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Benning*Cobb*Russell Genealogy

Georgia Cousins

After the American Revolution, many families emigrated from the State of Virginia to Georgia. Settling in Columbia County, Georgia were the fathers and mothers of children, who in their next generation would become leaders in the antebellum economy of the state. Two of these early families emigrating to Georgia were the Cobb and Benning families. Thomas Addison Cobb, already a man in his sixties, migrated to Georgia with his family. Daughter Sarah (Sally) Cobb was married to John Benning, a descendant of Huguenot Francois Benin of Manakintowne, Virginia. They became the parents of several children. One of these children was Pleasant Moon Benning, father of Confederate General Henry Lewis Benning of Columbus, for whom the mighty Fort Benning is named. The Benning and Cobb Family of Georgia produced many great and well-known men and women of Georgia history. Descendants include Henry L. Benning, Judge Benning B. Moore, Henry Grady, the South's Greatest Orator, John Benning Daniel, founder of the John Benning Daniel Drug Wholesale Company, Augustus Harrrison Benning, former steamer Captain in China and builder of the Flatiron Bank Building in downtown Atlanta, and Thomas Cobb Benning, Methodist Circuit Riding Preacher, father of Augustus H. Benning. Thomas Cobb Benning relocated his family from Savannah, Georgia in 1848 to Brooklyn, New York. Augustus returned to Atlanta in the late 1800's and married a cousin, Margaret Rowena Russell. This line of Bennings was influential in Atlanta at the turn of the century. Margaret and Gus produced six children, one of whom, Theodore Russell Benning, founded the Benning Construction Company. John Benning Daniel, uncle of Lucian Lamar Knight, founder and president of the Department of State Archives in Atlanta, was a business partner of John S. Pemberton, founder of Coca Cola. The Russell line, which married into the Benning line in McDonough, Henry County, Georgia in 1863, with the marriage of James Gamble Russell and Sarah Louisa Smith, daughter of Rowena Elizabeth Benning and John Pemberton Smith, had been in the State of Georgia since the 1820's. The Russell Line, herein, settled in McDonough, Henry County, where they have had a presence ever since. This Russell line migrated from Winnsboro, South Carolina. The Benning-Russell line described herein are cousins to the late, great Senator Richard B. Russell of Georgia. Thomas Addison Cobb, who settled in Columbia County, Georgia was the great uncle to John Addison Cobb, father of Governor Howell Cobb, who was Secretary of the Treasury under President James Buchanan. He served Georgia as a Confederate General during the War for Southern Independence. His brother, Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb, codified Georgia Law, is credited with writing the Confederate Constitution, and died during the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1862. Howell's sister, Laura, was married to Professor Williams Rutherford of Franklin College (University of Georgia). Their daughter, Mildred Lewis Rutherford was Principal of Lucy Cobb Institute, located in Athens, Georgia. Miss Millie, as she was called, taught History and English and was deeply involved in presenting the Southern viewpoint of the "late, great unpleasantness," meaning the War of 1861-1865.


The following is a letter from Henry L. Benning
to his cousin Howell Cobb:
Columbus, Ga., March 29, 1850

Dear Howell:

