Jehu Cox, Sr.

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Question: What happened to Jehu Cox Sr’s oldest son after he joined the Mormon Battalion?

Answer: Jehu Cox, son of Thomas Cox and Rachel Carr, was born in Knox County, Kentucky on September 5, 1803. The family then moved to Iowa and then to Monroe County, Indiana.

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Jehu married Sarah Riddle Pyle on January 13, 1824. The newlywed couple lived near or with his father's family for four years. During this period of time they had three children, two of whom died in infancy. Due to continued illness, they decided to move elsewhere. In December of 1827 Jehu's small family moved to Warbash, Waren County, Indiana. After four years and three additional children they decided they would move until they could find a healthy place to live.

In 1835 they left for the State of Indiana, finally settling in Crawford County, Missouri and started farming. Jehu writes that the whole family found health and happiness in this primitive area. Additional children were added to the family. Three seasons were spent in these Ozark Mountains and additional children were born.

Then, an event that changed their lives took place. It was the winter of 1837-38 when two strangers came to the Cox home. They ask for a night's lodging, Jehu and Sarah felt their small house was inadequate to house their seven children let alone strangers. However, they welcomed the strangers, fed them, and began asking questions. After explaining they were Mormon missionaries, they told them about the restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Being members of the Quaker Society, it was more than Jehu could believe.

After much explanation and discussion, Jehu asks his Heavenly Father for guidance. Jehu was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on January 12, 1838, with Elder Benjamin L. Clapp officiating. Sarah followed her husband into the waters of baptism, a month later, on February 13, with Elder Isaac Allred officiating. Mormonism had a powerful influence on the life of Jehu Cox. Its teachings affected his spiritual, moral, and social wellbeing.

In time Jehu decided to gather with the Saints. In November, 1839 the family moved to Adams County, Illinois. Jehu rented a farm below Quincy where he remained for two seasons. After the 1841 harvests, the family moved within three miles of Nauvoo, the headquarters of the Church. While in this area three more children were born, one living about six weeks. After four years the family was advised to move into the City of Nauvoo for their protection from the persecution of the mobs.

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The Nauvoo Temple records show that Jehu and Sarah were married in the temple for time and eternity in February 1846. Two days later the great exodus began. Jehu writes, "We left Nauvoo and came to Pisgah and planted some corn." When the word was given to move on, Jehu packed his wagons and headed to Council Bluffs, Iowa.

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Jehu and Sarah’s oldest living son, Henderson Cox, joined the Mormon Battalion. He was killed on June 27, 1848, at Tragedy Springs. He was with David Browett and Ezra Allen as they scouted out the trail from California back to Utah. He was only eighteen years of age. He was buried by other members of the Mormon Battalion at Tragedy Springs.

When the spring of 1847 arrived, the Cox family crossed the Missouri River and went about seven miles to the Campbell farm. They planted a crop and remained there for a year. In the late spring of 1848 the Cox family was busy with preparations for the journey west. With eight children and two adults the preparation would take considerable planning and purchasing. Also, at least two covered wagons would have to be outfitted.

The westward journey began on May 18, 1848 under the direction of the Heber C. Kimball Company. This Company had 226 wagons and 662 people and was organized in Captains of Fifty and then Captains of Tens. Jehu was appointed to be the Captain of the fourth Ten.

A little over a month into the journey a tremendous tragedy took place. Six-year old Lucretia, riding in a wagon that went into a ditch, was thrown out of the wagon onto the wagon tongue. The Company was stopped and a very simple funeral was held. The journey was continued westward without further incident to the Cox family. The Company arrived in the Salt Lake valley September 24, 1848.

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Jehu Cox was a builder of two communities, Ft. Union and Fairview. He and family were the first settlers in the Little Cottonwood Creek area of the Salt Lake valley. Obtaining permission from President Brigham Young, Jehu moved his family there in April, 1849. In July, 1851 Little Cottonwood was considered large enough to be organized into a ward. Silas Richards was appointed Bishop, Jehu Cox first and Henry H. Wilson second counselor. When Jehu was set apart as the counselor he was ordained a High Priest.

Jehu’s home on the left side of picture where the wall isn’t complete.

Jehu’s home on the left side of picture where the wall isn’t complete.

Due to the Indian depredations and troubles in the Territory it was decided, in 1853, that a fort should be built as a protection against the killing and stealing that was taking place in some of the areas. "Jehu Cox gave ten acres of farming land for the fort...”

Jehu reached his 55th birthday September 5, 1858. Since coming to Fort Union five of his children had married. The nine years in Union saw the family expanding faster than Jehu’s farm could sustain. The Cox clan now totaled 31 souls. Jehu and Sarah had a total of seventeen children but seven died young–the last two were a pair of twins who died at birth. Sarah was almost 43 years of age. All agricultural land in Union was now under cultivation. Jehu and six couples decided to seek new homes where it was less crowded and the land was sufficient to support them.

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They ventured to thirty miles from Mt. Pleasant. They selected a site at the bend in a river where the landscape was beautiful, decorated by meadows of wild hay. From this scenic spot the town was later named Fairview. A town was staked out, with each family in the group being given a plot. Jehu and his sons spent the winter building the walls for the fort, clearing land, and building homes for their families. By March 1860 the building was far enough along that they brought their families to the new area. They continued clearing the land, building canals, and constructing a dam. By the end of 1860 the area was a real community. James Naylor Jones was appointed presiding Elder with Jehu Cox as one of his counselors.

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For twenty-five years Jehu served the church as a bishop’s counselor. In May 1877 Jehu and Sarah left Fairview and went to St. George to spend the winter with their son, Isaiah, and to do temple work. In St. George he spent an enjoyable winter visiting his children and doing temple work. Sarah passed away in 1891. In the year 1892 Jehu’s health broke.

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He passed away, at the age of 90, on December 26, 1893. He is buried in the Fairview City Cemetery.

Source: Excerpts from “History of Jehu Cox,” researched, summarized, and compiled from various histories, recorded interviews, and personal knowledge, by Clark L Cox, FamlySearch.org; FindAGrave.com