This section of the website presents what I know about the family of William Calvin "Bill" Cox, son of Calvin Hart Cox and Willie Lyle Fleming. William's ancestors are shown in the family tree below. Click on the name of any person in the chart to go to a webpage with more info about that person as well as links to the person's parents, spouse and children.
Below the family tree are short biographies of some of Bill's ancestors. Clicking on a blue name will take you to the person's Individual Info Page. To return to this page, click on the Cox tab at the top of any page (or use your browser's Back button). For help with moving around in the web site, click the "Help" tab at the top of any page.
An index of all persons included in this section can be found here.
Solomon served in the North Carolina Militia during the Revolutionary War. He served in a mounted scouting unit and fought in some of the wild skirmishes that took place during the Southern part of the war. He was present at Hillsborough, North Carolina in 1781 when Patriot Governor Burke was captured. Solomon was taken prisoner and was being marched toward imprisonment aboard a British prison ship -- a probable death sentence -- when he was helped to escape by a North Carolina Loyalist officer named William King (I've tried to find out what happened to Captain King, but I've never found anything about him -- we descendants of Solomon Cox should be grateful to him, since we might well not be here if not for him).
After the war, it appears that Solomon returned to Cumberland County for some years. He and Mary were married there in 1784 or '85 and they lived there until the 1790's. At that time, they moved to Edgefield District in Western South Carolina. Solomon died there in 1839 and Mary died between 1841 and '46. It appears that Solomon and Mary had at least nine children, but I've only been able to find information about a few of them. The descendants I have found are listed here: Descendants of Solomon and Mary Cox.
Sometime between 1835 and 1837, Calvin and Martha left South Carolina and moved west, joining many other Carolina families who were migrating westward around that time. One likely reason for this large-scale movement was that until the 1830's, there was still a significant threat of Indian attack in the region that is now Alabama and Mississippi. It was only after the Choctaws ceded their lands in 1830 (the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek) and the Creeks were defeated in the "Second Creek War" of 1836 that much of the area was opened for settlement. A second factor driving the migration was the lure of low-cost farmland. Long-term cotton farming had ruined much of the good farm land of the East and word of amazingly fertile soils, particularly in the Mississippi delta, were a significant draw to frustrated farmers. Another factor might have been that Calvin's older brother Odum may have been tapped to inherit the family farm in Edgefield District, leaving Calvin looking at a landless future if he stayed in South Carolina.
Whatever their reasons for heading west, by 1840, Calvin and Martha were living in Perry County in the Alabama Black Belt, known then and now for rich farming land. They didn't stay in Alabama very long, though. Sometime in the 1840's, they continued their journey West and settled in Copiah County, Mississippi. At that time, Copiah County, like Perry County, was a center for cotton farming and it's likely that Calvin made his living in the cotton business. Calvin and Martha had nine children that I know of. Calvin seems to have died in the 1860's. Martha lived until 1878. Both are probably buried in Copiah County.
The 20th Mississippi Infantry was a Regiment of Floyd’s Brigade of the Confederate Army. It was formed in the Summer of 1861 and after some initial training, was sent to support Lee in Western Virginia. But in February 1862, U.S. Grant was advancing on Fort Donelson in Tennessee, the capture of which would open the Cumberland River into the heart of the South and the regiment was rushed to the aid of the fort.
Grant blocked escape from the fort by land and the Confederates were unable to fight their way out. Floyd and the other commanders at the fort decided surrender was the only option. Floyd was desperate to avoid capture and he commandeered two transport ships with the intention of getting as much of his command out as he could. The Yankees were closing in on the river landing and he needed a regiment to hold them off while the others loaded. He had to know that there was a good chance the transports would have to pull out before the guarding regiment could load. Now, Floyd was a Virginian and his command was made up of about 1500 Virginia troops and the 20th Mississippi. Guess which Regiment he chose to be the guard? And sure enough, the 20th was left on the shore while Floyd and the others steamed away to freedom. With no way out, the 20th stacked arms and waited for the Yankees to arrive.
The 20th and the other Fort Donelson POWs, about 7,000 men in all, were taken to Camp Douglas prison in Chicago, known now as "the Andersonville of the North". It was the depth of a frigid winter when they arrived, and prisoner death rates from cold and disease were extremely high. Official records state that 518 of the Fort Donelson prisoners died, but the actual number was certainly much higher. During the war, more than 6,000 Confederate soldiers (possibly, as many as 7,500) died at Camp Douglas.
The survivors of the 20th and the other Donelson prisoners were exchanged at the end of September 1862. The Regiment was re-formed and served at Vicksburg, then fought in Tennessee and Georgia, not surrendering again until the end of the war.
