FLUVANNA HISTORY #84
Fluvanna's John Hartwell Cocke
by Stuart L. Butler and David W. C. Bearr
"General Cocke and the War of 1812" by Stuart L. Butler
"The Timberlake Alliance" by David W. C. Bearr
(With Endnotes and Bibliography)
John Hartwell Cocke looms large in nineteenth century Fluvanna history, and there seems no end to his accomplishments both in the county and beyond. He was an architect of homes, churches, and public buildings which are landmarks in Fluvanna today. His Temperance Temple at Bremo inspired the design for the entrance to the State Capitol Visitors' Center in Richmond that opened in 2007. Cocke was a leader in educating slaves, evangelizing them, and planning for their emancipation. He was at the forefront of scientific agricultural practices and president of the Virginia Temperance Society. At Thomas Jefferson's request, he served on the board that established the University of Virginia and the school's first Board of Visitors. As a member of the board that built the James River and Kanawha Canal, he helped open central Virginia for greater commerce and travel.
Previous publications of the Fluvanna Historical Society feature many facets of Cocke's life, but not until now have they been able to document the record of his military career that gave him the title of General as featured in Stuart L. Butler's article, "General Cocke and the War of 1812."
"The Timberlake Alliance" by David W. C. Bearr reveals that, despite his well-known disdain for politics and refusal to accept any political office at the state level, Cocke made a significant exception for his home county. In Fluvanna he served on the Board of Justices for many years and his role in government was sufficient to gain him both praise and criticism. In the Reverend Walker Timberlake he found a kindred spirit not only in politics but also in business, educational and social reform, and religion.