Saturday, December 31, 2016

Rockport Bridge

Hidden Art Lives Beneath Green River Rockport Bridge

ROCKPORT, Ky. (12/7/16) — Over 2,200 vehicles cross the U.S. 62 Green River "Rockport" Bridge on an average day, but many of the people in those vehicles are completely unaware of what is below them.

The Rockport Bridge was constructed as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. The bridge appears to be a Warren truss structure, similar to many other bridges constructed in the 1930s, however, the Rockport Bridge has Art Deco style piers.

The art deco style, popular on public structures in the 1930s, is strictly for appearance. It serves no functional purpose. Art deco construction is perhaps best represented in the facade of the Empire State Building.

Over the years, some of the decorative concrete work around the pier caps was removed as part of normal maintenance and some of the approach piers have been encased in newer concrete. However, the overall art deco look of several of the main piers still provides something of a cathedral effect when underneath the bridge.

Helen McKeown, with the Ohio County Historic Society, has a direct connection to the bridge. Her father helped construct it.

According to McKeown, Green River has always been important to Ohio County. Near Rockport were ferries at Ceralvo and Hopewell, as well as Rockport and numerous other locations. When the bridge was built, it brought about the demise of the ferries at Ceralvo and Hopewell.

McKeown’s dad, Ivan Allen, worked on construction of this bridge and was offered a job with the company building the bridge to continue work with them, but chose to remain in Ohio County, marrying her mother on June 28, 1940.

From the History of Rockport and Echols book by Shirley Watson Smith:

The Rivers and Harbors Bill, passed in 1889 in Washington, was perhaps worth more to Western Kentucky than anything since 1865 and the end of the Civil War. The U.S. Army Engineers made a survey before the work of building river improvements began.

The Kentucky Department of Highways in October, 1938, began accepting bids to build the current Rockport Bridge. The ferry was purchased for $27,500 from Mr. Addie Austin. Dedication of the $7,000,000 bridge was held Oct. 21, 1940, on the Muhlenberg County side, with Gov. Keen Johnson as speaker. The bridge then was a toll bridge for some years.

During construction on Nov. 17, 1939, Mr. Basil J. Hobin, 34, was killed while working on the bridge. A foreman was directing workmen hoisting piles, when a cable broke, knocking him over and crushing him between a pile and trip hammer housing. It was to have been his last day of work on this job, as he and his family were returning to their home in Quebec, Canada. The family left by automobile and his body was shipped home by rail.
Also, during construction, Mr. & Mrs. Ray Tilford had a daughter born May 24, 1939, and named her Emily Bridgeyear Tilford.

So the early contributions to the area's economy by the Henry Stom family at Hopewell Ferry, Hugh Carter who established Rockport Ferry circa 1817 and Richard Morton establishing a ferry in 1800 at Ceralvo, continue with transportation link provided by the Rockport Bridge.

The Rockport bridge was a technological marvel at the time of construction. Pictures of the art deco style piers are available at the Ohio County Museum and Ohio County Public Library. The WPA encouraged incorporation of the arts into construction projects during this era.

The U.S. 62 Green River Bridge is at US 62 Muhlenberg County mile point 25.918 and Ohio County mile point 0.0. The 1,839 foot cantilevered 3-span Warren truss structure was constructed by the Public Works Administration in 1938. The bridge is at Green River navigation mile point 94.6.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet currently has a work zone lane restriction for painting and maintenance on the U.S. 62 Green River “Rockport” Bridge at the Ohio-Muhlenberg County Line. The work will continue into the new year.

SurfKY News

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Samuel Kenaday Jones

SAMUEL JONES was born May 3, 1825, in Bedford County, Tenn., where he grew up. In 1846, he removed to Johnson County, Ill., where he engaged in farming until 1857, when he located in Ohio County, Ky., where he now resides. In 1861 he enlisted in the Seventeenth Kentucky Infantry, in which he was chief musician until his discharge, December 5, 1862, for injuries received at Fort Donelson. In 1865 he removed to Coles County, Ill., where he remained eight years, when he returned to Ohio County, Ky., where he has since remained. His father, Rev. George Jones, a native of North Carolina, removed in childhood, with his parents, to Bedford County, Tenn., where he died in 1880, at the age of eighty-six years. He was a soldier under Gen. Jackson; he was the son of Hugh Jones, of North Carolina, also a soldier under Jackson; died 1835, aged ninety years. Rev. George Jones married Susan, daughter of John (a Revolutionary soldier), and Sarah Culver, of Overton County, Tenn. (born in 1801, and died in 1869), and their offspring are Leander E., Elender E. (Robinson), Benjamin F., Samuel K., Sarah (Rollins), Mary (Wilson), Nathan (died in the army), Rev. James H. (a soldier), and Hugh (died in the army). Samuel Kenaday Jones was married, March 10, 1847, to Lucy, daughter of Morton Carter, of Johnson County, Ill.; she was born in 1881; died in 1854. To their union was born one child — Sarah, of Vienna, Ill. Mr. Jones was next married, in 1859, to Sallie M., daughter of George and Mary A. (Bennett) Plummer, of Ohio County; she died November 20, 1884, at the age of forty-nine years; to them was born one child — Mary A., wife of Rev. J. D. Sharer, of Butler County. Mr. Jones was reared to farming, which he followed for many years, and in 1881 commenced merchandising at Rosine, Ky., in which calling he has met with fair success. He was burnt out at the recent fire, but has rebuilt and is now in business again. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and in politics a Republican.

Source: J. H. BATTLE, W H. PERRIN, & G. C. KNIFFIN 1895

Note:  Samuel K. Jones died 1 Jan 1904 in Jefferson County, KY. It is not known where he is buried.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Virgil Carman (Joe) Taylor

Tribute to Virgil Carman (Joe) Taylor

            Joe Taylor was born 8 April 1943 in Memphis, TN.  His parents were Carl Hines Taylor (17 Jan 1916 Taylor Mines, Ohio Co. – 12 Mar 1980 Memphis) and Udeyne Porter (2 May 1920 Cromwell, Ohio Co. – 26 May 2010 Lynchburg, Moore Co., TN).  Joe had three sisters, Susan Catherine Taylor Vale (1938-2000), Peggy Bradford of Tullahoma, TN, and Patricia Coulter of Woodbine, N.J., and one brother, Carl P. Taylor of Murfreesboro, TN (1936-). Joe grew up in Memphis and joined the Navy shortly after finishing high school.  By the time I met him, about ten years ago, Joe was living in California.  I met Joe because I had started my search for my ancestors and I found that Joe had taken it upon himself to post Ohio County family history on the internet to help everyone. During one stretch of time I talked to Joe by telephone two or three times per week and we traded several hundred emails about genealogy research. Although many of you are familiar with Joe’s work, I suspect there are some that are new to genealogy and might appreciate knowing how to find Joe’s work. 

