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Cooke, Louis P. (1811–1849)

Frank Wagner Biography

Louis P. Cooke, early Texas legislator, son of George W. and Jemina W. Cooke of Sharpsburgh, Bath County, Kentucky, was born in Tennessee in 1811. The was the oldest of three sons. He attended the United States Military Academy at West Point but did not graduate. In 1835 he joined a New York volunteer battalion under command of Edwin Morehouse. The battalion did not arrive in time for the battle of San Jacinto, but Cooke was elected lieutenant colonel in the Texas army in 1836. As a member of the Third Congress from Brazoria, he was an adherent of Mirabeau B. Lamar. He served as secretary of the navy under Lamar from May 1839 until December 1841 and was elected to the Sixth Congress from Travis County. Cooke introduced the Homestead Exemption Law and was a member of the committee that chose Austin for the capital. In company with John Nolan and George Barrett, Cooke was involved in a shooting scrape in downtown Austin with Capt. Mark B. Lewis. Nolan was killed, and a friend of Nolan accidentally shot and killed Alex Peyton, who tried to stop the affray. Lewis fled, but was killed later by Cooke and Barrett. Judge R. E. B. Baylor issued a warrant for Cooke and Barrett, charging them with Lewis's murder. Cooke retained James S. Mayfield to defend him, and the trial moved to Bastrop. The jury was deadlocked with all but one of twelve finding Cooke guilty. Cooke escaped in December 1843 before a second trial could be held and went to Corpus Christi, where he obtained employment as a brickmaker with John A. F. Gravis, a friend and fellow Lamar partisan. During the Comanche raid on Corpus Christi 1844, Cooke was wounded with an arrow in the side of his head and lost an eye. When the Mexican War broke out he accompanied the United States Army under Gen. Zachary Taylor to the Rio Grande. He later built a house in Brownsville. He and his wife, Mary, died of cholera during the 1849 epidemic there, leaving four children.

William S. Speer and John H. Brown, eds., Encyclopedia of the New West (Marshall, Texas: United States Biographical Publishing, 1881; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). Homer S. Thrall, A Pictorial History of Texas (St. Louis: Thompson, 1879). A. E. Wilkinson, "Author of the Texas Homestead Exemption Law," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 20 (July 1916).

Time Periods:

  • Texas Revolution

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

Frank Wagner, “Cooke, Louis P.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 01, 2020,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.