Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The 14 Children of James William Cox and Mary Elizabeth Mitchell - Child 12

Jasper Newton Cox

      Jasper Newton Cox, the twelfth child of James William and Mary Elizabeth (Mitchell) Cox, was born at Cromwell, May 10, 1884.  His maternal grandparents were Joseph Martin and Susannah Caroline (Acton) Mitchell.  He was the great-grandson of Bartemus and Sarah (Robey) Acton and Robert Mitchell and Judith Benson. 

      When he was born in 1884 to James and Mary Cox, his oldest brother, Joseph Thomas Cox was already twenty-two.  “Newt, as he was called by the family was the youngest of the six sons of his parents.  He had six older sisters and two sisters younger than himself.  He was born and grew up in and near Cromwell and Select in Ohio County, Kentucky.  Most of his ancestors on both sides had been in the county of his birth since in the early years after it was formed in 1798.  The Coxes and Leaches were here as early as 1801, according to deeds and tax records.

      His paternal grandparents were Thomas Jefferson Cox and Susannah Miranda (Leach), natives of Ohio County, Kentucky, and his great-grandparents were James Cox and Elizabeth (Leach) and William B(rooks) Leach and Sarah Emily Barnes, all believed to be natives of Maryland.

      Jasper Newton Cox was twenty-four when he married Eva Caroline Smith at her parents’ home near Select, Ohio County on September 6, 1908. Marriage licenses listed in the Hartford Herald, issue of September 2, listed J. N. Cox, Simmons and Eva C. Smith, Select.  They had four children:

1)      Gilbert Owen Cox, Jr., born October 10, 1909
2)      Eula Mae Smith, born April 26, 1912
3)      Retha Cox, born October 17, 1922
4)      Ruby Darrell, born May 9, 1926

      Newton Cox, as he was often addressed, had just been discharged from the regular U.S. Army a year or so before his marriage.  He served two different tours in the Army – the first one just a few years after the Spanish American War had ended in 1898 and the Treaty of Paris was signed on December 10, 1898. At the time he served after the war, it was known as the “Philippine Insurrection Period.”   Some historians refer to it as the war that lasted from 1899 to 1902 in the Philippines.  My grandfather always referred to his service as occurring in “the Insurrection Period after the war had ended.” 

      Many Regular Army infantry, cavalry, and artillery units were sent overseas to the Philippines after the war.  My grandfather, as a young, robust soldier, was eager to be sent overseas with his buddies.  He signed up to go to the Philippines more than once, but each time, other units were sent and he never did leave the States.  He enlisted twice, with his first tour of duty in the artillery division – and the second and last tour where he served as a guard at Fort Leavenworth Prison in Kansas, from which place he was honorably discharged about 1906.

      In the Hartford Republican newspaper, edition of January 27, 1906, appeared a  column from the Smallhouse community, which mentioned:  “Mr. Newton and Miss Sarah Cox of Pincheco, were guests of Orlando C. Cox and family recently.”

      Ohio County was a coal mining county and my grandfather worked in the coal mines when he and my grandmother were married, although he didn’t work there very long.  Grandmother told me she didn’t like for him to work there because it was too dangerous.  Ohio County newspapers frequently reported mining accidents, which were all too common. 

      When he left the coal mines, Newt, as he was called, bought a little farm near Cromwell and went to farming.  Two children were born to them in Ohio County – my father, Gilbert Owen Cox, born at Cromwell, and his sister, Eula Mae Cox, born on the new little farm at Cromwell.

      About 1914, they moved to Edgerly, Louisiana, where my grandmother’s sister, Elizabeth “Lizzie” (Smith) Sandefur and her husband, Everett, lived, with their little daughter, Joye.  My grandfather found work there and they lived in Louisiana for at least five or six years. 

