote at the end of 1826, she said that her religious faith sustained her (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Boxes 46, 47 and 49; Papers of the Cocke Family MSS 9513g).
As co-executors, John N. Faulcon and John Hartwell Cocke II collaborated in settling Nicholas Faulcon’s estate and in taking care of Mount Pleasant. On July 15, 1826, John N. Faulcon, who was staying at the Faulcon family home, New Hope, told John Hartwell Cocke II that the overseer at Mount Pleasant was getting the decedent’s Mexican wheat ready for transportation to Richmond where it could be sold. He said “The cotton machine, I expect, will be in operation at Mount Pleasant the last of next week.” On August 3rd John N. Faulcon reported that he had sold some horses from Four Mile Tree (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Boxes 47 and 48).
On October 11, 1826, John N. Faulcon sent word to John Hartwell Cocke II that “Mr. Hopkins has just commenced [building] the brick wall around the Burial ground at Mount Pleasant.” He asked that the gates be sent down right away so that the bolts and hinges could be gotten. John N. Faulcon said that Mr. Hopkins knows how the brick wall is to be constructed and that Mr. Rogers, the bricklayer, also understands the plan. He said that he would see that the end walls and front walls were “carried as far as the pillows [pillars] next to the panels on each side of the gates” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 48).
Sally Cocke Faulcon wrote a letter to Louisa Cocke on December 17, 1826, in which she apologized for not having apples to send to her from Mount Pleasant. She indicated that she had had only a barrel and that they were not of very good quality. John Hartwell Cocke III seems to have visited his Aunt Sally Faulcon later in the month, for he informed his father that “Mr. Miller has been preparing to burn his plant patch at Surry Quarter.” He added that Miller was ready to commence burning as soon as the weather would permit (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 49; Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 20).
In 1827, when the county tax assessor compiled his records, he credited the widowed Sally Cocke Faulcon with a life interest in the 1,127 acre Mount Pleasant tract and its $2,254 worth of improvements. He also listed the 200 acres called Jack’s, which then had $200 worth of improvements and was described as being “at Mt. Pleasant.” Sally retained her late husband’s property for the rest of her life and was in possession of it in 1840 when there was a countywide revision in the rules that governed real estate assessments and most landowners’ evaluations were halved. In 1840 the value of the buildings at Mount Pleasant were assessed at $1,127 and those on the 200 acres called Jack’s were said to be worth $100 (Surry County Land Tax Lists 1827-1840).
Despite the fact that Nicolas Faulcon left his widow life-rights to twenty-eight laborers in 1826, by 1829 that number had dwindled to only 12, perhaps because some of her workers had been hired out to others. During the 1830s the number increased to between twenty and twenty-four. Throughout that period she had three or four horses, asses, and mules and a coachee (Surry County Personal Property Tax Lists 1827-1839).
A letter John N. Faulcon sent to John Hartwell Cocke II on January 7, 1828, reveals that Sally Cocke Faulcon was having a great deal of difficulty managing Mount Pleasant, probably due to her inexperience. She had married Nicholas Faulcon at age 17 and appears to have left to her husband the responsibility of managing their finances and the property they shared. Her letters suggest that she was a devoted wife who enjoyed the company of her extended family, liked gardening, worried about health issues, and was serious about religion. She does not seem to have had the practical knowledge that was essential to running a farm or the will to make her enslaved persons work. John N. Faulcon told John Hartwell Cocke II that Sally had shown him Cocke’s letter containing recommendations about how she should manage her laborers and plantation. John said that he agreed, at least when it came to “the idea of continuing all the family of negroes together with a hope to make by their management, crops to support them.” He added that he had “long been sensible to [the fact that] they will ever disappoint her [Sally] in expectation of the smaller proportion of labor she wishes from them, and in the preservation of her different stocks.”
Faulcon said that in December 1827 he had talked with her about “reducing the number in her family, merely retaining a sufficient number to answer the purposes mentioned in her letter.” He added that she had only agreed to send them “up the country” if they “do not act much better than the present year.” John N. Faulcon said that if the enslaved persons were sent off, they could be hired out at a good price and she could “abandon all attempts to cultivate her Lands except her Garden and small crops about the House.” He said that he was very sorry that he and Cocke hadn’t been able to save her from loss. He added, however, that he did not agree that she should hire out the laborers to whom she had life-rights. Instead, Faulcon said that he would prefer to see relinquish those left to her outright, as they could be hired out at a better price . In a postscript that Sally Cocke Faulcon added to John N. Faulcon’s letter, she declined her brother’s offer to come to Bremo and “take a part of your House as her Home” and said that she could never leave her present home for another. Sally added that if her laborers did not perform better during the coming year, she would adopt his recommendations. She closed by saying that she was sick and weak (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 54). It may have been in response to her brother’s and nephew’s recommendation that Sally reduce the number of workers she was supporting, that the women named Almira and Levinia and their children (individuals in which Sally had life-rights) were sold in Norfolk.
The presence of young and energetic Sally Elizabeth Courtney Bowdoin (better known as Courtney) in Sally Cocke Faulcon’s household seems to have lifted the bereaved widow’s spirits considerably. On April 7, 1828, Courtney, who was age 13, sent a letter to her guardian, John Hartwell Cocke II, saying that she was studying hard and that if she didn’t get to ride “Mama’s pony,” she ran around the garden three times so that she would get some exercise. Sally Faulcon, on the other hand, told her brother that she had had her piano repaired and that the piano tuner (John Peter) was going to give music lessons to Courtney. She also commented that Courtney’s tutor, Miss Burrows, seemed quite capable (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 54).
October 1828 brought word from Sally Faulcon that her corn crop at Mount Pleasant had been good and could be expected to feed her household, i.e., her enslaved workers. Sally told her brother, John, that her trusted servant, Molly, was ill. Despite Sally’s optimism, the year’s harvest apparently was not especially profitable. On December 17, 1828, she sent word to John Hartwell Cocke II that she thought it best to take his advice and “hire out the men, boys and girls, and if possible to get some person to rent the land and orchards and of course to dispose of the greatest part of the stock of all kinds.” She added that by doing so, she hoped “to live more at ease” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Boxes 54 and 57).
From 1827 through 1840 the county tax assessor, when compiling personal property tax rolls, identified Sally Cocke Faulcon as a female head of household, an indication that her farm manager paid his own taxes or was under the age of 16. In 1827 she was credited with thirty-four enslaved individuals who were age twelve or older and eight horses, asses, and mules. However, as time went on, the quantity of enslaved persons and livestock in her possession gradually dwindled, perhaps because laborers were hired out so that they could generate income or be sold to settle debts. Throughout the 1830s Sally had between twelve and fourteen workers who were over age 16 and eight to twelve who were over the age of 12 but under 16. She also had three or four horses, asses, and mules and a wheeled vehicle known as a coachee (Surry County Personal Property Tax Lists 1827-1840).
When the census-taker visited the household headed by Sally Cocke Faulcon in 1830, he identified her as a free white female who was between 50- and 60-years-old. No other whites were then present. The enslaved population of Mount Pleasant included males and females of all ages. There were five boys under the age of 10, three youths between 10 and 24, two men between 24 and 36, and one man over 55 but under the age of 100. There were seven girls under 10 years old, three young women between 10 and 24, three women between 24 and 36, one woman between 36 and 55, and one woman over 55 but under 100-years-of-age (Surry County Census 1830).
