Mary Ann Lamar Cobb
Mary Ann Lamar Cobb (1818-1889) married the prominent Athenian politician Howell Cobb, with whom she had twelve children. The six surviving children became leaders in late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Athens. Mary Ann served as a leader in the First Baptist Church of Athens and the Athens Ladies Aid Society, which united wealthy Athenian women to support Confederate soldiers.
Mary Ann Lamar (1818-1889), the only daughter of wealthy Milledgeville planter and entrepreneur, Zachariah Lamar and Mary Ann Robinson Lamar, enjoyed the benefits of living amid Georgia’s economic elite all of her life. She attended Dr. Brown’s boarding school in Scottsboro, several miles south of her Milledgeville home. There, she learned the arts that refined women of the day into capable wives for Georgia’s planters, lawyers, politicians, and businessmen. These skills included sewing, needlepoint, and making wax flowers in addition to more traditional subjects. Her inheritance – nearly one hundred slaves and thousands of acres of land – and education attracted the attention of Howell Cobb, a law student from Athens, whom she married in 1835 at the age of seventeen.
Mary Ann flourished as the wife of a rising attorney and politician. The couple constructed a large and impressive house on Prince Avenue and quickly began a family. Their union produced twelve children, six of whom survived to adulthood. Bankrupted by the Panic of 1837, the couple lost their new home along with many of their possessions as a sheriff’s auction in 1843. After residing at Cobb’s father’s plantation in Walton County for several years, the couple purchased a six-room cottage on Hill Street from Athens merchant Watkins Baynon. At her brother John B. Lamar’s insistence, Mary Ann and Howell constructed a Greek Revival mansion on the lot.
Mary Ann often lived here with her children and servants during Howell’s frequent absences during his service as congressman and governor. The family occasionally joined Howell in Washington – especially during his tenure as Speaker of the House of Representatives and as Secretary of the Treasury in the Buchanan administration. During her husband’s extended absences, she usually spent her winters in Macon with her brother.
While her husband and three sons served in the Confederacy, Mary Ann joined the Athens Ladies Aid Society, which formed in an effort to help Confederate soldiers in combat and those wounded in battle. She and other elite women made clothes, bandages, and packages of both treats and necessities.
Mary Ann experienced indifferent health throughout her life, prone to bouts of melancholia, neuralgia, and poor eyesight. By 1887, her health declined more rapidly after “suffer[ing] from a partial paralysis of the brain.” She died on November 27, 1889.