Research Notes

Jesse Cox Parentage

When was he born?

Probably the place to start is to ascertain when Jesse was born. We have the following ages recorded:

From the above, we can probably discard 1765-1780 since none of the other data supports that date range. So we are looking at a birth date between 1780 and 1793. But when weighing the quality of the sources, the age he gave at enlistment is probably more reliable than ages written by census takers, who may have taken the age from third parties. Therefore, Jesse was very likely born in either 1791 or 1792. Given that he enlisted in August of 1814, it is somewhat more likely that he was born in 1792. Given that he acquired land on May 13, 1812 for which he required consent, he was probably not yet of majority which if true says he was born after May 13, 1792.

Where was he born?

The 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880 census data all indicate North Carolina. The enlistment records say he was born in Ashe County. While Ashe County was not formed when he was born, it was by the time he was seven years old. While parts of Ashe County were reorganized into other counties at a later date, the locations we see for Jesse in census data suggest that he was born within the present-day boundaries of Ashe County. Thus we focus first on Ashe County records. Pauline Mikkelsen reports family lore that Jesse was "bound out" from England. While this may be true, none of the other documents support it at this time.

Where did Jesse reside?

We know his marriage was recorded in Wilkes County NC in 1815, but that doesn't prove he lived there. He received the deed to the property of Leonard Bumgarner on May 13, 1812 which suggests that he was residing in Ashe County at the time. He lived in Ashe County in 1814 when he enlisted, and a Jesse Cox is found on the 1815 Ashe County NC Tax List. That is likely our Jesse, who would have been at about 23, so he would have been a poll by then and we know he owned land. The tax list entry says he was in Captain Baker's District, on 100 acres assessed at $100 located at Bear Creek which ties into the deed. We also know that Jesse is found in the 1820 Ashe County census. So Jesse seems to have lived in Ashe County at least from 1814. He may have been married in Wilkes County because his wife's parents lived there, or perhaps he had relatives there, or perhaps he merely registered the marriage there rather than in Ashe County. His land patent for service in the War of 1812 was delivered to "Mount Trial Wilken County, N.C." The closest name like that is Trealy Mountain which is about three miles from the Ashe County border. Click here for a map of the site. However, he swore that he never received the patent. Our search for his parents must focus on Ashe and Wilkes Counties. (There were great many Cox families in North Carolina at the time. So for now we must hope they hadn't just moved into the area from elsewhere.)

So who were his parents?

The first logical thing to check is the 1810 census. Jesse should appear as a male 16-26 (1784-1794). On that census were recorded males 1-10, 10-16, 16-26, 26-45, 45+ and females of the same age ranges. Checking Ashe County (See New River Notes 1810 Ashe Co. Census), we find the following Cox families:

  1. Joshua Cox (1 2 1 1 0/2 1 0 1 0)
  2. Alexander Cox (2 0 1 0 0/1 0 1 0 0)
  3. Joshua Cox (1 0 0 0 1/0 0 0 1 0)
  4. Rankin Cox (1 0 1 0 0/1 0 1 0 1)
Of these, the candidate is the first Joshua Cox household. (I suspect that the older Joshua Cox household in the 1810 Ashe Co census is really the John Cox household, perhaps residing with Joshua.) Men of Jesse's age lived in the Joshua and Alexander Cox households. Jesse's father, if living, would have to fall into one of the 26 or over categories which eliminates the Alexander Cox household. Of course, we are assuming that Jesse at age 18 was living at home and was counted within his father's household. We are also assuming that the 16-26 year old male in the household was Joshua's child. Joshua Cox, the son of Captain John Cox and Margaret Davis, was born in 1773 which would make him about 37 years old in 1810. [Source. Heritage of Ashe County North Carolina Volue I, 1984] [Source. Ashe County, N.C. Cemetery Records compiled by Russell Hamilton.] Joshua Cox married Nancy Richardson in 1793. [Source. LDS Ancestral File.] Here is the lineage [Source. LDS Ancestral File.] of Joshua Cox:
  1. John Cox (abt 1550-)
  2. Michael Cox (abt 1575)
  3. Richard Cox (abt 1660-1733) md 1674 Mary Bourne
  4. Joshua Cox (22 Apr 1694-1747) md Mary Rankin
  5. John Cox (25 Jul 1739-24 Dec 1818) md Margaret Davis
  6. Joshua Cox (18 Mar 1773-1860) md 1793 Nancy Richardson (17 Mar 1776-18 Feb 1853 [Source. Ashe County, N.C. Cemetery Records compiled by Russell Hamilton.])
The known children of Joshua and Nancy were: William (09 Dec 1794, he had a son Jesse), John (abt 1796-), Marjory (1805-15 Sep 1869), John (abt 1807-) , Catherine (11 Apr 1809-05 May 1873), Samuel (22 Jan 1811-31 Jan 1868), Sallie (abt 1813-), Cynthia (abt 1815-), Joshua (1817-), Sallie (abt 1821-), Cynthia (abt 1823-). The male children fit the age distrubution in the Joshua Cox household precisely, when taken together with Jesse. Not all female children are accounted for, but that is not unusual since records for females are often more difficult to find. Looking for naming pattterns, the known siblings of Joshua Cox (1773) were: James, Katharine, Polly, Annie, Jane, Sarah, and Cynthia. [Source. LDS Ancestral file. Joshua Cox AFN:RN1N-D3]