Dr. John N. Faulcon, who married Louisiana Barraud Cocke, John Hartwell Cocke II’s daughter, visited Mount Pleasant twice during spring 1829. It appears that both men, as Nicholas Faulcon’s co-executors, decided to seek the assistance of Drury Stith, a local gentleman and the owner of nearby Cross Creek, in managing the agricultural operations at Mount Pleasant and Four Mile Tree. This would have preserved the widowed Sally Cocke Faulcon’s livelihood and the orphaned Sally Elizabeth Courtney Bowdoin’s inheritance. On September 2, 1829, Stith sent word to John Hartwell Cocke II that he had visited both properties, as requested, and that he had advised Mr. Adams(the resident overseer) about what was to be done at the present time. Stith said that the cotton crop was better than last year’s and said that Adams believed that there would be enough corn for Mount Pleasant’s use next year. Drury Stith said that no more than twelve or thirteen barrels of brandy would be made on account of illness in Mr. Adams’ family. Moreover, Adams was unable to provide accurate information on the number of hogs he would be able to fatten, probably because many had been stolen. Stith instructed Adams to collect all of the swine he could find and put them in a fattening pen. He surmised that it was unlikely that Adams would be willing to stay the rest of the year unless John Hartwell Cocke II increased his pay. He said that Drew Carrell, who formerly had lived at Four Mile Tree, might want to hire on there again. Stith added, however, that he was unsure whether Carrell was a capable manager. He asked John Hartwell Cocke II to tell Mrs. Sally Faulcon that everyone at Mount Pleasant was well. Nothing unusual had happened except that someone broke open “the machine house” and took from it a barrel of brandy. He said that “the stock are troublesome to the corn field” but had done it little injury.” In a letter Drury Stith sent to John Hartwell Cocke II on December 12, 1834, he indicated that he had commenced employment as Cocke’s agent on January 1, 1830(Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Boxes 60 and 80).
By December 8, 1829, Sally Faulcon had returned to Mount Pleasant. In a letter she sent to her brother at Bremo, she declined his invitation to visit and said that she must stay home and make arrangements for another year. She said that she had written to friends in Carolina (probably her late husband’s sisters and nephews), asking them to take her enslaved workers and have them divided. These probably were the workers in whom Sally had life-rights. She said that Drury Stith had been very kind and was selling her livestock on December 12th. Sally added, “To see everything going to destruction on the plantation is distressing to me and to give up my home I can never consent to. My health is so good here that that alone would be an inducement to remain. I could only consent to leave Mount Pleasant to be with my dear Courtney.” Sally said that their kinsman, R. H. Cocke, had advised her to find a farm manager who would work for crop shares. She said that if her livestock couldn’t be sold, she was going to give serious consideration to that idea (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 61).
By March 1830, the recently widowed Dr. John N. Faulcon, who was 27 years old, had moved to Mount Pleasant. His wife, Louisiana, had died on December 29, 1829 . As co-executor of his late uncle’s estate, he commenced managing the plantation for his widowed Aunt Sally, then age 55. Like the late Nicholas Faulcon, John N. Faulcon corresponded with John Hartwell Cocke II and his son, John Hartwell Cocke III, about agricultural operations and the management of Mount Pleasant and Four Mile Tree. Clearly, he shared their interest in scientific farming and animal husbandry. On March 2nd, John N. Faulcon stated that he had just returned to the plantation and hoped to be “prepared by the time of corn planting to put as much into the ground as my team and hands will be able to cultivate . . . and will yield to me, I trust, a support for my negroes and cattle another year.” He said that he had learned that Drury Stith was confined to his home by illness. He indicated that Sally Faulcon’s horses were harvesting cotton from Four Mile Tree but that at their present rate, they would not be able to finish the job in less than ten or twelve days. Faulcon tactfully declined John Hartwell Cocke II’s offer of three enslaved workers and said that he would give two (Livinia Ann and her son, Ned) to his aunt and the other to John Hartwell Cocke III, the elder man’s son. John Hartwell Cocke III apparently was then in Surry County, for on November 19th he wrote to his father from New Hope, giving him an update on the crops of cotton and corn (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 63).
In November 1830 John Hartwell Cocke II’s daughter, Sally Faulcon Cocke, visited Mount Pleasant and enjoyed the company of Sally Elizabeth Courtney Bowdoin, her contemporary. Both girls, who were around age 15, sent a letter to John Hartwell Cocke II, telling him that they were attending to their schoolwork but wanted him to find a man to teach them how to play the piano. They said that they had gotten new shoes and Leghorn bonnets and needed to have a watch repaired. Later in the month the girls thanked Louisa Cocke for sending them some checked muslin, flannel, gloves and shoes (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 64).
When John N. Faulcon wrote to John Hartwell Cocke III on February 23, 1831, he said that the weather had been bad and that he had fallen behind in his agricultural operations. He admitted that he had been able to have only five acres plowed after John’s departure and said that he was in arrears in “mauling and getting rails ready for fencing, a deal of which I have to do.” He also said that he had had to split wood. He indicated that two of his lambs had perished and that his hogs had simply disappeared. He said that his steers, which he called his mainstay, “are dying from want of provender, none of which I have or can get, everybody having use for more than he has got. He added that his cattle were now eating holly bushes. John said that he had been foiled in his plan to sow oats so intended to sow corn instead. He thanked John Hartwell Cocke III for suggesting that he try orchard grass seed. He said that if he had an opportunity of getting some soon, he would sow it with the oats, and again said that he was “feeling now the need of hay and of every other provender which beasts consume.” He said that his experiment of fattening his hogs on cowpeas had been unsuccessful, for they did not gain as he had hoped and had lost weight when put on corn. John N. Faulcon said that when Tom was at Mount Pleasant, he had collected a considerable number of mulberry trees, which were buried in the garden as he (John III) had recommended. Faulcon said that he would add others when he could. He told John III that his Pointer puppy was not dead and said that in fact, he had traded it for a Greyhound that belonged to a man heading for New Orleans. John N. Faulcon said that he hopes to breed the Greyhound with one owned by Colonel Graves (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc.Box65).
Two weeks later John N. Faulcon sent word to John Hartwell Cocke III that he was sending him some cowpeas so that he could try them as hog feed. Toward the end of the month he sent a second letter in which he said, “I am fully conscious of the value of the plan you propose for diminishing the present enormous consumption of grain on our farms and of ameliorating the condition of our cattle by the raising of artificial grasses.” He noted that it would be a difficult goal to achieve “with our droughts.” He said that he still had serious doubts about “the success of a project to raise hay from highland meadows.” John N. Faulcon went on to say that he needed grass that would mature early, before the heat of summer. He had found Lucerne the most valuable even though it required cultivation, and he proffered that maybe Guinea grass would be suitable. He added that a good supply of hay also would solve the problem. Faulcon said that he had “a good supply of carrots for horses, cabbages planted among the corn (cultivated one way only on good ground) and pumpkins raised in the same manner for the early feeding of my cows and a good supply of turnips for my sheep this winter.” He indicated that he intended to plant orchard grass at Swann’s Point, “having an orchard there on very rich ground, the trees of which are too large to permit the growth of anything near to them but grass.” John N. Faulcon, displaying a physician’s knowledge of nutrition, said that he was trying to get his laborers accustomed to the idea of eating their meals together and sharing the produce they raised. He said that he was encouraging them to eat soup, potages, and vegetables “instead of the changeless fare of meat and bread” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 65).
