Who is the ‘Cobb’ in Cobb County?

an outline map of Cobb County -- green within a yellow circleImage created with Inkscape by the Cobb County Courier

One of the first articles published in the Cobb County Courier, under its original name River Edges, was entitled “How did Cobb County get its name?”

It was a short article, because, frankly, Thomas Willis Cobb, the county’s namesake, was not a person with a great deal of long-lasting historical impact. And he was not from Cobb County, but from Greensboro, Georgia in Greene County.

Cobb was a cousin of the much-better-known Howell Cobb, a Confederate general and congressman.

Probably the most compelling explanation for Cobb County being named after him was he was a one-term U.S. Senator who died in 1830. Cobb County was formed in 1832, and Cobb’s time in the senate and his death were fresh on the minds of Georgia legislators.

He served terms in Congress representing the district surrounding Greensboro, GA, from 1817 to 1821, and after losing an election, was reelected for another term in 1822. In 1824 he was elected to the Senate, and served until 1828.

Not surprisingly for a southern senator in the 1820s, he was an avid proponent of human enslavement.

Long-standing rumor has it that Cobb’s county seat Marietta was named after his daughter, Mary, but there are at least two competing rumors for the origin of the name, including that it’s a combination of “Mary” and “Etta,” and that Marietta, Georgia was actually named after the town of the same name in Ohio, founded in 1788.

Cobb died in 1830, two years after his resignation from the U.S. Senate, and is buried in Greensboro City Cemetery.

The inscription on his grave reads:

Sacred to the memory of the Honorable Thomas W. Cobb, who departed this life on Monday 1st February 1830 in the 46th year of his age. He had been at successive periods a Representative and Senator in the Congress of the United States, and was at the time of his death a judge of the Superior Courts of the State of Georgia. In his domestic circle he was fond and affectionate. As a friend he was ardent and devoted. As a man, honorable, generous, and sincere. As a statesman, independent, and inflexible. As a judge, pure, and incorruptible. Amiable in private, and useful in public life, his death was a deep affliction to his children, his friends, and his country. “An honest man’s the noblest work of God.”

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