Written by Norma Wanlass in 1971

Frederick Walter Cox and his family arrived in Manti on October 4, 1852. That first winter we lived in a little log cabin owned by Sylvester Hulet, situated on the corner lot on 2nd North and 1st West, now owned by Dean Lund. The next year we moved into what was called the Little Stone Fort, and here we lived for nine years in two sixteen foot rooms in the Southwest corner, a family of four wives and nineteen children. In the spring of 1853 the Old Cox Barn, situated approximately where the Twin Pines Apartments now stand, was purchased from a Mr. Lawson. It was used by the Cox family for sleeping quarters while they were living in the Little Stone Fort. During warm weather it was good to sleep in the Old Barn, using straw spread on the ground for their spring mattress, and it was enjoyed very much, as bed bugs had invaded the Fort. Fred Jr. married Lucy Allen in April 1857, which added another member to the Cox family, making 25 that used the Old Barn for sleeping quarters.

Father Cox realized the need of more house-room and began to plan a bigger and better home. During seven of those nine years, a house was being built inside the Big Fort on what is now the corner of 1st West on Depot Street. Work on the house had to be done after the day's work in the field was accomplished. Father Cox and his sons put all their available time in cutting stone from the stone quarry, and hauling timber from the mountains. William Arthur Cox tells that he and his brother Fred would work hard all day in the field clearing land and plowing, and when they returned at night they would carry enough rock to supply the masons for the next day. The girls worked as hard as their brothers. It was their job to haul the mud and rock up the walls to the men working above. They built twelve rooms with one large room on the third floor, which they used for a schoolroom and dance hall. The house was quartered like a pie and each of the four wives lived in a section. A fireplace was in each section on the north and south walls.

One day as Father Cox came out of their home in the Fort, he looked up to see Sarah Ann just leaving the south chimney of the Big House, sweeping along from rafter to rafter, where they came to a point, on what was to be the roof. To slip would mean a fall clear to the basement three stories below. Father Cox dared not call. He feared it would distract her attention and make her lose her footing. When she got to the middle rafter he started walking toward her. By the time he got there she was over to the North chimney. As he walked up to her he said, "Now Sary Ann, don't ever do that again. You've done it this time, but don't ever do it again."

After seven years of hard work, in April 1861, just 100 years ago, their new home was ready, and they moved into it: four wives, seven sons and sixteen daughters, and Fred's wife. They numbered 29 now. The women folk vacated the Old Barn, but the Cox boys still remained and added to what became known as the "Barn Crowd".

Father Cox had planned one large, light, airy room for service. Spacious enough for two teachers, school was taught in this room during evenings as well as days, through the coldest weather, when outside work was somewhat laid aside. Rosalia taught the smaller pupils first and afterward when she had more experience she taught the higher classes. There was night school for older boys and girls. Some married people, too, who had not been able to get sufficient schooling, attended the evening classes. A singing school was taught by W. K. Barton in this room. Uncle Orville Cox had a Dancing School which we children enjoyed, although we were only spectators, yet it was a picnic to watch those who took part. Uncle Orville was a good dancer and with dancing pumps on his feet he was so light and nimble that he was like a rubber ball.

William Arthur Cox tells of the constant effort that was required of every member of the large family. All who were old enough had to work. They all shared alike in everything that was earned or brought into the house. They required a bushel of wheat a day for their bread alone. They had a large oven built in the dooryard to bake their bread. It would hold fourteen large loaves. When shearing time came the wool was brought home and each mother had her portion weighed out to her according to the number of children she had. The wives and older girls would card the wool into rolls, and others would spin them into yarn, and still others would weave this yarn into cloth or knit it into socks or stockings. There were three looms used by the mothers until the girls were older when each in her turn learned to weave. At times there were seven and eight spinning wheels ranged along side by side facing the window and street. We first picked the wool taking out all the bits of dirt and straw. Then it was sorted. The finest and best was put in one pile, the next best in another and so on—usually making four grades. The finest grade was to be used in making fine flannel for dresses, next was mixed with cotton for linsey sheets and underwear, next for jeans of heavy cloth for trousers for men and boys. The last lot was carded by hand for quilt batting. We ran races to see who could spin the most in a day or a given time. Rosalia wove ten yards of linsey in one day, but she was sick the next day to pay for it. Then Lovina spun ten skeins in one day and the rest kept close to them. We sang every song we could think of. We set words to music. We sang whole storied told in verse.

