Wednesday, March 25, 2015

“Dream Walking”

“Dream Walking”
Through the Select Community,
Ohio County, Kentucky”

An Oral History Story

 In a visit with my grandmother, Eva Caroline (Smith) Cox (1889-1988) and my aunt on June 10, 1988, Grandmother told me some stories I had never heard before.  This was six months before her death on December 21, 1988.  She was 99.6 years old at the time and had an almost perfect recall.  She was a wonderful storyteller and still had just a soft hint of Kentucky brogue! 

  Her favorite song was “My Old Kentucky Home” and when she heard it played each year when we watched the Kentucky Derby on TV, she always stood and put her hand over her heart, just like it was the national anthem. Her favorite church hymns were “Little Brown Church in the Wildwood” and “In The Sweet By and By.”


While we were visiting one Sunday afternoon, my grandmother and I were sitting side by side on the couch in the den so she could hear me better, and she put her hand over on my knee to get my attention and she said:

“Do you know how I have been getting to sleep lately?”  And I said, “No, tell me about it grandmother.”

So she explained that she had been having trouble getting to sleep at night, and Eula Mae (her oldest daughter) told her to think of some of the old songs they used to sing at Bald Knob Church where she attended all her early life. But when she tried that remedy, it made it worse because she couldn’t remember the words to the songs. That was too active and made her even more wide awake.  Her youngest daughter, Darrell, suggested that she think of something pleasant in her life and try thinking about it until she went to sleep.

“So,” she smiled ever so sweetly, “I’ve been taking a trip through Select every night.  (Select is the community where she grew up in Ohio County, Kentucky, and was pronounced ‘See-lect’).  “First, I stop at the drug store that Mr. Keown runs.  He was Nancy Keown’s son.  He always had a big jar of candy at the front of the store, and I reach my hand in there and get one piece of candy – a pink, soft, lump-kind of candy.  I can’t remember the name of it.  The next place I stop is the grocery and hardware store.  It is combined and John Henry Stewart owned it.  The next place I pass is the Christian church where Daddy’s daddy (James William Cox) used to go to church. 

“And I walk on down the street and come to the post office next.  This is where all of us kids would take turns sometimes riding the horse to get the mail.  The post office is over on the left side, like if you are going to Cromwell.  And next I come to Bobe James’ residence.  It used to belong to Sam James and me and Daddy (this is her husband Jasper Newton Cox) lived there.  Real pretty house.  Daddy worked for Sam James and we lived in that house about a year (1910) after Gilbert was born.  Daddy hauled railroad ties to Cromwell on a wagon for Mr. James.  When we left there, we bought our little farm – the place where Eula Mae was born.

“Next comes Dr. Lankford’s house.  He delivered all of Ma’s babies.  And Mrs. Raley came to wash and dress every one of those babies.  She was Ma’s near neighbor, lived about two miles from us, and she always took care of mother and fixed her bed when her babies were born.  And she wouldn’t take a nickel.  As soon as she arrived, she always fixed a hen to cooking to make chicken soup.  She was always faithful about that, and she fed chicken soup to Mother after the baby had come to help her get strong again, because that is what mother always wanted to eat. 

“And that’s what I do every night before I go to sleep is take this little journey and it helps me go to sleep every time.”

Her obituary which appeared in the Tyler Morning Telegraph on Monday, December 5, 1988 is quoted here:


Services of Mrs. Eva Caroline Cox, 99, Tyler, are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Lloyd James Funeral Home chapel with Dr. Paul W. Powell officiating. 

Burial will be in Rose Hill Cemetery in Tyler.

Mrs. Cox died Sunday in a Tyler hospital after a lengthy illness.

She was born March 31, 1889 in Cromwell, Kentucky.  She was a housewife. She had been a resident of Texas since 1919, living in New Summerfield for 40 years and Tyler for four years.  She was preceded in death by her husband, J. N. Cox in 1974 and a son, Gilbert O. Cox in 1984.

Survivors include three daughters, Mrs. Darrell Appl, Tyler, Mrs. Eula Mae Smith, Leoti, Kansas, and Mrs. Retha Green, Corpus Christi; six grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and nine great-great grandchildren.

Interment will be in Rose Hill Cemetery."


My grandfather, Jasper Newton Cox, was the 12th child of the fourteen children born to his parents, James William Cox and Mary Elizabeth Mitchell of Ohio County, Kentucky.  Most of his ancestors on both sides had been in the county since shortly after Ohio County was formed in 1798 – documented records begin  about 1801.

He was a wonderful story-teller with an almost graphic memory.  I particularly remember an evening in his living room with all of his children there, including my parents, and several grandchildren sitting around on the floor.  He told us story after story from the "old days" in Kentucky when he was a boy.   I distinctly remember that everyone was so still and caught up in his tales that you could have heard a pin drop.  All the cousins remember this particular day and those old stories he told.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a tape recorder at that time to record his spell-binding stories.

My grandfather loved his Lord, and spent hours quietly reading from his worn Bible.  He could answer almost any question we could ask, and more often than not, he could quote the exact verse or turn right to the page he needed.  He also tried to live by its highest principles.  He had a keen sense of humor, and he was always an optimist.  When we visited and asked after his welfare, he always replied with enthusiasm, “I’m sitting on top of the world!”

Jasper Newton Cox, called “Newt” or Newton, was 90 years, 4 months and 11 days old when he died at his home, passing away peacefully in his sleep.  He and my grandmother had been married sixty-six years at the date of his death.

His obituary in the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 1974 is quoted below:

"J. N. COX"

New Summerfield -- J. N. Cox, 90, of New Summerfield died Saturday morning at his residence following a brief illness.

Funeral services are set for Monday at 2 p.m. in the Lloyd James Funeral Home chapel with the Rev. Milton Gardner officiating.  Masonic graveside services will follow at the Rose Hill Cemetery.

Mr. Cox was a native of Ohio County, Kentucky and was in the drilling department of several major oil companies.  He was a veteran of the Spanish American War* in which he served with the U. S. Army.  He had lived in New Summerfield for the past 25 years.   Mr. Cox was a member of the Baptist Church, the Troup Masonic Lodge No. 272, and had been a Mason for 49 years.

His survivors include his wife, Mrs. Eva C. Cox of New Summerfield, a son, Gilbert Cox of New Summerfield; three daughters, Mrs. Robert A. Smith of Leoti, Kansas, Mrs. Duane Marvin Green of Corpus Christi, and Mrs. Darrell Appl of Tyler; six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews.

Pallbearers will be Masons."


*When my aunt wrote the information for her father's obituary, she did not realize that it was not the Spanish American War (1898-1901) that her father served in, but the period following the war called the "Insurrection Period."

My grandparents moved to Edgerly, Louisiana in about 1915 and lived there, while my grandfather had a job with Gulf Oil.  A few years later, they moved to Texas, where they remained the rest of their lives.


Southern Boundary Area of Ohio County, Kentucky – Cromwell and Select Community areas - where our Cox and Smith ancestors lived.

~submitted by Janice Cox Brown

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