Editor’s note: Paul Ray Blankenship passed away Sept. 30, 2010 after a long illness. He was a retired teacher and college professor, who wrote several books about the history of Oceana and surrounding areas. As a tribute to his achievements, his columns will continue in this newspaper. The following excerpt is reprinted, with his permission, from “From Cabins To Coal Mines, 1799-1999, Volume I.” This is part two of Wyoming County’s role in the creation of the new state of West Virginia.

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Other delegates to the Wheeling Convention with connections to Wyoming County included Richard Madison Cooke, who represented Mercer County; Johannis P. Hoback, who represented McDowell County; and Richard Locke Brooks, who represented Upshur County.

Richard Madison Cooke (1820-1904), a man of strong Union sympathies, became a delegate to the Constitutional Convention from Mercer County on January 21, 1862, at the request of Colonel Thomas Little and “various citizens of Mercer County.”

The petition to allow Cooke to represent Mercer County came from Flat Top Mountain, in Wyoming County. Cooke was never a resident of Mercer County. In addition, Mercer County had not voted, in accordance with the Dismemberment Ordinance of the Second Wheeling Convention, to be annexed to the proposed new state.

Delegate Richard Madison Cooke was the son of William and Catherine Stewart Cooke and the grandson of John Cooke and Capt. Ralph Stewart, Wyoming County’s first two settlers. Richard Madison Cooke married in 1840 Mary “Polly” Gunnoe (1819-1904), the daughter of Daniel and Sarah “Sally” Stewart Gunnoe, and they had the following children: Amanda Cook (1841); Angeline Cook (1843); William B. Cook (1844-1926); Lane S. Cook (1846-1890); Charles H. Cook (1848); Martha J. Cook (1849); John Chapman Kyle Cook (1851); Robert M. Cook (1854); Walter Raleigh Cook (1855); Richard M. Cook (1857); and Mary Catherine Cook (1860).

He apparently lived at Oceana in 1849-50 as the law which created Wyoming County stated specifically that the county seat was to be established “where Madison Cook now lives.” He later moved to Center District. During the Civil War, he organized and captained a company of Union Home Guards. Two of his sons, William Barrett Cooke and Lane S. Cooke, were Union soldiers, Company I, 7th WV Cavalry. After the war he became the county Superintendent of Schools for four years, 1867-71, served as deputy assessor, and was a member and secretary of the district board of education.

Johannis P. Hoback (1836-1863), a native of Floyd County, Virginia, was the delegate from McDowell County to the Constitutional Convention. Johannis Hoback was a school teacher at Crany between 1850-60, and he married Mary Martha Cook (1842-1930), a daughter of James “Squire Jim” and Emily Shannon Cooke and granddaughter of William and Catherine Stewart Cooke.

He was admitted to the convention at Wheeling on January 21, 1862, based on a petition from Flat Top Mountain. Johannis P. Hoback died in February of 1863, either in Wheeling or while traveling home from the convention. He was buried at Brownstown, now Marmet, in Kanawha County, which was the farthest extension of steamboat navigation on the Kanawha River.

Johannis and Mary M. Cooke Hoback were the parents of twins which died in infancy. The Hoback family, which had settled in Raleigh County, ca1854, moved to Gallia County, Ohio, and Mary Martha Cooke Hoback later married Thomas B. Cook, son of John D. and Nancy Mullins Cooke. Thomas B. and Mary M. (Cook) Cook moved to Raleigh County, reared a large family, and lived their entire lives at Damron.

Richard Locke Brooks (1810-1895), the son of Richard and Margaret Clancy Brooks and younger brother of William Brooks, was the delegate from Upshur County to the Constitutional Convention. Both his father, Richard Brooks (1774-1853), and his older brother, William Brooks (1795-1866), lived at Crany, where both were buried.

Richard Locke Brooks was a Methodist preacher, having been licensed in 1834, and served circuits in the southern, central and northern sections of the state. Brooks was one of the two delegates who wanted to name the new state “Western Virginia.” He lived at Shelbyville, Upshur County, and was buried on the family farm there.

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Note: Only a few copies of “From Cabins To Coal Mines, 1799-1999, Volume I” remain available. Cost is now $35, which includes tax, at the Wyoming County Historical Museum in Oceana, open Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. until noon, and Saturday from 9 a.m until 4 p.m.

Additionally, a few copies of Volume II are now available for $40.

Add $5 for postage costs to have either book mailed. The books have been reprinted by the Wyoming County Historical Museum Board of Directors.

To order, contact Betsy Ross, board treasurer, at 304-732-6995; or write her at P.O. Box 411, Pineville, WV 24874; or by e-mail at brross311@yahoo.com.

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