      On September 12, 1918, according to the World War I draft records, Jasper Newton Cox was 34 years old and had to register for the draft at the nearest Local Draft Board for the Parish of Calcasieu, Louisiana.  The local board was located at Lake Charles, Louisiana, according to the “stamped” record.  His registration card – Serial No. 123 2855 – Order No. 123 gave his permanent address as Edgerly, Louisiana; age 34; birth date May 10, 1884; race “white;” occupation, Sulphur Mining; employer, Union Sulphur Co., Sulphur, Louisiana; wife, Eva Cox.  His height was “medium;” build, “medium” with blue eyes, dark brown hair, and it specified he had “lost one eye.”  Loss of his eye occurred in an on-the-job accident in what was called “The Big Woods” while they were splicing a drilling line cable and a small piece of wire broke loose and pierced the edge of the pupil of his eye.  He was carried to an eye doctor in Lake Charles, about six hours away, but even after surgery, he never regained sight in his eye.

      In 1920, they moved to Texas where two more daughters were born – Retha and Ruby Darrell Cox. My grandfather worked for the Gulf Oil Company for a number of years, and later in the great East Texas Oil Field at Kilgore, near Tyler, during the Great Depression era.


      When I was growing up, we nearly always lived near my father’s parents, and when I was a teenager, my grandparents bought a house and thirty-four acres across the highway from my parents.  So my grandfather Cox was always around and we grandchildren were with him often.  He was a very pleasant and congenial man and whistled or sang when he was doing his chores.  Sometimes he kind of whistled his favorite and catchy little tunes through his teeth or hummed to himself.  When we were little he would rock us and sing “The Preacher and the Bear Song;” “Big Rock Candy Mountain;”  “Little Girl Dressed in Blue;” and “A Tisket, A Tasket.”

      Before television, he never missed listening to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights on the radio, and later he watched it on TV.  His favorite song was probably “The Great Speckled Bird” as only Roy Acuff could sing it.  He was a Mason, a devout Christian, and could quote almost any verse in the Bible we could ask of him.  He read in his worn Bible every day.

      Later when he was older and my cousin, Beverly Kay Green, came along, I watched him rock her in his rocking chair and he sang, “On the Shores of Lake Ponchartrain,” “Mockingbird Hill” and “Swinging on a Star” to her.  He always liked music.

      He was a gifted and 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 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 completely enthralled and were so still and caught up in his stories that you could have heard a pin drop.  All the cousins remember this particular day and those old long-ago tales of his youth, growing up in Ohio County.

      In 1969, my grandfather, born 1884, began dictating his life story to me which I took down in shorthand and later transcribed into ten typed pages.  Our interview was interrupted that morning as we sat out on his screened-in back porch, when company drove up.  Joye, her husband, Frank Moore, and “Auntie” Sandefur from Palestine came over that Saturday morning, and we never did finish the history of his family. 

      I have always regretted that I didn’t go back over there the next weekend, because I wanted to get a few stories about all his brothers and sisters, and a little bit of their family histories.  But I have many stories of his life in Ohio County, Kentucky, his army life, coal mining, and his courtship of my grandmother, Eva Caroline Smith, that he told me that morning.  Together, they told me about their early life in Ohio County, before moving to Texas in 1920 when my father was about ten years old.

      An article from the Tyler Morning Telegraph on Saturday, September 8, 1973, noted their 65th wedding anniversary:


Troup – Mr. and Mrs. J. N. Cox of Troup will observe their 65th wedding anniversary with members of their family Sunday.

Both were born in Kentucky and have resided in Texas for 53 years.  They
have lived near Troup for the past 23 years.

They are the parents of four children:  Mrs. Darrell Appl of Tyler; Mrs.
Retha Green of Corpus Christi, Mrs. Eula Mae Smith, of Leoti, Kansas,
and Gilbert O. Cox, Troup.

Other descendants include six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.”


      My grandfather was ninety years, four months and eleven days old when he died at his home at New Summerfield, passing away peacefully in his sleep, on September 21, 1974.  He and my grandmother had been married sixty-six years at the date of his death.  He was buried at the Rose Hill Cemetery in Tyler, Texas, where years before the family had purchased a family burial plot when his two youngest daughters lived in Tyler

      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.”

   Masonic Record
Jasper Newton Cox

“J. N. Cox was initiated Dec,  29, 1923, passed on February 3, 1923, and raised on May 27, 1924 at Oglesby Lodge #947 – in Oglesby, Texas.
He petitioned the Troup Lodge on November 30, 1956 from the Springfield Lodge #974 at Mexia, Texas.  Said he had lived at his present address (Summerfield) since December 1949.”

