Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cox Family Historians

Cox Family Historians
by Cox Family “Scribes”

In every family there always seems to be one person chosen and called on to be the “keeper” and finder of the family ancestors.  It must be in our genes.  In reading the following chapters about the fourteen children of James William Cox and Mary Elizabeth Mitchell, it is important to know that a number of great-grandchildren of this couple are also family historians in their own right and have contributed information I would never have known about except for them. 

First and foremost credit is given to Loretta Westerfield, the daughter of Cinderella (Cox) and Tom Crowder, whom I corresponded and exchanged information with for nearly ten years.  By the time we finally met each other in 1975 when my family went to Kentucky, we felt like we had known each other always.  And we had, through our letters over almost a decade.

Doris (Cox) Goodwin, the daughter of Talmadge and Stella Cox, son of John William Cox, Sr., contributed much information and many obituaries to the family.  Doris and I have also written and talked to each other for almost a decade now.  I plan to drive up to meet her in the spring of 2010 after my retirement at the end of this year from the bank where I have worked for the past fifteen years.  Doris and I have had a lot of fun analyzing the records and assembling information for many family members on her side of the family.

In the Orlando Clay and Sudie Belle (Allen) Cox family, Ed and Pat Matthews have worked on their genealogy and contributed information for that line of the family.  They came by to see me several years ago and we enjoyed a good visit and talked of family memories.

James Coy Cox, son of Ira Clinton and Anna Martha (Coy) Cox family of Louisville, has shared his family stories and usually talked to each other on phone once or twice a year.  James and I stayed in touch after I first met him in the 1970’s when he paid a surprise visit to my grandparents and recorded their visit on audio tape so he could take it home to share with his mother, who resided in the Masonic Home there in Louisville. 

Before his untimely death, William Conrad “W. C.” Hocker of Beaver Dam and I wrote back and forth about his line, and we talked on the telephone several times.  He was the grandson of Mary Ellen (Cox) and William Cornelius Stewart; he was the son of Ola Myrtle (Stewart) and Searcy Arol Hocker, and was very interested in the family history.

In the family of Gabriel Netter Cox of Greene County, Arkansas, whom I recently discovered through the internet website, I have met by telephone Ira Clinton Cox (II), as well as his brother Robert Donald Cox and his wife Ann, who came by to visit recently on their way home from South Texas back to Arkansas.  But best of all, Ira’s daughter, Taunya (Cox) Smith is the family historian of her family and has recently sent photos and much information to enter on the family group chart of “Netter” Cox and his wife, Leva (Howard).  Their family knew hardly anything of the large Ohio County Cox family and all of the cousins they had!  What fun it is to discover new cousins!  Ira and I have talked by phone five or six times already!

Just like me, all of my second cousins named above, are interested in the family memories, their history, and what happened to the earlier generations.

To us, there is an urge to put flesh on the bones of our ancestors and make them live again, to tell the family story, and to feel that somehow they know about our efforts and research, and they approve of it.  Maybe we feel or hear their voices that just cry out to us – “Tell our story.”  And so, we do! 

And to be sure to get it right, I try to document the facts about their lives – the ones who went before us - beginning with Bible records, census, marriage, military, deeds, and tax records – information gleaned from the courthouse, newspapers, death certificates, obituaries, and finally church and cemetery records.  All of these records when put together in chronological order tell a story and provide dates and places and more. 

So for us, “telling their story” is all about the pride we feel in what our ancestors were able to accomplish.  About how they contributed to what we have become today – how they dealt with their hardships and losses, how they never gave up or gave in, but continued resolutely to build a life for their families.

Lest all their stories be lost in time, the scribes in our family continue to share and tell the story to sum up who we are.  Will you be a scribe?  Will you be the one to tell the story of the next generation and take your place in our line as family storytellers?  After us, someone will have to step up, young or old, to continue to restore past memories – and greet those whom we have never known before, who won’t be known, unless the next generation answers the call as “family scribe” and takes our place.