Calvin and Mary's son Robert F. Cox was born about 1837 when the family was living in Alabama. He was young when they moved to Copiah County, and he probably spent his youth there working on his parents' farm.
When the Civil War started, he seems to have been living in Carroll County, Mississippi. At the age of 24, he enlisted in the "Carroll County Guards", a unit that became a company of the 20th Mississippi Infantry Regiment of the Confederate Army. Not long after he enlisted, he seems to have suffered an injury or wound to an arm or leg. That wound was sufficiently serious to lead to his early discharge from the service and caused suffering for the rest of his life.
But before he could be discharged, he was sent to Fort Donelson just in time to be captured by the Yankees (see sidebar). He was shipped to the Camp Douglas prison camp in Illinois, where he spent the freezing winter of 1862. In September, he was exchanged and his discharge was finally acted on. He later recovered enough to rejoin the Confederate forces and served in the 5th and 28th Confederate Cavalry until the end of the war.
After the war, Robert returned to Copiah County. In December 1865, he married Mississippi native Elizabeth Annie Kennedy, the 23-year-old daughter of Milton Kennedy and Mary Eliza Cottingham. Robert and Annie farmed in Copiah County until sometime in the 1870's when they moved to Panola County where Robert worked as a carpenter. Their last home was in Sunflower County, where Robert died in 1895. Annie lived until sometime after 1910. Robert and Annie had seven children, the oldest being Bill Cox's grandfather, Calvin Milton Cox.
Robert and Elizabeth's first son Calvin Milton Cox was born in 1866, probably in Copiah County. His wife was Linda Sarah Hart, daughter of John Henry Hart and Mary Caroline Clark (see "The Harts"). They were married in Jefferson County, Mississippi. Jefferson County is where the town of Rodney is located. The Clark family (and also possibly, the Harts) had some involvement in Rodney and it's likely that Calvin and Linda were married in that town.
By 1894, Calvin and Linda were living near Yazoo City in Yazoo County, Mississippi where Calvin was working at a lumberyard. Like several of his family members, he was a lumber man and he was clearly successful at the trade, working his way up from a clerk in 1900 to manager of the yard in 1910. Calvin and Linda Sarah had four children, three boys and a girl. The oldest child was Calvin Hart Cox, Bill Cox's father.
Calvin M. died in 1913. It is said that he took his own life while at a family Christmas gathering. This was a scandal for the family and his daughter-in-law was still uncomfortable discussing it nearly 70 years later. Linda lived until 1955, long enough to entertain her great-grandson Glenn (see photo). Calvin is buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Yazoo City; it is likely that Linda is buried in the same cemetery.
Calvin Hart Cox was born in 1894 in Yazoo City. The only record I have of his boyhood is that he attended school, apparently at the high school level. He took a job with a hardware company in Yazoo City in his teens or early twenties. Sometime before 1917, he moved to Shreveport, Louisiana where he worked for another hardware company.
Calvin went back to work as a bookkeeper for Lee Hardware in Shreveport. He and Willie soon had a son, William Calvin, born in 1921. A second son, Jack Clayton was born four years later.
Sometime in the 1920's, Calvin's uncle Howard Hart loaned him the money to buy a lot next door to Howard's house. The lot was at 640 Wilkinson Street in Shreveport, a quiet lovely street that was just then being developed. Calvin and Willie had dreams of building a big house there, but they couldn't afford to build it at the time. So they built a small house on the back of the lot with the idea that it would be the guest house one day. They never did get around to building the main house, so they spent their lives together in "that odd little house way back from the street." They seemed to be happy there, the one possible problem being that they had an enormous front yard to keep mowed.
Calvin died in December, 1965 in Shreveport. Less than a month later, their son Jack died. Willie continued to live alone in the little house on Wilkinson Street and work at her seamstress job, but the stresses of the two deaths and of encroaching age began to tell on her health. In the early 1980's, her son Bill brought her to live with him in Cullman, Alabama. She had an active life there where she enjoyed many years of breakfast with the other "girls" at Hardee's. She lived to be 94. When asked the reason for her long life, she said that she had had a near-fatal case of scarlet fever when she was 12 and it had "boiled the bad" out of her. She died in Cullman and was buried next to Calvin in Shreveport.
I don't know anything about Joseph's younger years, but when he was an adult, he worked as a saddler and we can infer that he had some training in leather working, perhaps an apprenticeship. But the earliest solid information I have about him comes from 1835, when he married Rachel Collins, a Kentucky girl born about 1811.