By April 1831, the widowed Dr. John N. Faulcon seems to have developed a romantic interest in his late wife’s youngest sister, Sally Faulcon Cocke, who was only 15. On April 2nd he sent a letter to her from Mount Pleasant, describing the plantation’s springtime beauty. He said:
The blossoms of the Pear, the Peach, the wild plum, and the May Apple exude a rich perfume and uniting their odours [sic] with the delicate of the violet and the strong but grateful scent of the Lilack, fill the air with the most delicious fragrance while a gentle zephyr with touching softness wafts at my senses and inspires feelings which the pen of poetry only can paint.
He went on to say that:
The yard is richly carpeted with green and the garden which has been recently enclosed and is neatly dressed, presents a variegated picture whatever in its way is either useful or agreeable. Indeed, our whole premises which I confer exhibited little to admire when you were here, are becoming quite pretty enough to exhort admiration [Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 66].
In a postscript he added that many letters sent to Mount Pleasant had been misdirected to Mount Pleasant, Ohio, and had been returned.
On May 16, 1831, John N. Faulcon wrote a letter to John Hartwell Cocke III, indicating that they had had an unseasonably cold and wet spring. As a result, the cotton was late in coming up and the corn looked sickly. He said, however, that the oat crop was doing well. The young physician commented that the high price of brandy has prompted him to make his own. He said that he had so much fruit on hand that he may produce a hundred bottles of “the poison” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 66) .
Dr. Faulcon and his late wife’s sister, Sally Faulcon Cocke, seem to have continued their correspondence for several months. On November 17, 1831, he told her that when she passed by Mount Pleasant, “The sight of this old house doubtless revived in your memory many recollections.” John N. Faulcon appears to have left Mount Pleasant sometime after December 31, 1831, at which time he informed co-executor John Hartwell Cocke II that one of his horses had become lame on the way home and that he had replaced it with one of his own (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 68).
Perhaps because Dr. John N. Faulcon left Mount Pleasant, John Hartwell Cocke II again seems to have assumed a more active managerial role. It appears that his son, John III, temporarily was put in charge of running the farm. In letters the elder man sent to the younger during December 1831, he said that the suit against the late John T. Bowdoin’s estate had been settled and that he had raised money through the sale of enslaved persons in Surry and Brunswick Counties. He also indicated that he had met with Mr. George Wilson of Norfolk, but failed to disclose the nature of the business they had discussed (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 68) .
By early January 1832 Drury Stith of Surry County began giving John Hartwell Cocke II regular updates on farming operations at Mount Pleasant and Four Mile Tree. His letters suggest strongly that he was employed in a supervisory role, probably as a principal overseer. He said that in accord with Cocke’s instructions, he had tried to provide new blankets to those enslaved at Four Mile Tree. As none were then available locally, he had ordered some from Charles Ellis of Richmond. On a personal note, Stith said that the ladies at Mount Pleasant were then visiting Claremont, another Surry County plantation (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 73).
Drury Stith continued to send John Hartwell Cocke II reports on agricultural activities at Mount Pleasant and Four Mile Tree, properties for which Cocke assumed some responsibility. On May 23, 1832, Stith said that as soon as information became available, he would forward an account of the sales of the cotton harvested at Four Mile Tree, which was expected to go to market as soon as the cotton from Mount Pleasant was ready. He said that “After waiting for the machine at Mount Pleasant to finish picking the Doctor’s [John N. Faulcon’s] crop, and after about 2,000 pounds of ours was ginned, Mrs. Faulcon found it entirely too inconvenient to go on with it.” Stith said that he then “engaged Captain Smyth to pick and pack it and expected it to be done immediately.” However, as hired hands were not available, the shipment “was not complete until a day or two before it was forwarded to Col. Peyton.” Drury Stith said that the cool spring and two or three rains had been detrimental to the cotton crop. He said that he had anticipated a good corn crop but had had problems with crows and squirrels. He told Cocke that Lucy, the woman that he had wanted him to sell, was dead. Stith said that she had never recovered from the birth of a baby she had had last winter and that even though a doctor was summoned, she died. Stith said that he would sell Judy, another enslaved woman, as soon as the crops had been gathered in (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 70).
During mid-June 1832 Drury Stith told John Hartwell Cocke II that the cotton crop was bad throughout Surry County. He also spoke of the attempts made by Mary, an enslaved woman, to poison some local children. Stith said that the girl had been hired out to Mr. Blow and her attempt to poison one of his children with laudanum failed only because the child vomited it up. Stith said that Mary also had tried to poison one of his own youngsters. He added that there was not enough evidence against Mary to convict her of a crime, and so he would keep her for the rest of the year, then sell her. Stith said that Mary had wanted to work in the cornfields but he had insisted that she go to Mr. Blow’s. In late July, Stith said that he had sold Mary and was sending the proceeds to Bremo with Mrs. Faulcon (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 71) .
In a July 29, 1832, letter Drury Stith expressed his concerns about the potential spreading of cholera among the enslaved peoples of Surry County. He said that it was “up to the masters of slaves to prevent it”. He said that if there were “large families of negroes crowded together at night in small, dirty close cabins, [with] no attention paid to their cleanliness or diet,” cholera would spread once it was introduced. He said that he had adopted a special policy at Four Mile Tree and on his own plantation. Anything resembling filth or dirt was carted away and he was using lime once or twice a week around their cabins. Stith said that he required his overseer to check workers’ houses twice a day for cleanliness and to see that they’re well aired. Attributing cholera to fruit, Stith said that he was having whatever fruit there was fed to the hogs; some vegetables that he deemed unhealthy were not eaten. He said that he was giving his enslaved laborers an increased allowance of meal and amid daybreak from 12:30 noon to 3:30 P.M. He also said that they were required to wear clean clothes twice a week (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 71).
Drury Stith seems to have been conscientious about overseeing the management of Four Mile Tree and Mount Pleasant and like his employer, he exhibited an avid interest in scientific farming. On March 30, 1833, he told John Hartwell Cocke II that he was experimenting with marl at Four Mile Tree and had found a small “bed of that manure of superior quality within a few feet of the spot where it is to be applied.” He added that he did not know “the proper quantity to be put on the land” and had tried to borrow a copy of Edmund Ruffin’s book. 121 He said that he had sown oats, that the cotton had sprouted, and that corn was ready to plant. He added that the laborers were in good health. Stith said that “Robertson [a farm manager] who was taken sick at Mount Pleasant a few days before Mrs. Faulcon left home has nearly recovered.” 122 He said that he had not had a chance to ride to Mount Pleasant but had received word that everyone was in good health. As time went on, Drury Stith continued to account for the income received and disbursements made on behalf of Four Mile Tree (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Boxes 73 and 76).
