So He Went On The Hunt!
Sometimes my job is a little difficult as I struggle between keeping history as pure as possible when I am many years removed from it and not offending the families who often fail to enjoy the antics of their ancestors, seeing it as a blight (I suppose) on the family name.
There was none of that, however, this past week when I visited with Eddie and Sharla Johnson Cox about what I thought was going to be both of their family lines. Wrong! It took about two seconds for me to realize that here was a couple who had way too much research and who knew way too much about their families for me to be able to capture it in a single article.
Since it was Eddie who led the conversation, I decided to begin with his family. We didn’t find any good “horse thieves” to discuss, but I can assure you that if we had, Eddie Cox would not have hidden them. He is way too interested in preserving the absolute history of his family, at least as best we can.
“I didn’t know anything about the family when we were in school,” he confided. “Family just wasn’t something we talked about when we were all growing up,” Eddie added.
For him, it all began with a photo, a photo found in an old dresser drawer.
“My grandfather, Tom Cox, Sr., built this house,” he explained. And by “this” house, he was referring to the home he and Sharla live in today.
“When I was young, we moved in with my grandfather to help take care of him. It was after he died and after we lost my dad that I found the photo. Mom didn’t know anything about it, but I couldn’t imagine why we would have it if we were not related to the man,” he told me.
“Why would we have that huge photo if this man were not related to us?” I just kept thinking.
So Eddie Cox did what I wish more people would do today: He went on the hunt to unlock the mystery of the man in the photo, and he connected the photo with one he had seen in the Comanche County Historical Museum. That was his first step on the links in the chain that would eventually lead to volumes (literally) of notebooks filled with research.
As it turned out, the man in the photo was W.D. Cox, Eddie’s great-great-grandfather, who arrived in Comanche County from Tennessee in 1876. Once ne knew that, the genealogy ball turned into the proverbial snowball, rolling downhill at a tremendous rate of speed as Cox began to learn more and more about his family.
Of course, the job was made easier by the fact that W.D. Cox immediately began to cut a broad trail in Comanche County. First, he arrived just in time to become the first school teacher in the community of Sidney, where he worked from 1876-1881.
From there, the great-great-grandfather of Eddy Cox went on to serve as sheriff of Comanche County from 1882-1884, and then he served two terms as a deputy sheriff to Sheriff James Cunningham.
After his stint in law enforcement, W.D. went back into teaching, this time at the Comanche College.
“Like the rest of us, nothing mattered when we were young. It was after my dad died in ‘87 that I even started looking at genealogy,” Eddie confessed.
“But you know,” Sharla broke in, “I’m not sure how much they even knew. I remember asking your mother about the photo, and she didn’t know who it was.”
Believe it or not, Eddie Cox had been sitting on some of the best history in the county, and he didn’t even know it!
“Well, we never had a reunion that I remember,” Eddie said, “so she probably didn’t know.
“After I found out who he was, I went to see Gussie Cox (mother of L.D. Cox of the Indianapolis fame), and she told me to contact Billie Cox Hale in Tennessee, that she had done tons of history on the Cox family. We went to see her several times, and I found worlds of info from her.”
The funny thing s that Eddie is not related to the Missy or Preston Cox family, but Sharla is! And it’s WAY too complicated for me to understand! There are some Johnsons and Coxes that married and then the McCulloughs come into play somewhere in there…
And by then, Eddie had pulled out at least fourteen notebooks crammed full of research. Next week in our Heritage section, I will tell you what he found. For now, suffice it to say that his tenacity paid off in spades, and today, Eddie Cox not only knows that the man in the photo is his great-great grandfather, he also knows WHO the man was…as much as is possible to know.
How fun is that? Next week, we will show you the photo that inspired it all!