I have had your letter of the 20 inst., for several days. A quite annoying effect of a severe cold has hitherto kept me from answering it. My opinion on the slavery question remains without any change. The developments since I saw you have indeed confirmed them. In regard to acting on those opinions in the Nashville Convention should I be honored with a seat in it. I have stated my position in a letter to one of the Newspapers of this place. There is not now a copy of that paper to be had here. The same letter however will appear in the next week's 'Enquirer' (Columbus), and I will send you a copy of the paper. My opinions are shortly these: 1. The North already has the will to abolish slavery. 2. She is rapidly acquiring the power to execute this will. 3. These two propositions being true abolition is inevitable unless something shall be done to change this 'will' of the North, or to stop the acquisition of power. If there is a remedy within the Union embrace it by all means, if not, do not hesitate to go beyond for one. A remedy at any cost. Holding these positions you see that I am obliged to be opposed to any settlement of the Slavery question upon the basis of 'non-interference' viz: power of unlimited legislation by the people of the territories even whilst remaining in a territorial state. We did not fight the battle for Cass upon that view of the doctrine. We held - we and the South at least- that we might take our slaves to the territories running no other risk than a decision of the Courts against us upon the law as it stood affected by the treaty and by the constitution, not upon such laws as might be made by half breeds, Indians, and abolitionists, happening to be the 'prior inhabitants.' But indeed to be plain with you I must say that I regard the words "Non-interference" 'let us alone' in the mouth of the North at this time a little better than insulting mockery. Whilst they had virtue in them they were never uttered. Last year and up to the time when the North had secured California she spoke no other language but that of the Wilmot Proviso. Look at the resolutions of every northern state Legislature voted for by Democrats and Whigs with 'forty thieves' unanimity. No - the object being accomplished they perhaps are ready to give up the frenctus officio means. Non interference' will not stop at the acquisition of power on the part of the North. But if she will consent to the Missouri Compromise line being extended to the Pacific that will retard such acquisition. It is all foolish to say slavery won't go to California if it has half a chance. Dr. Gwinn makes an ass of himself on this subject. So I go for the Missouri C. line in the sense in which that line was first adopted. If the South in Congress will stand up for it as one man earnestly , resolutely not merely so as to throw dust in the eyes of us here at a distance it can be had. I suppose this is not be be expected. I fear that the next Presidential election like Philips' bag of gold is beginning to enter into the South. I must confess to you that I look with distrust upon Foote. If he expects the support of the South as Vice President upon a ticket with Cass, I shall have to say that in my opinion he will be deceived.

You call my attention to the fact that one party is unanimous against a dissolution on the California issue and that no inconsiderable portion of the other is prepared to unite with them. Admit this to be so. Still I tell you that the votes of Southern men upon the question of its admission will be looked to. I do not believe that ten men are to be found in the state who are in favor of its admission as it stands. If we are to be degraded there is no reason why it should be done by our own cooperation. That the boundaries of California were made as they are in order to injure us no man doubts who is candid. Let the North ram worry down our throats. Never let us open our own mouths to swallow if of our own accord. But I think you deceive yourself to some extent as to Southern opinion. The "Union" sentiment in the South is [in] my opinion very unreliable. What Northern man can concentrate it upon himself for President. Not one. The fact is and it is useless for us to attempt to disguise it to ourselves. Seward speaks the view of the North and not Webster. But indeed if Webster spoke it it is but a pitiful squeak. It is all palaver. I take it that it may be assumed as true beyond question that no man-notone-North of Mason and Dixon's line is willing to see any measure adopted which shall really substantially strengthen the South. This being so, all talk is mere cheating. Bill's resolutions contemplate cutting up Texas into several slave states -- as part of his project. I am opposed to any subdivision of Texas if California is to be admitted with it present boundaries and if a large slice of Texas is be sold to the North as the consideration. And this for at least two reasons. 1, We have already lost the Senate and a miss is as good as a mile. Two Senators from Texas will do us as much good as six if the six won't give us a majority. This they cannot do if we are to lose all the territory. 2. The amount to be paid to Texas will be money raised for the most part out of ourselves, that is to say the South is to pay Texas for relinquishing to the North land enough to make several non-slaveholding states. This may be a pretty business for the North and a fair one for Texas, but it is one which does not pay so far as the South is concerned. In respect to the institution of slavery Texas one is worth greatly more than Texas five. As things stand now much more as they soon will stand the doctrine of state rights will be the only security for slavery, and these rights are much more valuable when asserted by big states than by little ones. To conclude, my opinion is this in brief. Let every Southern man in Congress stand up to the rights of the South. Let him join in no humiliating compromise with the North. If she is dispossed to wrong us let her do it by her own action. Let the South say no California such as it now is, -- no abolition of slavery or the slave trade in the District, no Wilmot Proviso, no robbing of Texas or rather the South, an extradition fugitive slave law that shall not be a mere dead letter. These are the primaries. As secondaries let her insist if California is forced in, that the Mexican War debt shall be paid out of the mineral lands with her bounds. That is fair, at least and then that a general law shall be passed guarding against such another California fraud. Let her secure these objects by resorting to every parliamentary device within her reach. If all fails then she will at least not have to reproach herself for the failure. Why should not the North be made to show her hand. Show this to whoever you please. Sincerely,