By 1833 Sally Cocke Faulcon seems to have begun spending a considerable amount of time at Bremo, although she always returned home to Mount Pleasant. On April 12, 1833, Drury Stith sent word to John Hartwell Cocke II that he thought it unwise to purchase sugar and molasses in quantity (ordered from Richmond) since Mrs. Faulcon was away so much and the enslaved persons were able to impose upon her trusted servant, Molly, who seems to have been a housekeeper. Stith said that he had restricted the number of hogs killed every year and gave the workers a set amount of meat. He noted that Mrs. Faulcon was always away “during the whole of the sickly season of the year” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 73). On November 21, 1833, Drury Stith informed his employer that he had sold the corn crop and brandy from Four Mile Tree. He said that he had taken the cotton to the factory recently established at Weir Neck and that he had sold the brandy to Mr. Clark eat the courthouse (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 76).
Waterborne commerce quickened during the mid-1830s when steam packets began plying the James River between Richmond and Hampton Roads. Regular steamboat service that also carried passengers, produce and goods to wharves around the Chesapeake Bay. This would have opened up new markets for agricultural products, thereby strengthening the local economy, and it would have facilitated communication (Holly 1991:42).
On June 4, 1834. Sally Elizabeth Courtney Bowdoin, who was born at Four Mile Tree but lived with the Faulcons at Mount Pleasant for much of her life, married Philip St. George Cocke, Sally Cocke Faulcon’s nephew . The heiress to Four Mile Tree was then 19-years-old. The young woman’s romantic nature is evident in the poetry she began writing at Mount Pleasant at the age of 17 (Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 32).
By November 25, 1834, Philip St. George Cocke had taken up residence at Mount Pleasant, sharing the home with his bride and his aunt, Sally Faulcon, who was nearly 60-years-old. The letters Philip exchanged with his father, John Hartwell Cocke II, during 1834 and 1835 indicate that Philip intended to remodel Four Mile Tree so that he and his wife could make it their home. However, he also made some repairs and improvements at Mount Pleasant. In late November 1834 he said that “My two carpenters have been fully occupied with a hundred little jobs which I have found necessary to execute here [Mount Pleasant] for our immediate occupation. The carriage barn is in progress and is the chief job done. This with some small jobs will employ me for the year.” He then said that he had ordered his overseer to cut timber to be used for brick-making at Four Mile Tree and said that he would have the men “continue to dig up and open the earth for the bricks, as you suggest.” He then inquired how early in the spring they could safely begin molding bricks. He said that he intended to build a new set of quarters at Four Mile Tree and asked whether Pisa walls could be fashioned from Surry’s sandy soils. Philip inquired whether it would be too expensive to use brick instead of stones in the chimneys and foundations and inquired whether he could do without foundations altogether. He also asked what bricks were worth per thousand, if made by his slaves. Philip closed his letter to his father by saying that these were only a few of the questions he had. Two weeks later he sent word that he had hired a Surry man as a brick-maker. He also asked whether he could borrow one of his father’s carpenters for use at Four Mile Tree. Philip St. George Cocke’s arrival at Mount Pleasant may have heralded Drury Stith’s departure, for on December 12, 1834, Stith told John Hartwell Cocke II that he was glad that he would be at Mount Pleasant soon and that the visit would give him a chance to render his account as Cocke’s agent. He also noted that he had been working for Cocke since January 1, 1830. Stith mentioned that Sally Faulcon had been ill recently (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 80).
Shortly after Christmas 1834 Sally Cocke Faulcon wrote to her brother, John Hartwell Cocke II, saying that she was really looking forward to his visit in January. She said that Bishop William Meade would be in the area soon and would preach, perhaps presenting an opportunity for them to hear the distinguished clergyman speak. She closed by talking about the evils of alcohol consumption, a practice her brother also found abhorrent (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 80).
In early January 1835 Philip St. George Cocke wrote to his father from Mount Pleasant, saying that he expected to have an abundance of cotton at Four Mile Tree that he would like to have the young man that Merritt M. Robinson had found return to the property, if possible. Later in the month Philip told his father that he was
. . . getting on much more slowly with my building than I could wish – although certainly as fast as I could expect considering the ones I have at work. I am now engaged in improving our garden and yard. We all thank you for any trees or shrubbery which you may think will suit such purpose. They can be sent down by old Peter if he is not too late [Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 81].
On April 4, 1835, Philip St. George Cocke wrote his father a lengthy letter. He said that, “Courtney and myself thank you for the important contributions you have made to our horticultural department in the strawberry and raspberry planting received by the old man.” He said they also had received “a package containing the cuttings of mulberries and two yew trees,” which he had planted carefully. He said that he had planted the yews in the graveyard and the mulberries “according to direction in a nursery within the garden” at Four Mile Tree. In accord with his father’s request, he had sent mulberry cuttings to Buller Cocke. Speaking of construction at Four Mile Tree, Philip said that:
I am at present getting on rather better than heretofore with my building- having at last succeeded in employing some additional workmen (three carpenters). Now I am engaged at present in pulling down and rebuilding some of the outhouses, such as smokehouse, dairy &c. I make use of the old frames – changing the position of the houses in most cases. I have determined to adopt a rather more thorough system of repair than you seem to recommend – but as I shall use all the old frames and get much of the other timber myself I find that the outlay will be small while I gain so much more in appearances, good taste, and true comfort. I adopt your will, however, urging us to strict economy in every matter connected with their improvements. Looking to restoring the old buildings as nearly as possible and changing and renewing them when it can be done, intending consistency with economy and unity, the essential element in all tasteful building. I hope to see the place in a habitable condition by the middle of fall or first part of the winter at the farthest. I have given Courtney a boy as a gardener and I hope she is beginning to take some interest in the improvements going on in these departments at this interesting season [Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 81].
Philip went on to say that he hoped that his father had kept his colt, Eclepen, “as I shall look to him as being a very valuable horse from which to breed such horses as I want.” He added that “My Roebuck promises to be a fine and handsome horse and will I think nearly attain the stature of his sire.” He said that his riding mare, the sorrel, had become so intolerably jittery that he had decided to give her up as soon as he could replace her with a better steed. Philip added that he attributed the mare’s nervousness to a failing of her dam, perhaps made worse by bad management (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 81).
Sally Elizabeth Courtney Bowdoin Cocke, Philip’s wife, sent a letter to her father-in-law a few days later. She echoed her husband’s words about planting the yew trees and delivering the mulberries and added that “I am in hopes that we shall soon be able to get the old garden at Four Mile Tree looking quite decent.” Courtney said that she had “a boy constantly at work on it now” and that she would be very diligent about seeing that the garden was put in good order in time for his next visit. Sally indicated that Philip was then preoccupied with his construction activities at Four Mile Tree (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 81).
