Biography of Amos Cox

By Grandson Walter Gary Cox

Note: Research for this biography was taken from the following:
  1. Before & After Mt. Pisgah-by Clare B. Christensen.
  2. Under the Dixie Sun-Hazel Bradshaw-Editor.
  3. History of Kane County by Kane County Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
  4. History of the Mormon Colonies in Mexico by Clarence/Anna Tenney Turley.
  5. A True Historical Narrative of the Mormon Colony of Chuichupa-by Bertha Wetten Schupe.
  6. Treasures of Pioneer History-by Kate B. Carter.
  7. An Ending Legacy-by Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
  8. Senator Reed Smoot and the Mexican Revolution-by A.F. Cardon.
  9. Letters from Children and Grand Children of Amos and Grace Cox.
  10. Autobiography of Warren Foote 1817 - 1901
  11. Samuel Claridge - Pioneering the outposts of Zion - By S. George Ellsworth

On 8 Oct 1856 in Manti, Sanpete, Utah Territory, Amos Jr. Cox came into this world. Being named after his Uncle Amos, who served in the Mormon Battalion. His father, Orville Southerland Cox had made the big trek west in 1847, settled the City of Sessionsville, later to be known as Bountiful, and was the first Bishop of that fine City. In 1849 he was one of the first settlers of Manti.

Amos grew up in difficult times, as the Ute Indians were at war with the Saints. His first two years were spent in the cramped quarters of the Little Stone Fort. His father built a home that they were able to move into by 1858. In early 1860, his father’s family was growing quite large, making it possible to expand his farming to the Sevier River area, where he sent his older boys to work in the fields. This would later be known as Gunnison. He then went to North Bend, or Fairview.

Later that year, in October, he moved his second wife Mary and her three children Philena, nearly six, Amos four, Allen two, to Fairview, and on Christmas Day a new little sister Theressa would be born. Amos was now four years old and surely handling many chores, as the family was getting started in a new location.

By 1863 most, if not all, of Orville’s family had moved to Fairview. On 20 Feb that same year Mary had a second son Theadore. When Fairview was just being settled, a ditch was needed to bring water to the land. Several stories about the Big Plow built by Orville have been told, but this one by Pappas Brady of Fairview, an eye witness is the best:

The Big Plow

“When the ditch was first laid out that was afterward called City Ditch, every man and boy was called on to come and work on it every day till it would carry water.

This was in the spring and it had to be finished before the fields were ready to be plowed and planted. The men turned out well with teams, plows, picks, crowbars and shovels. There was a rocky point at the head of the ditch to be cut through, and it was hard pan, about like cement. Couldn’t be touched by plow, no-siree! No more than nothing. We was just prying the gravel loose with picks and crowbars, and looked like it would take us weeks to do six rods. Yes, six weeks! Cox looked at us sweating, working and never offered to lift a finger. No sir! Never done a tap; just looked and then without saying a word he just turned around and walked off! Yes, sir, walked off! Well, of all the mad bunch of men you ever saw, I guess we was about the maddest. Of course, we didn’t swear; we was Mormons and the Bishop was there, but we watched him go and one of the men says, “Well, I didn’t think Cox was that sort of feller.” His going discouraged the rest of us, just took the heart out of us. But of course we plugged away pretending to work the rest of the day, and dragged back the next morning.

We weren’t near all there when here came Cox. I don’t just remember whether it was four yoke of oxen, six, or eight. For I was just a boy. But it was a long string and they was every one a good pulling ox’, and they was hitched to a plow, a plumb new kind. Yes sir, a new kind of plow. It was a great big pitch pine log, about fourteen feet long, and may have been eighteen, with a limb sticking down. Like as if my arm and hand was the log, and my thumb was the limb. He had bored a hole through the log, and put a crowbar down in front of the knob; and crossways along the log back of the limb he bored holes and put stout oak sticks through for spikes. They was the plow handles, and he had eight men get hold of them handles and hold the plow level, and he loaded a bunch of men along on that log, and then he spoke to his oxen.

Great Scott! Ye oter seen the gravel fly and ye oter seen us fellers laugh and holler. Well, sir, he plowed up and down that ditch four or five times and that ditch was made, practically made. All that the rest of us had to do was shovel out the loose stuff; he done more in half a day than all the rest of us could have done in six weeks.

