Colorado Genealogy » Biographies » Biography of James W. Cox

Biography of James W. Cox

James W. Cox, who after a long and eventful career wherein the element of danger was almost ever present and the condition of contest was the regular order, is now, in the evening of his life, making his home with George W. Masters, a prosperous ranchman with a fine farm near Snipes, Mesa county, a sketch of whom appears at another place in this work. Mr. Cox is a native of Morgan county, born on September 7, 1832, and the son of Armstadt and Isabel (Caldwell) Cox, the former a native of Tennessee and the latter of Virginia. After their marriage they settled in Illinois, and there the mother died in 1859, aged fifty-five. The father died in June, 1832, and the mother remarried in May, 1836, to Able Harding, a good and honorable man who endeavored to have his step-sons grow up honest, respectable men. James W. Cox received a limited education and after leaving school engaged in farming for about eight years in his home county. In 1860 he came to Colorado and settled at Denver, but remained there only a short time, then went on to California, where he at first was employed on farms. He helped to start the first mail route between San Francisco and the Missouri river, and saw the first and the last of the pony express riding between these points. In June, 1861, he moved to Nevada and engaged in supplying horses to the overland mail route during the troubles with the Indians in those days, continuing at this business until 1864, when he again came to Colorado and enlisted in the Third Colorado Cavalry for the campaign against the Indians, then in an extensive outbreak. He took part in the Sand Creek battle with the savages on November 29, 1864, which practically ended the war, and he was mustered out of the service on December 23d following. In 1865 he was employed at ranching, then returned to Illinois, where he remained until after the death of his wife on October 15, 1873. Since that time he has been a wanderer in various parts of the West, seeking such employment and such occupation as his fancy or inclination directed, finding at last a safe and comfortable harbor after his long and stormy voyage, at the ranch of his friend, George W. Masters, of Mesa county, with whom he boards and makes his home. During his time Mr. Cox has had many thrilling adventures, many narrow escapes, and many periods of hardship and privation. Three times he was obliged to ride for his life away from the Indians and once away from the Mexicans and was only saved each time by the fleetness and endurance of his horse and his own skill as a horseman. On February 8, 1858, he was married to Miss Jemima Dawson, a native of Hancock county, Illinois, who died on October 15, 1873, aged thirty-two years, six months and six days, and left one child, their daughter Mary. Mr. Cox is a typical pioneer and there is no phase of frontier life that he has not been through. He is well versed in woodcraft, knows all the wiles of the Indians, can read the indications of weather changes, and has a wealth of worldly wisdom gathered in his western life and intimate communion with nature. He also has an almost inexhaustible fund of interesting reminiscences and narratives of persons and events of distinction which is a never-failing source of entertainment to his numerous friends and associates, especially those of the younger generation.

Source: Bowen, A. W. Progressive Men of Western Colorado. Chicago: A. W. Bowen & Co., Publishers. 1905.

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