Letters - F W Cox & Family

Written while on his mission to England, 1863-5

Norma S. Wanlass, Manti, Utah, From Saga of the Sanpitch

Salt Lake City, 1863
To My Loved Ones in Manti,

It is with some misgiving and apprehension that I write these words of farewell, knowing that it will be at least two years before I return to my family again.

I have thought often during the past two weeks, of all the work that must be done there in the spring of the year, and wonder if my efforts would not be more appreciated there than here.

I do not worry about your spiritual well being, the Lord will see to that. I am concerned for your physical welfare, but I am confident that Will and Fred will do all in their power to provide for your sustenance.

You children must mind your mothers and do everything possible to help those in charge, taking all precautions that no one will cause any undue problems.

Today there were forty-seven missionaries "set-apart" for foreign missions. I have been assigned to England, the land of my forbears. I am greatly blessed, and am ashamed of my earlier doubts and weaknesses.

It would be folly for you to try to communicate with me until I send a permanent address. This will be after my arrival in England. Until then I will keep you informed of my whereabouts and observations.

Now I must try to get some rest, for there is a company moving East tomorrow, and we are expected to be a part of it.

I remain,
Your Father in the Gospel
Frederick Walter Cox, Sr.

Source: Frederick Walter Cox, Sr. by John Clifton Moffitt

Traveling Eastward

To My Dear Family,

I am well and hope this finds you the same. I traveled across the plains to Florence (Nebraska) arriving June 19th without accident or anything strange happening. Bought a diary today. Here I changed my course to Sidney, reaching that place on Tuesday, June 23rd. Saw Mr. Nelson Tallcott. He did not ask me into his house. I did not realize that so many held so much bitterness against those of us who migrated to the West. I then went to Manti (Iowa) and visited with our folks there--they are all well. Left them June 27th on Coach. I am at Ottumwa. For the first time I have been trying the IRON HORSE. He snorts along and shows you the country very fast.

On the 2nd of July I left Buffalo on the wrong train. I traveled 36 miles and am now waiting for the train to take me back. Had we taken the right one we would have been in New York at 8:00 p.m.

I just bought five apples for 5 cents to eat on the train. I have eaten two pretty quick and am 16 miles from where I bought them. Quite a difference from the two miles an hour our oxen travel. The timber is beech, birch, maple, ash, hickory, elm, butternut, pine, and hemlock. Just passed Plymouth, the town where I was raised, and am 1/4 mile of cousin Scovilles.

On July 4th I boarded the City of Manchester and started for Liverpool at 12:00 noon. I have been thinking that I should feel some regret at leaving the land of my birth, where I have learned all I ever knew, enjoyed all I ever enjoyed, loved all I ever loved, but it is not so. I am out of sight of land am glad of it. God be thanked. I have not in my whole life seen as much misery, nor as much rascality as I have in the last two days. Three men got $10.00 from me (I have their receipt) by telling me that Brother Eldridge had gone home and left them to arrange things for his friends that were coming from the West. My homespun made me a fit subject. They thought I was green, and so I was, but I think I am not all the green thing for Eldridge had his watch worth $175 taken from him. He says they got a small rip on some of the boys that have gone on before me. I do not remember how much.

I remain,
Your Father in the Gospel
Frederick Walter Cox, Sr.

On the Atlantic Ocean
July 5, 1863
My Dear Family,

It has been a foggy sea. Rough enough to make it quite disagreeable. That everlasting whistle almost deafens me--giving warnings.

I had a pleasant dream last night. I returned home sooner than expected, but you all ran to meet me. It was very good. It is Tuesday the 7th--most of the day fair. All sails are spread. Sea a little rough but making good speed.

Friday, the 10th. The wind blows and the ship rolls so it is difficult to walk on deck. We have passed several icebergs. I saw one this fore-noon. It is cold most of the time and I must wear two coats to keep warm. Time passes very lazily, yet the days wear away. My appetite is very poor. It is almost dark and we have seen quite a number of ships.

16th. Fine morning. We are in sight of Fastneth lighthouse.

July 17th--This morning the coast of Ireland is to the left and Wales is on the right - both in sight. About 11 o' clock at night got on shore at Liverpool--found the Brethren. I am feeling quite unwell but am truly thankful to God for his mercies.