The above letter is part of the Cobb-Erwin collection of the University of Georgia's Hargrett Rare Book Department


Ambrose Cobbs was a brother of Joseph Cobbs who is registered as having landed at Jamestown, Virginia in 1616. He came as a passenger on board the "Treasurer," just six years after the first permanent settlement in the new world was effected at this point. His wife and two children, Benjamin and Joseph, came "Bonnie Bess," in 1624. The date when Ambrose arrived is unknown, but he appears on the land grants in 1635, at which time the name of Joseph also appears among the patentees, and the presumption is that, if they did not come together to America, they were separated in coming by only a short interval.

Robert Cobbs appeared in 1651 as a church warden and as a resident of the County of York. In 1667, he was a Justice of the Peace for the same county, in 1681 a commissioner, and in 1682 a high sheriff. He died intestate in the year last named and to his son, Edmund, were granted letters of administration. Edmund died in 1692, leaving a will in which he divides his property between a son-in-law, Matthew Pierce, and three brothers, Robert, Ambrose, and Otho. It was the first of these who carried on the line. Robert Cobbs had three sons, Thomas, John and Robert, whose names appear frequently in the records of Henrico and Goochland, between the years 1736 and 1750, chiefly in the county last named, which was formed from Henrico. These constitute the heads of three distinct lines of the Cobb family in the United States: 1. Thomas, 2. John, 3. Robert.

According to the early records, there are Cobb connections in both the Lee and randolph families of Virginia. We find in the Lee family, for example, a distinct branch, known as the Cobbs Hall Lees, and in the Randolph family, a distinct branch, known as the Randolphs of Cobbs. Through the Lewises, another group of ancient families is brought into the Cobb connection, including the Meriwethers, the Warners, the Washingtons, etc.

Thomas Cobbs, whose name first appears among the records of Goochland, is also found in Hanover, Albemarle, and Buckingham counties, Virginia, in Granville county, North Carolina, and in Columbia county, Georgia. Like a typical member of the Aryan race, he seems to have been always on the move; but he was a contradiction rather than a proof of the old adage that "a rolling stone gathers no moss." He became possessed of an abundance of worldly goods, acquiring extensive tracts of land, scattered over three states, but he finally settled in Georgia, where he spent the last fifty years of a life protracted to a phenomenal age, sone say 120 years. He is known, in the family traditions, as "Grandpa" Cobbs, and was usually addressed as "Colonel," a title which he doubtless acquired in the colonial wars in Virginia.

Mr. McAllister, in his work on the Lewis family, devotes a number of pages to the Cobbs, and is perhaps the best authority on the antecedants of this family, though his work is not without mistakes. He does not tell us whom the old patriarch married, but, according to an old tradition, preserved in the Benning line of descent, the name of his wife was Sarah, and she married either a Dandridge or a Moore; and, if this be true, her descendants are connected with such aristocratic families of Virginia as the Spotswoods, the Henry's, and the Washingtons. Mr. McAllisters work, which we have not hesitated to correct, when errors were found, is entitled: "The lewis and Kindred Families," by J.M. McAllister and Lura B. Tandy, The E.W. Stephens Compan, Columbia, MO. Mr. McAllister died before this work came from the press in 1906, and did not get to read the proofs. Otherwise, he would have made no doubt the necessary corrections.

One of the children of the old patriarch was Thomas Cobbs, Jr., who was an officer of the Revolution. I am inclined to think that Thomas Sr. was too old to do much fighting in the struggle for independence, and that his services to the country in a military way were rendered in colonial times. Still, he as a true patriot, and though past fifty when the Revolution began, he was ready to fight with the youngest. Dr. White, in his Collections of Georgia, states that he was an officer of the Revolution, and this is the information which his descendants have received by way of tradition.

