Christina’s Challenges

Week 10: #52 Ancestors – Strong Woman

By Eilene Lyon

As I research my family history, it amazes me what trials and tribulations my ancestors went through. It’s a rare female in my tree I would not describe as a “strong woman.” These women were tough as a rule. (Just the clothes they had to wear intimidates the heck out of me – as I sit here in my jammies.)

I’ve written very little about my few family lines with southern roots. These all come down to me through my grandmother, Clare Ransom Davis. Those families include: Davis, Livengood, Mock, Taggart, Hoover, and Hamilton. They all appear to have settled in western North Carolina prior to the Revolution. Many of them owned enslaved persons. I know nothing of their European origins.

Christina Mock, a 3rd great-grandmother to me, was born in Rowan County (later split off to form Davidson County) on February 2, 1813.1 She lived in the small community of Fair Grove, which is now part of Thomasville, North Carolina. She was the second of thirteen children born to David and Elizabeth (Hoover) Mock.

MockDavid3
Headstones for Elizabeth (Hoover) and David Mock in New Hope Cemetery, Lafayette County, Missouri. (E. Lyon 2012)

Upon the formation of Davidson County in 1822, David Mock attained the position of Clerk of County Courts, a position he held for eleven years.2 Christina’s older brother, Charles W. Mock, and his second wife later established a female seminary in the county.3 From these two facts, I deduce that members of the Mock family were well-educated. David Mock owned two enslaved people in 1830 (possibly a married couple), but none in 1840 or 1850.4

Christina married Dr. Hamilton Cunningham Davis in North Carolina on January 23, 1834.5 Her first child, my 2nd great-grandfather Melville Cox Davis, was born in Lafayette County, Missouri, the following April.6 Therefore it’s likely the couple, along with their extended families, migrated sometime in 1834. How they covered the thousand mile distance is unknown. They may have taken a wagon train, or possibly gone by sea to New Orleans and up the Mississippi River.

MarriageBond
North Carolina Marriage bond for Hamilton C. Davis to Christina Mock.

Dr. Davis acquired substantial land holdings in Lafayette and Johnson Counties, and is also credited with building the first mill in Freedom Township.7 He owned six slaves in 1840.8 In 1842, Dr. Davis, along with his father-in-law David Mock and others, established the Methodist Episcopal Church in Freedom Township, called Freedom Chapel.9 The Town of Freedom had been laid out by Franklin Mock, Christina’s brother. The irony of men committed to the institution of slavery calling their town “Freedom” was apparently lost on them.

Christina and Hamilton Davis had four more children, two sons and two daughters. Dr. Davis, though, was not long for the world. He died intestate on December 31, 1847 (exactly 114 years to the day before I was born), just 45 years old.10

Christina’s children at that time ranged in age from two to twelve years old. Though her mother had died two years previous, she had plenty of family nearby to help. And her enslaved people. In the 1850 census, they were enumerated as a 50-year-old male, a 32-year-old female, a 4-year-old male and a 1-year-old female.11

Sadly for Christina, just shy of the first anniversary of the loss of her husband, her youngest child, 3-year-old Charles, died. The boy was buried with his father and they share a headstone.12 When I visited the cemetery in 2012, I was shaken by Christina’s grief as I stood next to this hallowed ground, knowing she had stood right there, consigning her loved ones to the cold hard earth.

On June 24, 1852, Christina married a second time.13 Her husband was Mordecai M. Cooke, a native of Kentucky, four years her junior and apparently a bachelor. Cooke opened an early mercantile and post office in Lafayette County. Together, they had a son, Edward D. Cooke, in the summer of 1855. And that December (oh, cruel month!), Christina buried another loved one, her little baby boy.14

But December would not forever be Christina’s bane. Melville married in December 1857 and her son, Joseph H. Davis, wed in October of the following year. Her daughter, Elizabeth, also married in 1858. All three couples had babies in December 1859 – Christina’s first grandchildren. All three little girls had very long lives.

The next trial in Christina’s life would be very difficult, indeed. Missouri suffered the tragedy of being torn asunder from within during the Civil War. It contained substantial factions supporting both sides of the conflict. Not surprisingly, her son Melville and son-in-law, John M. Livengood, enlisted for the Confederacy.