Joseph and Rachel lived in the city of Bardstown in Nelson County, Kentucky. Bardstown was (and is) a center for the making of bourbon whiskey and at one time, there were twenty-four distilleries in the area. At that time, distilleries required a huge number of dray horses for hauling raw materials and finished products. Joseph ran a saddlery shop and probably had a good business producing harnesses and leather goods for the bourbon companies.
When the Civil War began, Kentucky was officially neutral, but the sympathies of the state's citizens were divided between the Yankee and Rebel sides. Joseph's family seems to have been anti-Union and at least two of his sons fought for the Confederacy. It is said that Joseph was briefly jailed during the time that Bardstown was taken over by the Yankee forces.
Joseph and Rachel lived in Bardstown until at least 1870. It is said that she died in 1878. What happened to Joseph after 1870 is a bit of a mystery to me. I have never been able to find him in the 1880 census and I don't know if he was still living in Bardstown at that time. But if we are to believe his headstone, he lived until 1884 and was buried in Rodney, Jefferson County, Mississippi. I don't know how he came to move to the Rodney area, but his son John Henry had moved there in the 1870's and it's likely that Joseph moved to be near him. I have not found Rachel's headstone in the Rodney Cemetery and I suppose that she died in Kentucky and is buried there. Their descendants are listed here: Descendants of Joseph and Rachel Hart.
The next we know of John Henry was in 1862, when he was in Jefferson County, Mississippi. I don't know how he came to be in that area, but I have guessed that he followed the Clark family there (see "The Clarks"). When the Civil War started, John Henry joined the Confederate Army's Jefferson Artillery. He served as an "artificer", one of the mechanics of an artillery unit. The Jefferson Artillery served in much of the hard fighting in Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama and suffered high losses. The small remainder of the unit (including John) surrendered and was paroled at the end of the war.
After the war, John returned to Jefferson County and, in 1866 married Mary Caroline Clark (see "The Clarks"). They seem to have lived in Mississippi for a couple of years, then moved back to Bardstown, where they were living in 1870. They soon moved back to Mississippi. About that time, John Henry seems to have dropped his saddle business and begun farming. They had four children, the second being Bill Cox's grandmother Linda Sarah Hart (see "The Coxes"). After John's death, said to have been in 1917, Mary Caroline moved to Louisiana to live with family. She lived to the age of 90, dying in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1931.
In the early-to-mid 1800’s, Rodney, Mississippi was a leading Mississippi river port. Boats landed there to bring supplies to area plantations and to take away local products, mainly raw cotton. Port traffic ranged from flatboats to big paddlewheelers like the Natchez and the Robert E. Lee. The town saw its share of notables including Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and Zachary Taylor. Taylor liked Rodney so well that he bought a plantation there. At its peak, Rodney had several churches, multiple banks, an opera house, and "a splendid hotel in whose ballroom many glittering balls were held."
Rodney’s most well-known event came during the Civil War. In 1863, a Yankee ironclad was stationed in the river just off Rodney. One Sunday, some of the crew went ashore to attend services at the Presbyterian church and were caught there by Confederate cavalry. The ironclad fired cannon shots into the town, but the Confederates got away with 17 prisoners. Supposedly, this was the first time that a gunboat crew was captured by cavalry.
Like all Southern river ports, Rodney’s commerce suffered greatly during the war. The area had other problems, too. After decades of cotton farming, the land was wearing out and that, combined with the end of slavery, meant the big plantations were dying. There was a huge fire that consumed much of the town. Another blow fell when the railroad was built, not through Rodney, but 10 miles to the East. Still, Rodney might have held on if it were not for the restless Mississippi. In 1864, a sandbar began forming in front of the town and in the 1870’s, the river jumped more than a mile to the West. The citizens moved away, and today Rodney is a ghost town.
The earliest record I have found that is definitely the right Nelson Clark is from December 1843, when he married Sarah W. Coolidge Lyles in East Carroll Parish, Louisiana.
Sarah is something of a mystery herself. She was born about 1813, in either Massachusetts or Kentucky. Many researchers believe she was the daughter of Nathaniel Coolidge and Lydia Wellington, Massachusetts natives who moved to Bardstown, Kentucky in the late 1830's (this fits with a common belief that Sarah's middle name was Wellington). In 1838, she married Williamson Lyles in Bardstown. It is said that Williamson was a Louisiana resident and the couple went to Louisiana to live. Williamson is said to have died soon after, leaving Sarah a widow in Louisiana. That could explain how Sarah came to be in Louisiana in 1843.