In May 1835 Sally Faulcon Cocke, Philip St. George Cocke’s sister, visited Mount Pleasant. Her father sent her a letter, telling her about his agricultural activities at Bremo. Later in the month, Philip, who was still living at Mount Pleasant, told his father that the strawberries and cherries were ripening and that he expected to have eatable fruit in two or three days. He added that peas were not ready to be picked yet. In mid-June, Sally, who had returned to Bremo, wrote to her stepmother, Louisa Cocke, whom she addressed as “Mama.” She made reference to Louisa’s visiting Mount Pleasant and surprising them “at the dear old place.” Sally said that she was glad that her brother, Philip, would not be leaving until June 15th, as Courtney was determined to see the June pears ripe. Sally Faulcon Cocke spoke of the mosquitoes at Mount Pleasant being bad enough to “drive them [Philip and Courtney] off” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 82).
During October and November 1835 John Hartwell Cocke II and his daughter-in-law, Courtney, exchanged letters. On October 13th she told him that “Mama [Sally Faulcon] being so much engaged in her Agricultural affairs and Philip with his building operations, they both appear to have little time for anything else.” She said that both had been away but had returned home. Courtney said that “Philip found as he anticipated that little progress had been made in Building during his absence, but he is expecting several carpenters from Richmond in a few days and thinks that his operations will then progress rapidly.” On November 5th John responded that he hoped “to hear that Philip is getting on well with his improvements at the Old Place.” He added that although he had expressed a wish to see them live elsewhere, “in some more entertaining and thrifty sojourn,” for at least part of the year, he was “far from wishing to see you abandon the seat of your ancestors.” He said that “On the contrary, I approve your determination with all my heart – to refit the old mansion and shall always visit you there with many beneficial reminiscences of my early life.” Turning the discussion to Mount Pleasant, Cocke said that he hoped everyone’s good health continued and “that the prevalent diseases of Four Mile Tree and Mr. Stith’s have disappeared” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 83; John Hartwell Cocke Papers MS 8453 a).
Courtney quickly responded and on November 19, 1835, told her father-in-law that she was writing again instead of Philip because “building and improvements which appear to be his hobbies at present occupy so much of his time that he rarely finds time for more than business letters which he is compelled to write.” She said that “The buildings at Four Mile Tree are progressing I believe as fast as could be expected, though everything is in such confusion at present.” She said that the workmen had added a greenhouse and storeroom to the eastern end that will “add much to the looks of the house and the latter will certainly contribute to its convenience the chimneys which were taken down for the purpose of putting fireplaces in two northern rooms.” Courtney said that “Upstairs have been rebuilt again, the Porticos have been added and indeed almost all the most troublesome repairs finished.” She noted that “The house is nearly shingled and very little is to be done but painting, plastering and stuccoing which will all be accomplished by Christmas.” She said that her husband, Philip, was “very much occupied and spends the whole day in superintending the operations, he is pushing the work on as fast as possible and seems determined to be in the House by the first part of January. He appears to apprehend no danger from damp walls.” Courtney said that she thought it impossible for her to get everything ready by that time, “for besides purchasing our furniture I have the whole concern of bedding &c.” Providing an update on horticultural activities, Courtney said that the weather had been very warm and that they had enjoyed green peas and tomatoes from the garden. She added that the vegetables seem to have taken a fresh start “and the garden looks like the Spring.” Rosebushes and trees had commenced budding and there were no visible signs of frost upon anything other than potato vines. Courtney indicated that they had had their potatoes dug and had obtained the best crop they had had in several years (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 83).
When spring came, John Hartwell Cocke II wrote to Courtney at Mount Pleasant, expressing his great pleasure at her interest in gardening. 124 On March 15, 1836, he said that he had had Jack, the gardener, prepare a package of plants for shipment to her. He said that he had included raspberry cuttings and some Great Mogul strawberry plants, but suggested that she contact Mr. Jesse Cole of Williamsburg so that she could get a supply of the variety he was raising. He urged her to attend to her Hautbois and said that “when they succeed they are very fine and will repay the pains bestowed upon them.” He also asked Courtney to tell Philip that he was sending him a bundle of Morus Multicaulis (Chinese Mulberry) and recommended that they be planted along all standing fences, as “if it were only as food for cattle.” He added, however, that “when we get industrious and enterprising enough to undertake silk-making they will prove of great value – and the care with which they are raised commend them above all other mulberries.” Cocke said that he was including a few roots of Gamu grass, which generally did well in light, sandy soils. A list of the plants that had been packed and sent was appended to the end of the letter. Included were red double-flowering altherea, white double-flowering altherea, Chinese mulberry, white cane and purple prolific raspberries, pyrocantha, Greville roses, Great Mogul strawberries, a yew tree, roots of Gamu grass, and a few years of an early variety of corn. In a postscript, John Hartwell Cocke said that he would try to raise some lugox for Courtney when summer came. He said that he was sending the plant materials, which were packed in a flour barrel and addressed to Philip, to New Canton, so that they could be taken to Richmond by Virginius Newton who was going there by boat. The barrel was to be delivered to Jamestown by steamer (John Hartwell Cocke MS 8453-a).
By May 8, 1836, Philip St. George Cocke and his wife, Courtney, had moved into their home at Four Mile Tree. Philip told his father that he was “just now putting up the walls of my first two mud quarters at this place.” He asked John Hartwell Cocke II where he had gotten the idea of mud and straw walls and suggested that he write an article for the Farmer’s Register. Philip inquired whether the elder man had gotten the idea from Europe. Sally Faulcon Cocke, who had accompanied Philip and Courtney to Four Mile Tree, wrote a letter to her father on June 3, 1836. She said that Courtney was extremely busy and that she rang “so many bells of different tones that they can’t distinguish them.” Sally added that “The House is very much improved by the painting and stuccoing and still more by the furniture” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 85).
During the remainder of 1836 and well into 1837 it appears that Courtney and Philip St. George Cocke, having set up housekeeping at Four Mile Tree, were absorbed in establishing a home of their own. Sally Cocke Faulcon, meanwhile, lived on at Mount Pleasant but was not especially communicative. Whenever she wrote to her brother and sister-in-law at Bremo, it usually was to discuss sermons she had heard or the religious literature she had read recently.
On November 1, 1838, Courtney Bowdoin Cocke sent a letter to her father-in-law, telling him that Mr. Bennett  was then digging the potato crop . She said that she had not forgotten to send him “the bag with the black seed,” but failed to disclose what sort of seed he had requested. Later in the month, Philip St. George Cocke sent word to his father that Courtney was sending him two barrels of fine sweet potatoes, which would be arriving by steamboat. During 1838 Philip seems to have been busy with the construction of an L-shaped overseer’s cottage at Four Mile Tree. An exterior sketch and a floor plan still survive (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 93).
Sally Cocke Faulcon, despite the able assistance of her nephew and next door neighbor, Philip St. George Cocke, seems to have continued having problems managing her laborers. On January 11, 1839, she sent word to her brother, John Hartwell Cocke II, that her servant, Richmond, had been jailed. She reminded him, “I am not calculated to manage servants, you know,” and said that she always suffered much when they were hired out. Sally said that she did not want to sell Richmond and asked John if he would be able to take him to Bremo (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 94).