I thought I saw Emily on the street today and caught myself running after her. Missing my family has played quite some tricks on me.

If God is not angry, his feelings do not correspond with the frowning of the heavens, for it rains almost constantly.

I find the circumstances of the Saints calls very heavy on my sympathy, so much so that it spoils my sleep.

I remain,
Your Affectionate Father
Frederick Walter Cox, Sr.

Manti, Territory of Utah
August, 1863
To My Dear Husband,

I am writing to tell you about our new baby daughter, born August 10. She has a perfect little body and lots of black hair, but she seems quite frail to me. Perhaps it is that I forget from one baby to the next, just how tiny newborn ones are.

I am reminded of you saying that all babies look alike, but this one is different somehow. I have the feeling that the Lord has not yet decided if he is going to let us keep her. Already she has taken her rightful place in my heart. She will be named Luella Adelia, the name we chose for her before you left Manti.

There is always some bitter with the sweet, so I must inform you that Jemima's Sarah Eleanor and Alice were severely burned. They were sitting on the floor watching the flames in the fireplace when the hook holding a huge kettle of boiling wash-water broke, and the scalding water poured out onto the two little girls. When their clothes were removed the skin came with them. We had no medicine with which to treat the burns, for there was none available, so we covered them with a dressing of lard and cat-tail down.

It has been one long nightmare. The poor pain racked babies have cried constantly. They are only babies, for Sarah Eleanor is under four, and Alice is less than a year and a half. We have had to keep the burns soft and change the dressings as needed, and have spent hours trying to pick the cat-tail fuzz from the wounds without hurting them. They are healed now and there are no scars.

Is it our faith and prayers--or the medicinal value of cat-tails and lard? Whatever it is we are very thankful. We all think of you constantly and count each day as it passes, knowing it brings you one day closer to home.

I remain,
Your loving wife

Source: Sarah Eleanor Cox Peacock, compiled by Wilber and Helen Peacock.

Manti, Utah Territory
May 1, 1865
Dear Walter,

Your being so far away makes it difficult to keep you informed of what is going on here at home, however, I am taking this opportunity to inform you that yours and Jemima's Carmelia, age 7 1/2, took sick and eventually died on the 28th day of May. Words of comfort were given at her passing but Jemima continues to grieve and will not be comforted.

Emeline still suffers with her affliction, cancer of the breast. We have recently heard of a doctor in Springville who claims to have a salve that will eat the cancer out. Will is taking her there where she will stay with Uncle Edwin Whiting for as long as the treatment takes. Eleven year old Emily will go with them to care for baby Luella during that time. It has been a great strain on Emeline as well as the rest of the family.

Everyone else is well at this writing and working hard. We trust that you are the same. Enclosed is a draft which I hope will eliminate some of your discomfort and sacrifice.

I remain,
Your loving wife

Source: History of Emily Cox Tuttle - compiled by Maude Olsen.

Manti, Utah Territory
May 1, 1865
Dear Pa,

I am inclined to wonder if all our luck has to be bad.

The Indians are up to their old tricks again of running our livestock off. We are being called constantly to follow them into the mountains to retrieve our stolen cattle and horses. Black Hawk is their war chief, and a meaner one you have never seen. Several men, women and children have been murdered and their bodies mutilated. The name of Indian has become hateful, and the sound of the drum is like a stab in the heart.

In 20 days I brought 21 wagon loads of firewood out of the mountains alone, while the Indians were still down South in their winter camp.

The grasshoppers came in such numbers this spring, as to almost destroy everything. We turned the chickens out to eat the pests, but finally had to force them into ditches and burn them.

I wonder what it would be like to know that our bellies were going to be full, and not have to worry about it.

I will be well qualified when I get married, to manage a home and family. I am referred to as the Cox foreman, and with sixteen sisters I have been plagued with every kind of question and decision.

The assassination of President Lincoln on April 14 was a great shock to all living in the territory. We know he was our friend, but what of his successor?

The family would gladly share their supper, if they could send you their love, and tell you everything as it happens, but that would make quite a sizeable packet to send at $2.00 per half ounce. We all send our warmest regards.