Thomas Cobbs, Jr. married when quite young. His wife's name is unknown, but he left issue: Robert H., Napoleon B., Catharine, Nancy, Julia, James, Stirling, and mary. Nancy married a Smith and from her descended, in the second generation, General Edmund Kirby Smith, one of the most distinguished of Confederate Generals, who, in 1863, became commander of the Trans-Mississippi Department. He was also noted after the war an an educator, was President at one time of the University of Nashville, and died while holding a professorship in the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee.

John Cobbs, another son of Thomas, Sr., was also a soldier of the Revolution, and one of the first members of his family to drop from his name the final "s." He became the father of Hon. Thomas Willis Cobb (1784-1830), who illustrated Georgia on the bench and in the Senate of the United States. It was this distinguished member of the Cobb family, for whom Cobb County, Georgia was named in 1832, soon after his death. Moreover, he was the first of the Cobbs to achieve a national reputation. He died while a judge of the Superior Court for the Ocmulgee Circuit. His son, Joseph beckham Cobb, removed to Mississippi, where he became an important figure in the politics of the State, but died early in life. He was a man of letters, and wrote a novel, entitled: "The Creole," besides two other books containing sketches of life in Mississippi in ante-bellum days.

Sarah Cobb, a daughter of the old patriarch of Columbia, married John Benning, an officer of the Revolution, whose family escutcheon was brought to this country by Francois Benin, a refugee from France. The children of John Benning, by his wife, Sarah Cobb, were: Joseph, Pleasant Moon, Susan, Elizabeth, Sarah Cobb, Thomas, and perhaps others.

Pleasant M. benning, married a Miss White, and became the father of General Henry Lewis Benning, whose gallantry on the field won for him the soubriquet of "Old Rock." He afterwards became a judge of the Supreme Court of Georgia. he married a daughter of Honorable Seaborn Jones, a member of Congress. One of his daughters, Louisa Vivian, married Samuel Spencer, afterwards president of the Southern Railway System, and one of the South's industrial captains. He lost his life in 1906 in a railway wreck on one of his own lines. Another daughter, Mary, married Reese Crawford, Esq., a bright yound lawyer, and a son of Judge Martin J. Crawford, of Columbus, for many years a judge of the Supreme Court of Georgia.

Susan Benning married Thomas Moore, a pioneer in the manufacture of cotton in the South, who built the Princeton factory near Athens, Georgia, and whose son Judge Benning B. Moore, became a Superior Court Judge, and a legislator, who, at different times, represented three different counties: Columbia, Clarke, and Thomas. His son, Daniel Chandler Moore, for a number of times, represented Columbia. Judge Moore married his first cousin, Antonia Lamar, a daughter of Colonel Peter Lamar and Sarah Cobb Benning.

Elizabeth Benning married a Thompson. Her daughter, Julia married a Gartrell. Her daughter, Ann Eliza, married Major William S. Grady, a brilliant Confederate officer, who surrendered his life at Petersburg, Virginia. Major Grady, at one time owned the gas works at Athens, Georgia, and was a man of means. From the marriage of Major Grady to Ann Gartrell, sprang Henry Woodfin Grady, the South's great orator and editor, who made the Atlanta Constitution famous, and who, in the language of the epitaph, inscribed upon his monument, in the heart of Atlanta, "literally died loving a nation into peace."

Sarah Cobb Benning married Colonel Peter Lamar, of Lincoln County, Georgia, a member of the celebrated family of Huguenot origin, long distinguished in Georgia. He was a wealthy planter and a man of affairs, styled the "King of Lincoln."Issue:

Captain Lafayette Lamar, who died in 1861 at Warrenton, Virginia, a man of rare gifts, educated for the bar, and marked for Congress.

Sarah, who married Porter Fleming, the father by a subsequent marriage of Honorable William H. Fleming, member of Congress. Their daughter, Sarah Elizabeth became a Missionary to China and lies buried in the Far East.

Prudence Bertha, who married a Howell.

Antonia, who married her cousin, Judge Benning B. Moore, and who was named for her Benning ancestor, Antoine Benin, son of Francois, the immigrant. One of their children was Daniel Chandler Moore.

