Preface and Introductory Pages
The primary aim of this publication is to correct the numerous errors found in other genealogical research on the three eighteenth century men in southwestern Pennsylvania named Michael Cox. Often confused throughout history as having been one, or at best, two individuals, the compiler of this research sets out to prove their distinctness in the hopes that future researchers will not commit the same errors.
Whether spelled Cock, Cocks, Cocke, Cockes, Koch, Kocher, or Cox, the name usually spells out a real cocky character—a near prerequisite for pioneers, moving into rugged frontier lands. In one of my father’s letters to me, he wrote, "Our folks were slightly askew, tilted, different." Some of us Coxes are outright misfits, while others merely have gypsy feet. There have been prohibitionists and bootleggers alike; a few soldiers, a few Indian-fighters, a few watermelon peddlers. They have done odd things, and odd things have happened to them. These pages contain handsome stories demonstrating our characters’ character.
Sometime between 1892 and 1896, a boy, named William Cox and his siblings were mysteriously separated from their parents. Presumably, young William never saw his parents again. He spent the rest of his childhood with an Indian family, whom he later left once adult. What were the secrets of his life? Who were his parents? How did the separation occur? Where, when and how did his parents die? Once my father began asking these questions, he then had to ask a whole host of others before ever being able to solve the mystery about his grandfather’s origins. And this launched the book you hold in your hands.
Like so many other genealogical works, this work has the obvious aim of connecting the researcher to all his ancestors bearing the same name, as far back in history as possible. A second aim is to connect fellow Cox-researchers, and to place them in the family perspective. Thirdly, only hard, documented facts should find their way in these pages. Although in possession of hordes of "maybes", the researcher has excluded most of them in the interest of clarity.
However, the most intriguing hypotheses and unanswered questions have been retained. It is the "maybes" that spur us on to investigate and to find the truth out. Often, the discovery of completely unrelated information allows our imagination to take off, providing us with the "maybes," which may in turn, allow us to unravel the mysteries, and obtain the truth.
The Michael Cox who married Lady Jeruthea Ann Brooks was by no means the son of Isaac, nor the son of Ruben, nor of Sir Peter Cox. Absolute, positive proof of this has been found. He was the son of Michael Cox (Cocks) Senior, and Elizabeth of Fayette County, Pennsylvania. According to Bucks County, Pennsylvania Reformed Church records, Elizabeth’s maiden name was Desloch.
Family traditions usually have some truth to them, but often contain errors as well. While some hand-me-down family stories may have been helpful in our research, we have not relied on them. Nor have we relied on other genealogists’ conclusions that lack solid documentation. What this book offers is proof of the above assertion backed by previously unpublished documentation.
Some documents have been printed before, but were overlooked or neglected by older family historians. In this category are militia records concerning periods before, during and after the American Revolution. These records reveal that there were at least three men of the name of Michael Cox in that same general area of southwestern Pennsylvania. They all served in the Revolution. The terms "Junior" and "Senior" were used to distinguish between our two men. No such term was used for the "other" Michael Cox, on whom there is little available information.
This "other" Michael Cox outlived both of our Michael Cox men, and he was able to apply for, and receive, a pension for his military service. Up to now, records of these three men have been mixed together, causing much confusion among their descendants attempting to research their family history.
To straighten out this mess, this book offers the previously misfiled court house documents as well as other quality documents. Also included, are allied lines of descent provided by several other historians. This book offers the newly treated court house documents as well as other documents of quality in the hopes of rectifying previous errors and erasing confusion.
Although my line of descent is from Peter Cox (who left few traces), and not from Michael, Jr. and Jeruthea Cox, I have found so much material on them, and on so many of their descendants, and have visited their farm and learned to love John Cox who still operates this farm with his lovely wife, Emily, I felt compelled to include all that I have.
I have been quite lucky to find other historians who have researched the children of Michael and Elizabeth. Trimmed portions of their carefully documented work will be found throughout this book. Readers may wish to contact the researchers directly for more ample information.
Cindy Cox Mathis’s work was the first I dug into. Then Linda Moore pitched in before I wrote "Watermelon Kings" (included in this publication). As I continued my research over the years, I eventually came across information on Vaught and Maxwell ancestors.
Michael Cox Junior and Jeruthea Ann Brooks left many records that were kept through the years as the farm was handed down to each generation. Thanks to John and Emily Cox for keeping these records and allowing me to have copies of them. They are super people and have been great stewards of the Michael Cox Junior farm.
