James Powell Cocke (1748-1827) was born in Henrico County, but moved to Augusta County in 1783, then to Albemarle County in 1787. When he came to Albemarle County, he purchased from Robert Nelson sixteen hundred acres on the south fork of the Hardware River. According to Edgar Woods, "he fixed his residence on the east side of Fan's Mountain, and the west edge of the Eppes Creek Valley...he first built the mill which has ever since continued in that vicinity." Cocke married twice, first to Elizabeth Archer, then to Lucy Smith, and he had five children: James Powell, Smith, Chastian, Mary, and Martha.
According to Jefferson'sMemorandum Books, he first mentions Cocke as early as 1771, when Jefferson became involved in a case between "Isaac an Indian" and Cocke, who Isaac sued for freedom. Late in Jefferson's presidency, he purchased glasses and a stove in Philadelphia for Cocke. Most of Jefferson's correspondence with Cocke comes from the 1812-1813 period and concerns stocking Jefferson's fish pond with "Roanoke chub."
Cocke lived in Edgemont, a house built ca. 1796 and is generally believed to have been designed by Jefferson. He is buried in a small family plot behind the house.
1772 November 1. "Isaac an Indian v. James Powell Cocke (Henrico). Bring suit for freedom."
1772 November 3. "Isaac an Indian v. James Powell Cocke (Henrico). Issd. writ in TAB. & false imprismt. Dam. L200."
1781 March 16. "Recd. from Jas. Cocke of Malverine hills a horse mule (Dr. Slop) and a mare mule (Capt. Molly) both 3. years old for which I am to pay 3000 lb tobo. each year or it's worth in money."
1781 April 4. "Inclosed F. Eppes for James Powell Cocke for the two mules L4800."
1782 May 21. "Charge Jas. Cocke (Malverne hills) a leap."
1796 September 3. "Recd. from Rand. Jefferson a negro boy Ben, Peter's son who is to valued by John Coles & James Cocke, and I am to pay the valuation to Donald & co. in discharge of their acct. agt. him."
1797 September 20. "Colo. Coles & Mr. Cocke have valued the two boys I bought from Rand. Jefferson (Carey & Ben) at L155."
1800 May 9. "Gave McAllister ord. on J. Barnes for 11.33. viz...for glasses for Jas. Cocke. 1.67..."
1800 November 4. "Recd. of Jas. P. Cocke for stove &c. balance in full L3-11-6."