Melville had a change of heart during the war and surrendered voluntarily to Union Troops and became a prisoner of war. Christina urged Mordecai to help get her son released from the hellhole that was Alton Prison in Illinois. He wrote a letter to the Provost Marshall General for Missouri (Union) to obtain the necessary paperwork to get his stepson released on an oath and bond.15

Fold3_Page_3 Oath of Allegiance
Letter from Mordecai M. Cooke regarding his stepson, Melville C. Davis. Though the date appears to be 1860, it was written in 1864. (Fold3)

Even when the war was finally over, and her enslaved people set free, Christina had more grief in store. Her daughter, Elizabeth (Davis) Livengood, passed away in 1866. She is buried near her father and little brother in New Hope Cemetery.16

Christina left this life on November 29, 1873 at the age of 60. Mordecai outlived her by 23 years.17 At the time of her death, Christina had 16 living grandchildren, and more were to come. She left many, many descendants.

MockChristena3
Headstone for Christina Mock Davis Cooke in New Hope Cemetery, Lafayette County, Missouri. (E. Lyon 2012)

Feature image: New Hope Cemetery in Lafayette County, Missouri, originally the Freedom Chapel Cemetery. (E. Lyon 2012)


  1. Date from headstone in New Hope Cemetery in Lafayette County, Missouri. Personal visit. 
  2. Leonard, Jacob Calvin. 1927. Centennial History of Davidson County, North Carolina. Edwards & Broughton Co., Raleigh, p. 47 – available at familysearch.org. 
  3. Ibid. p. 358. 
  4. David Mock. 1830; Census Place: Davidson, North Carolina; Series: M19; Roll: 120; Page: 234; Family History Library Film: 0018086 – via Ancestry.com. 
  5. North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC. North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. 
  6. Birth date and location from headstone in Moscow Cemetery, Moscow, Idaho; personal visit. 
  7. Missouri Historical Company, St. Louis. 1881. History of Lafayette County, Mo. p. 429. 
  8. H.C. Davis. Year: 1840; Census Place: Lafayette, Missouri; Roll: 224; Page: 148; Family History Library Film: 0014856 – via Ancestry.com. 
  9. See note 7. 
  10. Date from headstone in New Hope Cemetery (originally Freedom Chapel Cemetery); personal visit. 
  11. Christina Davis. Ancestry.com. 1850 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. 
  12. Headstone in New Hope Cemetery; personal visit. 
  13. Christina Davis and Mordecai M. Cooke. Missouri Marriage Records. Jefferson City, MO, USA: Missouri State Archives. Microfilm – via Ancestry.com. 
  14. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/112797014 
  15. Oath of Allegience for Melville Cox Davis at Fold3, page 3 of 12. 
  16. Headstone in New Hope Cemetery; personal visit. 
  17. Ibid. 

19 thoughts on “Christina’s Challenges

Add yours

  1. I think the narrative that women were somehow less than back inside those times is laughable. These women endured unimaginable hardships, overcame all kinds of obstacles and yes, they were the anchors. Heck, they endured stuff that would have left the strongest man in THIS day and age on his knees.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My grandmother left a cryptic little note on a Davis family tree her mother drew up. It just says, “Mock – suffragette.” I couldn’t find any evidence of a women’s rights movement in Lafayette County, though that movement took off back east about the time Christina was widowed (and learned the hard way about her lack of rights). There was an organization across the state in St. Louis, but it sputtered out pretty quickly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Women have always been the backbone, but were not recognized for it, as they were the property of their husbands. I found the names quite interesting “Freedom”, I was thinking the same as you about the contradiction. Then “New Hope Cemetery”…I’m not so sure that would have been the thoughts of Christina as she stood there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I haven’t heard it pronounced that way, so you are probably right. The only place I seemed to find her name spelled that way was on the stone, so I’m not entirely sure which way it should be. Thus I defaulted to the standard spelling.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well som aspects are pretty interesting. Nice to see you had some freethinkers in the line back then. surrendered voluntarily to Union Troops and became a prisoner of war”, instead of being an indoctrinated sheeple to his death. The prison life then was almost as bad as the war, maybe worse. And Missouri? Well not much good came out of that place ever, let alone the war. Hah!!

        Liked by 1 person

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