Recently, I have been doing some housekeeping in my family tree. Things like do I have a birth record, marriage record and death record? Do I have a census record for all available years? Do I have an obituary? As I go through this exercise, I add details to my ancestors’ files that might be on those records such as occupations or cause of death. These are all details I want to include when I write their biographies. My end goal is to at least paint a bit of a picture of who these people were.
This brings me to my 2nd great grandfather, Frank Cox. I’ve mentioned Frank before when I discussed his daughter Blanche and again as I presented his parents, John and Mary. Frank married Arabelle McCullough in Missouri in 1888 and they had 5 children–Raymond, Blanche, Mura Mae, Anna and Jessie. In 1907, Frank married Molly Schwepker in Missouri and in 1910, Jessie was living with her aunt and uncle in Knox County, Indiana. The big mystery is what happened to Arabelle between Jessie’s birth in January 1904 and Frank’s marriage in 1907.
As I examined Frank’s documentation, I found some things that I had previously overlooked. In 1880, he is living with his half-brother Thomas Azbell In Sandborn, IN. What struck me as odd was he was listed as married, however, no wife was listed. It was also well before 1888 when he married Arabelle. Hmmm. I kept searching and found an Eliza J Cox with a two year old daughter named Carola living with Daniel Hollingsworth in the next township. Eliza is listed as Daniel’s daughter.
In the June 24, 1881 edition of The Western Sun, an altercation between Frank and a John Cooper was reported. The article mentioned that Frank had been estranged from his wife for two years which would be consistent with the 1880 census information. A compilation of family histories, “Descendants of Some Early Settlers in Knox and Sullivan Counties, Indiana” found at FamilySearch.org, provided further evidence that Frank Cox married a Jenny Hollingsworth, daughter of Daniel, although an exact date was not included in the document.
So Frank had a family before the one he had with Arabelle. What happened to Jenny and Carola? With a little work, I was able to piece together the rest of Jenny’s short life. It would seem that Jenny was able to secure a divorce from Frank. In 1884, Jenny married James William McFadden. He appears to be the brother-in-law of one of Jenny’s sisters. In 1888, the McFaddens were living in Sullivan County and Jenny gave birth to a son (Jesse) in February. She died a few days later, likely from complications. James went on to marry again and had another son, Philip.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been as lucky determining what happened to Carola after her mother died. Did she stay on with her step-father James McFadden? Or was she raised by one of her Hollingsworth relatives? Was she even alive? Other than the 1880 census, there really is no paper trail for my 2nd great aunt. Hopefully a shred of evidence will surface in the future.