Langley, the William M. Cocke Estate

The William Cocke House was probably built soon after Cocke purchased the 300 acre tract from Frederick Kearns on October 8, 1847. This beautiful estate is situated in a fertile valley along Richland Creek; this land was occupied as early as 1796 when Michael Kearns purchased the property from one Christian Rhodes.

Langley Estate

A familiar landmark to the community, the Cocke House stands as an excellent example of the Greek Revival style of architecture as displayed in East Tennessee. Langley is a beautiful Antebellum home built by William M. Cocke in 1850, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places since1973. Langley is situated on 6.13 acres of land and is privately owned;and is currently listed with a local Real Estate office for sale. The ten-room house is located east of Rutledge about 9 miles on Route 2. Welcoming one’s sight though the front entry-way, the spiral staircase takes the visitor’s sight up toward the second floor of bedrooms; along the foyer, and the parlor with its beautiful chandelier are just some of the spectacular features of this showplace.

Langley Interior

Langley stands as an ever present reminder of Grainger County’s political history; William M. Cocke was the grandson of General William Cocke who served as a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1796, circuit Court Judge, member of Tennessee General Assembly and the man for whom Cocke County, Tennessee. William’s father, Sterling Cocke represented Grainger County in the State House from 1815-1817, elected State Senate 1717-1819,and served as Attorney General for Tennessee’s 1st District from 1818-1833.The only child of Sterling and his first wife, Eliza T. Massengill Cocke,William Michael Cocke, born in Rutledge, Tennessee, on July 16, 1815, graduated from East Tennessee State College in Knoxville. He studied law and upon admission to the bar, returned to Rutledge to begin his legal practice.

Politically a Democrat, Cocke spent much of his adult life holding some type of elected office. Cocke was clerk of Grainger County Circuit Court from 1840-1845. He was elected to the State House of Representatives, serving from March 4, 1845 to March 3, 1849. He was later elected to the State Senate serving from 1855-1857. Cocke served in the 31st General Assembly in the second session of 1855-1896, replacing Christopher Hitch, who had resigned; representing Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, and Grainger counties as a Democrat. William Cocke had an uncle, John Cocke, who also served as a member of the Tennessee General Assembly.

On January 15, 1835, he married his first cousin, Sarah Frances Cocke,daughter of Willis and Margaret E. Rogers Cocke. They had seven children:Elisabeth T. (Mrs. William H. Turley), Charles, William M., Sarah Frances(Mrs. J. E. Rankin), Emma (Mrs. John Strong), Ellis, and Mary B. Cocke (Mrs. William D. Wadsworth). His second wife was Amanda Grigsby and his third Noel; no children by second nor third wife. From 1859-1865, he resided in Asheville, NC. About 1872, he moved to Lexington, Ky, and from there to Nashville, in Davidson County. He died in Nashville on February 6, 1896; buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Nashville.

In November 1858, Cocke sold his property to James T. Carmichael and moved his family to Asheville, NC, for the duration of the Civil War. The house was the scene of considerable activities throughout the war. While Union troops camped along Richland Creek, the Cocke House was used as a field hospital.

Langley Entrance

This document was found on the Hawkins County TNGenWeb site, where it was used with permission of Ganell Marshall in 1998. Copyright of the article is held by her.

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