            First, Joe created a surname listings on Rootsweb for Ohio County families which can be found at this link:   

          Once you open this page, just click on the letter for whatever surname you are researching and you will find a list of surnames starting with that letter – then click on the name you want and you will find all of the information Joe had been able to find about the persons listed. Joe’s information came from countless hours of research and also from contacting descendants of the respective individuals.  While not perfect, I think you will find that almost all of the info on this web site is accurate.  This site has been a big help to me and I still check this site on a regular basis.

           Joe also created a web site for Ohio County photographs and asked others to contribute their family photos. Joe’s photo web site can be found at this link: 

On this site you will find an alphabetical listing of family photos; just click on any of them to view the photos. Joe put all the photos in an orange frame and added a caption. Here is a compilation of photos that Joe posted of himself:

            Joe died 28 April 2011 in Brisbane, San Mateo County, California at age 68.  He had been seriously ill for several years and wanted to return home but could not move because of his medical insurance.

            Here is what he wrote about his research a few weeks before he died: 

               “It is my hope that by my effort in bringing together the enclosed information will help those who come after me to learn more about the family’s lines. While the information has been pulled from many places, every effort has been made to confirm the information by cross references; if a bit of material is in question, then it will be so noted. 

             If you should find error, please note it was not with intent.

            Also note it is not my intent to change or color anything that is found.  What is found is what you will see and let the chips fall where they may - it is not my place to sit in judgment but just to share our history.

           For the most part all who have gone before were neither great saints nor great sinners they were just people who each in their own way made the best of what life sent their way for themselves and their families.”

          So I hope that you find Joe’s research helpful. I know that he worked many long hours over a period of many years assembling the data. And he did it for us, with no motive other than wanting to share his research to help the rest of us.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


ELIJAH JOHNSON, farmer and carpenter, Ohio County, is the son of Edward Johnson, of Lynchburgh, Va., born in 1801, and removed to Kentucky in 1820, settling first in Henry County, but afterward went to Bourbon County, where, on December 23, 1828, he married Sallie Chinn, who was born in that county in 1798. They had two children: William, born in 1830, and died in 1843, in the State of Missouri, to which place his parents removed in 1842, and Elijah born in 1832. He was brought up in Missouri, Louisville and his own native county of Bourbon, his parents having returned to that place in 1846. He was liberally educated in the city of Louisville. He learned the carpenter's trade and became a skillful, industrious mechanic. May 9, 1849, he married Sarah P. Chinn, daughter of William Chinn, of Bourbon County. They had seven children: Lucy, wife of R. H. Hines, of Elm Lick, Ohio County; Mary S., wife of G. C. Pirtle, of Cromwell; William, deceased; Sarah M., wife of George Peters, of Beaver Dam; Nancy E., wife of James Peters, of Beaver Dam; and Thomas. Mrs. Johnson died in 1867, and he next married, in 1869, Mary E. Cox, daughter of William Cox, of Ohio County. Their children are James S. and Mary C.  Mr. Johnson's father died in 1844. His mother still lives and has her home with her son. Her father, Elijah Chinn, was one of the first settlers of the State of Kentucky.

Source: J. H. BATTLE, W H. PERRIN, & G. C. KNIFFIN 1895

Note:  Elijah Johnson died 5 Nov 1909 in Ohio County. It is not known where he is buried.

JOHN M. JOHNSON was born July 24, 1850, in Ohio County, Ky., where he has continued to reside. His father, John Johnson, was born in Marion County, Ky., 1813; removed with his parents, at the age of six years, to Ohio County, where he is still living. He was the son of Clem Johnson, a native of Virginia, who died about 1860. Subject's mother is Zemara, daughter of Caleb and Salley (Huff) Hale, of Ohio County, born 1817, now living. To her and her husband were born Charles W., Sarah E. (Crow), Calvin (dead), Martha (Eskridge), William T., John M., Josephine (Magan), Felix (dead), and Cicero. John M. enjoyed such educational facilities as the schools of the country afforded in his youth. He was married. December 23, 1875, to Bettie J., daughter of John T. and Margaret (Runner) Smith, of Fordsville, Ky. (born July 20, 1857), and to this union were born Lonnie, Ollie (dead), Myrtie M., and Iva L. For many years, Mr. Johnson was engaged in dealing in general merchandise, drugs and tobacco, and is at present a dealer in leaf tobacco, having been successful in his various enterprises. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, and is identified with the Democratic party.

Source: J. H. BATTLE, W H. PERRIN, & G. C. KNIFFIN 1895

Note:  John M. Johnson died 8 Jan 1897 in Ohio County and is buried in Fordsville Cemetery.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

James William Cox and Mary Elizabeth Mitchell - Part VI


Jim was fifty-four when his father, Thomas Jefferson Cox, age eighty-one, died September 15, 1892, while living at Equality.  He was buried beside the mother of his children, Susannah Miranda (Leach) at East Providence Cemetery on Prentiss Road, Ohio County.  Their little son, John T. B. Cox, who died when he was five in 1853, was also buried near their graves, as was their granddaughter, Bertha Belle Cox.


As documented in the marriage records of the Ohio County Courthouse, Volume 10, Page 4, James William Cox remarried six days after Mary Cox remarried.  At age fifty-eight, he married Rebecca Patterson, age fifty-five, April 9, 1896.  

There were other Cox weddings in 1896. James and Mary’s daughter, Emma Catherine, age twenty-two, married Henry Cicero Crowder on April 20, 1896, eleven days after her father’s marriage.  On Christmas Eve, December 24, 1896, Emma’s younger sister, Cinderella Cox, age twenty-one, married Hannibal Thomas “Tom” Crowder.  That left children at home, Jasper Newton, almost twelve, Bertha Belle, age nine, and Sarah Mae, age six.  James William Cox certainly needed someone to run his household and help out with his young children still living at home. 

The children of James William Cox called their new stepmother “Aunt Becky,” a common title in those days, even though she was of no relation.  My grandfather was about twelve when his father remarried.  He said he did not like “Aunt Becky” much.  Of course, she probably had a difficult time, trying to be a substitute mother to the younger Cox children, who may have resented her and tried her patience at times, especially a boy just about to enter his teen years. 


Three or four years later, my grandfather left home and joined the army.  At fifteen or sixteen, Jasper Newton Cox was stout and strong for his age and could do almost anything a man could do.  He may have gone to work somewhere in or around the countryside.  When he enlisted in the army in August 1901 at Leitchfield, the Grayson county seat, he had just passed his seventeenth birthday on May 10 that year, but the army recruiters believed him when he fibbed and claimed to be eighteen. 


