Sarah Eleanor Cox Peacock


by Wilbur and Helen Peacock

Sarah Eleanor Cox commenced her earthly existence on November 30th, 1859, in Manti, Utah. She was the daughter of Fredrick Walter Cox and his second wife, Jemima Losee Cox. The family consisted of her father, his six wives, sixteen sons and twenty-two daughters.

She was born in a tiny room in the Old Fort. For the next two years this room was shared by her Mother, six older children and Aunt Lydia, her father's fourth wife, and the sister of Jemima. There were three beds crowded into this room, and the two women and six children lived, ate, slept and worked in this crowded condition.

Although mother was spared the memory of the years spent in the fort, the older members of the family lived in an atmosphere of constant fear - fear of hunger and fear of Indians. Chief Walker was like an evil spirit lurking in the background of their lives. He was constantly inciting raids, stealing and causing depredations which made him the most feared and hated man in the territory.

The Black Hawk War, last and bloodiest of the Indian Wars in early Utah, commenced in the year of 1865, when Mother was six years old. It ended in 1868 when she was nine years old. Called the Black Hawk War after the crafty chief who was responsible for its beginning, it cost the people of the territory well over a million dollars. Seventy pioneer lives were lost and trouble and fear were everywhere. Mother's father and four grown brothers participated in the war. They stood guard, went into the mountains, rode in pursuit of the Indians to regain stolen cattle, and struggled with other pioneers to defend their homes. For nearly four years the "Old Drum" beat, calling the men together to listen to new deeds of bloodshed and thievery and to make plans to combat the menace. The sound of the drum brought terror to the hearts of adults and children alike, and planted a fear in mother's heart which never completely left her.

She had a vivid recollection of the terror and panic which existed in the family when seven Indian prisoners broke jail and the people waited in awful fear expecting them to bring other Indians to avenge them. She also recalled the joy and relief they experienced when word came that the Indian prisoners had been caught and accounted for. When she was three and a half years old, her father was called to go on a Mission to England. He was gone 27 months. During that time, the family experienced great hardships. Not only was food scarce, but three members of the family died. Trouble came from all sources and mother did not escape the suffering. She and her sister Alice were sitting on the floor watching the flames in the fireplace where a huge kettle of wash water was boiling. The hook holding the kettle broke and the scalding water poured out on the two children. They were badly burned. When their home made knit stockings and clothes were taken from them, the skin came off with the clothing, There was not medicine available, so the burns were covered with a dressing of lard and cat-tail down, which was supposed to have a medicinal value. As long as mother lived, she never forgot the anguish and pain she experienced as the dressings were changed, and the cat-tail fuzz had to be laboriously picked from the sores by the loving fingers of her mother and the other wives in the big house. Certainly something besides the crude remedy aided the Iittle girls, because the medication, applied with love faith, and prayer, healed the burns completely and left no scars.

She frequently spoke of the day her father returned from his mission. She remembered eagerly awaiting his arrival and trying to mentally picture what he would look like. The little children had forgotten him during his absence. She recalled wondering if her father would be as "big as a wood-pile.”

From the age of two, until she left her father's home for one of her own, she lived in what was called the BIG HOUSE. It was a large rock house built by her father and his sons, providing sufficient space for the large family to Iive in comfort. It was a typical pioneer home. There was work for everyone and everyone worked. They were self-supporting, and no member of the family had to leave home for employment. They raised their own sheep, and from the wool, wove cloth and made their own clothing. They even made most of their shoes and hats and grew or produced all their food. They had to refine the salt, soda and lye which they used. Nothing was wasted, and a "little of anything" was made to go a long way.

She received her early schooling in the Big House with one of the older sisters and a friend serving as teachers to the children of the family,

It was an unusual family in at least one respect. The family and four of his wives and their children lived in this house in an atmosphere of love, respect and harmony. If any unhappiness ever existed in this home as a result of so many living together, time had completely erased it from mother's memory. She loved to remember the incidents which had transpired there, and she loved her father's other wives almost as much as she loved her own Mother,

When she left this happy home to get married she was accompanied in her wedding journey by four members of her family - the five brothers and sisters commenced their married life on the same day. They were married in the St, George Temple, on December 1st, 1880. The trip to and from the St. George Temple required three weeks, and the journey home in the covered wagon constituted the honeymoon. As soon as it was over, life began in earnest.

The fifteen years spent on the farm in Sterling, Utah, about 10 miles south of Manti, where she went as a bride, should have been happy years and filled with fond memories to be re-lived as mother became older. However, the happy events were buried by other memories of overwhelming fears and unhappy situations.

Mother had moved from the Big House in Manti, which was filled to over- flowing with grown-ups and children, and the hustle, bustle and activity, to a quiet, almost isolated four room home in Sterling, Utah. The fears which she had experienced in childhood had left their mark upon her, and she dreaded the loneliness. Father was engaged in freighting, and his trips in the covered wagon kept him away for weeks at a time. The Indians were no longer a menace but she never saw them pass her home without having the old fears re-awakened. Strangers and tramps passing by filled her with dread. Fuel was added to the flames of her fears when a sheriff arrested two men in her home, while they were eating the dinner she had prepared for them at Father's request. The men were armed and the money they had stolen was found concealed under the steps of the house.

