The Coons (Cuntze) family originated in Germany and can be traced to one
Henchin Cuntze about 1500. They came from Musen, in the Province
of Nassau-Siegen, where Cuntz were still living around the turn
of the century.
Rich iron deposits were discovered in the New World in large tracts
in a region of Spotsylvania, now Orange County, Virginia. The
German Governor, Alexander Spotswood, sought to develop the deposits
and enrich himself, as well as ingratiate the same to the Crown.
Governor Spotswood counseled with the Baron de Graffenreid, who
was in Virginia, and decided to get miners from Germany to build
the facilities, extract the ore, operate furnaces, and all other
employments involved in iron works. Through his influence the
Baron arranged to get miners to Virginia from the Village of Musen,
a mining locality since the 14th century, in Nassau-Siegen.
The scheme was effectuated and the miners arrived in Virginia
in 1714. They were settled by the Governor in Germania by April
of that year and became the first German Colony to settle in Virginia.
There they built cabins, a blockhouse, furnaces, and dug ore for
The Governor's methods induced their move, in about 1720, to Germantown,
later Fauquier City, where they acquired land and began farming.
Meanwhile, other German Colonists arrived in Virginia. Each group
brought its religious faith and gradually those of the German
Reformed Church settled in Germantown Fauquier and those of the
Lutheran Faith eventually moved to Robinson's River.
The first group of miners, twelve heads of families, to reach
Virginia were of the German Reformed Faith, one of which was Jacob
Cuntz (Coons), uncle of "our" Joseph Coons, who emigrated to Virginia
in 1737. (Working in the Governor's mining operation was an obvious
way to get to the New World, but other employments for the Governor
also brought many to Virginia.)
1. Joseph Cuntz
Joseph Coons was an iron worker in Germany, and through arrangements
with Governor Spotswood came to Virginia, as an iron worker, in
2. Jacob Coons
Jacob, his son, and father of 3. Martin Coons, was born in Virginia. He was also a soldier of the Revolutionary
War. Deed records show a John Davis sold a tract of land, 150
acres, to Jacob Coons and heirs on the 12th day of October 1796,
for the sum of one hundred and sixty five pounds in gold and silver.
The land was in Clark County, Kentucky, and part of a military
(Clark County, Kentucky was formed in 1793. Records in Montgomery
County, cut out of Clark County in 1797, were destroyed in 1863,
but Clark County records were preserved.)
Martin Coons was likely born in Virginia about 1775. It is not certain when
his father left Virginia, but from the deed reference above he
was in Kentucky, buying land in 1796.
By that time Martin was a young man and during this period met
and married Mary "Polly" Lock in Jefferson, Kentucky, near present
day Louisville. Shortly thereafter they migrated to the Missouri
Territory and settled in the New Madrid District, in what became
known as the "bootheel" region.
By February 27, 1806 he made claim to 1100 arpents* of land situated
on Bayou St. John, district of New Madrid. Testimony taken March
15, 1806 revealed he had a wife and five children in 1803 and
cultivated eight or nine acres. After further testimony, the Board
denied his claim.
He probably continued to reside on the premises and cultivate
the fields he claimed, but without ownership. When the violent
earthquake occurred in 1811 it destroyed what property and work
they had achieved and may have induced their departure from Missouri.
They arrived some time before 1821 to make their new residence
in Jackson County, Tennessee.
For unknown reasons Martin and part of his family quit Jackson
County and proceeded to Illinois (Probably to get some of that
cheap Government land in southern Illinois; some of the family
already had.), but he later applied for a land grant through the
state of Kentucky.
Martin received the grant, but before it was finalized (so one
version of the story goes), embarked on a trip to Hamilton County,
Illinois, down the Mississippi River from St. Louis, aboard a
paddle boat. He disappeared en route and was apparently never
heard from again. It is presumed he fell overboard and drown.
His body was never recovered
(Note: A record of a Private Martin Coons from Hamilton County, Illinois
in Capt. Halls Company, 3 Reg't, 1 Brig., Ill. Mtd. Vols, during
the Black Hawk War (1832) was probably Martin, Jr. He would have
been about the right age then.)
Martin and Mary Coons engendered 13 children. Elizabeth E. Coons,
their second child, married Obediah Hudson, Jr. (III), about 1821
in Jackson County Tennessee.
Obadiah was a farmer and in 1825 received a grant for 100 acres
of land in Jackson County, Tennessee. He and Elizabeth lived near
North Springs, Jackson County, Tennessee where they raised their
family and lived out their days.
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