It is known that Rebecca A. Patterson had previously been married, but documented proof has not been discovered as to the name of her first husband.  In the June 1900 census while she and James were living in the Cromwell district, she told the census taker, John Stewart, that she had been the mother of two children, neither of whom were living.  Listed as head of household was her husband, James W. Cox and his two youngest children, Bertha B., 13, and Sarah M., 10.  Volney J. James, 22, was listed as a hired hand.  Nearby neighbors were the families of Miles and Mary Keown and Matty and Susie Baize, and also Charles and Fidella (Porter) Sanders (my great-great grandparents – and the grandparents of my own grandmother, Eva Caroline (Smith) Cox).

On September 22, 1900, J. W. Cox and wife, Rebecca, sold to James M. Hatler, for four hundred dollars, 104 acres of land described as lying on the waters of Indian Camp Creek, and bounded on one side by the farm of Nathan Keown.  Hatler paid cash of $200, with a remainder to be paid in ten years at $20 per year.  If promptly paid, there was to be no interest and if not, interest would be at six percent.  In the same deed, James Cox also conveyed another piece of land he owned by possession right that joined his above land which contained 16-5/16ths acres.  This deed was attested by G. N. Cox (Gabriel Netter) his son, and his neighbor, Mathias Baize.

As reported in the March 27, 1901 issue of the Hartford Herald –  
 Smallhous, KY  -“Mr. J. W. Cox will shortly move from this place to
 Cooper’s Schoolhouse.”

And in the same edition and same day, also in the Smallhouse column, was this bit of information:

            “Mrs. Rebecca Cox gave a birthday dinner on the 24th instant, it being
            her 60th birthday.  Several of her neighbors and friends dined with her.”

This announcement followed the purchase of 10.2 acres of land by J. W. Cox on March 25, 1901 from H. J. Wilson and J. E. Wilson for $250.00.  The land was described as lying in Ohio County on the headwaters of Indian or West Fork Creek and bounded as follows:

            “Beginning at a stone on the South Side of Hartford and Morgantown Road,
corner to Mrs. P. F. Taylor”...(later to become the third wife of James W. Cox).

On that same day, James W. and Rebecca turned around and sold two acres of land for $250 to H. J. Wilson and J. E. Wilson, described as:

            “A certain lot or parcel of land lying in the town of Pincheco, Ohio
            County, Kentucky, and bounded as follows:  Beginning at W. W. Anglea
            South E. corner on the State Road; thence with said road 69-1/2 yards to
            a stake in said road; thence N. 29 E. 129-1/2 yards to a stake in D. A.
            Miller line; thence with D. A. Miller line S. 71 W. 69-1/2 yards to a stake
            in said Anglea line; thence with Anglea line S. 29 W., 129-1/2 yards to the
            Beginning, containing 2 acres, more or less, Except and reserving out of
            said boundary or survey, the space on which the old store house stood,
formerly owned by Nall & Lewis, or Nall heirs, including the drip & chimney
of said house, for further reference you will refer to Deed from Montage
to Jacob H. Leach.”

The deed was attested by John H. Stewart, his son-in-law, husband of Susanah “Susie” (Cox) Stewart.

According to the Bible record of James William Cox, he and Rebecca were married a little less than seven years.  Rebecca (Patterson) died at age sixty-two, September 2, 1903, just three weeks after the death of her step-daughter, Bertha Belle, who died with typhoid fever at age sixteen, ten months, and twenty-five days.  It is my guess that Rebecca died from typhoid fever, too.  An obituary might confirm this theory.  Rebecca’s date of death is recorded in the Bible of James W. Cox; also that of Bertha Belle Cox.

Both Bertha and her step-mother, Rebecca are buried at East Providence Cemetery, near the graves of Thomas Jefferson Cox and his wife, Susannah Miranda (Leach) Cox.   What a sad time for the Cox family – two funerals within three weeks.   


About four months after the death of Rebecca, James Cox was married a third time to Prudence F. Taylor, a nearby neighbor and member of the Slaty Creek Church where he attended church.  He was sixty-six and she was seventy.

On May 23, 1904, the day before they married, J. W. Cox and Mrs. P. F. Taylor, entered into a Marriage Agreement at Pincheco, Ohio County, of very simple nature, which they had drawn up and notarized by L. M. Worley.  Both wanted harmony and mutual understanding in their marriage.  Because they were older and each had children by previous marriages, they agreed it was a good thing to draw up a contract, thus preventing and removing possibility of disagreement over assets or inheritance by their children.  Both probably believed in the old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  

The document was recorded at the courthouse in Deed Book 27, page 71, and outlined the couple’s agreement in regard to the land each owned, individually.

            “A Marriage Agreement or Contract entered into by J. W. Cox and
Mrs. P. F. Taylor, by which it is to be known that said P. F. Taylor
takes no dowery or Part in said J. W. Cox Estate by reason of their
Marriage, but the land belonging to each or either of them is to be
cultivated for the support of the family, so long as we two live as man
and wife, and at the death of either, their property shall descend to
his or her heirs.
                                                                                    Signed:  P. F. Taylor
                                                                                                  J. W. Cox

            The above contract acknowledged before me this May 24, 1904.
                                                                        (seal)  L. M. Worley, Notary Public
                                                                                    Ohio County, KY
            State of Kentucky   )
            County of Ohio      )

                        I, M. S. Ragland, Clerk of the Ohio County Court, to certify that the
            foregoing Marriage Agreement was this day lodged in my office for record
            and I have recorded it in the foregoing and this certificate in my said office.

            Given under my hand this 27th day of May 1904.
                                                                                    M. S. Ragland, C.O.CC”

Their license to wed, along with the licenses of several other couples, was later published in the Hartford Republican newspaper, on Friday, June 4, 1904, which read:

                         “James Cox of Pincheco and P. F. Taylor of Cromwell”


About three weeks after James Cox and Prudence Taylor married, fire broke out on June 11, 1904 in the little town of Cromwell in the hardware store of James Hudson.  It quickly spread with intensity to consume the town, including the following:  The Hudson Hardware Store; T. C. Pirtle, Grocer; Cooper Brothers Merchandise; E. S. Keown Dry Goods; W. M. Eicher Grocer; Joe Kahn Dry Goods; E. P. Gilstrap Millinery; T. P. Faught Dry Goods, as well as the School House and the Masonic Hall. It was devastating to the businessmen and to everyone in the surrounding area.


James and Prudence Cox were married about eleven years and everyone in the family loved “Aunt Pru.”  She has always been remembered by family members for the butter molds she made and set out on her kitchen and dining table when visitors came to call.  She also earned a bit of household money by churning and selling her butter and eggs to merchants at Cromwell and to her neighbors in the community.

At night, most likely, she set out pans of freshly milked milk and let the cream rise, repeating this process and adding to it until enough was accumulated and had slightly soured.  Then it was poured up into a tall wooden or crock churn.  A four-bladed wooden dasher, hand-held, was used to churn up and down, until eventually butter formed.  The pale yellow butter was scooped out into a wooden bowl, washed and washed with cold water until all the whey was out, then lightly salted to help preserve it, and it was turned out and pressed into molds. 