Why didn’t he tell us his plan the first thing, so we wouldn’t be so discouraged and hate him so? Why, cause we knew it wouldn’t do a mite of good to talk. He wasn’t the Bishop; and even if he had been, plans like that would be hooted at by half the fellers. No, Siree! His way was the best. Just shut up and do, and when a bunch of men see a thing a workin they believe. Yes, Sir, seein is believing.”

Moving South

On 29 Apr 1865, Orville and Mary traveled to Salt Lake and were sealed in the Endowment House. It may have been at this time that he was called by the church, along with others, to settle the muddy mission in Moapa Valley, Nevada. After returning to Fairview, he took part of his family and settled in what is now St Joseph. In August, he returned to Fairview. On 29 Jan 1866, Mary gave birth to another daughter, Lucy Elizabeth. That summer he set out with the rest of his family for the Muddy. Knowing what was ahead, Orville acquired some watermelons before crossing the desert. They ate the melons, but he cut up the rinds into small pieces, and carefully stored them. In order to save the limited water that they could carry, he would dole out the rinds for the children to suck on and quench their thirst. Ten year old Amos had another interesting episode with watermelons, as we will read about later. It was almost June when they arrived in St Joseph. The family suffered a great loss on 2 Jul 1867, when one and a half year old Lucy Elizabeth died.

After Amos’s part of the family had spent five years on the Muddy, and having learned how to build dams that would hold the flash floods; with fruit trees and grapevines just beginning to produce, a new line was drawn between Nevada and Utah. Nevada insisted on back taxes which were more than their farms were worth. Also the fact that cotton farming had not worked out, led to Brigham Young’s decision to have them move back to Utah.

Early in the year of 1871, nearly two hundred sold what they could and set out for Brigham's suggested Long Valley. The earlier settlers of Windsor (later Mt Carmel) Having had trouble building dams that would hold, and after recieving word of a probable Indian attack, urgently decided to move up the valley to Berryville, (later Glendale).

The travel from the Muddy through St George, over the sands to Mt Carmel, was as some said, “Harder than being driven by mobs from Nauvoo and across the plains to Utah”. Not all that left the Muddy continued to Long Valley, some stayed in Dixie, including some of the family of Orville’s first wife Elvira. Some returned to their former homes in northern Utah, including Elvira and her three older sons. The rest arrived at the southern end of the valley at Mt Carmel on the first day of March 1871.

After dams were built that would hold, ditches cleaned, abandoned cabins cleaned out for temporary shelter, and since the Indian troubles had settled down, the original settlers were given the option by Brigham Young, through President Snow, to sign over their places to the new settlers, or reclaim them; they chose the latter.


Once again the faithful saints from the Muddy Mission moved, this time further up the valley. They engineered new dams, ditches and built new cabins. One area could not be reached with water to irrigate it, because of a large gully. After pondering the situation, as was Orville’s way, without comment, he went into the timbers and fell a very large log; hollowed it out into a long trough, placed it across the gully and the ditch proceeded from there. The Cox flume was still doing successful service many years after. It is interesting to note here that Orville’s older sons had returned to Fairview, leaving Amos about 15 by now, Allen 13 and Theodore 8 to help their father with much of the labor. Amos had an older sister, Philena, who was 2 years older, and a sister, Phoebe Ann, who was just a toddler at this time, so Amos probably did his part hollowing out that log.

In 1874, Brigham Young was spending the winter months in St George. It was his custom to visit the communities in the southern part of the territory. While doing so, he would organize them into the United Order, or to live the Law of Consecration. The Saints from the Muddy voted unanimously to live this law, so the order was formed with 90 participants on 20 Mar 1874. They named their town Orderville.

The first year was a tough one. The grasshoppers took the crop, so some of the men who had homes up north went there to work for seed and grain to tide the people over until the next harvest. Food was scarce. The boys would complain that instead of bread and butter they only got bread and scrape, because the women would put butter on the bread then just scrape it off. Amos and some of the boys had ways of getting around the rationing of things like when watermelons were being harvested, they would slip some into the ditch and float them down stream to the waiting arms of their buddies. Boys will take care of their tummies one way or another.

Along with helping his dad, Amos was assigned to work in Brother Palmer’s shoe shop. This was very convenient, as Brother Palmer had a very lovely daughter and it didn’t take long for 18 year old Amos to catch the eye of 17 year old Sarah Arletta. They wanted to marry that summer, but Amos had no pants decent enough for a wedding. He had requested a new pair of pants, but you had to wait your turn, which seemed like it would never happen. So they put their heads together and came up with a plan. When the sheep were sheared, the lambs would get their tails bobbed and discarded. They gathered them up and sheared them. They also collected the wool they found on fences and brush. When the wool was hauled to market, Amos went along with his bag, which brought enough for a store bought pair of pants, and enough left over for a little candy.

