Our Cox Family of PA

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Our Cox Family of Pennsylvania



ot #41 of the Union Church cemetery in Whitemarsh Township, Montgomery County:

"John Cox Sr. born 12-24-1788, died 7-6-1849, age 60 years, 6 months, 13 days"

This church was begun in 1818 and church records begun in 1856.  Whitemarsh was founded in 1704 and was William Penn's land in 1688.



Page 40, "Historical Society of Montgomery County: "Bulletins & Sketches", circa 1899:


                "The Lancaster's were large land-owners in Whitemarsh as early as the middle of the last century, in and around Lancasterville. They were Friends. Thomas Lancaster, the elder, was the first one of the name who settled in the township. The farms of Pete Cambel, Robert McGuire, J. Wilson Jones, George B. Cambel, Isaac E. Shallcross and the intervening small properties of the late Wilson family, were owned by the Lancasters. The village of Lancasterville took its name from this family. This is an old place, noted for its activity in the manufacture of lime in former times. The large quarries and numerous old and abandoned kilns attest its former industry, but since the building of the Plymouth railroad immediately below the village, the lime operations have all been moved in close proximity to the railroad for better facilities for shipping.

                Among the largest operators in lime burning in Whitemarsh fifty or sixty years of age was John Cox, Sr., who lived upon and owned the property of Robert Maguire, and died at this place probably forty-five years ago. I have frequently heard it said of him that when he commenced the business the store-keepers would not trust him to a pound of tabacco. He began with a cart and one horse, and by great perseverance and industry soon established such a credit that they were quite willing to trust him. In course of time he accumulated quite a large property in and around this village. Beside the Maguire place, he owned Peter Campel's place, above the gap on Militia Hill. In connection with this farm, a hotel had been kept many years in the past, and only a few years ago Mr. Cambel removed the sign post and the hotel was abandoned. Mr. Cox raised a family of seventeen children, none of whom live in the township, and only one grandson, Charles A. Cox, who still remains, and is extensively engaged in manufacturing lime on the Plymouth Railroad.

                Lancasterville, in its palmiest days, was known by the name of "Wrangletown," from the frequent quarrels and fighting's which would take place at elections, sales, or after paydays. Frequent pugilistic encounters, produced by the too frequent use of liquor, would take place at such times among the operatives in the quarries. But in this respect the village of "Wrangletown" is changed in morals as well as in its name."


From an article dated 4-23-1930 in the files of the Montgomery County Historical Society:



Four generations of the Cox family were identified with the lime burning business in Whitemarsh township which was recently sold at a receiver's sale. While the financial trouble of the firm which culminated in the receivership may be in part due to changing conditions in the limestone business, yet the direct cause was a disastrous fire at the Cox plant some years ago entailing a loss of $25,000 on uninsured property.

                The Cox lime business was founded early in the 19th century. Limeburning was for many years one of the leading industries of the county, and the kilns of Plymouth, Whitemarsh and Upper Merion township numbered several hundred.

                In early times one man usually was satisfied to operate one kiln or at most a small group of kilns. In the quarry he had half a dozen men who loosened the stone. One team of horses conveyed it to the kilns. There two men broke the stone to the proper size and placed it in the kiln and two others tended the fire which converted the stone into commercial lime.

                At first wood was the fuel. Then bituminous coal was used. Eventually the more enterprising lime burners divised ways of using anthracite. A pioneer in such experiments was William Lukens, whose kilns were in Upper Dublin township and who as early as 1831 produced 100 bushels of lime daily by burning anthracite and was able to work his kilns with less labor, no night watching being necessary.

                John Cox, first of the Cox family of limeburners, established the business about 1820 on his farm, at Lancasterville. He began with a cart and a horse, doing all the work himself. It used to be said he was so poor that storekeepers would not trust him to a pound of tobacco. However, his business prospered, and by 1830 he was the largest lime operator in Whitemarsh.

                Lancasterville, on the western slopes of Militia Hill, where the road to Cold Point intersects Stenton Avenue, was a thriving settlement in those days because of the large number of men employed in quarries and limekilns round about. Sometimes, especially on pay day, there were lively scenes, in consequence of which the place was known as Wrangletown.

                Above the gap in Militia Hill, where now there is nothing but wild woodland, there was a hotel in those days, where the limeburners and quarry men congregated. John Cox owned this hotel and many acres of the surrounding land.

                He had 17 children. One of these, Charles Cox, continued the lime business after his father's death. He was the first operator to ship lime by railroad from the Whitemarsh region. This was possible following the construction of the Plymouth railroad. The principal purpose in building the railroad was to tap the numerous limekilns in Plymouth and Whitemarsh.

