Cooke, Hiram William (1817–1888)

By: Matthew K. Hamilton

Type: Biography

Published: December 21, 2012

Updated: October 30, 2015

Hiram William Cooke, merchant, farmer, Seminole War veteran, and Confederate military officer, was born on December 25, 1817, in Mount Sterling, Montgomery County, Kentucky. He was one of three sons of George W. and Jemima Waddey (Lane) Cooke. Shortly after Hiram’s birth, the Cooke family moved to Hickman County, Kentucky, where Hiram’s father died in 1830. Jemima and her sons moved to Henry County, Tennessee. By 1832 Jemima had died, and Hiram moved to Dresden, Weakly County, Tennessee, where he worked as a clerk in a mercantile.

During the war between the United States and the Seminole Indians of Florida, Cooke enlisted on June 13, 1836, in Captain Bradford’s Company of the First Tennessee Mounted Militia in Jacksonville, Florida, and was mustered into service in the United States Army on July 1, 1836, as part of First Tennessee Mounted Volunteers. His previous profession as a mercantile clerk led to his appointment on August 1, 1836, as Issuing Commissary to Emigrating Indians in Montgomery, Alabama, a position he held for five months before being discharged in New Orleans on January 17, 1837.

After his service in the United States Army, Cooke returned to Weakly County, but his involvement in Indian affairs did not end. In 1837 he organized a company of men to help move the Cherokees from northern Georgia to their new lands west of the Mississippi River. He and his men enlisted in the United States Army and were mustered into service on May 20, 1838, at Fort Cass, Tennessee, where they aided in the removal of thousands of Cherokees from their native lands in what became known as the Trail of Tears.

After leaving the military once again, Cooke returned to Weakly County and resumed his old profession as a merchant. On October 11, 1838, he married Jane Candace Jenkins, and the couple had a daughter in 1839. Prior to 1840 Cooke's mother remarried Peter Kendall of Henry County, Tennessee, where the couple lived until her death in the 1860s. Cooke's brother, John Louis Phillipe Cooke, served as Secretary of the Texas Navy from May 1839 to December 1841. Sometime between 1851 and 1853, Hiram Cooke moved his family to Limestone County, Texas, after receiving a 320-acre land grant from the Texas state government. While the land grant was enticing, Hiram Cooke’s move to Texas was also a product of his two other brothers already living in the Lone Star State. One brother, John Cooke, had attended West Point but resigned before graduation in order to fight in the Texas Revolution; he attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Revolutionary Army. Hiram’s other brother, Wilds K. Cooke, came to Texas around 1840. Both of his brothers served as members of the Congress of the Republic of Texas and the Texas Legislature. Cooke’s brother John wrote the legislation that provided Hiram with his land grant. However, the grant stipulated that the owner was required to work or improve the land within three years, which Hiram failed to do. On July 31, 1855, he relocated to Coryell County, Texas, and settled in Gatesville, where he operated a mercantile, speculated in land, and became a charter member of the Masonic Lodge No. 197.

Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, the citizens of Coryell County petitioned Governor Edward Clark to allow the county to raise a company of rangers to protect the Texas frontier from Indian incursions. On May 24, 1861, Cooke enlisted and was elected captain of the company where he remained until 1863 when he enlisted in the Texas State Troops. He first enlisted on August 20, 1863, in Capt. W. S. Gouldy’s Company K, First Regiment, Second Brigade and then served with Capt. G. W. Haley’s Company, Second Frontier District. On October 22, 1863, Cooke was elected major of the newly-formed Fourth Cavalry Regiment, Texas State Troops, a unit organized for a period of six months. From December 1863 to January 1864, his unit served in the defense of Galveston. In January 1864 Hiram and his unit were mustered out of service upon the termination of their enlistment.

After the war, Cooke returned home to Coryell County but soon experienced the loss of his wife, Jane, on January 15, 1866. He then moved to Robertson County, Texas. He remarried on November 19, 1868, to Mary Ann Collard and by 1870 produced a son, George Hiram Cooke. Hiram settled in to life in Robertson County where he speculated in land and served as postmaster of Bald Prairie in the fall of 1878. In 1880 Cooke moved his family to Dripping Springs, Texas, where he operated a mercantile. On January 26, 1888, Hiram William Cooke passed away and was buried in Dripping Springs. Eventually, his wife, Mary, had his remains reinterred at the Texas State Cemetery.

Austin Daily Statesman, January 28, 1888. Joseph S. Crute, Jr., Units of the Confederate States Army (Midlothian, Virginia: Derwent, 1987). Stewart Sifakis, Compendium of the Confederate Armies: Texas (New York: Facts on File, 1995). Texas State Cemetery: Hiram William Cooke (, accessed September 10, 2012.

Time Periods:

  • Civil War

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Matthew K. Hamilton, “Cooke, Hiram William,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 05, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

December 21, 2012
October 30, 2015

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