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Wyona Ivan Cox Family

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Title  Wyona Ivan Cox Family 
Author  Mercer County Pioneer Traces Vol I, Page 217, Mrs. Sherril Cox 
Text  Wyona Ivan Cox Family

It was chilly on November 15, 1890, when Wyona Ivan Cox was born to Jasper Alexander and Eliza Agusta (Duncan) Cox in Mercer County, Missouri. Ona (pronounced Onie) was reared on various farms and learned to work hard, a trait that he continued all of his life.

The spring he was seven, his family moved from their farm near Stringtown Chapel to a farm his father bought by Big Muddy Creek. The house was small and sat on the top of the longest, steepest hill in that part of Mercer County. Mud in spring and autumn and snow in winter made it very difficult to go either up or down the hill. The roads were dirt and very narrow.

When Ona was about ten, the family heard of land available in the Oklahoma Territory. They loaded everything into a railroad car and sent it on ahead while the family rode in a passenger train. It was high adventure for three children, Wyona, Iona and James "Jimmy".

The men staked their claims and began to work the farms. The trouble was the Oklahoma land was having the same drought that had sent them from Missouri. Since nothing would grow, the family decided to go back "home." Ona's father bought a wagon and put on bows and canvas. In this covered wagon, the family took about a month to make its way back to Missouri.

While his father did more farming in Missouri, Ona began to get an education. He went to Duncan School both before and after the Oklahoma adventure. He then broke tradition and went to high school in Mercer. Since it was only a two-year school, Ona graduated in the spring of 1909. He took the teacher's examination and was awarded a certificate to teach. In 1910 he began his teaching career. He taught at Hickory School, Jones School, Laughlin School, Ilia School, Duncan and New Zion School, as well as attending Maryville Teachers Collage for two summer sessions.

In July 1918 Ona got his call to serve his country and went with the neighbor boys to Camp Funston, Kansas. When it was time to leave for Europe, flu broke out and many of the men were very sick and many died. By the time the flu epidemic was over, the war had ended. Schools were set up in camp, and Ona was assigned to teach foreign boys, mostly Italian and Greek, to read and write English. They were anxious to learn so there were no discipline problems.

The latter part of January 1919 Ona received his discharge from the Army and headed for home on the train. Somewhere before they arrived at Mercer the conductor brought him a telegram edged in black. It told of the death of his father. He said he received notice of the death of many others. but this was the greatest shock he had ever had. It was a very sad homecoming.

As the oldest son, Ona took over the family business. He and his three brothers planted the crops that year, just as their father would have done. His little sisters, twins Dora and Maggie, were just nine, and they called him "BOSS".

On February 27, 1920, Ona and Mary Ellen Alley were married in Princeton, Mercer County, Missouri. Both of them were shcool teachers and continued to teach for a number of years after their marriage. Ona and Mary had four children (1) Ruth B. (Cox) Linn (1920-1992), (2) Joseph Alexander (1922-1995), (3) Thomas Willis (1927), (4) Norman Alley (1938-1995). All three sons served in the Armed Forces.

At one time, Ona ran for state representative on the Democratic ticket. Dr. George Bristow, one of the best physicians in the county, ran against him. He lost by a two-to-one margin but still got more votes than nearly any other Democrat who had run to that time. He never ran for public office again, except as school director. He served on several school boards.

After Ona and Mary decided to retire, they went to Arizona where they lived for several years with Willis. Wyona died on July 22, 1972, in Glendale, Arizona. He is buried in the South Lineville Cemetery. Mary died on October 31, 1975. She was also brought back to Mercer County to be buried in the South Lineville Cemetery beside Wyona.

Taken from "Rambling Through Life and Times" by Wyona Ivan Cox

Submitted by Mrs. Sherril Cox

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