                 In the third generation Charles A. Cox had control of the lime business. He was one of those badly hurt in the disaster on the Reading railroad at Exeter, Berks county, May 12, 1899, when numerous prominent residents of Norristown were killed.

                His son, B. Wilson Cox, became general manager of the lime business and subsequently when the Cox Lime and Stone Company was organized and the lime plant was rebuilt and modernized, another son, Charles C. Cox, was the manager."




John Cox, Sr. married twice. He rests in the above cemetery with first wife

Sarah and his second wife Margaret on each side. In early deeds wife Sarah is mentioned. Later Margaret is listed as wife:



3-26-1828: John Cox granted a messauge and tract of land 78 acres and 143 perches from Jacob Hoffman, yeoman, Whitemarsh Twp. and Catharine his wife  (Deed book 43, page 509) for $1,000


9-29-1828: John Cox granted land from Philadelphia merchant William Richards for $3,250.

Sarah is listed as his wife. (Deed book 44, page 340).


4-21-1835: John Cox granted 2 acres and 18 perches of land from John Hocker, yeoman,  of Whitemarsh Twp. and Elizabeth his wife (Deed book 51, page 147) for $205.97.


4-21-1835: John Cox granted  64 acres and 88 perches of land for $5,332 from the Estate of the Will of Barbara Coler, deceased (deed book 51, page 148)


4-11-1838: John  Cox, yeoman, of Whitemarsh Twp. granted messuages or tenements and three adjoining lots of land containing 1) 3 acres and 61 perches, 2) 2 acres and 83 perches and 3) 3/4 acre of land for $3,000 from John Shaffer, yeoman, of Whitemarsh Twp. and Ann his wife  (deed book 54, page 563). Mentioned are quarry lots and kilns.


2-15-1841: John Cox, yeoman, granted land from Thomas Rodebaugh for $700. Margaret is

listed as his wife. (Deed book 58, page 318).


4-19-1845 John Cox of Whitemarsh Twp. granted 19-1/4 acres of land from James Mitchell of Germantown, Phila. Co. & Ann his wife (Deed book 66, page 234) for $1,900: messauge, store house and tract of land in Whitemarsh Township.



4-5-1847: John Cox of Whitemarsh Twp. and Margaret his wife granted a messauge and 56 acres and 21 perches land to George Streevy (Deed book 70, page 100) for $2,250. Description mentions Reuben Cox property.  Original purchase: Book 43, pg. 509.


12-30-1846: John Cox granted land to Reuben Cox (Deed book 71, page 125)


6-21-1847: John Cox granted land to Reuben Cox (Deed book 71, page 127)

11-6-1847: John Cox Sr. granted land to George Corson (Deed book 71, page 253)

5-1-1848: John Cox granted land to Joseph Vanhorn (Deed book 73, page 16)

11-3-1849: John Cox granted land to Charles Cox (deed book 74, page 670)   note:

probably John Jr.

11-19-1855: John Cox granted land to Frederick Berger (deed book E, page 64) note: "Sheriff"


Note that no land transactions occurred during the time that the estate of John Cox Sr. was tied up in Orphan's Court. The last transaction may have been a "sheriff's sale" to help pay for the "bonds".



Chronology of Letters of Administration for John Cox Sr.:


7-6-1849: John Cox died intestate "on or about" this date in the District of Spring Garden of Philadelphia.


7-23-1849: Margaret, wife, sent letter to Register of Wills in Philadelphia Co. releasing rights and title to estate of John Cox, Sr., "of the District of Spring Garden in County of Philadelphia."


7-25-1849: Appraisers Zachariah Howell, 522 N. Front St. Phila., and Wm. Pillort, Germantown, appraised chattels, goods, etc. of estate of John Cox, Sr. Total appraised: $14,459.76, which included $12,800 mortgage. (on file Phila. Records Office)


7-27-1849: Letters of Administration granted to administrators John Cox, 151 New Market, Phila. and Reuben Cox, Whitemarsh, Montgomery Co. (Administration Book P #290 of 1849, Philadelphia). John Cox, Reuben Cox, Zachariah Howell and Sam Keyser of Germantown "bounded to Commonwealth for $30,000 securities. Instructions were to inventory estate and notify creditors. A notice to creditors appeared in a newspaper. (on file Phila. Records Office)


11-3-1849: John Cox granted land to Charles Cox (Montgomery Co. deed book 74, page 670)   note: probably John Jr.