Before they were married, a dance was scheduled. Amos should have been a real good dancer, as his father taught dancing classes, and he had a sister to practice with. He couldn’t pass up the chance to show off his new pants, which caused quite a stir. He was called in before the council, and informed that the pants belonged to the United Order, and he would have to turn them in. They complimented him on his resourcefulness, and said they would use the pants for a pattern, and he would get the first pair.

The above story has been claimed by others who were there at the time. Many times people will claim a good story, as if it happened to them, if they think no one is still around to know the difference. The question is how could Amos get Aunt Lette to go along with this?

Also Amos was conveniently in old Mexico for many years. This was a good story for whoever it happened to. So we’ll all find out when we meet them on the other side.

They were married in 1874, and sealed in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City on 10 July 1876. On April 11, 1877, Amos’s younger brother, Allen, was called to a working mission on the Manti Temple. Probably in April 1888, Amos and Lette moved to Manti, lived with the family there and replaced Allen for his working mission on the Temple. Much of his time was spent cutting and hauling timber from the mountains for use on the Temple. He surely had other jobs while there, but obviously he had worked with his father at this task many times. The Orderville records show that in April 1879, Amos Cox was released from his mission on the Manti temple.

One of his grandchildren stated that he worked on the St George Temple hauling logs from Mt Trumble. The temple in St George was built between 1871 and 1879, when Amos was in Orderville. His time in Orderville is pretty well accounted for, and nothing is mentioned in the book “History Of Kane County” of anyone being called to work on the St George Temple, so his logging probably occurred during his mission to help build the Manti Temple. In the book “Under the Dixie Sun” all of the communities sending people to work on the temple were listed. Long Valley was not included in the list.

The United Order was beginning to have its problems for several reasons; (1) people were requesting to be part of the order that didn’t have many goods to put in, and couldn’t physically do their share of the work. This began to cause disunity to raise its ugly head, encouraging some to leave the United Order with what goods the counsel considered their share; (2) the fact that the United Order may not continue caused the younger members difficulty, because there was no provision for them to obtain shares; (3) the law had been passed by the Federal Government against polygamy, and the Federal Marshals were doing their best to stamp it out.

Some of the leaders had been imprisoned and others were planning to move to Old Mexico. In the meantime the look-outs would watch for the Marshals and hurry into town yelling, “Scoot-em-pa”. And they would hurry up to a valley east of Glendale, which has since been given the Indian sounding name of Skutumpah.

By 1884 the abandonment of the United Order in Orderville was certain. After 12 years in Orderville, eleven of those in the United Order, it was time to move on. In 1886 Orville, at age 71, in broken health, returned to the best provided for branch of his family in Fairview, where he died on 4 Jul 1888. Mary’s family received a team and wagon, while 30 year old Amos and Lette received a horse and saddle. They cut the hair from the horse’s tail, braided a bridle, and moved his mother and family to Huntington, Utah. Eliza, Orville’s third wife, also received a team and wagon and settled in Tropic. The irrigation systems in both towns had been engineered by Orville and his boys, along with around twelve more in southern Utah and Nevada. How long Amos stayed in Huntington hasn’t been determined. Their stay must have been long enough to acquire more than a horse, as the book “History of the Mormon Colonies in Mexico”, finds Amos, only around one year later, with an operating blacksmith shop in or shortly after 1887.

Colonia Juarez

They were involved in building the town of Colonia Juarez, Mexico, in a perfect location. After a dam was built and a canal and ditches were dug, streets and lots laid-out, trees planted, homes built, and a great dedication was held, it was discovered that the town was being built in the wrong place. The land that the Mexican Government had agreed to was further up the valley in a narrow, undesirable area. The saints were very disappointed and discouraged wondering how they could possibly build a town with any room to grow in such a poor area. Much to the surprise and shock of all, a great earthquake began to rumble and shake. The houses shook and the chimneys fell as they ran outside in fear. The quake lasted for a long time, with fire spewing out of the ground and burning trees on the mountainsides.