No doubt, Aunt Pru took pride in her collection of old fashioned butter molds and various butter stamps.  She may have used stamps, made in several shapes and sizes, to decorate her butter.  Stamps came in a variety of designs - flowers, fruit, and birds - symbolic of hospitality and welcome; or a sheaf of wheat, symbolic of prosperity; or perhaps an acorn, a symbol of luck.  

At breakfast, when company was there visiting, she may have served her butter in an ornamental butter dish, garnished with a bit of parsley or mint.  Butter making and molding was an art that goes back for hundreds of years, and she may have stamped her own design on her butter to identify it.  It was a focal point of her table and long remembered by Cox family members.

Aunt Pru added to the family cash income by tending the chicken yard and henhouse, raising chickens and selling eggs and young roosters at market.  Jim and Pru had a good partnership, and for eleven years, their lives were largely spent within the radius of the Cromwell and Select communities, enlarged through links with kin who visited them, and in reading the county newspaper, books and magazines.  Sunday was set aside for church at the Slatyville church, and attending area protracted meetings.  

My grandmother told me that in early life James Cox was a member of the Christian church at Select.  She once told me about a “dream walk” she took in memory through Select and called off the names of the stores and establishments on both sides of the road as she walked down it in her memory.   She mentioned the post office, the hardware store, the general merchandise stores, and the Christian church where James Cox attended church.  Later James Cox attended the Slaty Creek church with Aunt Pru.


It was a day filled with sorrow for James Cox and all the Cox and Taylor families, when Prudence Cox died at eighty-three on February 6, 1916.  She was well loved in her community and neighborhood.  Her death certificate was furnished to me by Charles  Leach of Nashville, which indicates her date of death was February 6, 1916; she was listed as married and a housewife.  Bryan Taylor was the informant; Dr. Oscar Allen was the attending physician.  The cause of death was given as “old age.”  Burial was to be in the “Family Grave Yard."

An obituary clipping (without date) from an Ohio County newspaper for Prudence F. (Taylor) Cox was given to me by Loretta Westerfield, and says:


          In Memory

      “Beaver Dam Ky. Feb. 12 - Mrs. P. F. Cox, wife of J. W. Cox, living near Cromwell, died Feb. 6, in her 83rd year. 

Mrs. Cox had been about her regular household duties Saturday and died Sunday afternoon.  She had been a member of the Baptist church, since she was 13 years of age.  She leaves two children:  Mrs. S. I. Stevens, Beaver Dam and Mr. S. M. Taylor of Kansas City, MO.
Her funeral was preached by her pastor, Eld. R. L. Creel, at her residence, 8th inst.  Since, she had long been a member of Slaty Creek church.  Peace to her memory.”


Prudence F. Tatum was first married to Alfred Warder Taylor, a former pastor of the Slaty Creek Church, and they were shown in the 1870 census, both age thirty-six with six children: Ella, Mary, Stephen M., and Robert C., Mattie C., and Milla Y.  Alfred Taylor died in 1896, and eight years later, his widow married James William Cox, May 24, 1904.


About five years after James Cox and Prudence Taylor married, it appears he began investing some of his money in land, and continued this pursuit during the period of time he was married to Prudence Taylor. 

On January 7, 1909, at age seventy, James W. Cox purchased more land from William D. Newton of Fordsville, Ohio County, KY, for $1,500, but nowhere in the deed does it name the number of acres purchased.  He paid $600 in cash, with the remainder in four land notes of $200 each, and one land note for $100 of even date, with remaining payments starting on January 2, 1910 through January 2, 1914, “with interest at 4 percent, holding a lien on the land for payment of same.”  The land was located in Ohio and Hancock counties, on the waters of Adams Fork. 

The seller, William D. Newton, reserved “the coal under said land for the period of twenty years, with the right to mine same during said time, with a right-of-way from the County road to the mine opened on same.”  The deed was recorded on March 13, 1909 at the Ohio County Courthouse, by W. S. Tinsley, C.O.C.C.

Nine days later on January 16, 1909, John Newton, of Fordsville, Ohio County, sold eight acres of land to J. W. Cox, of Fordsville, so it may be that James Cox had moved to this town where he had once had a blacksmith shop at the age of twenty-two.  He paid cash of $115 for the eight acres, which was also located on the waters of Adam’s Fork Creek.  Perhaps James Cox was just speculating that he could turn a profit on this land because of the coal mining going on there, and the fact that Fordsville then had the Elizabethtown and Paducah Rail Road running through it.  Possibly, he thought the town would grow and land would be a good investment for his money.

A year later on February 25, 1910, James W. Cox purchased another eleven acres, located on the West side of the Fordsville and Cloverport road, from H. F. and Annie G. Hobbs for the sum of $300 cash.

It is unknown whether or not he still owned the acreage he purchased at Fordsville before his death in 1931.  Most likely he had sold or traded it.

James Cox, at age seventy-eight, was married a fourth and last time to Anna M. Simpson on June 20, 1916.  In the 1920 census, enumerated on January 26, James Cox and Ann M. Cox lived at Rosine Precinct.  James was listed as eighty-one. Ann was listed as fifty-four, born June 1862, in Kentucky, parents born Kentucky.  They were married not quite seven years when she died. 

Anna was the daughter of John Chancellor, mother’s name not yet determined - only the name of “Chancellor” was given as her mother’s name on Ann’s death certificate.  According to her death certificate, “Annie” Cox died February 25, 1923 and is buried beside her first husband, Gilbert Simpson, in the Rosine Cemetery, Ohio County. 

After Ann’s death in 1923, James William Cox, about eighty-five, lived at various times with his children, taking turns with those who lived in Ohio County.  In the spring of 1930, when the census taker came to call, James W. Cox, ninety-two, was living at Rosine with his daughter and son-in-law, Cinderella and Tom Crowder, who at that time had been married about thirty-four years.  Tom was a farmer; James was listed as “retired.”

My father told me that when he was a young boy, he remembered a time when his grandfather, James W. Cox, came to visit and stayed with them for several weeks. Most likely, this visit would have been about the year his wife, Prudence (Taylor), died February 6, 1916, which means my dad would have been about six or seven. Daddy told me several stories about his grandfather, Jim Cox, and going in the wagon with him to visit some of his other children, as well as a story about going swimming in Green River.

In December 1976 when I was doing an audio-taped oral interview with my dad, I asked him if he ever visited his father’s daddy, and he remembered a time when his grandfather came to stay with them for awhile.  My dad said:

            “Oh yes.  Yes, I visited him, but I never visited in his home but one time.
            After my grandmother died, on my father’s side.  My father and I…he lived
            with us for a while…came to live with us, because he didn’t want to stay
up there by himself in that big old house, so they persuaded him to come
live with us.  And we took a wagon, and went up there and got some of his
things…clothes and a trunk, and a few things that he wanted to bring down
there with us.  We were nearly all day going up there and back…at Rosine.
Up there where Loretta lives.