       My grandfather was a Mason for many years.  Through his membership with this fraternity, Darrell and I joined the Order of the Eastern Star at Arp (Smith County, Texas) in 1982.  When I began to wonder where and at what age my grandfather petitioned the lodge to become a Mason, I wrote the secretary of the Troup Masonic Lodge No. 272, where he was a member.  I received the following information. 
      At the time he petitioned the lodge to join the Masonic Fraternity he was thirty-nine years old and was probably working at the Waco Lime and Products Company, along with his brother-in-law, Everett Sandefur.  The family lived at Oglesby in Coryell County for several years. 

      In December 1923 as soon as he had learned his work, he was initiated as an Entered Apprentice at Oglesby.  In February, three months later, he was passed into the Fellow Craft and the following May in 1924, he was raised to the degree of Master Mason.  He kept his membership until he moved to Mexia in Limestone County when the Waco Lime and Products Company went out of business.  Not long after he arrived in Mexia, he petitioned the Springfield Lodge No. 974 and his membership remained with that lodge until 1956.

      When he petitioned Troup Lodge about nine miles from his residence at New Summerfield, my grandfather was seventy-two and said he had lived at his present address (Summerfield) since December 1949.  That is the approximate time he bought his farm across the highway from my parents, who lived two miles out of New Summerfield on Troup Highway No. 110.

      My grandfather remained a member of the Troup Lodge until his death in 1974,
a period of twenty-eight years.  All told, he had been a Mason for fifty-one years. He was a faithful servant of the Master, daily walked with God, and preached righteousness to his children.  “As ye would that men should do unto you…” was the rule he applied to his own life and lived by.  Jasper Newton Cox was laid to rest with Masonic honors. 

      When my aunt wrote the information for her father’s obituary, she did not realize that it was not the Spanish American War that her father served in, but the period after the war called “the Philippine Insurrection Period.”

      My grandmother, Eva Caroline (Smith) Cox, born at Select, continued to live in her home across the highway from my parents until my father died on August 19, 1984.   At that time she was ninety-five and went to live with her youngest daughter, Darrell Appl, in Tyler.   She died December 6, 1988, three months short of her 100th birthday.  She had never been ill until the last six months of her life.  She was buried beside her husband at Rose Hill Cemetery in Tyler, Smith County, Texas.

      As mentioned, I have a typed ten-page story that my grandfather dictated to me of his life in Ohio County, including how he met my grandmother, their courtship in the horse and buggy days, and other happenings.  My grandmother said she thought he always tried to hire the wildest horse he could get from the livery stable, and consequently, they had some harrowing experiences. Later on, over a seventeen-year period, I interviewed my grandmother and other family members on audio tape for the remembrances of their life and times. 

      Slowly, I am also working on another book about my grandparents and my own parents, brothers and sisters.  If I don’t do it, it will be lost forever, and my children and grandchildren and future posterity won’t have the least idea about their family heritage.  I think it is important for them to know and I am thankful that I started collecting all this in 1962 – some forty-seven years ago, when my daughter Jennifer was in the eighth grade.  Her teacher assigned a project of “Family Tree” to her students as a project. As Jennifer started asking me questions, I realized suddenly that I knew nothing about their early lives or about my great-grandparents, although I did remember visiting my Great Grandmother Altman in Fort Worth when I was about five years old

      At the time of Jennifer’s Family Tree school project my two daughters had eleven grand-parents and great-grandparents living.   Three sets lived close enough that we could go visit, so Jennifer could interview them about their lives and their parents and brothers and sisters.  She also asked about their courtships and marriage.  And all three brought out a family Bible and Jennifer wrote down dates and places and filled in the blanks on the chart she had made.  Hearing the stories unfold of these grandparents was absolutely fascinating and they had such a good time telling their stories of days gone by.  Jennifer made an A+ on her Family Tree project – and I was hooked on family history – a hobby that has lasted the rest of my life.  

Submitted by Janice Cox Brown, Coppell, Texas

No comments:

Post a Comment