Mary Ann Lamar, married Joshua Daniel, a native of Nash County, North Carolina. Mary Ann Daniel possessed the Lamar intellect and was a woman of unusual charm and force of character. There were born to Joshua and Mary Ann Lamar the following issue:

Captain Wilberforce Daniel, a gallant Confederate officer, after the war a cotton merchant, and sheriff of Richmond County, Georgia. He married Mary Winn of Washington, Georgia.

Regina P., who married an Ingles and removed to Mexico, at the close of the Civil War. She died in Mexico, leaving one son.

Martha Ann, who married A.L. Sheppard, a young lawyer, who died early, leaving one son, James Longstreet.

Jane P., who married Absalom F. Fleming, a tobacco merchant, and had issue, two sons, Paul Lamar, and Frank Lamar.

John Benning Daniel, who died unmarried. He was a private soldier, C.S.A., and became a wholesale druggist and manufacturer, and built up a larage business.

Clara Corrine, who married Captain George Walton Knight, an officer in the Confederate Army, an educator, and a lawyer. Issue:

Marie Bertha, who married Thomas R. Hardwick and Lucian Lamar Knight, State Historian and Founder of the Department of Archives for the State of Georegia.

Descendants of John Cobbs, of Gouchland, father of the John Cobbs, who came to Georgia, and brother of Thomas, of Gouchland. Children: Edmund, Samuel, and John.

Edmund Cobbs, married Sarah Lewis. He died intestate, leaving several children, the eldes of whom was John Lewis Cobbs. He married first, Susannah Hamner and second Judith (Price) Noel. By his first wife, he had twelve children, of whom the eldest was Nicholas Hamner Cobbs (1796-1861), who became the first Bishop of the Diocese of Alabama. Bishop Cobb's family have retained the final "s."

Samuel Cobbs, married Mary Lewis. His will, probated in 1758, shows that his brothers were: Edmund and John. He died early in life, and was survived by his brother Edmund for nearly fifty years. The latter's estate was appraised in 1799. Mary Lewis, whom he married, was the daughter of Robert Lewis, of Bervoir, Albermarle County, Virginia. The only offspring of this union was Robert Cobb, (1754-1829), whose daughter, Sarah, married Captain W.C. McAllister, and became the father of John Meriwether McAllister, the genealogist. Robert's son, Dr. John Poindexter Cobb, married a daughter of Honorable David S. Garland, a member of Congress from Virginia.

John Cobbs, married Mildred Lewis, daughter of Howell Lewis, of Granville County, North Carolina. The marriage occurred on September 6, 1769 Most of the children who sprang from this marriage were born in Granville, where John must have lived for some time. Issue:

Howell, John Addison, Mildred Lewis, Mary Willis, Susannah, and Henry Willis.

Howell Cobb, born 1770, died 1830. He became a member of Congress, serving from 1807 to 1812, when he resigned to accept a Captain's commission in the Army of U.S. He married Martha Jacquiline Rootes.

John Addison Cobb, born in 1773, died 18--. He became one of the larges planters in the State of Georgia, removing from Jefferson County to Athens, to educate his children. These were:

Howell Cobb(1815-1868), who married mary Ann Lamar, daughter of Colonel Zachariah Lamar, of Milledgeville, Georgia, by whom he had issue, see below. He became Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Secretary of the Treasury under James Buchanan, President of the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States at Montgomery, in 1861, and a Confederate Major General. His children were:

Howell, Judge of the city court of Athens, and father of Thomas R.R., a brilliant young lawyer, whose widow, nee, Maude Barker, is a former State Librarian. Honorable Zach lamar Cobb, of El Paso, Texas, is another son of Judge Howell.

Lamar, known as Major Cobb, for years secretary of the Board of Trustees. He married a Miss Newton. Children: Basil, Mary Newton, who married E.D. Sledge: Olivia, who married W.C. Davis, and lamar, an engineer, who has risen to prominence in the West.

Andrew J., a former judge of the Supreme Court of Georgia, a professor in the Lumpkin Law School of Athens. He married a Miss Campbell.

