SAMUEL A.J. Cockayne, a lifelong resident of Glen Dale, was a recluse during the latter part of his life, but he contributed a great deal to enlighten others.
He served his country during World War II in the South Pacific and earned nine battle stars. Cockayne mastered the Morse Code and light signals to serve in the 75th Signal Corps during the war, and Nila Chaddock of the Cockayne Preservation Committee reports that his letters to family reveal concerns that his elderly parents could handle the farmwork on the Cockayne Homestead.
WHEN Cockayne died in 2001, he left the 1850s farmhouse and its large collection of 19th and 20th century Cockayne furnishings, portraits and other memorabilia to the city of Glen Dale. City officials leased the property to the Marshall County Historical Society for its preservation efforts.
The World War II veteran had used only two rooms of the farmhouse as his living quarters, shutting off the rest of the house with its furnishings and memorabilia. He had only very primitive electrical, plumbing and heating resources.
Extensive work was necessary and much has been done to preserve the stately farmhouse, which had been a showplace when the Cockayne family had a internationally recognized Merino wool-producing farm.
Discoveries have been made over the years, including artwork, and some of the documents are extraordinary such as a handbill from the 1860 political election.
Grants have been obtained to help with the preservation. Archaeological digs have been underway on the property, and help has been obtained from varied sources such as institutions of higher learning, both in West Virginia and Ohio.
It also provides a learning experience for area students.
The farmstead, located across from John Marshall High School, is worth a visit for a step back in history. Under normal conditions, it is open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and those wishing to tour the house are advised to arrive on the hour. Those planning to visit are to call 304-845-1411.
COCKAYNE'S legacy has been significant to understanding the 1880s.
He also had his own method of preserving a reminder of the prehistoric Ohio Valley
Cockayne protected a prehistoric mound, which was reunited with the property in 2005, from would-be intruders by shooting rock salt from his shotgun in their direction.