Sandford C. Cox



SANDFORD C. COX,  deceased, a prominent member of the bar and politician, LaFayette, was born near Richmond, Wayne County, Indiana, July, 1811.  His parents were Joseph and Catherine (Rue) Cox, natives of Virginia, who about 1800 emigrated to a point near Waynetown and Richmond on White River.  His paternal ancestry were originally from North Ireland, of Scotch-Irish extraction, and a reminiscence of such nationality was preserved in the middle name given to him, that is, O'Cull, the O being dropped in the later years.

About 1825 the came with his parents to Montgomery County, settling near the banks of Sugar Creek.  Soon afterward, on a sleety day, when Sandford was about fourteen years of age, he was near a tree that was being cut down by his brother and sister, one chopping on one side and one on the other.  The tree fell upon him and so badly crushed his legs that he was confined to the bed a long time, and one limb had finally to be amputated.  This was supposed to be first case of major surgery in the State of Indiana; and at that early day there were not to be found in the whole region an accomplished surgeon, good surgical instrument or anesthetic of any kind.  The attendants confronted the terrible task.  They placed the sufferer upon a large wooden slab, and after bandaging the part and commencing the work of cutting, they feared to complete the job, not knowing how to take up the arteries until they sent for a physician sixteen miles distant!  Twenty-four hours elapsed between the commencement of the operation and the close, all this while the patient being conscious of everything and having no access to any pain-obtunding drug!  The cut surface was seared with a hot iron.  Not until eighteen months had expired did the poor boy become able to go around.

About a year and a half after his recovery the family removed to the vicinity of Granville, this county.  Mr. Cox, realizing that he was a dependent cripple for life, soon became despondent, and withal desperate;  his highest and noblest ambitions were crushed; yet, determining to earn his own support in some way, he resorted to the desperate means of stealing away from home on his crutches, and crossing the Wabash River, near Graville, in a hog-trough, so that his parents could not easily find him, for they would not suppose that he could cross the river without the assistance of some one who would tell about it.  he had had but two years' schooling, and that was of the almost useless pioneer kind; but such was the keenness of his intellect that he picked up a great deal more than the surroundings seemed capable of furnishing.  Just across the river he organized and taught a log cabin school, and it was nine months before the family knew where he was!

Arriving at the age of twenty years he was appointed, though not of legal age for the place, the first deputy county recorder, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of the recorder.  He was afterward elected and re-elected recorder for twenty two years in succession.  During this period he made his money and studied law.  After retiring from the office he entered law practice, in partnership with the late Samuel A. Huff.  His early years in the profession were devoted mainly to criminal suits, but subsequently he extended his practice to other branches of the profession.  During this time he wrote that exceedingly interesting history entitled, "Recollections of the Early Settlement of the Wabash Valley," a reliable work, quoted with satisfaction by all historians of Indiana.  The cover title is "Old Settlers."  Date of preface, 1859.  Many quotations from that history are made in this work.  The book can still be had at the store of John Kimmel, LaFayette.  Price, $1.

During the war Mr. Cox wrote a number of poems, which afterward were collected and published in book form, under the title, "The Evangelist and Other Poems."   These effusions breathe a fervent religious spirit, enjoyable by every Christian.  The author was a zealous Methodist all his life.  From these publications he realized a little profit.  His composition evinces that he had studied history and the classics for a useful purpose.  Investing his earnings largely in prairie and swamp lands in the northern part of the State, and in the schemes of various ditching companies which have since led to a successful drainage of that whole section, he came at length to be regarded as a man of considerable property; but the crisis of 1873 came at a time and in such a way as to make him, as the phrase is, "land poor."  October 4, 1877, Mr. Cox died of heart disease, and was buried in Greenbush Cemetery.

In his personal habits and fidelity to principle he was an exemplary man.  He was not only a devoted Christian, but a pronounced Abolitionist in the days when such a position insured a man a great deal of enmity and suspicion.  During the winter of 1844-45, when a large number of pro-slavery ruffians  undertook to "clean out" LaFayette, Mr. Cox was one of the few who dare to conceal some of the colored citizens in his cellar.  He was also one of the conductors and station agents of the "underground railroad."   He was a good campaignist and "stump speaker," both on political and social occasions, receiving many invitations to entertainments where he was expected to be the chief wit.  His "dry" humor was so characteristic of the man as to be always refreshing.  Neither liquor nor tobacco did he use after he came of age.  In this respect he must have been a superior man, as the custom of using both drugs was universal in his day.

Mr. Cox married Miss Charity E. Davis, a native of LaFayette, and a daughter of Levi Davis.  She was a resident of this city until 1887, when she moved to Sioux City, Iowa.  Of their seven children, six are living, namely: Joseph L., manufacturer of the Duplex printing press at Battle Creek, Michigan, of which he is the inventor; Walter H., foreman of the auxiliary department of the Sioux City (Iowa) Tribune; Sandford C. of the editorial staff of the Daily Evening Call, at LaFayette, and superintendent of the circulation;  John S., news compositor of the International Press Association in Chicago; Paul F., a pressman by trade, and now interested in the Duplex printing press of his brother at Battle Creek, and Mary C., who is with her mother at Sioux City.  The five sons were the founders of the Daily Evening Call, of LaFayette, issuing the first number December 3, 1883. See chapter on the press.

The sons also established the Tippecanoe Teacher, which ran for several years, and the Western Granger and Agriculturist, which is now the Home Journal.  They also for a time ran the Daily and Weekly Bee, of which their father had been the principal editor.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Tippecanoe County, 1888, pp 707-711

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