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. 

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