James H. N. Cobb


James H. N. Cobb. The secretary of the Sapulpa Commercial Club and one of the present county commissioners of Creek County has had a variety and length and breadth of experience such as fall to the lot of very few men. He was born in old Virginia a few years before the outbreak of the war between the states. He was a member of a large family of children, and his parents were hard working and self respecting people who never reached a completely independent stage of prosperity. These facts indicate what the environment of Mr. Cobb was as a boy. He worked for all he got in the way of education, and it may be said that he has supported himself since he entered his teens. In spite of such handicaps, he educated himself for work as a successful teacher, has for about a quarter of a century been identified with the Methodist Episcopal Church as a preacher and missionary, and in other official work, gained admission to the Oklahoma Bar some years ago, has been active in politics, and has other enviable distinctions.
He was born in McDowell, Virginia, December 14, 1858, a son of John Augustus and Elizabeth Anne (Pullin) Cobb. Both parents were natives of Virginia, his father born July 26, 1826, and his mother about 1830. Both died in Virginia, his father in 1877 and his mother in 1892. John A. Cobb was a farmer all his life, and saw four years of active service in the Confederate army under the noted cavalryman J. E. B. Stuart. He was taken prisoner near Beverly, West Virginia, and for three months languished in a prison at Wheeling until paroled. He was the father of a family of twelve children, four sons and eight daughters, two of the sons having died in infancy while all the rest are still living.
James H. N. Cobb never attended a free school in all his life. When he was ten years of age he and his father left Virginia and made a trip to Missouri, but after a short time returned to Virginia, and he remained there five years. For about three months each year for two or three years he attended one of the old field schools of Virginia, but spent most of his time in hard labor which contributed toward the support of the numerous family of which he was a member. In 1879 Mr. Cobb went to Ohio and was employed as a farm hand at $10 a month in the winter and $16 a month in the summer.
On September 22, 1880, he enlisted in the United States army and was sent to Columbus Barracks, Ohio, and remained there five years. During part of one year he continued his studies in a night school and for part of his army service was attached to the hospital department. He was finally made overseer of the Post School in Columbus Barracks, and his major recommended him for the position of superintendent of army schools. The major unfortunately died in 1883, and the recommendation was never carried out. While overseer of the Post schools Mr. Cobb was given the rank of sergeant, and he has always been proud of the fact that he served in the army and was given that rank.
On gaining his honorable discharge he returned to Virginia, was granted a first-grade certificate and for a time taught school in the mountains of that state at $20 per month, boarding himself. He spent two years in the back districts of Virginia and West Virginia as teacher, then went out to Nebraska, taught there a year, and was an unsuccessful candidate for county superintendent of schools.
In 1890 he qualified for entrance into the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church. For fifteen years he had charge of different churches in Nebraska, but in 1893 came to Oklahoma and took the pastorate of the Methodist Episcopal Church at Tulsa. After sixteen months he was assigned to the pastorate at Sapulpa for one year. His next promotion was as presiding older of what is now the Tulsa District. While still engaged in
the active work of the ministry Rev. Mr. Cobb was elected a member of the Oklahoma constitutional convention, and one feature of his work while there should be recalled, and that was in gaining the location of the county seat of Creek County for the Town of Sapulpa. He was one of the thirteen apostles of the republican party represented in the statehood convention. However, he was not unduly bound by party ties but was willing to work for what he was convinced to be the best interests of the state. He therefore supported the enabling act and also signed and advocated the adoption of the state constitution though his party opposed it officially.
For a time Mr. Cobb was field secretary of the Anti-Saloon League of Oklahoma and stumped half the state in behalf of the cause of prohibition. He was appointed district Indian agent by the secretary of the interior and served four years with supervision over Creek and Tulsa counties, with headquarters in Sapulpa. He resigned his office in 1912.
For the past two years Mr. Cobb has been secretary of the Sapulpa Commercial Club, and since January 1, 1913, has given much of his time and attention to his duties as county commissioner. With such opportunities as were presented in a life of great activity Mr. Cobb read law, and was admitted to the Oklahoma Bar in 1910, and has a license to practice in all the courts of the state. He is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and with the Masonic Order.
On November 8, 1888, he married Miss Rebecca Ellen Hooke, who was born near McDowell, Virginia, January 14,1862. They are the parents of four children: James Merrill is now a senior in the Oklahoma School of Mines at Wilburton; Virginia, who attended the University of Oklahoma, is now living at Tulsa; Marie is a senior in the Sapulpa High School; and Elmo died at the age of seven and a half years.