Then I saw him again when we were back there on a visit.  And he was at
my Aunt Cinderella’s house, then.  We went up there and stayed all day,
and he was living with them.  And he was an old man then.  He lived to
be ninety-three.

“I can remember us going down to Uncle Orlando’s and Uncle Iry’s and we
were going to go to the Green River and go in swimming.  And we went in
the wagon, and when we got Uncle Iry in the wagon, he asked Uncle Orlando
if he wanted to go by and get Grandpa…said he bet he would like to go.  And
Uncle Orlando said, “Oh, he wouldn’t go swimming.”  And Uncle Ira said,
“I’ll bet you he would if you went by and got him.”  And so we went by.  And
it was all men and boys in the wagon.

“And we drove down to a big high bluff…where there was a real deep hole.
The water was just as clear as it could be.  And everybody stripped their clothes
off, and I never will forget how knotty he was, and old.  But as old as he was,
he ran over there to that great big rock bluff and dived off into that Green River
and…boy, I ran up there and peeped over to see if he was going to come up. 
(Laughing!)  Eighty years old!  And he come up and went to swimming just like
the rest of them…having a lot of fun.  Of course, he didn’t stay in as long as
they did. 

That was a swimming hole!  They had been coming there for a long time.  It
was a good place and real deep, and the rock hung right out over the water.
You could dive right off.  It was in the summertime.  I know we stopped and
looked at all the corn they had…it was in the river bottom, and rich land.  It
was hot.  I can’t remember too much about him, because I wasn’t around him

In another taped interview about two years later on March 5, 1978, my dad expanded a little more on this same story:

            “Grandpa Cox lived with us after Aunt Pru died.  I can’t remember his first wife, who was my grandmother, but he remarried, and we just called her Aunt Pru.  And when she died, well, we went to Rosine...right up there where Loretta (meaning Loretta Westerfield, my grandfather’s niece, who was the daughter of Cinderella) lives, and got all his things.  And he come to live with us awhile… until he got over his…you know, sorrow.  I guess he stayed with us three or four months.  I know it was springtime when we went up there.  And it seems like it was along in the fall when he moved, and I can’t recall who he went to, but I think he went down to Uncle Orlando’s.”

My dad’s memory is fairly accurate here, because Aunt Pru died in February 1916, and my dad would have been about six years old, going on seven, but it would have been summer instead of fall when his grandpa moved back home.  His marriage to Ann Simpson in June that year was probably more for convenience to both of them, but for him especially, since he was seventy-eight, and she was twenty-two years his junior.  In the end, he outlived four wives.


Mary Elizabeth (Mitchell) Cox had only been married to John Rummel seven years when she died from pneumonia at age fifty-nine in Obion County, Tennessee on February 7, 1903.  A little over a year later, back home in Ohio County, her father, Joseph Martin Mitchell died November 27, 1904.  He was buried at McCord Cemetery, beside his wife Susannah Caroline (Acton) Mitchell, who preceded him in death by twenty-six years.

In the 1900 census, John and Mary E. Rummel were shown living in Household No. 103 in the Magisterial District of Hartford, Ohio County.  He was listed as age fifty-two, born June 1847, in Kentucky with both parents born in Kentucky.  Mary E. was listed as age fifty-six, born June 1845, with both parents born in Kentucky.  Living with them, listed as a “boarder” was Ira C. Cox, son of Mary Elizabeth and James William Cox.  Both had timber jobs and occupations for John Rummel and Ira Clinton Cox were listed as “day laborer.” 

No record of Mary Elizabeth’s burial has been found and no monument has been located there in Obion County, Tennessee.  Hopefully, a child’s or grandchild’s Bible, or perhaps an old letter, will turn up one day that contains this information.


My grandfather’s niece, Loretta Westerfield, daughter of Cinderella (Cox) Crowder, told me in a letter written Monday, October 27, 1975:

 “John Rummel, by profession, was a “tie-hack,” an expert on hacking ties; he went wherever he heard of a big timber job.  Can’t remember, maybe never knew, his native state.  They went from here to Tennessee.  Uncle Ira went with them, also Adrian Stewart, Aunt Mary’s son.  They were there when she was buried at Obion, Tennessee. Uncle John Henry Stewart, went from here to represent the family.  A very sad occasion. 

“Adrian told me he saw him, Mr. Rummel, in Illinois years later, and Uncle Netter, who taught school in Arkansas, felt sure he had a daughter of his as a pupil.  But never learned first-hand for sure.  Her last name was Rummel and she had some of his characteristics.  Pneumonia was the cause of Grand-mother’s death.” 

My grandfather, Jasper Newton, was away in the army at the time his mother died, but he told me that one of the family members went to attend his mother’s funeral.  According to Loretta’s letter, it may have been Uncle John Henry Stewart, husband of Susanah “Susie” (Cox), who went to represent the family.  It was quite a long way to travel at the time, and the trip most likely was made by train.


James William Cox, the son of true pioneer parents and grandparents, outlived his fourth wife, Anna M. Simpson, by eight years. By the time of his death, he had lived through twenty-three presidents, and had spent all his life within the county of his birth.  

He died at age ninety-three, on September 30, 1931 at Equality, Ohio County, while visiting or living with the family of his fourth son and tenth child, Orlando Clay Cox.  He was buried in the Smallhous Cemetery, adjacent to the Smallhous Baptist Church, not far from Centertown and Equality.   The paper at Centertown noted his death:

“Oct 16, 1931 – James W. Cox. father of Ira and O. C., died at O. C.’s home on 9/25 of cancer.”

Another obituary in the Ohio County News gave much more additional information about Jim Cox, as well as the surviving members of his family, and reads:


Passes at Age
of 93 Years
Teacher in Earlier Life;
Eight Children Survive Him

     James W. Cox, 93 years of age, died Wednesday afternoon at the home of his son, O. C. Cox of Equality, as the results of complications of old age and pneumonia.

     Mr. Cox lived for many years in the Select neighborhood and was a member of the Select Christian Church.  In earlier life he taught school, many people in this county and elsewhere having received their education under him.  Later he was a farmer and a blacksmith.  

     Mr. Cox was married to Mary E. Mitchell of the Dundee community.  He was a brother to the late Dr. L. T. Cox of Owensboro.  Eight children survive him: four sons, T. J., Route 2, Beaver Dam; O. C. and I. C. of Equality, and J. N. of Texas;  four daughters, Mrs. Birch Shields, Beaver Dam, Mrs. H. T. Crowder, Rosine, Mrs. M. E. Crawford of Cromwell, Route 1, and Mrs. Mae Hocker of Topeka, Kansas.

     Funeral services were held at the Smallhous church, Wednesday afternoon at three o’clock, and burial was in the cemetery there.