Could Joshua have been briefly married previously to a woman who died after giving birth to Jesse? The manuscript A Brief History of Russell County by William Settle which contains the following:

"Jesse Cox Family: He was the first Cox in the section and who his mother was, was never known. She died when he was born."
If that is true, then Jesse's father was a early widower who may have remarried. This fits Joshua very well. Joshua married Nancy in 1793. That is the year after Jesse was probably born. It was common that a widower with young children would remarry.

Karen Barkley reports that her unsourced data shows Joshua Cox was married first to a Baker woman, sister to James Baker who married Joshua's sister Anna. If true, this would add considerable weight to the theory that Jesse was Joshua's son.

Now, let's take a look at the 1800 Ashe Co Census. On the census were recorded males 0-10, 10-16, 16-26, 26-45, 45 and over as well as females of the same age ranges. The Cox families were:

  1. John Cox (1 0 0 0 1/0 0 1 1 0)
  2. John Cox (0 0 0 1 0/1 1 0 1 0)
  3. Abel Cox (1 0 0 1 0/1 0 0 1 0)
  4. Joshua Cox (2 1 0 1 0/0 0 0 1 0)
In this census, Jesse should be in the 0-10 age group. The elder John and the Joshua Cox families found here are almost certainly the father and son described above. The age for Joshua's wife Nancy (b. 1794) is slightly off, but not by much. If this is Joshua and Nancy, then the two males 0-10 match the William and John. So where is Jesse? Was he misrecorded into the 10-16 range? What could complicate things would be if Nancy brought children to their marriage. Joshua remains a very good candidate to be Jesse's father, but the data is slightly off. The younger John Cox family is likely another son of the elder John. The Abel Cox is another possibility. No information is available on that family. By 1810 Abel either died, moved, or was missed in the census.

In the Wilkes County 1810 census are the following families:

  1. Reuben Cox (2 0 1 0 0/1 0 1 0 0)
  2. Aaron Cox (1 0 0 1 0/2 0 1 0 0)
  3. Lucy Cox (0 0 0 0 0/1 0 0 0 1)
  4. Thos. Cox (0 1 1 0 1/1 1 0 0 1)
Of these, only Thos. Cox is a candidate. The Reuben and Lucy Cox households have no male old enough to be Jesse's father. The Aaron Cox household has a male that could be Jesse or his father, but not both.

Going back to the 1790 Census, we find the following families in Wilkes County. This is before Ashe County was formed from Wilkes. Counted are males 16+, males under 16, all females, slaves:

  1. Airess Cox 1st Company (2 0 2 0)
  2. Thomas Cox 9th Company (1 3 2 0)
  3. David Cox 9th Company (1 3 2 0)
  4. Jno Cox 10th Company (2 1 4 11)
The name "Airess" appears later in a Dr. Aras B. Cox who was born 1816 in Floyd County, Virginia and married Phoebe Edwards there before settling in Ashe County. However, there appears to be no earlier ties to Wilkes or Ashe County in his family. (His father was Mathew Cox son of Carter Cox Sr. son of Matthew Cox Sr.) [Source. Heritage of Ashe County North Carolina Volume 1, 1984.]

Going back even further to the 1784-87 North Carolina State Census, we find no Cox surnames in Wilkes County. However, in Surry County from which Wilkes was created in 1777 before Ashe was created from Wilkes in 1799 we find familiar Cox names. Recorded were white males 21-60, white males under 21 or over 60, white females, blacks 12-50, and blacks under 12 or over 50:

  1. Matthew Cox (1 2 3 0 0)
  2. John Cox (1 3 1 0 0)
  3. Joshua Cox (1 4 4 2 4)
  4. Richard Cox (1 0 8 0 3)
  5. Milley Cox (0 2 6 2 6)

Action Items

Action. Attempt to eliminate candidates from the list of Joshua, Abel and Thomas Cox as father of Jesse Cox. Status. Open

Action. Attempt to find an earlier marriage for Joshua Cox. This would greatly increase the probability that he was the father of Jesse. Status. Open

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