Jasper Alexander Cox and Eliza Augusta Duncan

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Title  Jasper Alexander Cox and Eliza Augusta Duncan
Author  Our Cox Cousins by Trudy (Mostert) Wiltbank
Text  Jasper Alexander Cox and Eliza Augusta Duncan

Missouri was about 60 years old when Jasper Alexander Cox and Eliza Augusta Duncan were married on 14 August 1890. Both of their families had been pioneers in the state and even they had come from pioneer stock who had come to the United States early, mostly before the Revolutionary War, and had been among the first settlers of Western Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee before Missouri. They were hardy people and taught their children a strong belief in God and the rewards of honest work. These same principles have been carried down from generation to generation until today we find the same ethics in effect in the homes of those good peoples descendents.

Jasper Alexander Cox, called Alex by his family and friends, was born 17 October 1864 in Mercer County, Missouri, the fifth of nine children born to Reverend John Willis Burton Cox and Mary Jane Rockhold Cox. His parents were farmers and he learned early what was needed to take care of a farm. From his father Alex and the other boys learned how to make bricks which were used to construct their own buildings and sold to others to have a cash income. Alex also learned how to be a good woodsman. He was handy with an axe, saw and other wood working tools. Alex was rather dark complexioned with blue or hazel eyes. He was about five foot ten inches tall and strongly built, weighing about 185 pounds. He had black curly hair. Generally he had a handsome long moustache which was dark brown. As he got older it became light brown. He often had a curl on each end of his moustache but sometimes trimmed it very short or even cut it completely off. Each style gave his face a completely different look.

Religion was important to Alex although he was very quiet about it. One day he took a load of eggs to Ilia school to sell to a neighbor. When he arrived he found a number of wagons there and on entering the school saw a church service was going on. He stayed through the service and then drove his wagon back home, eggs unsold. He would not break the Lord's day by buying or selling and was very chagrined that the Sabbath day had come upon him unawares. Alex had very little schooling when he was young. He had to leave school when he was ten to help with the farm work. However he was a well read man and educated himself in a variety of subjects. He was well informed about the local and national events of the day and could discuss them intelligently with anyone. He planned to study law when he was young but was never able to do so. As with most young men, a beautiful young lady came along to change his plans. He met Auda and when he returned from a trip they were married in Mercer on August 14, 1890 by Preston Hampton, Justice of the Peace for Mercer County. Witnesses for the wedding were William Brown and Jimmie Duncan, Auda's brother. From that time on Alex put all of his energies into being a farmer even though it was not his favorite occupation.

Eliza Augusta Duncan was born on the first of August, 1868, in Mercer County, Missouri. She was the daughter of John Thomas Duncan and Mary Diana Brown Duncan, the second of eight children. She grew up in a loving home and learned to work hard and to take care of herself and the younger children as they came along. In appearance Auda, as she was called by everyone, was quite beautiful. She had long (she could sit on it) auburn hair and she curled it so it formed a soft frame for her face. She was always carefully dressed and very neat in her appearance. She made all of her own dresses of calico or other inexpensive material but she did beautiful work and looked very tailored. Later as the children came she made all of the girls dresses and the boys shirts. Auda was not a tall woman, only about five foot three or four inches and very well proportioned. She had a pleasant oval face and brown or hazel eyes that crinkled when she smiled which she did often. Education was not considered necessary for a girl at that time so Auda was fortunate to receive about as much schooling as anyone had. She went through the country school and had some schooling in the Lineville, Iowa, town school. She helped the children get their first start in school but after they were in about the fifth grade Alex took over helping them with their homework. She learned how to play the organ after she was married. After Alex and Auda were married she became the housekeeper for her new husband and Uncle Porter, his brother, who lived with them and helped farm. There was a lot of housework for a woman in those days. She did all of the cleaning, washing on a washboard and cooking on a wood stove. In addition she took care of the kitchen garden, chickens, etc. As the children came there was even more to do. Often during certain seasons extra men were hired to help with the farm work. This made extra cooking and washing to attend to. Auda also did all of the canning and preserving of vegetable and fruits for the winter months. She had a cave, or cellar, where the bottled foods, dried fruits, wheat, cornmeal and all other storage foods were kept for use in the winter time. Auda was happy when the fall preserving was finished and there was enough food for her family to eat until the next harvest came. A farm family seldom had much money but they were usually pretty well fed.

The family increased in numbers. Wyona Ivan (0na) was born November 15, 1890 followed five years later by lona Mae (Ina) born July 1, 1895. Then came the younger boys, James Alexander, December 14, 1898, and John Burton, November 14, 1900. Music was important to Alex. He was able to play the organ by ear and he and his brothers and sisters often sang together in the evening. After his marriage he bought an organ and continued to play for his own family and they would sing together. During the early part of the twentieth century financial conditions were very bad in Mercer County. The drought years were beginning and crops were very meager. This combination of little money in circulation and crop failure put many families in a precarious condition, financially speaking. About this time Alex heard that Oklahoma was a new "land of promise". Land could be purchased for a small filing fee of $14 and a promise to live on the land. Any person over 21 could file on 160 acres. It sounded good to Alex so he took his family and went west. It was great fun for the children riding the train and going to a new place. However, after all the work of clearing the land and planting the crops it seemed Oklahoma was having the same drought that was destroying the farms in Missouri. Very little harvest resulted from all the work. Less than a year after they arrived in Oklahoma, Alex and Auda made some covered wagons, loaded the furniture and children and headed back "home". Missouri was still having a draught but at least they were among friends and family. Back in Missouri the family increased. Albert Porter was born February 1, 1903 and then seven years later the twins, Dora Eleanor and Maggie Susan, were born on the January 5, 1910. In 1913 a new house was built on the Cox home place. It was a lovely large house and had plenty of room for a growing family. It was here that the younger children grew up, playing on the rolling hills, learning to work from their father and mother and feeling the happiness that comes from a loving family. They were not prepared when tragedy stuck. The morning of January 28, 1919 the family were all going to Ina and Bob Gibsons to butcher a pig. Alex said he would walk down as he wanted to check a fence. Dora and Maggie rode with their mother. Albert took the cows to the pasture then hurried to catch up with his father. As he walked along he heard groaning and ran ahead to see Alex lying on the ground. He seemed to be in great pain. Albert was only fifteen and was very frightened when his father didn't answer him or tell him what to do. He ran down to the neighbors, Charley and Alice Kelly's. Jim Downing and Charley hurried back with Albert. Alice waited by the road and stopped Auda and the little girls. They all went through the fields to where Alex was lying. There was a large twig under his feet and they thought he had tripped. At first it was thought he had had a heart attack since he had heart trouble. However the doctor said he had died of apoplexy (stroke). Alex passed away on 28 January 1919 at the age of 53 years and was buried in the South Lineville Cemetary, in Mercer County. It was very hard on the whole family because it was so sudden but they all worked together and life went on. Just five years later another tragedy occurred. Auda had been ill for sometime and was getting weaker and weaker. The doctor told her she had cancer and there was nothing he could do about it. One day when Mary and Ona stopped by to see if they could pick up some groceries for her they found that she was very ill and on the verge of death. As Ona went to phone for the doctor Mary and some nearby neighbors did all they could to make Auda comfortable but she soon passed away. Her last words were to ask God to forgive her which I am certain He did. Auda passed away on the 23 March 1924 and is buried beside Alex in the South Lineville Cemetary.

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