The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 20, July 1916 - April, 1917 Page: 39
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The Author of the Homestead Exemption Law
Then casting his eyes around without any more ado, he earnestly
inquired: "Where ish mine meal?" It was shown to him, under
his head, and taking it up he retired to his apartments.20
Wahrenberger, familiarly known to early citizens of Austin as
"Dutch John," whose simple Swiss fidelity to his meal sack pos-
sibly saved his life, became reconciled to life in Texas. He pros-
pered here, and his family became a leading one in the develop-
ment of the city. But for his employer and rescuer evil days
were to darken over a future which then seemed filled with
promise. Something of his history may be traced from the land
records of Travis County. In 1843, he appears to. have con-
veyed a tract of land on the Colorado to James S. Mayfield, a
lawyer, to defend him against two indictments for murder in that
county,-one for killing Mark B. Lewis, and the other for kill-
ing Alex. Payton.21 The records do not show that any such in-
dictments were returned against him, and their mention in the
deed may have been as something anticipated.
The deed records also give some information as to his family.
His wife's name was Mary A., and they left four children sur-
viving: Cora K. (Cooke) Rice, wife of Horatio H. Rice, of
White Pigeon, Michigan; Louis P. Cooke, Jr., of Robertson
County; Mary A. (Cooke) Hardy; and Virginia B. (Cooke)
(Phelps) Talbot, of Travis County, all of whom were still liv-
ing in 1871. Descendants or relatives probably still live in.
Louis P. Cooke thus appears as a picturesque figure in the stir-
ring times of the Republic. His name deserves to be rescued
from oblivion; it may be hard to find another who, by such a
brief career as a legislator, ever left so broad and deepening a
mark upon jurisprudence.
The distinction of having been the father of the homestead
law has been claimed on behalf of others than Louis P. Cooke.
The writer has heard it attributed to Isaac Van Zandt, a bril-
liant figure, for all too brief a time, in the early history of
20Morphis, History of Texas, 438, 439. The same incident is related
in Wilbarger's Indian Depredations in Texas, 271.
"Deed Records, Travis County, Book B, 407.
"Ibid., Book V, 597, 598, 695-698.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 20, July 1916 - April, 1917, periodical, 1917; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101070/m1/45/: accessed September 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.