The Arnold Family with my grandmother Mamie (Arnold) Cotton (front row left) and my grandfather, Elmer Cotton (front row, second from left).

Some people are born into a family with an inherited a well-documented family history. This was not the case for me. To tell the truth, I never really thought much about it until my father passed away in 1990. My mother moved into a new home we built in Austin, TX and we were going through some old family photos when we came across a letter to my father’s father, Elmer Cotton. I knew very little about my father’s family because everyone had died when he was young. To my knowledge, I had no living Cotton relatives. The letter read:

June 18, 1928

Re: Cotton Genealogy

Dear Brother Elmer:

It has been some time since I heard from you and I wonder how you all are.  We are all well and have no reason to complain as to the way the world is using us.

I have recently become interested in the genealogy of the Cotton Family but find I am lacking in some information needed to complete the line. My brother, your Uncle Robert, knows more about it, I guess, than anybody else in the family.  Can you give me his present address?  I want to write to him but since his marriage have not heard from him and do not know at the present time his post office address.  Perhaps you or Otho can help me in respect to the following information.

As I understand it, our recent genealogy runs as follows:

Our great grandfather was John Cotton, who after the Revolutionary War, moved to Austentown, Ohio, where he died February 1, 1831.  His wife was Lucy Little, who died at Austentown October 9, 1835.

Our grandfather was Joshua T. Cotton, who was born at Plymouth, Massachusetts and died at Ossian, Indiana, in 1856.  I understand our grandmother was a Williamson, who was born in Ohio.  Do you know what her full name was; when she was born; and when she died?

Do you know when and where our father, John Cotton, was born?  I know that he died at Heller’s Corners, Allen County, Indiana, in January 1881.  I would like to know the exact date.

I know that your mother’s name was Eliza A. Knox and that she died in May 1922.  Otho W. and Lola (Mrs. A. W. Jackson) and you are the surviving children of that marriage.  I have not heard from Otho for years.  Does he live near you?  I would write him too if I knew his exact address.  Lola, I understands, lives in Fenville, Michigan.  If possible, let me have Robert Cotton’s addresses and give me as much of the above information as you can and as soon as possible.

With my cordial best wishes and kindest regards to you and your family and Otho and his family, and hoping to hear form you soon, believe me.

Faithfully yours,

signed Joseph B. Cotton

To-  Mr. Elmer K. Cotton, Churubusco, Indiana

Based on this letter, I started to investigate my Cotton family line and after over thirty years of research, I have proven the Cotton Family Genealogy back to the mid-16th century and have had our genealogy confirmed by the Descendants of the Mayflower, the Order of Founders & Patriots and at least ten other lineage societies. In addition, I have undergone extensive DNA testing to determine the ancient origins of the male line of my Cotton origins.

What follows in the FAMILY HISTORY menu are the DNA origins of my Cotton line from 1000BC to about 1100AD. Followed by Cotton Family origins from 1125AD to 1344AD to the genealogically proven Cotton Line for 11 generations beginning 1520.