NOTE: This article is Part VI of several.  It was written by Janice Cox Brown, an expert genealogy researcher whose ancestry is from Ohio County. Janice now lives in Texas. We thank her for her work and her desire to share her family research. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

James William Cox and Mary Elizabeth Mitchell - Part V


All of Jim’s farm work was done by horsepower and manpower, although it changed seasonally.  In addition to herding his cattle, tending young stock, harrowing plowed fields, harvesting crops, stacking hay, storing grain, and building fences, he was, at the same time, in the blacksmith business on the side to bring in extra money for his large and growing family.  His work was from dawn to dusk.

As soon as the children were old enough, he assigned regular chores and taught his six boys how to help with the livestock and how to seed, grow and harvest grain, as well.  Everybody in the family had to lend a hand, and at times, it is probable that everyone in the family may have helped with the field work.  Eventually, according to my grandfather, his older brothers mostly ran the farm, while their father operated his blacksmith shop on the side.

In working his homestead and farm fields, Jim Cox had to be part blacksmith, part mechanic and part carpenter, just to name a few of the talents needed to carry out a successful farming operation.  It was also important for him to be somewhat of a veterinarian so he could tend to the ailments of his livestock.  When we think about all the animals kept around the farm, the pioneering farmer had to be concerned and as knowledgeable as possible about their health and diseases. 

In the horse and buggy days, James Cox had to depend on his own remedies to cure the ailments of his horses, cattle and sheep.  Since there were no veterinarians such as we have today, most farmers, as a rule, practiced all the old-time cures taught them by their fathers.  Just like most of his neighbors, Jim Cox probably made his own all-purpose ointments and liniments that contained ingredients such as turpentine, coal oil and salty meat grease, among other things, widely used for wounds, cuts, bruises and just about everything.

First and foremost, it was important to know how to tend a sick horse and restore his health, else plowing and essential work would not get done.  Of course, Jim also needed to know something about how to tend to all the other animals around his farm.  But, like most farmers of that era, he was concerned mainly with the care of his horses, mules and cattle.  In that day, some people also still used oxen for plowing and pulling heavy loads. 

Having been a teacher, he would have realized the importance of studying the economy in planning for his annual and immediate cash income.  As part economist, he most likely consulted the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the oldest continuously published periodical in America, first published in 1792.  He checked it out to get the most favorable weather information, moon cycle dates, and planting guides for his crops, as well as for all the latest agricultural techniques.  Most almanacs of the day supplied astronomy and weather observations. 

If Jim Cox used the moon cycles to plant, as outlined in the almanac, it provided him with a few tips to yield more and healthier crops, such as:

§         First quarter moon cycle (new moon to half full) – Plant things
that are leafy, like lettuce, cabbage and spinach.

§         Second quarter moon cycle (half full to full moon) – Plant things
that have seeds inside, like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and beans.

§         Third quarter moon cycle (full moon to half full) – Plant things that
grow underground like potatoes, onions and beets; also perennials.

§         Fourth quarter moon cycle (half full to new moon) – Do not plant
at this time.  Weed, mow and kill pests during this time.

§         Do not plant anything on the first day of the full moon or new moon.

With study of this old-time reference guide, Jim went about making the necessary plans for his farming operations for the year.  It was important to plan ahead for selling some of his produce and crops in the nearest market in order to buy his land, farm tools and supplies.  He probably wrote down his ideas - dates his animals were bred and born, the cost of his seed, and other farm plans - in an old time gray canvass-backed ledger book or perhaps on a calendar.  Or, he may have carried a little pocket-sized canvass-covered book that he kept handy in the pocket of his bib overalls.

    He had a number of things to plan for and consider in selecting the crops for his farm.  Generally, he had to consider the lay of his land, investment requirements, cost of supplies, number of acres to be planted, and possible profitability.  Jim was also concerned about how and where the crop would be stored before going to market, prices, and where he would sell all that he did not keep for his family and his livestock.

And of course, as with all farm or any other business operations, his success depended to a great degree on what state trends and market conditions prevailed at the time. No doubt he tried to take all this information into account in making his annual farming plan.


          Mary’s garden, located near the house, had to be cleared of old growth and weeds in late fall every year, and in spring her sons plowed the garden plot to loosen the soil and opened up rows for planting. Lettuce was probably planted first in the “tobacco burn beds” where seedlings were planted, covered with cloth to hold heat in. It gave the lettuce an early head start.  Sometimes lettuce was transplanted to the ends of tobacco rows.  Cabbage planting came next, along with beets, English peas, onions, greens, carrots and a few other vegetables that liked cool weather.  Mary and the children weeded and took care of the garden the rest of the year.

          One of the big jobs - planting potatoes - came early, too, about a month before the last spring frost.  Earlier, the seed potatoes had been spread out for several weeks until the eyes sprouted and were ready to be cut up in big pieces.  Mary had to teach her children that were old enough how to handle a knife and cut up the potato into pieces with eyes.  They probably sat around in a semi-circle, maybe in the kitchen, or if it was warm enough, maybe out on the back porch or down at the barn, while they helped cut up the potatoes under the watchful eye of their mother. 

         It was a time-consuming job to cut the potatoes in sections, making sure each section had at least one or two eyes and a large piece of potato.  Having one eye on each planting piece was important since the new potato grows from the eye.  After maybe two or three tow-sacks of seed potatoes had been cut up, the chunks were spread out in a sunny place to air, while waiting for the eyes to grow into about one-fourth inch sprouts.  When the potatoes were well sprouted, the pieces were ready to be planted.  Holes or trenches were dug in the freshly plowed ground, then the children sprinkled each hole with a dipper of water from a bucket to help start the growth.  Potato pieces were dropped into the dampened holes, about twelve inches apart, and then they used their hoe to cover the seed potato section with about three inches of loose soil.

Sometime in May or early June, the potato hills were ready to be plowed up, dug, and picked up by the children.  Harvesting the potato crop took hours of back-breaking work, bending over and digging out the potatoes buried in the loosened dirt, and taking them to the barn to a cool, dark place where they were spread in a layer to dry out. 

The Cox family probably ate an abundance of potatoes, prepared in many ways.  Boiled new potatoes, when cooked with the first garden pickings of Kentucky Wonder beans, and a pan of freshly baked cornbread, was a meal “fit for a king” and one the whole family looked forward to!  Just as today, potatoes were a popular dish on the dinner table, whether it was potato salad, fried potatoes with onions, baked potatoes, mashed, or creamed.  New potatoes were a staple and most farm families also planted a fall garden with potatoes they buried later to preserve and carry them through the winter.

Other vegetables cultivated in the garden were tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, radishes, green beans, butter beans, peas, carrots, cabbage, pumpkins, turnips, squash, sweet potatoes and watermelons.  They grew just about everything you could think of and particularly raised a lot of beans, which in the fall, were dried and threshed to use all winter.  Sometimes they raised running beans beside the cornstalks.  Sweet corn as well as field corn was planted.  The family ate both kinds, and they made a lot of hominy, but mostly, field corn was used for animal food, with some ground into corn meal at the mill for the family’s use.

