Samuel Cobb was the first of the settlers from Westmoreland, N.H. to arrive in Coventry. He was
a blacksmith by trade who pitched on lot 11 which extended from the interstate towards the Barton River
just north of Day cemetery on Pine Hill Rd. He was a veteran of various campaigns in the Revolutionary War
including the 6th Company expedition to Canada in 1776 and the May 1777 alarum to defend Fort
Ticonderoga. He was also attached to Colonel Starks army at the
BATTLE OF BENNINGTON
as a gunsmith.
As a founding settler in Coventry, Cobb was instrumental in the formation of the town. At the first town meeting in 1803 he was elected Selectman, Treasurer and Highway Surveyor. The first school in town was temporarily setup in Cobb's cornbarn in 1803. He setup a blacksmithing shop and for many years was the only smith in northern Orleans County.
In his 1858 history of the the town of Coventry, Pliny White spends five pages going into great detail about the Cobb family.
Tisdale Cobb's family consisted only of himself and wife (Sarah Pierce;) and Samuel's of
himself, his wife, three sons, and four daughters. The sons were Samuel Jr., Hanover, and
Nathaniel;: the daughters were Silence, Lattice C., Arabella, and Sabrina. Until the arrival
of Mrs. Cobb, the first comers had no baking apparatus whatever, and were obliged to go to Mr.
Newhall's in Brownington, about a mile, to do all their baking. Silence Cobb was usually the
messenger on these errands, and had as her constant companion through the lonely woods, a
large black dog, which being a very docile animal, she taught to do pack horse duty, in
carrying to and fro on his back the bags of meal or of bread.
These fathers of the town were noteworthy men, and it will be amiss not to give some detailed account of them. Samuel Cobb was a native of Taunton, Mass., born Sept. 3d,. 1753. He learned the blacksmith's trade, in which he became an ingenious and skilful workman. In early life he removed to Westmoreland, N.H., where he was one of the pioneer settlers. On the breaking out of the revolutionary war, he enlisted in the army of independence, and rendered efficient service as a soldier and a gunsmith. While in the army he acquired much distinction for his prodigious strength and his: great skill in wrestling, an exercise in which our athletic ancestors very freely indulged. Tradition says that on one occasion when a wrestling match was held to determine the championship of that division of the army to which he belonged, he was victorious over all competitors. He was connected with Stark's army at the battle of Bennington, but did not engage in the fight, being occupied in repairing the, disabled guns of the other soldiers. At one time, he and his brother Simeon were enrolled as minute men, and Simeon: having been summoned to the field, had prepared his knapsack and gun and was about to start, when Samuel thought he discovered some hesitation in his brother, and asked him if he would rather stay at home, to which he frankly replied that he would. Samuel caught up the equipments and started instantly, not even stopping to bid good-bye to his newly married wife, who from the window watched his departure. Inquiry was afterwards made of her how she felt to see her husband going on such a dangerous expedition. Her reply was in the spirit of a Spartan woman "I didn't cry a bit: let him do his duty." He continued in the army till nearly or quite the close of the war. When he emigrated to Coventry, he was the very model of a pioneer-in the prime of life, with an iron constitution, inured to all sorts of hardships, fatigue, and exposure, and endowed with strength, activity, and energy, adequate to any emergency. His hands made the first inroads upon the forest and raised the first dwelling-house of civilized man in this town. Hel lived to -see his infant settlement become a populous and thriving community; and, having lived a long and useful life, he died Dec. 19th, 1839, at the ripe, old age of eighty-six. His remains rest in the grave-yard near where he lived, and by his side reposes his wife, who died April 6th, 1814.
Samuel Cobb's gravestone in the Day Cemetery, Coventry, Vt.
His children inherited their father's strength and activity and their mother's spirit. Samuel
Jr., even surpassed his father in physical power, and was possessed of a strength truly
gigantic. He was six feet and two inches tall, weighed 230 pounds, was perfectly proportioned,
and had not an ounce of surplus flesh. Tradition tells of many of his feats and some of them
are not unworthy of a more permanent record. At the raising of Jotham Pierce's barn, young
Cobb, then only eighteen years old, took one of the corner posts, a green beech stick, twelve
feet long, fourteen inches by nine at one end and slightly tapering, which he shouldered,
carried to its place, and setting the foot tenon in its mortise, raised the post to its proper
position. On another occasion, several persons were testing their strength by lifting fifty-six
pound weights strung on an iron bar. The strongest of them was able, by using both hands and
exerting all his power, to raise eight of these weights a very slight distance from the floor.
At this moment, Cobb came in, and seeing what was going on, took hold of the bar, and, making
some preliminary trials, that he might get it well balanced, raised it with one hand and
carried it about the room, "as easily," to use the words of an eye-witness, "as a common man
would carry a pail of water." The whole weight was not much less than 475 pounds. In wrestling,
no man could stand before him. It is said that he was never thrown but once. A Montreal
wrestler came a long distance to try a grapple with the Yankee champion. Cobb underrated his
antagonist, and, handling himself carelessly, was thrown, to his infinite chagrin and the
equal elation of his adversary. He soon, however, took ample redress for his temporary defeat.
The Canadian, confident of winning new laurels, said to him, " The trip that I threw you with
was a new one, that you probably never saw before. If you're a mind to take hold again, I'll
show you how I do it." This was just what Cobb wanted. Planting himself squarely on the ground,
he stood up, straight and immoveable, while his opponent tripped, and twitched, and jerked,
all to no purpose, except to show his own incompetency. " That's the way you do it, is it?"
said Cobb at length, "now I will show you how I do it;" and, suiting the action to the word,
with a single touch of his foot he hurled the Canadian to the earth, and repeated the operation
as often as the prostrate man arose, till the crest-fallen wrestler was glad to cry "enough."
Silence Cobb, the oldest daughter, was also of extraor- dinary strength. She lived for a while with Hon. Elijah Strong of Brownington. One day, William Baxter, Esq., then a young lawyer, boarding at Mr. Strong's, attempted to roll into the house one of those huge back-logs, with which our ancestors were wont to lay the foundation of their fires, but he was not equal to the task. Silence laughed at him for his weakness, and said " If I was a man, I'd pick up that stick, and bring it in." Somewhat nettled by her jeers, he replied, "If you'll carry it in, I will give you a new silk dress." She took him at his word, seized the stick, easily carried it in, and deposited it in the fire-place. The dress, however, was not forthcoming for many years. After she had married and removed from Coventry, she returned for a visit and was invited to Mr. Baxter's. As she was about to leave the house, he put in her hand a slip of paper, which proved to be an order on the Brownington merchant for the best dress pattern to be found in his store. The other children of Samuel Cobb, though of less remarkable strength, and all the first settlers, male and female were of more than ordinary physical ability, and, being of athletic frames and rugged constitutions, were admirably qualified to encounter the hardships of a settlement in the wilderness. Hardships they had to endure, and those neither few nor small. It was no light task to conquer the primeval forest, nor was it easy even to procure needful food for themselves and their animals while the work of clearing was going on.
Pliny White, History of Coventry, Vermont.
1. - Pliny White, History of Coventry, Vermont, 1858, Irasburgh, VT