Mother was afraid of wind. When a twister whirled down the valley, sending the roof of her neighbor's house crashing against her own home and carrying the neighbor into an adjoining wheat field before dropping her unharmed, mother’s fears became almost panic. Many times in later years, she expressed deep appreciation for Father's kindness and patience with her, when the wind started to blow She said he often took the mattress and bed clothes to the cellar, without a suggestion from her, knowing she would be unable to sleep otherwise.

The years in Sterling were filled with skimping, scheming and struggling to make a living and to get a start toward financial independence. Due to events beyond their control, they were forced to conclude that a future in that location could hold nothing for them but more of what they had already experienced.

When it became necessary to move to a new location, mother welcomed the opportunity with open arms, in spite of the fact that it would take her so far from her own dearly beloved mother and family members. She knew when the mountain separated them, she could not hope to see them often. Too, she knew she was starting again with almost nothing in the way of worldly goods, and with a family of six children to provide for, in a town she had never seen; however, it was an opportunity to escape from Sterling, and she welcomed it. (November 20, 1885 Edgar Reid was born. He died March 2, 1886 at Sterling, Utah.)

The new home in Emery was a small, two room log house, completely devoid of everything necessary to make it comfortable or convenient. Mother turned it into a home where there was a feeling of security, love and happiness. Three more children arrived shortly, making a family of eleven. It required management and team work to keep the group fed, clothed and comfortable.

Mother always had kindly feelings toward Butch Cassidy and his famous "Robber's Roost Gang" for the timely help they extended to Father, when he became snow-blind while herding his sheep in the desert, east of Emery. The "Robbers" not only assisted him with his work but also led him around when he could not see.

While Father was having his difficulties away from home, mother was struggling with her share of the load in Emery. Father had made an arrangement with the local merchant to extend credit to her while he was away from home. He did it against her protests as she vowed she would not go into debt for anything. She kept her promise although it meant meager food, and going without things which were essential for comfort and well-being. When Father returned, she proudly announced she had not used the charge account for a single item. Imagine her righteous indignation on the following day when Father produced a bill which the merchant had presented to him for the things she had supposedly charged while he was gone. She put on her bonnet, and without waiting to change her dress, she walked to the store and confronted the man with the bill. Mother was always slow to anger, and calm and quiet in an emergency. History does not record what took place during the interview, but when she left the store, the bill was marked "Paid in Full.” The merchant confessed to Father later, “It was all a mistake.”

Due to the combined efforts of the family members, the new surrounding, and thrift and hard work, their fortune changed . They became one of the more prosperous families in the community, owning land, water, cattle, a nice home and a general store. It was a welcome and pleasant change for the folks to be able to see results from their efforts, and they were happy.

Sorrow came to them in 1918, when the terrible influenza epidemic robbed them of two of their sons. Ralph and Lynn, young married men with families, died within a six week period. Father died two years later, and mother was deprived of his comforting presence to help her bear her sorrow when her daughter Hazel died a number of years later, leaving a family of nine motherless children.

When Father died in 1920, he thought he had left mother well provided for, financially. However, events leading up to the depression, the depression itself, and its after effects, staggered every member of the family. This added to other unexpected events, changed the financial picture for the whole family. Mother probably suffered more than any of the others because she was less able to fight back. The remaining years of her life were not easy, and she often wondered how Father had been able to foresee, shortly before his death, and to warn her, that she would see harder times in the future than any she had experienced in the past. She accepted the changed conditions without a word of complaint or blame, took things at their face value and once more, made “a little bit go a long way," and managed to keep her head high and her spirit and attitude sweet.

Mother quietly slipped away from earth life on Saturday afternoon, July 11th, 1937 after a four day illness in the home of her son, Wilbur in Salt Lake City. Her only concern during her illness was the trouble her sickness caused others.

The few events remembered and recorded fail completely to give a picture of mother as she really was. She never held a public office. Her work in the Church consisted of serving faithfully as a Visiting Teacher for the Relief Society for many years, and for twenty-five years she served on the committee which did the sewing for practically all who died in Emery. However, true greatness is a quality of character, and judged by that standard, she was one of the world’s great women. She was the personification of patience, long-suffering, modesty, kindness, honesty, faithfulness, truthfulness, and charity. Her most outstanding characteristic was her willingness to come to the defense of anyone being maligned, even when she was aware of the faults being discussed. She always found something good to say of even the worst. She was loving, kind, and devoted to her family. Her faith in God, as her kind and devoted loving Heavenly Father, never faltered. She was loved and will be loved, respected and admired as long as anyone lives who ever knew her.


When GOD began the human race, He filled the mother-heart with love
As deep as are the depths of space, as constant as the stars above.

And more than this: the years reveal That this great love, as true, as near
Is stronger than a bond of steel, But tender as a BABY'S TEAR.

Her love is like the love of GOD, Who gave His life to make us free:
Her feet the verge of shadows trod, To give this boon of life to me

And next to His great name Divine, The name of MOTHER! I revere
The molder of this soul of mine;

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