When a census-taker visited the household headed by Sally Cocke Faulcon in 1840, he noted that she was a free white female between the ages of 60 and 70. Also part of her family were twelve enslaved persons. There were two boys under the age of 10 and one youth between 10 and 24. There also were two men between 24 and 36 and one man between 55 and 100. Enslaved females included a girl under 10-years old, two who were between 10 and 24, a woman between 24 and 36, and a woman between 55 and 100. Three members of Sally Faulcon’s household were engaged in agriculture (Surry County Census 1840).
In a November 14, 1840, letter from Philip St. George Cocke informed his father that his oldest sister, Sally Cocke Faulcon, had died suddenly. She was then age 65. Philip said that Sally had set out for Goochland by carriage, intending to go to a church service. However, before she had gone very far, the carriage overturned and “was dashed in pieces.” Sally reportedly died before she could be reached (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 99) .
Although Sally Cocke Faulcon’s death was accidental, she had made a lengthy will in 1831 and over the years had added three codicils to it. Perhaps her advancing age (she was 56-years-old in 1831), medical problems, and the lessons learned during widowhood impelled her to make plans for the disposition of her personal property. The will she made in 1831, a truly remarkable document, reveals that she was an abolitionist. It not only shows her kindly attitude toward her enslaved workers but also sheds light upon the household furnishings at Mount Pleasant during the latter part of her life. The will commences:
I Sally Faulcon of the county of Surry in the state of Virginia make this my last will in manner and form following. That is to say, I give to my faithful servant Molly Sturdivant a bed, bolster, 2 pillows, 2 coverlets, 2 rose blankets, my chamber chairs, a walnut press and table, 6 Breakfast napkins, 2 table cloths, 2 pr. cotton sheets, a bed quilt, 2 of the oldest carpets belonging to the house, such of my kitchen furniture as will be useful for the little establishment that I shall desire be furnished for her comfort. I also give my faithful Molly Sturdivant 6 of my common china coffee cups and saucers, 6 knives and 6 forks, half the soap, candles, sugar, coffee, flour and tea and bacon that may be in the house at my death. The other half of the napkins that I have devised to my good faithful Molly Sturdivant I wish to be divided among my other servants about the house. I liberate my good servant Molly Sturdivant if she is willing to leave the state, but if she wishes to remain in the state of Virginia and to be a slave, it is my particular desire that she may choose my beloved Sally E. C. Bowdoin, if she is living at my death, and if she is not . . . I desire that she choose any of my relatives or friends with whom she may reside and who I hope will be a friend to her.
I liberate my good Molly Sturdivant’s son Leander, his wife and children. Should they prefer remaining in Virginia and be slaves, I desire that they shall be allowed to choose masters or mistresses among my nieces and nephews. I wish all my servants to go to Liberia, provided they are willing. If they are not, I wish them to choose masters or mistresses among my nieces and nephews. I desire that a comfortable house be provided for my good servant Molly Sturdivant wherever she may choose to live, provided she remains in the state of Virginia. I give her $400 to be paid in five years. Should the said Molly Sturdivant leave Virginia, I desire that the $400 be paid to her when she leaves. . . . I desire that her granddaughter Mary Diana may remain with her during her life without [unless] Mary Diana’s father and mother choose to go to Liberia. In that case I wish the said Mary Diana to go with her parents. Should my servants wish to go to Liberia immediately after my death, I wish them to be made comfortable for their journey.
I desire that those of my servants that are past labour by age and those who are now rendered by sickness unable to work, may be taken good care of by those of my nieces and nephews who may hold those of my servants who are profitable at my death. Should all my servants leave the state that are profitable, I desire the old and infirm servants may be provided for by my executors from the money that will be in their hands for charitable purposes. It is my particular desire that all my servants may be taken great care of by all those who may become their masters or mistresses.
I give to my beloved Sally E .C. Bowdoin my bureau, a set of worked table mats, a small set of tea china consisting of a teapot, 2 cups and saucers, a sugar dish, cream pot and a china stand which shall hold the set. I desire that my beloved Sally E. C .Bowdoin may take out of my trunks or drawers any articles she may wish for self and dispose of the rest of my clothes to my servants and poor female friends that they may be serviceable to. She knows as well as I do who I wish them to be given to. I give to my dear niece Elizabeth Ann Faulcon the plate belonging to my tea table consisting of a teapot, a sugar dish and a cream pot. I also give my dear niece Elizabeth Ann Faulcon a bed and furniture, a mahogany wash hand stand. I give to my dear niece Sally Faulcon Cocke a set of green and gold tea and coffee china, 6 teaspoons, and a pair of sugar tongs. I give to my dear niece Ann B. Cocke my work stand, a dozen breakfast napkins and a dozen dessert spoons. I give to my nephew Merit M. Robinson $1000. I give to the theological seminary near Alexandria$1000.
At the conclusion of her will, Sally Cocke Faulcon bequeathed to the wife of Rev. Benjamin Allen of Philadelphia the sum of $500. She left to her nephew, Dr. John N. Faulcon, “11 tablespoons and a ladle. I also give him a mahogany bookcase and desk and 2 white china pitchers.” She gave $50 apiece to her friends Hannah Carrell and Susan C. Warren and to her “good neighbor” Nancy Carrell. She instructed her executors to sell the property she did not bequeath to anyone and specified that the proceeds be given to John Hartwell Cocke II to be used for religious and charitable purposes. Her books were to be disposed of wherever they were likely to do the most good. Sally gave $50 to her kinswoman, Ann Gray, and said that she wanted $1,000 to go to Bristol College to establish a scholarship. She also left money to Sabbath Schools in Richmond, Norfolk, and Petersburg. The testator named her brother John Hartwell Cocke II and neighbor Drury Stith as her executors. The document was witnessed by Elizabeth Ann Faulcon and Charlotte Dickson.
In the codicil Sally Cocke Faulcon added to her will in July 1838, she said that she wanted the bed, bedstead, curtains, and mattress in her own chamber to go to her dear friend, Mrs. Lucia C. Page, who also was to get the carpet in her chamber. Sally said that she wanted her watch and chair to go to Lucia’s daughter, Polly Page.
Sally Cocke Faulcon made a second codicil to her will in September 1839. She noted that as Bristol College had “broken up” (presumably, dissolved), she wanted the money she had left the defunct institution to be given to the high school near the seminary. In a final codicil dated January 1840,Sally instructed her executors to give the money she had previously left to Mrs. Benjamin Allen to Mrs. Ann Wilmer, the wife of the Rev. Doctor Wilmer. She also said that “if my dear S. E. C. B. Cocke should come to Four Mile Tree to spend any part of the winter, that one-half of my beds, chairs, tables, carpets, glass and china but what I have given away, with half of my kitchen and storeroom furniture may be given to her.” If the items were not useful to her niece, they were to be sold. Sally Cocke Faulcon’s will was presented to Surry County’s monthly court on December 8, 1840, by executor Drury Stith. As Elizabeth Ann Faulcon (a witness to the original document) was then in North Carolina, other people familiar with the deceased’s handwriting attested to the authenticity of the will and its codicils. Sally’s estate had an estimated worth of $30,000, a tenth of the value of her late husband’s estate. Interestingly, in December 1840 when Sally Cocke Faulcon’s will was presented to the county court, Joseph A. Graves, James S. Clarke, William Dillard, and Jacob Faulcon were ordered to appraise her estate and report back to court. Later, Sally’s executors allocated funds toward “keeping account of sales and services of [an] appraiser.” However, neither an inventory nor an appraisal of Sally’s estate is to be found in Surry County’s official records and likewise, there are no records of an estate sale (Surry County Will Book 8 [1840-1845]:109-111, 435; Order Book 1838-1843:187-188).