11-5-1849: Appraisers Howell and Pillort prepare an additional inventory of estate, including $600 "cash in Manufacturers' and Mechanics' Bank" and "a note of hand drawn by Jessie Leister dated 4-2-1838 payable with interest" for $250. (on file Phila. Records Office)


8-6-1850: First account of estate filed in Phila. Co. Registers Office by appraisers.


8-20-1850: Petition of Reuben Cox presented in Orphan's Court of Montgomery County in Norristown before David Krause Esq., President, Ephriam Fenton and Joseph Hunsicker; Justices. A.  Reuben stated that his father died intestate on 7-6-1849 and was survived by widow Margaret and 16 children. They were listed in the following order:

                                                Mary "intermarried with Jesse Leister"                                                             

                                                John Cox

                                                Reuben Cox

                                                Sarah "intermarried with Jacob Mattis"

                                                Angeline "intermarried with Charles Keisel"

                                                Harriet Cox

                                                Elisabeth "intermarried with Charles Dunnett"

                                                Amanda "intermarried with Michael Snyder"

                                                Elias Cox

                                                Salathiel Cox

                                                Sylvester Cox

                                                Julia Cox

                                                Emanuel Cox

                                                Anna Maria Cox

                                                Albert Cox

                                                Malinda Cox


B. The petition stated, ""the last named eight of whom are minors vis Elias for whom _____ Gilbert is Guardian Salathiel, Sylvester, Julia, Emanuel, Anna Maria, Albert and Malinda of whom Jacob Scheetz is the Guardian. And the following named Children of Charles Cox deceased who was another child of said intestate namely Charles Alvan and Tabitha Cox both of whom are under the age of fourteen years and Daniel O. Witmer is their Guardian." NOTE:  Elias' status is vague here. If a minor is a child under the age of 14, then how can Elias be listed as minor if he is 20 years old? The term "vis" is used before the name Elias in regards to the other minors. This word means "empower." It seems to suggest that he was actually the guardian of his younger siblings. Also, the above appears to state that " ______ Gilbert" would be the Guardian of Elias. This matter apparently was never resolved, as Gilbert's first name was never supplied in later administrative letters. Finally, Elias eventually got his own lawyer to ensure that his siblings would get their  share (see 10-15-1855). One would conclude that Elias was the actual guardian of his siblings all along. Reuben wrote the petition that was vague about Elias.


C. Reuben stated his father's estate consisted of a tavern and a tract of land in

Whitemarsh Township situated on or about the road between Plymouth Meeting House and the Broad Axe Tavern (appears to be Butler Pike on modern maps). Reuben stated this land was sold to John Sr. on 4-4-1835 by Barbara Coler (deceased), Deed book 51, page 148. Reuben's petition  "further shows that he is a lineal descendant" of John Cox Sr. "having an interest" in the tavern and tract of land and that "no partition thereof hath yet been made among the widow and lineal descendants" of John Cox Sr.               


D. Reuben then petitioned the Clerk of Orphan's Court to award an inquest to

make partition or valuation of the estate. This was granted and an Order for Inquest was

ruled by the Clerk for the Sheriff to get 12 jurors (bailiwick) for this task and report to the Orphan's Court on 10-14-1850.  


9-27-1850: Inquisition of 12 jurors before Montgomery County Sheriff Philip Hahn High. Inquisition stated "that the property or premises cannot be parted and divided without prejudice to or spoiling the whole." As a result, the estate valued at $5,906.32. Widow's "part or third of said premises" valued at $1,900. 


10-14-1850: Judges Krause and Fenton present for this session of Orphan's Court. The Sheriff's Return of Inquest of Partition and Inquisition annexed. Judges rule that the estate was valued at $5,906.32. The Rule also states that the "partition thereby made be firm and stable forever" and (court?) costs be paid. Reuben and John Jr. represented by Nathan R. Potts Esq., attorney. Court rule that all interested parties appear in Orphan's Court at 10am on 11-18-1850 to accept or refuse this valuation and give cause why the estate should not be sold. No actual details of the "partition" is mentioned. 

11-18-1850: John Cox states that he served the Rule of Court (estate valued at $5906.32) on the other heirs.  

11-4-1851: 2nd account of estate filed in Phila. Co. Registers Office by appraisers. 

10-15-1855: Office of the Clerk of Orphan's Court: John Jr. "accepted the real estate" of John Sr. at the valuation and "signed bonds" to "secure the payments of the respective shares coming to the rest of heirs." Elias Cox appoints J. B. Davis of Norristown his attorney to "enter satisfaction on the records of the said bonds."


a-usa2.gif (3271 bytes)Thanks to Drew Techner, the 3rd great grandson of Mary Cox and Jesse Leister, for this information. May God protect and keep him safe as he serves our country in Iraq. 12.2003