The farm also supported a fruit orchard, consisting of apple, pear, peach, plum and cherry trees, which were tended and pruned to provide fruit for jelly, jams, preserves, pies and cobblers in the winter.  Fruits from the orchard were canned, preserved or dried and supplemented wild fruits and berries, which with honey, molasses and maple syrup, made the Cox farm practically self-sufficient.   Farming was a year around job.

Everyday Life for Mary Elizabeth Cox

It’s easy to imagine a day in the life of Mary Elizabeth (Mitchell) Cox. With five children by the time she was twenty-six, each coming along about two years apart, Mary Elizabeth had a large responsibility to keep her household running smoothly.  In general, she managed the household and the outbuildings and grounds around the house, while her husband managed the rest of the farm, including the stock barns, storage sheds, and fields.  Besides tending to her children’s needs, responsibilities for Mary included cooking, washing, ironing, churning, cleaning, mending, sewing and raising enough food in the garden to last the family for a year.

All her jobs were important, but cooking for her large family started her day.  Just as soon as her feet hit the floor in the morning, Mary Elizabeth headed to the kitchen to build a fire in her big black cast iron, wood-burning cook stove that dominated the room.  They had no electricity, gas, or running water, so after filling the graniteware tea kettle from a water bucket, she set the kettle on the stove to get hot for coffee.  When the water boiled, she added ground coffee to the pot.  A tea kettle was nearly always on the kitchen stove top, full and hot for the needs of the day, such as washing the dishes or scalding a chicken. 

By the time a good fire was going in the kitchen stove, she had put on her calico apron and prepared large pans of biscuits, a platter of ham, sausage or bacon, gravy, and scrambled eggs in cast iron skillets for her large and growing family.  On hot summer mornings, enough biscuits were cooked for both the morning and noon meal.  Having a good cook stove made her life a bit easier than cooking on the fireplace like her grand- mothers had to do.  It was probably around the warmth and heat from the cook stove in the kitchen on cold winter evenings, where Mary bathed all her young children in a zinc tub in winter.  The kettle on the stove was handy for refills to keep the water warm.

With her husband working in his blacksmith shop and her sons working in the fields, substantial meals, cooked from scratch, were required three times a day.  The minute the men had eaten and left out to work, the kitchen was cleaned up and what must have seemed like a mountain of dishes were washed, by hand, in a dishpan.  Right away, one or two of her older daughters started preparing and getting ready for dinnertime.  Then, donning their sunbonnets, Mary and some of the younger children may have gone out to hoe weeds in the garden before the sun got too hot. 

When the garden had been hoed, weeded, and the potato bugs picked off, Mary went back to the kitchen to check on how dinner was coming along.  (In that day and time, the noon meal was called “dinner” and not lunch.  The evening meal was called “supper” and was the last meal of the day where they helped themselves to as many “seconds” as they wanted.)  As soon as dinner was over, the same routine was repeated for supper. And so it went, day in and day out.  Cooking, taking care of her children, and tending to the outside chores took up much of Mary Cox’s day.

The chickens had to be looked after too. Every so often, the nests had to be cleaned out and new straw put in for the old setting hens that would be hatching baby chicks. She usually had several hens setting at one time to provide plenty of young roosters and pullets to fry for Sunday dinner. Gathering eggs was another chore for the younger children.  It took a dozen or more fresh eggs for breakfast, not to mention the eggs used for cooking.  If she had any eggs left over, she probably saved and sold them to the nearest neighbors or merchants.  

Each evening she sent one of the children to the chicken yard to shut the chicken house door after the chickens had gone to roost, else a fox might get in and kill all the chickens before morning.  Several times a year, the chicken house floor had to be raked out and cleaned.  Raising chickens in all kinds of weather was a year-around job that required daily time and attention.

Morning and evening, the girls fed and watered the chickens. All the animals around the farm had to have water.  Their hand-dug well in the back yard had poles that supported a pulley, rope and a tin well bucket to draw water.  Sometimes buckets and any number of other objects were accidentally dropped in the well, and it had to be cleaned out every summer.  All the children, boys and girls, took turns throughout the day carrying water into the kitchen – to wash dishes, to cook with, for drinking water, and for bathing.  Since they didn’t have running water as we do today, a good well of pure, fresh water was important to the Cox family.  Ponds and creeks on the farm watered the horses, cows and larger farm animals.

Sometime during the day, all the smut on the glass chimney shades of the coal oil lamps had to be cleaned and the wicks trimmed before using them again in the evening.  Farm people had long, hard work days and most families went to bed soon after the sun went down. Some folks claimed, “we go to bed with the chickens,” meaning they retired very early.  It saved money – on candles and on coal oil.  Besides, they usually got up at first light when the roosters started crowing from the top of the henhouse every morning.

Washing, a complete hand operation from start to finish, was one of Mary’s biggest jobs.  If there was no spring nearby, all the water had to be drawn from the well, bucket after bucket, or else water was hauled to the yard in a barrel. I can imagine that Mary Cox was up early, before most of the birds were awake, to get the fires blazing under a huge black iron wash pot – one for washing and boiling sheets first, then clothes – and  second and third pots or tubs for rinsing. 

Using homemade lye soap and a poke stick for stirring the clothes around in the pot, she washed and scrubbed, beat and pounded, and she may have used a wooden rub-board by that day and time.  Sheets were so large and heavy that it took two people to rinse, twist and wring out all the water.  Afterwards, clothes were hung out on clothes lines to dry in the sun.  If they ran out of clothes line, the fence made a good place to hang the heavy work clothes - overalls and work shirts.

Nothing was ever wasted, and at the end of washday, Mary Elizabeth probably poured her rinse water from the washtubs on flower beds or perhaps on a row of herbs in her garden.   We can be sure that she had all her children old enough to help her out on washday!  Washing was followed by folding and putting away the clothes, and ironing.  Irons were much different from what we use today.  Made of iron, they were heavy, and had to be heated on the wood cook stove or set on a trivet in the fire place.  Several irons were heating at the same time to make the chore go faster.  Electricity was unheard of in that day and time.

In addition to all the work of her household, she had to take care and maintain the health of her family.  She did, however, have her brother-in-law, Leonard Cox, a pharmacist who later became a medical doctor, to call on when there was sickness in the family.  Nevertheless, she collected and dried many medicinal plants, just as her mother and grandmothers had always done before her.

At different seasons, she probably made lye soap and dozens of molded, tallow candles at a time – enough to last through the winter.  Everything she did – from making soap to making hominy and sauerkraut, to preserving fruits and vegetables, to picking the geese to make feather pillows and mattresses, to quilting and mending – all was done the hard way, the same way as for every other farm woman.  A woman’s work was just taken for granted.  It was simply her job and something she was supposed to do.  Then, as now, there was no time for idle hands. 

