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The Coxes

            Nathaniel William Cox (1820 – 1915) came to McLean County as part of a large contingent in 1826. His family was led to Illinois by his widowed mother, Philena Cox. His father, Benjamin Cox had purchased land in Bloomington, but on his return to Ohio he suddenly died. Philena made the decision to make her way to Bloomington with their seven children and a nephew. Sadly, Philena died in 1827 and her children were as follows when they came to Bloomington: John 24, Mary 21, David 16, Margaret 11, Rhonda 9 Benjamin 9, Nathaniel William 7 and Marcus 4. John did not marry for another 8 years and Mary married 11 years later, perhaps because they were engaged in raising their younger brothers and sisters. If John and Mary did take on this responsibility, their brothers and sisters were unusually lucky. More often, orphaned children were parceled out to different families in the community, sometimes pursuant to an indenture which bound them contractually to work for the host family.  


            John Cox married Elizabeth Walker and farmed in McLean County throughout his life. His daughter Margaret (1838 – 1922) continued the Cox line in McLean County after marrying Franklin M Williams, a farmer. Mr. Williams had been orphaned at age two and was raised by John Rhodes of McLean County. Their daughter Lizzie (1868 – 1950)  married Wilfred H Flesher (a son of Rebecca Fell and Josiah Flesher), a farm implement dealer. Lizzie’s son Frank fought in WWI and was a plant superintendent and experimental engineer at Williams Oil-O-Matic. Frank’s son, Wilfred, was a navigator in a plane shot down in the Pacific during WWII, but his other two sons Bob and Guy both survived the war. His grandson, Lawrence Kinsey, the son of daughter Leona Flesher Kinsey served in the Pacific during WWII. 


            David Cox married Sophronia Walker in 1842 and had five children. Daughter Martha (1834 – 1876) married Aaron Rhodes, a farmer and stock breeder. Martha’s sons both went to the University of Illinois – Edward (1865 – 1947) to be an attorney and Ora (1871 – 1952) to be a doctor. Ora practiced medicine in Bloomington for 50 years. After completing post graduate studies in Vienna, Ora opened the first diagnostic laboratory in Central Illinois in 1913. He kept that laboratory open until the hospitals had built up their own laboratories. David’s son William Marcus served in the 54th Ill. Inf Co F during the Civil War. He was present at many significant battles, including the Siege of Vicksburg. Huldah Cox (1845 – 1914) married George Deems, who invested in real estate. Her great granddaughter, Norma Ashbrook (1931 – 2009) was a McLean County Extension home adviser, a founder of Habitat of McLean Co. and the International Studies Program at ISU, the Director of Senior Professionals, and part of a group that resettled refugees after the Viet Nam war. 


             Mary, Nancy and Benjamin Cox all died in McLean County, but their children became part of the great migration west. Margaret Cox died in Kansas.


            Nathaniel William Cox (1820 – 1915) married Elizabeth Satterfield and had four children with her. Each of those children died of scarlet fever in a span of 11 days. He served with Company A of the 94th Ill. Infantry.  He died in the Veteran’s Hospital in Danville, the very last survivor of the party that came to Bloomington from Ohio in 1826 and the man whose name appears on this map.


           If you are descended from Helen Deems Hanell (1906 – 1976) or Norma Hanell Ashbrook  (1931 – 2009), you can claim ancestry from Philena Cox, a pioneering woman!

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