James O. Cox, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of James O. Cox

JAMES O. COX was born in Rossburg, Ohio, on September 30, 1881, the son of William F. and Louisa J. (Hardesty) Cox, both of whom were natives of Ohio. They resided for a number of years in Lima, Ohio, but later returned to Rossburg, and eventually located again in Lima, where they continued to reside. To them were born five sons and seven daughters: Ellen, deceased; Rosie, the wife of John Martin; William Riley, of Pueblo, Colorado; Lorenzo D., of Lima, Ohio; Eli E., of Continental, Ohio; Malinda, deceased; Jennie, the wife of Rutherford Jones of Dayton, Ohio; Luetta, deceased; James O.; John H., of Columbus, Ohio; Royal, now deceased; and Walter R., of Lima, Ohio.

In 1890 William Cox, the father, suffered severe injuries which left him a semi-invalid for thirty-three years. As the elder brothers and sisters had married and were rearing families, much of the responsibility of the rest of the family fell on our subject when he was but twelve years of age. He went to work in a stave and heading factory, receiving but meagre wages, and eventually did other work in Lima. The educational advantages, naturally afforded under these circumstances were very few, and he attended school only a few months each year. During the winter months Mr. Cox made some extra money by cutting and husking corn four or five hours in the evening after working ten hours a day in the factory. Under these circumstances the young man indomitably persisted and managed to secure an education commensurate with his years. At the age of eighteen he walked twelve miles on the second day of February through blinding snow storms in order to take a teachers' examination. In these days of little work and high wages, it is refreshing to read the history of Mr. Cox during this period. Due to his being under legal age he was refused employment in the railroad shops, but secured other tasks to do for which he received twelve and one-half cents per hour. He quit one job at that salary to take another at ten cents an hour but with thirteen hours a day work, so that he could make five cents more a day. He later entered the largest dry goods store in Lima, and during that period attended the Y. M. C. A. night school.

However, he was ambitious to secure a college education preparatory to doing foreign missionary work. So in September, 1905, he quit his position, packed his one dollar trunk and started for Otterbein College, Westerville, Ohio. With plenty of courage and but $2.92 in his pocket he presented himself before the Rev. Lewis Bookwalter, who enrolled him in the college and helped him secure employment. With approaching vacation, a number of sales offers were made to students who wished to make money for the following year's expenses. Young Cox secured the privilege to sell the Chautauqua Industrial Art Desk, with the result that he made a substantial amount of money that summer, traveled extensively, and found out how to meet and deal with other people. He sold this desk during the five following summers, and earned enough to put himself through six years of college and a summer term, besides saving $500. Before leaving college the concern offered him an important position, but at that time he had other work to do and entered Y. M. C. A. work in Pittsburgh, where his salary was raised three times in three months due to his selling experience. After some time spent in organizing the Lincoln Legion Patriots he in 1915 entered the firm of L. E. Myers & Company again largely because he was a confirmed believer in the future of the Chautauqua desk as a social service factor.

From 1915 to December, 1922, he built up, organized, developed and managed on a commission basis the Great Lakes division, which included the states of Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky and half of Ohio. On January 1, 1923, he took the field management of the new Central Division, which comprises the old Great Lakes and the old Central Division. Mr. Cox became one of the heavy stockholders in the company and a member of the board of directors for several years, Pluck, pep, enthusiasm, courage, energy, ability, and self-confidence placed Mr. Cox in the roll of successful self-made men in the best sense of the term. Realizing the value of this special device in the educational world, Mr. Cox in 1926 purchased the Practical Agricultural Chart from the Myers Company, and is now the sole distributor and publisher of that product. He also in 1926 purchased the North American Bird and Nature Study Chart formerly published by John C. Mountjoy, of Chicago, which he also distributes from Valparaiso. Other activities of Mr. Cox is in real estate development. He subdivided the Beulah Heights Addition in 1926, and offered free of cost to the county commissioners of this county four lots within the addition to be used as a hospital site.

Mr. Cox is a member of the board of trustees of the No-Tobacco League of America, worships at the Methodist Church and is a member and ex-president of the official board of County Sunday School Association. He is also a member of the board of trustees of Otterbein College. His local affiliations are with the Chamber of Commerce, the Porter County Real Estate Board and he rendered splendid service as chairman of the European Relief Committee for Porter County, raising much money and a car load of corn for the relief of the sufferers.

On April 16, 1913, Mr. Cox was united in marriage with Medillia, daughter of James H. and Sophia Waldron, of Springfield, Ohio. Mrs. Cox is a graduate of the Cincinnati Missionary Training School, and was engaged as a deaconess evangelist from 1910-1914 and as assistant pastor of the Central Methodist Church of Springfield, Ohio. She organized the Mothers' Club of Valparaiso and served as its president, and is prominent in the women's work of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Another accomplishment in the religious field was the organization of the Girls' Gospel Choir in 1926 in the Methodist Church. To Mr. and Mrs. Cox was born Miriam Medillia on October 8, 1916. She is now a student in the Valparaiso schools.

Source: Cannon, Thomas H., H. H. Loring, and Charles J. Robb. 1927. History of the Lake and Calumet Region of Indiana Embracing the Counties of Lake, Porter and Laporte. Volume II. Indianapolis, Indiana: Historians' Association. 827 p.
Page(s) in Source: 210-212

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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