           The following article about a Cox family reunion was sent to me by my cousin, Doris Goodwin of Jonesboro, Indiana in March 2009.  The granddaughter of John William Cox, she found it in her father’s Bible.  It was not dated, but since it stated that the reunion was held on Wednesday, August 14, I was able to go back and check out annual calendar dates on the internet and determined that this family reunion was probably held on Wednesday, August 14, 1940, at the home of Loretta Westerfield. Loretta gave another family reunion when she invited all the relatives to attend a 50th Wedding Anniversary of her parents, Tom and Cinderella Crowder.  It was also held Wednesday, August 14 – but the year was 1946, so the Cox reunion below was six years earlier:

Cox Family Reunion
Wednesday, August 14, 1940
                                    The families of the late J. W. Cox celebrated with a
                        reunion at the home of Mr. and Mrs. A. R. Westerfield on
                        Wednesday, August 14.  At the noon hour a bountiful dinner
                        was served.  The program in the afternoon consisted of Bible
                        readings and singing and some very interesting talks by Rev.
                        J. J. Willet, Luther Duvall, Oscar Stewart and N. B. Davis.

                                    Those present were Mr. and Mrs. E. G. Allen and son,
Ernest; Mrs. Robert Bonhom and son, Bobbie; Mrs. J. T. Clark,
Mrs. Wavy Liles and daughter, Gloria, and granddaughter,
Prosha Marie Holt, all of East St. Louis, Ill.

                                    Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Stewart, Mrs. Delina Everill and a
                        daughter, Betty Sue and Janis Faye; Mrs. Elmer Edieon and
                        daughter, Lavada, all of Whiting Ind.; Mrs. Neal Patchlin and
                        children, JoAnn and Bobbie, of Albuquerque, New Mexico;
                        Luther Duvall of Akron, Ohio; Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Cox and
                        and children, Cecil, Esker, Wanda, Norma Jean, Willard, Doris
                        Dean, and Stanley of Vanzant, Ky.

                                    Rev. and Mrs. J. J. Willet of Beaver Dam; Mr. and Mrs.
                        Roy Stewart and son, Theron of Cromwell, Ky; Mrs. Charles Oamis
                        of Logansport; Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Christian and Mr. N. B. Davis
                        of Horse Branch, Mrs. Ola T. Leach of Owensboro; Mr. and Mrs.
                        Seth Davis and daughter, Delphine Davis; Mr. and Mrs. Aral Hocker
                        and son, N. C.; Mr. T. H. Baize, Mr. Adrian Stewart of Mt. Pleasant;
                        Mr. J. C.  Cox of Equality; Mr. and Mrs. H. T. Crowder, Mr. and Mrs.
                       A.     R. Westerfield and son Orville of Rosine.

            Four generations and five states were represented at the reunion.
    All reported a very enjoyable time.


Apparently, my grandparents, Jasper Newton and Eva (Smith) Cox, and their children, Gilbert, Eula Mae, Retha and Darrell, who were living in South Texas in the 1940’s, were unable to attend, and that is too bad, because they were so far from their “old Kentucky home.”  Both my grandparents always loved Ohio County and their families there.  My grandmother’s favorite song was “My Old Kentucky Home” and when she heard it played, she always stood with her hand over her heart, just like it was the National Anthem.  Her image remains in my mind and memory, and it makes me smile now to remember that!

Family reunions can be much more than a fun-time with family. It is a powerful way to help bond families together.  Reunions enable family members to revisit and reflect on the values of the family when they can gather together.  It allows them to discuss the family history and experiences for the entire family, young and old.  At the same time, reunions such as the Cox reunion in 1940, document the family’s history and was surely a memorable experience for several generations who were able to attend.  It was a chance to share love and rejoice in simply being together–a celebration.

The Cox Family Reunion of 1940 gave younger family members an opportunity to see the family in a whole different light when they got together and enjoyed happy feelings among invited aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, grandparents, and family friends. It was an event that was probably discussed, talked about, and remembered all year long – and for many years later to all those who could recall a happy time in a more leisurely world.

It was good they had this family reunion before World War II started, else these families probably would have been much more scattered than they were in August 1940. This is surely why it was always said of Cinderella and later of her daughter Loretta Westerfield, that they were the “glue” that held the family together by reunions and visits throughout the year.  They always welcomed family members into their homes.  It was a gathering place for those from a far distance when they returned to Ohio County for visits with “the folks back home.”


This post is excerpted from my book, "James William Cox and Mary Elizabeth Mitchell of Ohio Co. KY and Their 14 Descendants."  

Janice Brown
Sept 2009

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