William T. Oye, descendant of Michael and Jeruthea’s daughter Ann, provided invaluable research on the Hupp family that she married into.
Shirley Cox Larson is a descendant of Michael Cox Jr. She aided in editing and rewriting my texts, and, naturally, contributed to the section on Michael Jr.
Jacob Cox married Eve Wise of Hardy County, Virginia (now West Virginia), a county formed partly from the southern part of Hampshire County. Warren Packer researched his Cox roots to Jacob and Eve, who lived out their lives in Darke County, Ohio. Mr. Packer left behind a five-hundred page unfinished manuscript when he died. A copy is now in the possession of Susan Meier, who generously shared Packer’s and her own research with me.
Peter Cox is my direct link to Michael Cox Senior and Elizabeth. Dorothy Wilkin Clark, of Sonora, California, has investigated her possible connection to Peter’s son, William. She has kindly corresponded with me over the years, sharing her valuable doubts and insights.
Martin Cox was the direct ancestor of Ken Neeley, and portions of his book Builders of the USA have greatly aided our research. He collaborated with Eileen and Dr. V. Dean Schwartz for a part of his work, and they did a fine job.
Joseph Cox, youngest son of Michael and Elizabeth Cox had only three children, and they are mentioned in the two Histories of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, quoted in this book with some corrections.
Eve Ann Cox married Jacob Deem. The Deem family history was skillfully researched by Mary Ann Bowry of Parkersburg, West Virginia. Her excellent work has been very helpful in directing my own.
Christine married Henry Hull. Robert Hull sent us Hull family information. Thank you, Robert.
We truly thank all the new friends we have made along the way for their many contributions. A special thanks to Darlene Guerra for her help in coming up with the key idea that enabled me to find my grandpa’s parents. It was she who suggested that I look to see if Great-aunt Lizzie’s children ever obtained a Texas Probated birth certificate. Darlene also helped organize, research, and edit my words as well as doing the complete typing of the first draft. She insisted that I give my sources. She has been a terrific friend and a lot of help.
Thanks also go to Leona Bochat for the research she has done and for the first typing of the "black box" papers. And a special thank you to Shirley Cox Larson for her delightful contributions and for re-editing and transferring the book to computer disc.
And, finally, to my son David, a simple thank you is in no way enough for the gratitude I feel. Plus, he has discovered the passion for family history. He put in thousands of hours inserting additions, correcting, rewriting, editing, making maps, and compiling the index. His own additions, his patience, and his tenacity all please me greatly.
We hope you enjoy this labor of love. Feel free to copy any part of it.
About 1944, when I was four years old, my Grandma Hanks caught me standing on her bedstead to get a better look at the old picture of Grandpa Hanks’ parents. Her scolding soon turned to understanding as I explained I only wanted to see if it was fur or hair on the neck of the man. We got a magnifying glass and determined that what I was looking at was a very clean and manicured beard, and not the fur on his coat collar.
This curiosity was encouraged by my grandma and my parents, but I was told that we boys were expected to be extra well behaved because of our family roots and reputation. Of course this worked and we have been almost perfect ever since.
Questions about our Cox folks went unanswered, however. But why? We were told that Grandpa Cox grew up with an Indian family in southeast Oklahoma and that he had a younger brother named Major who had drowned as a young man; but that was all anyone knew or would tell us about my father’s relatives.
One evening, in about 1953, after closing our grocery store, my dad and I delivered groceries to Papa and Mama Cox. As I got out of the pickup with the bread and eggs, I lost my footing and somehow managed to slam the truck door on my right thumb. With much courage, I hung on to the grocery sack, all the while yelling for Dad to reopen the doggoned door! Grandpa Cox was the one who poured the turpentine on my thumb and bandaged it up, and this was a lucky break for me, because it gave me the opportunity to squeeze in some good questions while we were alone... even though I’d been told not to bother him.
I asked Grandpa if he had ever hurt his thumb this badly and his reply was not that he could remember. He said that he could not recall the name of the little town he lived in as a boy, or the name of the folks he stayed with, or the name of the school he attended. He did say that he remembered fishing often in the Blue, Sandy, Clear Boggy, and Muddy Boggy rivers.
As Dad was pushing me out of the house, I got in one more question to Papa Cox. "When did Major drown?" Papa’s answer was that it was while he was living in Texas (1906-1919) that he got the news about his brother, Major.