Shortly after Sally Cocke Faulcon’s death, Malvinia (one of the enslaved women Sally had owned outright) was accused of “the felonious murder of an infant male child unnamed at Four Mile Tree . . . on Monday the 22nd of February 1841.” Afterward, Malvinia was jailed and a court of oyer and terminer was held. Court records indicate that Malvinia was “led to the bar of this court in custody of the jailer . . . and thereupon divers witnesses, to wit, Nancy Bennett, Drury Stith, William B. Graves, and Betsy (an enslaved woman, the property of Philip St. George Cocke) were sworn in.” Arguments were heard by Malvinia’s attorney and the Commonwealth Attorney. Ultimately, Malvinia was “Found not guilty of the offense of which she stands charged” and was released. Two months later, Sally Cocke Faulcon’s executors paid Joel Hollerman for defending Malvinia, who was “prosecuted for murder” and they covered the expenses of Malvinia, who was described as a sick laborer who could not be hired out (Surry County Order Book 1838-1843:206-207; Will Book 8 [1840-1845]:109-111, 435).
The accounts maintained by Sally Cocke Faulcon’s executors indicate that they were faithful in implementing the terms of her will. As noted above, her final expenses were paid and funds were given to John Bennett, the overseer at Mount Pleasant during the latter part of Sally’s life. Some income was received during 1841 from the hiring of the enslaved persons to whom Sally had life-rights but who were considered part of the late Nicolas Faulcon’s estate: Ned, Betty, John, Junius, Lucy, James, and William. Executor John N. Faulcon paid a sum for the hiring of Scipio, who also was part of his uncle Nicholas’s estate. Later, all of these individuals were to be sold.
Of special interest are the disbursements made in connection with the enslaved individuals Sally Cocke Faulcon had owned outright, those to whom she had bequeathed their freedom. The executor’s accounts reveal that several of those whom Sally intended to emancipate were sent to Richmond where they were employed by Richard Hill from January 1, 1842, to May 27, 1842. Others (notably, Peter, Pam, Leander, and Rose) were given food and shelter by Philip St. George Cocke, who was compensated for their care. Then, on June 1, 1842, the servants named Leander, James, Dick, Judy, Mary Diana,] Peter (a paralyzed man), Rose, Leander, Susan, and Mary went aboard the steamer Thomas Jefferson, which transported them from Richmond to Norfolk. There, they boarded the Miraposa, which took them to Liberia. Some of the freed individuals bound for Liberia were given $50 apiece. The executors’ account of those distributions reveal the recipients’ first and last names: James Nicholas, Dick Cannon, Peter Jones, and Judy Nicholas (Surry County Will Book 8 [1840-1845]: 435-436).
Research conducted by Randall M. Miller during the 1970s sheds some light upon the fate of Sally Cocke Faulcon’s freed laborers who in 1842 chose to go to Liberia. Some of them already had family members there. John (“Jack”) Faulcon, who had been freed by John Hartwell Cocke II and arrived in Liberia in 1838, lived with Peyton Skipwith at first. Several of “Jack’s” family members, freed under the terms of Sally’s will, joined him in 1842. Peter Cannon, another of Sally’s freed workers, settled in Monrovia with his brother, Richard (Miller 1978:63, 81).
On June 25, 1846, Peyton Skipwith responded to his former master’s query about how Sally Cocke Faulcon’s people were doing. He said:
Leander is here and is well and all the people that came with him is here Excepting James Nicholas. He left this place [Monrovia] for Jamaica & I have not been Enable to hear from him since. Richard is now on board one of the U. S. Ships of War Cruising on this Coast. Cousin Peter is at Marshall. He went theire [sic] to see if it would not be an addition to his health [Miller 1978:83].
According to Randall M. Miller, Leander Sturdivant became a farmer in Liberia and shared a home with his three children: Diana, Rosetta, and Leander . James Nicholas left Liberia to farm in Sierra Leone in 1843 but ultimately went to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Richard Cannon, Peter Cannon’s brother and Leander Sturdivant’s cousin, tried farming in Liberia before signing onto an American naval vessel. The younger Leander himself made a career of the navy (Miller 1978:84).
On July 10, 1860, J. P. Skipwith wrote a letter in which he gave his former master an update on those that Sally Cocke Faulcon had freed. He said that:
Mrs Faulcons People is heair & doing well as can Expect. Leander the old man I have not seen him as yet. He is on Board of the man of war. His 3 Children is hear in Monrovia. The 2 girls is marread. The boy is working at the Carpners trade. Jack& his Mother is heair. I will not say much about them. You can judge the balance. No Cats & no dogs live worse a discrase to our family. I do not ond [own] them [Miller 1978:135].
The full stories of those Sally Cocke Faulcon freed await to be told.