Living on a farm, young, and being the only adult woman in the home, Mary Elizabeth had all the work to do by her own efforts until the children were old enough to help her.  Somehow, with all her other work, while her husband was gone during the day, she managed to have time to look after several small children, cook large meals, bring in wood and water, and was responsible for the garden and for the domain of the farmyard.

No doubt there were mornings when she woke up at the crack of dawn, faced with the realization of all the work that lay ahead of her that day.  Although she was young, surely there were times when it seemed overwhelming and unending to her.  But, with so much work to be done, there was simply no time for complaints, and so she managed the best way she knew how.

For Mary Cox, the first years of her married life were probably more difficult than can be imagined and her workload for home and hearth must have been the work of survival.

After the children came along and were growing up, James Cox often instructed his children in their schooling.  My grandfather said they always had a good number of books in their home.  Jim and Mary Cox encouraged their children to get as much education as was available to them.  Most attended school at various times at Cromwell and Select, and walked to and from, a distance of at least a mile or more, in all kinds of weather.  My grandmother said that in Ohio County, Select is pronounced as “See-lect.”


In 1878, Mary’s mother, Susannah Caroline (Acton) Mitchell died at age fifty-two and five months, and was buried in the McCord Cemetery, located between the communities of Cedar Grove and Rosine, about three and one-half miles from Rosine on the Hall’s Creek Road.  Joseph Thomas Cox, the oldest son of James and Mary Elizabeth Cox, is also buried at McCord, along with his first wife, Emily J. (Crume).

Two years later in the 1880 census, James W. Cox, age 42 and Mary Elizabeth, 36, were living in the Stewartsville District, and are listed with nine children:  Joseph Thomas, 18; Susan M, 16; Delana Jane, 14; John W., 12; Mary E., 10; Netter, 8; Emma, 7; Martha, 2; and Orlando C., 4 months old.


The large Cox family was almost totally self-sufficient, just like everyone else in Ohio County.  They had to be!  No super-markets were handy in that day and time and travel was by horse and buggy.  Many things they needed were bartered or swapped for.  Mary may have used her income from sales of eggs and butter to finance the purchase of household items, while Jim probably used his blacksmith and farm income to expand his capital investment in land and equipment.  

Once a month, James and Mary probably went to Cromwell or maybe over to Beaver Dam, about six miles away, in the buggy for staples and supplies, and if they took some of the children, they went to town in the wagon.  Each son and daughter was part of the family team and each contributed something everyday to help sustain and improve their daily way of life.


Over a span of twenty-eight years, Jim and Mary Elizabeth Cox had fourteen children, all of whom married in Ohio County (except one daughter) and became respectable citizens of the county.  The children’s names, dates of birth and death were listed in the family Bible (Nelson series, Thomas Nelson and Sons) belonging to Cinderella (Cox) Crowder, and was in the possession of her daughter, Loretta Westerfield, Rosine, Kentucky in 1972.

As recorded in the Bible of James W. and Mary Elizabeth Cox, the “Births” of the parents and their fourteen children are recorded as follows:
“James W. Cox was born the 24th of February 1838.
Mary E. Mitchell was born June 1st 1844.
Joseph T. Cox was born September 8th, 1861.
Susanah M. Cox born July 18th, 1863
Dalana J. Cox born October 2nd, 1866
John W. Cox born May 15th, 1868.
Mary E. Cox born December 6th, 1869
Gabriel N. Cox born Dec. 10th, 1871
Emma C. Cox born Aug. 8th, 1873
Cindrilla Cox born Sept. 2nd, 1875
Martha E. Cox born Aug. 31st, 1877
Orlando C. Cox born Feb. 2nd, 1880
Ira C. Cox born Jan. 20th, 1882
Jasper N. Cox born May 10th, 1884
Bertha B. Cox born Sept. 13th, 1886
Sarah May Cox born July 25th, 1889”

I do not have a copy of the marriage record pages, but only three deaths were recorded in the Bible, two children, Bertha B. and John W., plus Rebecca Patterson, the second wife of James W. Cox:

            “Bertha B. Cox departed this life August 7th, 1903
            Rebecca Cox departed this life September 2nd, 1903   
            John W. Cox departed this life February 18, 1906.”

Mary Elizabeth Cox was forty-five years old when Sarah May, her eighth daughter and last child, was born on July 25, 1889.  James was fifty-one.  When little Sarah was born, their oldest child, Joseph Thomas, was twenty-eight.  Three of their children - Susanah, Delana Jane, and John W. - were already married and had left home to begin families of their own.  The next year in 1890, two more children married, Joseph Thomas and Mary Ellen.  That left at home, four boys and five girls – Netter, Emma, Cinderella, Evelyn, Orlando, Ira, Newton, Bertha and the baby, Sarah May.  All of their children grew to maturity except Bertha, who died when she was not quite seventeen with typhoid fever.


Because ninety-nine percent of the1890 census was destroyed by fire in a Washington, D.C. warehouse on January 10, 1921, we now have a twenty-year gap between the 1880 and 1900 censuses. Twenty-four important questions were asked in the 1890 census that would have given more clues about our families. The loss of the 1890 records requires us to look for help in other places to fill in the genealogical holes in our family research.  Tax and land records can often help fill this lost period of time in the county records.


Sometime in November 1890, when my grandfather was about six years old, James William Cox and his wife of thirty years separated and filed for divorce.  Mary Elizabeth moved out of her home.  At forty-six, other than domestic skills, she probably had few talents required to make a living for her younger children.  After all, she had been married nearly thirty years, borne fourteen children, and had time for little else besides raising her family.  Thus, the children remained in the home with their father, age fifty-two, at the Cox homestead, and continued going to school.  The older daughters still at home, Emma, seventeen, Cinderella, fifteen, and Evelyn, thirteen, helped with the care of the younger children.   

According to family members, only eight-year old Ira Clinton, who cried and cried, went with his mother. It is unknown how she supported herself, but somehow she managed. She may have lived for a while with a brother or sister’s family.  When Mary Elizabeth returned home to visit her children, James would leave the home to let her have time with them. 

No reconciliation was worked out and their thirty-year partnership came to a formal end, three years after the first filing, when the court rendered a final decree on November 1, 1893.  It must have been a sad day for the children, young and old.  All hearts concerned probably felt a little heavier that day.

On April 3, 1896, about two and one-half years after the divorce was final, Mary Elizabeth (Mitchell) Cox married John Rummel.  In 1900 the couple was living in the magisterial district of Hartford, Ohio County.  John was fifty-two, Mary E. was fifty-six, and Ira Clinton was eighteen.  Sometime after the 1900 census, she and her husband, an expert “tie hack,” moved to Obion County, Tennessee, taking Ira Clinton with them.

NOTE: This article is Part V of several.  It was written by Janice Cox Brown, an expert genealogy researcher whose ancestry is from Ohio County. Janice now lives in Texas. We thank her for her work and her desire to share her family research.