Meanwhile, the boys were harvesting the crops and getting the wood for the winter. William Arthur at one time hauled twenty-one loads of wood from the hills alone, in twenty days. There were five fires to keep going all winter and summer and they were obliged to haul their wood from the hills while the Indians could not get through the snow.

Their amusements were mostly in some part of the large Cox house or outside in the yard in summer time. They had games, singing and dancing, but mostly singing. All the wives and children would be together on evenings and would have glorious times. The music seemed to cement them together. All evil influences would vanish under the spell of music. They were so united that the people outside the family circle could hardly tell which mother the children belonged to. Father Cox was quite a musician. He played the flute beautifully. He was also a good singer and sang in the choir in the Old Council House. Often at public gatherings five of the Cox girls sang together: Lucia, Alice, Arletta, Amanda, and Eleanor. Sometimes their brother Sylvester sang with them. At one time a salesman tried to sell Father Cox a sewing machine, but he could not see the point. Finally in exasperation the salesman said, "But Brother Cox, this is a Singer," to which Father Cox replied, "That's nothing, I have a houseful of Singers."

In October, 1865, after laboring 27 months, Father Cox came home from his mission to England. One of the boys went to Salt Lake City to meet him. We went up in the garret of the Big House to watch out of the round window at the north of the house with field glasses. We watched the county road long before he could be in sight, but so anxious were we it was almost impossible to wait. It was along in the afternoon when we caught sight of his covered wagon. The six or eight of us older girls hurried off to meet him. We met at the point of Temple Hill. He stopped the horses, got out and clasped Rosalia and Adelaide in his arms, while he looked steadily at the rest saying, “You have grown so fast, I can only guess who you are.”

The Indians were always with us begging and when we had bread they shared with us. They found in Father Cox a true and lasting friend and councelor. They never left him in anger for his talk was so forceful and the right way so plainly pointed out that they knew that he was speaking the truth. He put President Young’s advice “It is better to feed them, than to fight them” in practice and often he would kill a beef and give them a feast. He always kept his word with them. They knew that he did not talk with a "forked tongue". Often he would go with them for two or three days at a time. Father Cox spoke three different Indian dialects, Blackfeet, Navajo, and Ute. Will Cox, Jr., remembers when he was just a young boy of seeing Frederick Walter Cox standing on the Northwest steps of the Big House preaching to between 1,000 and 1,200 Indians on horseback. They were around him on all sides--north past Ned Armstrong's home, west past Brigham McAllister's home, and south to Halbert Keller's home. William Arthur Cox states that he often saw the Indians standing around the Big House in Great crowds with Father Cox standing on the West steps preaching to them and reasoning with them. The Indians came to Father with many of their troubles. Even after he was gone an Indian came from far out in Dixie country to see him and seemed so disappointed when told that Father Cox had been killed in an accident.

On 2 June 1879 Father Cox and some older boys of the family were unloading logs down by the sawmill behind the house where Emma lived. Belle age 7, May not yet 3, and Lee age 1, were watching them. Belle had hold of the hand of each of the younger girls. She said, "Pa, be careful." Pa said, "You children move back." They stepped back out of the way. The logs were on a wagon, the boys on one end and Pa on the other. He called "Hold on a minute," but the boys didn't hear him, and pitting their strength against the log, rolled their end off the wagon. This forced the other end to smack against the log lying next to it, pinning Pa's head between the two, where he dangled until the boys could move the logs to release him.

In recounting it in later years, Belle said the logs were as big around as wash tubs. She didn’t know whether they appeared that big to her because she was so young or if it really was so. She said Pa’s neck stretched way out as he dangled between the two logs so that he looked like a chicken hanging from the shed.

Pa’s eyes were squeezed from the sockets and laid on his cheek bones. Blood came from his ears, nose and mouth. His tongue swelled until it filled his mouth. They took him to the Big House, where he died 4 June 1879, never gaining consciousness.

The Cox family lived in the house for 21 years, although it wasn't deeded by Manti City to Frederick Walter Cox until 1872. After Father Cox's death, Emeline and Jemima went to live with their married daughters. Cordelia and Lydia moved to homes of their own.

The Estate of F. W. Cox deeded the Big House to Gustav E. Carlson 8 Aug 1882. On 19 Mar 1883 he deeded it to Lars C. Kjar for the sum of $500. On 26 Mar 1887 it was deeded back to Gustav E. Carlson for $500. On 2 Sep 1887 he deeded it to Neils J. Provstgaard for $500. A daughter, Florence Provstgaard Larsen now resides in the home.

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