Nelson and Sarah lived in Louisiana until the late 1840's, then went back to Kentucky, possibly to care for her aging parents. Sometime between 1855 and 1860, they moved south again, this time to the Mississippi river town of Rodney in Jefferson County, Mississippi (see sidebar). They opened a hotel called "The Magnolia House" which appears to have been the largest hotel in Rodney in 1860.
They left Rodney between 1866 and 1868. I'm not sure about the reason they left, but there was a huge fire in the late '60s that consumed a good part of the town and it might be that their property was destroyed at that time. In any case, by 1868, they were back in Kentucky. Sarah died there that year and was buried in Bardstown. Nelson went to live with his son in Tensas Parish, Louisiana, directly across the Mississippi from Rodney. He died in 1896 and was buried in Rodney Cemetery.
A final mystery about Nelson and Sarah is whether they were actually the parents of Bill Cox's great-grandmother Mary Caroline Clark, born 1841 in Louisiana (see "The Harts"). There are some strange facts associated with her parentage and it's conceivable that she wasn't a natural child of the couple, although she said she was and I believe it. The story is laid out in the notes on Mary's webpage.
Their descendants are listed here: Descendants of Nelson and Sarah Clark.
The earliest Fleming ancestor I have been able to find is Hiram Fleming. Hiram was probably born in Georgia about 1808. It is likely that his parents came from Maryland. In the mid-to-late 1820's, Hiram married Katherine Gunn born about 1805, in the Carolinas to Scottish parents.
Hiram and Katherine moved to Southeastern Mississippi in the 1820's, not long after that area was opened for white settlement. In the 1830's they settled on a farm in Clarke County on the Mississippi-Alabama border. They probably squatted on some farmland there for a few years before 1840, when they formally acquired 160 acres through the Government Land Office. Less than three years later, Hiram lost this land because he failed to pay 80 cents in local taxes. But by 1847, the family was in good enough financial shape to make a 99-year lease on 320 areas in another part of the county and it looks like this was the land they farmed for the rest of their lives. Hiram and Katherine both lived into the 1880's. They had at least eight children, the oldest of whom was Bill Cox's ancestor William J. Fleming. William and four of his brothers served in the Confederate Army. Two of them were captured at Fort Donelson and imprisoned at Camp Douglas where it's possible that they could have met their future kinsman, Robert F. Cox.
Hiram and Katherine had numerous descendants. See: Descendants of Hiram and Katherine Fleming.
William J. Fleming was born about 1828, probably in Jackson or Greene County in Southeast Mississippi. In the mid-to-late 1850's, he married Martha Jane Holland, born about 1840 in Mississippi. They settled near Ocean Springs on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. At that time, Ocean Springs was becoming a booming resort town and William probably worked on the construction of the numerous hotels being built there.
When the Civil War started, William and several other members of his family enlisted in Company E of the 7th Battalion of the Mississippi Infantry, known as the "The Mississippi Sharpshooters". The 7th was one of a number of units that were formed by the State of Mississippi in response to the Yankee invasion of the state in 1862. Fairly early in William's service, he was wounded in his right hand and it appears that the wound never healed well enough to allow him to return to line duty. He served out the late stages of the war as a hospital orderly in Meridian, Mississippi. After the war, William and Martha settled in the vicinity of Lauderdale County, Mississippi. By 1900, they were living near the little village of Chunky, in Newton County. William died there in 1907 and Martha in 1919. They are buried in Blue Springs Baptist Church Cemetery in Chunky.
Wherever he was born, by the time William C, was in his teens, his parents' family had moved to neighboring Lauderdale County and it was probably there that he and Annie L. Reeves were married in 1892 (see "The Reeves Family"). William and Annie developed a farm at Lizelia in Lauderdale County that included a large home, a brickyard with kiln, a store, and housing for workers. The family lived there until 1915, when William was elected Circuit Clerk of Lauderdale County and moved to the county seat, Meridian. William and Annie had three daughters who lived to adulthood, Luna, Lottie, and Bill Cox's mother Willie Lyle Fleming (see "The Coxes"). Annie died in 1918 and William married Ida Collins. William died in 1923. William and Annie are buried in Magnolia Cemetery, Meridian.
The Reeves and Baskin Families
Around 1840, William and Missouri moved west. William was a farmer and, like many of the farmers in the family, probably was following the lure of cheap fertile farmland that had been recently acquired from the Native American tribes. William and Missouri settled in the area of Lauderdale County, Mississippi and adjacent Choctaw County, Alabama. Judging by the number of records that show up in each state, it appears that they may have lived very close to the line, perhaps on it. They had eight children, the fourth of whom was Bill Cox's ancestor Robert Belton Reeves. This chart shows William and Missouri Reeves' descendants: Descendants of William and Missouri Reeves.