Friday, August 5, 2016

Thomas Cox, Civil War Veteran

Thomas Cox is my paternal great-grandfather, father of Frank Ellwood Cox, my father's father. He was born in Stark County, Ohio, in 1837. The 1840 Federal Census lists his father Lyman living in Jackson, Virginia, with one male under 5 (Thomas), one male 30-39 (Lyman), and one female 15-19 (mother? aunt? boarder?) for a total of three persons at the residence. By 1850, young Thomas, now 13 years old, lived in Jefferson, Ohio, with his parents and six younger sisters. The family would share the troubles of their community during the Panic of 1857, an economic depression that caused widespread unemployment, bank and business failures, and falling grain prices.

Another move found Thomas working as a farm laborer in Ohio County, Virginia, according to the 1860 census. Here Tom, his father, and now seven younger sisters lived in a rural farming area. His mother was not listed here or in later records. Did she die in childbirth? Of an infectious disease? Was her death accidental? However she died, the father-and-son wage earners in this family of nine shared a great responsibility. Great-grandpa must have learned the value of hard work, wise spending habits, and loyalty to family during these lean years.

With the inauguration of President-elect Abraham Lincoln on March 4, 1861, secession of the southern states had begun and a war between North and South was inevitable. The War of the Rebellion began on April 12, 1861. On August 11, 1862, Thomas Cox enlisted in the Union Army at Smithfield, Ohio, in Company B, 52nd Regiment of Ohio Volunteers. On October 1st, the regiment marched from Louisville to Perryville, Kentucky, where it was present at the battle of October 8, 1862, a victory for the Union.

Civil War Campground
Returning to Louisville along with his regiment, records show that Thomas was absent due to sickness in November and December and in hospital during January and February, 1863. He was Honorably Discharged from the army while hospitalized. The "Certificate of Disability for Discharge" reads, in part, "I have carefully examined the said Thomas Cox...and find him incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of Physical Inability together with effusion of the abdomen". His career as a soldier was at an end.

Shortly thereafter, Thomas relocated to the newly established state of West Virginia. The IRS Tax Assessment Lists describe his occupations as "Peddler 2nd Class" and "Produce Broker". Nearby, his future father-in-law, William E Connelly, was a successful grocer. Perhaps these two worked together, and as a happy consequence, Thomas, and William's daughter Ida Viola, met, fell in love, and became engaged.
On October 28, 1868, Tom and Ida were married in the home of her parents in Wheeling, West Virginia. The marriage license lists his occupation as Farmer.

After a series of jobs including teamster, laborer, and confectioner, Great-Grandpa was admitted to the National Soldier's Home in Hampton, Virginia. He was 46 years old, and his twin sons Frank Ellwood and Fred were only 2 years old. It seems that his health had deteriorated steadily since the war, leading to the admitting diagnosis "disease of back, spine, and bowels". Seven years later, in 1890, a "Declaration for Invalid Pensions" was completed on behalf of Thomas wherein he is described as, "...wholly unable to earn a support by reason of Paralysis, being speechless, and almost wholly helpless..."

National Soldier's Home

Thomas Cox died on the 1st of April 1895 in the barracks of the last place he called home. The cause was "apoplexy with hemorrhage of the brain". Consistent with his status as Civil War veteran, he was buried at the Hampton National Cemetery. RIP, dear Grandpa.

Plot: Phoebus, Section D, 7081

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