In 1841 Surry County’s tax assessor attributed the 1,127 acre Mount Pleasant tract and the 200 acres called Jack’s to the late Nicholas Faulcon’s estate. This was appropriate, for Sally, as Nicholas’s widow, had held a life estate in both properties. The assessor noted that both tracts had reverted “from Sally Faulcon by her death.” As noted above, between the time of the assessor’s visit in 1839 and his return in 1840, the value of the improvements on the Mount Pleasant tract and the acreage called Jack’s was halved, the reflection of a countywide adjustment in the tax base. In 1842 the tax assessor combined the properties into a total of 1,327 acres and attributed them to Drury Stith, the trustee of John N. Faulcon, who also was one of the late Nicholas Faulcon’s executors. He also noted that the parcels and their improvements formerly had been part of Nicholas Faulcon’s estate and that the decedent’s land had been transferred to Dr. George Wilson during the year (Surry County Land Tax Lists 1841-1842). Faulcon was active in Surry County politics and in May 1810 was appointed one of the county’s Overseers of the Poor, the group that provided welfare support to the indigent (Surry County Order Book 1807-1811:342).  John Faulcon was credited with 537 acres called Melville and 224 1/3 acres known as Gardners, both of which properties he had had before his marriage. In 1817 he was identified as the trustee of John Hartwell Cocke II and was credited with Cocke’s 433 acres called New Hope and 146 acres known as the Courthouse Tract (Surry County Land Tax Lists 1815-1817).  After John Faulcon’s death around 1830, Swann’s Point descended to Elizabeth Ann Faulcon, who held fee simple ownership. When she sold the tract to Edwin White in 1836, its improvements were still valued at $565. He added some new structures in 1849 (Surry County Land Tax Lists 1830-1850).  Despite Sally’s optimism, she and husband Nicholas Faulcon stayed on at Four Mile Tree until June 1813.  Goose Hill is located in the southeast portion of Jamestown Island.  Sally Bowdoin, the wife of John Tucker Bowdoin, was the former Sarah Edwards Brown of Four Mile Tree (Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 28). She viewed the Faulcons as beloved foster parents.  The situation was even more serious than Sally Cocke Faulcon probably realized. On June 25, 1813, 900 British troops landed on the lower Peninsula and began advancing west, toward Williamsburg. Meanwhile, armed vessels on the James fired at some people on shore (McCartney 1997:248).  Later, Nicholas Faulcon said that the British plundering party consisted of men armed only with swords and pistols (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 16).  Colonel John Ambler II was stationed at Camp Bottoms Bridge when the British invaded his home of Jamestown Island. On July 1, 1813, a raiding party reportedly came ashore and carried off whatever they could, destroying what remained. Four days later, a British brig, several schooners, and eight to ten barges sailed past Jamestown and continued on upstream (McCartney 1997:248).  Dancing point is on the west side of the Chickahominy River’s mouth, at its junction with the James River.  His views may have been influenced by the opinions of his father-in-law, Dr. Philip Barraud.  So intense was John Hartwell Cocke II’s interest that he kept a farm journal in which he recorded information on his horticultural activities and animal husbandry practices (Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 20).  John, Mary Kennon Cocke Faulcon’s widower, sent John Hartwell Cocke II a recipe for making a cider wine. It reportedly was popular “in the orchard counties” (Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 20).  On May 2, 1818, when John Tucker Bowdoin made his will, he left his real and personal state to his little daughter, Sally Elizabeth Courtney Bowdoin. However, he bequeathed $10,000 to his friend, Nicholas Faulcon. On February 5, 1821, John, who was then in Philadelphia, added a codicil to his will, leaving Nicholas and Sally Cocke Faulcon another $5,000 (Surry County Will Book 3 [1815-1821]:485-487).  Bowdoin’s estate was credited with a substantial number of enslaved peoples.  In 1825 Nicholas Faulcon, as one of John T. Bowdoin’s executors, compiled an account of the work done by blacksmith Peter Ragsdale at Four Mile Tree (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 45).  This would have been Dr. Alexander Galt, a highly regarded physician, who also had charge of the Public Hospital in Williamsburg.  Nicholas Faulcon probably was making reference to mainland just west of Jamestown Island, which had been known as “The Maine” since the early seventeenth century.  A letter Nicholas Faulcon sent to John Hartwell Cocke II on April 19, 1825, made reference to his tobacco crop (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 43). Thus, he did indeed attempt to grow tobacco at Mount Pleasant.  Interestingly, around the same time that Nicholas Faulcon and his brother-in-law were discussing additives that would lead to soil improvement, Edmund Ruffin, who lived upstream at Coggin’s Point and eventually became a premier agricultural reformer, also was looking for ways to improve the 1,582 acres of land he had inherited. Ruffin, who studied diligently and became widely read about scientific farming, began experimenting. Through his own ingenuity he discovered that marl would restore the fertility of soil acidified by the long-term cultivation of tobacco. He rejuvenated the plantation he had inherited, doubling its value by 1827, and he produced his famous Essay on Calcareous Manures. He also began editing the Farmers’ Register. Ruffin conducted experiments and kept careful records. Besides the use of marl, he studied crop rotation, the draining of fields, and purposefully enclosing animals in order to obtain a supply of manure. Over time, he purchased and improved several farms, eventually leaving Surry. The reforms Ruffin recommended largely depended upon enslaved laborers (Allmendinger 1990:5-9).  On May 23, 1814, Nicholas Faulcon told John Hartwell Cocke II that John T. Bowdoin wanted to sell some of his laborers but did not want to separate families (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 16).  Members of the Faulcon family owned the Surry plantation called Melville, which had been in their possession for many years. During the 1820s and 1830s the buildings at Melville were worth an estimated $1,074 (Surry County Land Tax Lists 1823-1840; Kornwolf 1976:82). Thus, when Nicholas Faulcon married Sally Cocke and purchased Mount Pleasant, he moved to a property whose improvements were considerably more valuable than the home in which he had been reared.  The accounts made by Nicholas Faulcon’s executors reveal that at the time of his death he had not fully paid for the 200 acres, which explains why he had not received an unencumbered deed to the property.  This indicates that John Faulcon remarried after Mary Kennon Cocke’s death.  John N. Faulcon was the son of Nicholas’s brother, John Faulcon, and his wife, Jane (Ancestry.com).  John Tucker Bowdoin was born on January 29, 1787, and died on February 25, 1821. His wife, the former Sarah Edwards Brown of Four Mile Tree, was born on January 2, 1794, and died on November 26, 1815. They produced only one child, Sally Elizabeth Courtney Bowdoin, who was born on May 6, 1815, and after her parents’ deaths, lived with Nicholas and Sally Cocke Faulcon at Mount Pleasant. On June 4, 1834, Sally E. C. Bowdoin married Philip St. George Cocke, the son of John Hartwell Cocke II and also the Faulcons’ nephew (Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 28).  Dinah must have been quite elderly, for on February 27, 1810, Nicholas Faulcon was deemed exempt from paying taxes on her, as she was aged and infirm (Surry County Order Book 1807-1811:319).  A notation in the will book indicates that Nicholas Faulcon’s estate was worth $300,000.  He married Louisiana Barraud Cocke (Cocke and Cocke 1967:109).  This implies that she had been left some of the more valuable servants, perhaps individuals with special skills such as carpentry.  Later, he wed Margaret C. Parr (Ancestry.com).  John N. Faulcon’s elderly aunt, Sally Cocke Faulcon, was a proponent of temperance and in a December 27, 1834, letter declared that “It is truly awful to hear of the great quantity of brandy that is drunk in this dissipated county” (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 80).  A letter written by Wilson to Louisa Cocke on June 26, 1838, reveals that he was her brother (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 91).  Mary was one of the servants Sally Cocke Faulcon owned outright.  In January 1833 Edmund Ruffin and John Hartwell Cocke II exchanged letters. Ruffin sent Cocke some of the agricultural literature he had requested. Later, when Cocke paid him for the publications he had sent, Ruffin said that he would have preferred information to money (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 73).  On February 8, 1833, Sally Cocke Faulcon sent word to John Hartwell Cocke II that she had taken an enslaved boy from Four Mile Tree and intended to train him as a cook (Cocke Manuscripts 640 Etc. Box 73).  Philip St. George Cocke was a graduate of the military academy at West Point (Kornwolf 1976:88).  Courtney’s interest apparently became lifelong, for as late as February 1865 she was exchanging plant specimens with friends and relatives (Papers of the Cocke Family MS 9513 i).  John Bennett in 1831 paid taxes upon himself as a free white male tithe. He owned an enslaved child who was at least age 12 but under 16 and one who was over 16. He also was in possession of one horse, ass or mule (Surry County Personal Property Tax Lists 1831).  After Sally Cocke Faulcon’s death, Philip St. George Cocke and his wife, Courtney, moved to Belmead in Powhatan County. He died in 1861 (Cocke Family Papers MS 2433 Box 31).  Mary Diana was Molly Sturdivant’s granddaughter.  In 1850 the younger Leander Sturdivant joined the navy as a steward and went to sea on the U.S.S. Yorktown (Miller 1978:104-105).