Mary Ann, who married Judge Alexander S. Erwin of Athens.

Sarah, who married Honorable T.W. Rucker, a former member of Congress.

John A., Ordinary of Sumpter County, Georgia, Captain, C.S.A.

Thomas R.R. Cobb (1823-1862), who married Marian, daughter of Chief Justice Joseph Henry Lumpkin, wrote "Cobb on Slavery", a legal master-piece. Became an eloquent fire-brand of Secession, styled a "Peter the Hermit" Member of the Provissional Congress of the Confederate States. Organized Cobb's famous Legion. Became a Brigadier General and was killed at Fredericksburg, Virginia in 1862. Children:

Mrs. Hull, wife of Augustus L. Hull, of Athens, and mother of Dr. Marion Hull, of Atlanta, among other children.

Mrs. Jackson, wife of Captain Henry Jackson, a distinguished lawyer of Atlanta, and a son of General Henry R. Jackson of Savannah. Marion Jackson, of Atlanta, a successful lawyer, interested in reform work is a son, and Mrs. Wilmer L. Moore, Mrs. Aquilla J. Orme, and Mrs. Shepard Bryan, are daughters.

Mrs. Hoke Smith, wife of the former Governor, Secretary of the Interior and United States Senator. His son marion is a leading lawyer, of Atlanta.

Major John B. Cobb, married 1. Mary Lamar 2. Alice Cutler

Laura, who married Professor Williams Rutherford. A sister to Howell and T.R.R. Cobb, her children were Mrs. Mary Ann Lipscomb, and Miss Mildred Lewis Rutherford, both noted educators, the later Historian General, United Daughters of the Confederacy, author, and a woman of letters. A son of laura, was Colonel Jonathan C. Rutherford, a noted lawyer.

Mary Willis, who married first B.F. Erwin, by whom she had one son, Honorable Howell Cobb Erwin, and second, Dr. J.M Johnson, by who she had children, among them, Mrs. Lucian Cocke, of Roanoke, Virginia.Mary also had a daughter, Lucy, who married Wellborn Hill.

Mildred Lewis, who married Colonel Luther J. Glenn, a successful lawyer, and was the mother of Honorable John T. Glenn, Mayor of Atlanta. Her daughter married a Mr. McBride, and had children, Sallie, T.H. and J. Sallie and T.H., married George Adair, as first and second wife. J. married Frank Rice Mitchell. T.H. was named for her uncles, Tom and Howell. J. was named for her uncle Jud. They were known as the "initial children."

Sarah Marrtha, who married Major John C. Whitner, of Atlanta, by whom she had a number of children, including John A., Thomas Cobb, Charles Warren Howard, Mary, who married B.C. Milner, and martha, who married W.J. Milner.

Mildred Lewis Cobb, a daughter of John Cobb, and a sister of John Addison Cobb, married William H. Jackson, a son of old Governor James jackson, and from this union sprang:

Martha cobb, who married Colonel John T. Grant, by whom she had one son:

Colonel William D. Grant, a distinguished financier and man of affairs, father of John William Grant, and sarah, the wife of Governor John M. Slaton.

James Jackson (1819-1887), a member of Congress, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, and a man of unblemished life and character. His children include:

Mrs. Scrutchin, wife of J.G Scrutchin.

Mrs. Slaton, wife of Professor William M. Slaton, a brother of the Governor.

Descendants of Robert Cobbs, of Goochland, and later of Henrico, Virginia.

This branch of the Cobb family has not been traced, but Chancellor Cobbs of Alabama comes of this line, and is a descendant of Robert Cobbs, of Henrico, a brother of John and Thomas Cobbs of Goochland. Bishop Cobbs, though like the Chancellor he retained the final "s", was a descendant of John of Gouchland, brother of Robert.

*********The preceding Cobb genealogy was obtained from the Department of Archives and History, Atlanta, and was apparently compiled by the late Lucian Lamar Knight, who established the Department and was it's first President.

Benning-Cobb-Russell Links

Fort Benning Georgia!-Named for General Henry Lewis Benning,CSA
Brigadier General Henry Lewis Benning, CSA