School, girls, and making money took my attention for the next forty years, but when my mother passed away, I realized how much family history she had accumulated about her Hanks, Goodbody, and McConnell folks. I inherited most of her photograph collection. It contains pictures handed down from my Hanks and Cox grandparents.
My wife late Gail and I decided to take a Mormon sponsored genealogy course, and see if we could learn more about our families. This was the best decision we ever made. Gail traced her roots to Holland on her father’s side, and she had Cherokee ancestors who were married along one of the Trail of Tears as they were marched here from the East.
As fast as the American Indian nations were driven out of their lands (often even before they were completely driven out), the Anglo-American colonists came pouring across the frontiers. My ancestors were among them. Like his father, Peter Cox (b. 1765) struck out to an area newly opened for settlement. Peter went into what had previously been called the Northwest Territory (north west of the Ohio River, covering present day states of Ohio and eastern Michigan). It was also called "Militia Lands." Peter may have been awarded this land for his service in the War of 1812, as his land record is a grant from the U.S. president, James Madison (1809-1817). There is a record of a Peter Cox serving in the War of 1812, but it is a poor reproduction of the original, and secondly no information of interest can be gleaned from it.
Unfortunately, during the period of western expansion, freshly opened territories rarely kept good records. Birth, death and marriage acts were often written years after the fact. We just do not have much information on Peter and Magdalin Cox in Ohio Territory. Most of it came from what their son Jacob reported in an 1880 Wayne County history book.
According to the 1880 census, he had remarried to the great-granddaughter of the Reverend James Adams, a Presbyterian minister (b 1766). Four months prior to the census, our Great-aunt Lizzie was born. Her full name was Celestial Elizabeth Cox. She was born 6 February 1880 in Dalton, Wayne County, Ohio.
Great-aunt Lizzie signed this full name to birth certificates of her children, and gave Ohio as her birth place on census records throughout her life (for documents on her birth place, click on these three links to go to Part 4, chapters 10, 11, 12). I suspect she knew exactly what happened to her parents, but never told her brother (my grandfather, William Newton Cox #2), or their younger brother, Major. Lois Lynch Vaught, widow of William Newton Vaught, stated that she recalled Lizzie (her mother-in-law) saying that she was a teenager when she lost her parents and had to become a housekeeper for a Baptist preacher. Lizzie turned thirteen in 1893. She would have been fifteen on the date of the Ardmore fire (19 April 1895). Those dates are just right. I have a copy of that letter.
When Jacob Cox died in 1885, William Newton Cox (#1) inherited a sum of money. The application to probate the will of Jacob stated that William Newton was in Chautauqua County, Kansas, which is on the Oklahoma border. However, he left no records there. Every April of the years 1886, 1887 and 1888, he returned to Ohio to receive his inheritance. In 1890, he was in Bonham, Fannin County, Texas, straight south of Blue, Oklahoma where my grandfather, William Newton (#2) was born, according to the information provided on the birth certificates of his sons Claudie and Will N. Cox (#3).
By 1892-1893, William N. Cox (#1) and family were farming on rented land at Mannsville, in Indian Territory, which later became Oklahoma. In those same years, a certain G. A. Maxwell, a peddler, picked up mail at Oakland, Indian Territory, just five miles south of Mannsville. Ten years later, G. A. Maxwell, became father-in-law to my grandfather, William Newton Cox (#2).
In September of 1895, my grandfather, William N. Cox, started the school year at the Red Oak neighborhood school of Boggy Depot, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). He must have been a real fast learner, as he completed his education in May 1896!
In October 1896, Susan McDonnell was granted guardianship of William and Ellen Cox. Why? Unfortunately, we do not know. In February of 1897, Great-aunt Lizzie married Otho Vaught of South McAlester, Oklahoma. They got their marriage license at the U.S. Court House in South McAlester. Lizzie was listed as "from Boggy Depot;" Otho from South McAlester.
Perhaps it was the great Ardmore fire of 19 April 1895 that separated the three Cox children from their parents. Perhaps it was Mr. McDonnell who perished, rather than Mr. Neil, as was reported in the Daily Oklahoman newspaper’s issue of that same day.
These are fascinating questions, which have not all been satisfactorily answered yet. Perhaps one day we will have documented proof to resolve all the riddles before us now.
Photograph 4: Ken Cox, tombstone specialist
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