I remain,
Your dutiful son,
William Arthur Cox

Sources: William Arthur Cox, by his wife Margaret McMahon Cox.
History of Sanpete and Emery Counties, by W.H. Lever,

Manti, Utah Territory
June, 1865
My Dear Husband,

We have learned of your release from your missionary labors, and worry that a letter written at this time will pass unnoticed, however, I must relay my message regardless, and trust that it will find you quickly.

On June 21, Fred's little Lucy passed away. She was such a joy to her parents, and will be missed greatly by all in the family. Then on June 24, your little Luella, whom you have never seen, was taken. She was the pride of Emeline's heart, and was chattering and running about.

We learned, too, on June 24, of the passing of Father Isaac Morley in Fairview. They had called for his family, and Cordelia had gone to be with him in his last hour. I know the Lord planned it this way. Our little Lucy and Luella needed someone to accompany them to the other side. What better man than your trusted old friend!

Emeline's treatment, to all indications, is a success. The doctor in Springville removed a lump from her breast the size of an egg after killing the cancer with treatments of the miracle salve.

We are getting anxious for your safe return.

I remain,
Your loving wife

Sources: My Memories of Emeline Whiting Cox, by grand-daughter Belle McAllister.
Church Chronology, by Andrew Jensen.

New York City
June, 1865
My Dearest Family,

I was released from my missionary labors on January 3, to return home, but considerable time passed before we could make arrangements for passage to the United States. Since that date I have continued with my missionary assignments.

The Saints gave me a flute as a token of their kindly regards, and on this note I ended my business in England on April 26th. On Saturday the 29th, eleven Elders, in company with about 600 saints sailed for New York on the ship Belle Wood. It is now Wednesday, May 31, and a steamer is towing us up to New York. We will land in Castle Garden, but we have to stay all day and night.

Sunday, June 4th. Still in New York but a great anxiety to be on the move toward home. I pray God to open our way that we may go speedily.

Bed bugs plenty, and but little sleep. If I was where I could, I would walk out with my blanket where I could have more room for a flight.

It will take some time to make preparations for land travel for this large crowd of British converts. We are working day and night.

I remain,
Affectionately Your Father
F.W. Cox, Sr.

Source: Journal of History.

August 15, 1865
To Brigham Young
President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"The third company of this seasons emigration from Briton, Scandinavia, etc., left on this date with about two hundred souls, with Elders W.S.S. Willes, Captain, and F.W. Cox, Chaplain."

Source: Journal of History



F.W. Cox, Sr.

Today we are so excited we can hardly contain ourselves. We have had our chores done for hours, have sung every song we know, and played every game we can think of, as well as some we've made up. It is Adelaide's turn to go to the round window at the North end of the top room to see if there is a whirl wind of dust moving along the road beyond Temple Hill. It is agreed that the first one to see Father coming, will be the first to greet him. Yesterday we timed ourselves to see how long it would take to run to Temple Hill.

Our mothers have suggested that we use our energy to better advantage on the spinning wheels, but we are so excited that we would only make mistakes, and we have to take them out, and do it over again. They allowed us to do as we wished, but I wonder that they have kept their wits about them.

Six year old Amanda was the first to see the tell-tale cloud of dust and we all ran, mothers and all, to meet him wherever we came together.

Father stopped the team and jumped down from the buggy. Suddenly we were all overcome with shyness, and someone had to push Amanda toward him.

He picked her us saying, "My how you've grown, Alvira."

"I'm not Alvira, I'm Amanda," she answered.

To Lucia he said, "This must be Harriett."

Giggling she answered, "No, I'm Lucia."

"You have all grown so fast, I can only guess who you are. You must each tell me your name in exchange for a kiss and a hug.

As Sarah Eleanor came up to her father, she remarked in wonderment, "I thought you would be as big as the woodpile. You're not as big as the woodpile, are you?" Everyone laughed and she withdrew embarrassed.

For the rest of the day work stopped, even for Will.

We all ate supper together, and Father talked into the evening about his missionary experiences, and of our family that stayed in the East. Then he brought his flute out that the Saints in England had given him, and he played while we sang. It was the most glorious day of our lives.

The best part of it is that Father will still be here tomorrow.

Sources: Frederick Walter Cox, Sr., by John Clifton Moffitt.
Sarah Eleanor Cox Peacock, written by Wilbur and Helen Peacock.

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