When it finally stopped, their town was devastated, but the new town site was altogether different. There were more springs coming out along the streambed, but rocks and boulders were everywhere, and they could see a lot of hard work ahead to remove them. But during a humble and fervent prayer by Elder Moses Thatcher, a calm feeling came over everyone, they began to see as he prayed what this area could become, not withstanding the hard work ahead. Rather than remove the rocks and boulders, they used them to build with. Lots were drawn for building sites and people began moving to the new location. This is where Amos’s blacksmith shop was located, so whether they were there during the earthquake or shortly after is not known.

Amos was heavily involved in squelching the Indian troubles in 1893. The following is taken word for word from the aforementioned book.

“A raid of Temoche Indians from the mountains of Northern Mexico inaugurated the Temoche Revolution. Their attack and success in raiding the Customs House at Palomas netted them considerable loot. This gave them courage to continue their campaign, and they pointed south toward the Mormon Colonies.

Hearing of their approach and fearing an attack, the colonists prepared themselves for defense by strategically placing sentries to give an alarm. These men were John C. Harper, Orson P. Brown and Brigham P. Stowell. President Teasdale counseled against the shedding of blood, but he felt if the colonists, in the event of an attack, would be justified even to the point of taking life if necessary. Orson F. Brown, Amos Cox, and Carl E. Neilsen were sent out as spies to ascertain the location of this enemy.

On November 21, 1893, three Indians made their way into Colonia Juarez on a tour of inspection. They were followed at a distance by Carl E. Neilson, who kept a watch on their movements. Becoming suspicious they had been discovered, they hastily left town, followed by the intrepid Nielson. While this had been going on Brown and Cox who had been scouting around, unexpectedly came within the bounds of the camp of the Temoches. Before they were aware of their presence, three of the Indians had their guns on them, ordering them to put up their hands. With lightening rapidity, Brown and Cox drew their guns on the Indians and threatened them with death should they make a false move. A policy of mediation was agreed upon. The colonists agreed to withdraw with a promise that the Indians would not fire on them. As they went out, the scouts kept their faces toward the enemy, expecting treachery. Subsequently, the Temoches broke camp and moved on up the Piedras Verdes River.

The following day in the mountains west of Colonia Juarez, the town scouts had a pitched battle with the Indians. None of the colonists were hurt. The fire from the scouts’ long range rifles felled seven of the Red men, and they appeared not to rise again. Word was dispatched to the colony at once by Neilson, giving the town advanced news and allowing them to prepare for the oncoming night. People on the west side of the river moved to the east side. Preparations were formulated to fight, should the Temoches enter town.”

The Indians apparently had enough with these three scouts and headed on south, where a mining company was attacked. No one was hurt, but the Indians got away with money, most of their gear, and supplies. A cowboy camp was also looted in the same area, tracks were left of horses with their hooves “sacked”, which led them to believe that the Apache Kid, who’s trademark this was, had returned to the area. He was responsible for the killing of two of the Thompson family in the fall of 1892.

Things settled down for the colonists, allowing their full energy to be applied to improving life in their town. With the canals and dam being worked on to prepare for the installation of a hydroelectric turbine, this would improve things greatly. Things were looking up.

Life was apparently busy for the Coxes with all the work to do, yet Friday night was dance night and they were probably in the middle of it all. There were some pretty strict rules. There was no enfolding the girl with the man’s arm, a certain space was required between the two, and was enforced by the Dance Manager with a mild reminder to observe the rules.

Education was important to the people, and it was purposed that the school be expanded to the Colonia Juarez Stake Academy. Donations and pledges of labor came in so fast that they had a hard time keeping track.

Enter Grace Ellen Chestnut

On June 4, 1894 in Colonia Juarez a major change of direction was to take place in the life of 38 year old Amos Jr. Cox. After twenty years of marriage to Aunt Lette, who was unable to have children, they decided even though plural marriage was against the law in the USA, it was not in Mexico. With Brigham Young Jr. in town, he agreed to marry Amos to 22 year old Grace Ellen Chestnut. He had them face the direction of the Salt Lake Temple, had them raise their right hands and sealed them together for time and all eternity. Their children had them sealed in the St George Temple. Later they learned that indeed the sealing in Mexico had been recorded in the Church records. When Grace was asked by one of her granddaughters why she would marry someone 16 years older, she said “I was honored to marry him. He was so dashing on his big white stallion.” He must have had more going for him than a big white stallion; the word would probably be class.


One of the colonists, John Mc Neil, discovered a beautiful valley, while guiding a hunting party. He suggested that it would be a good place for a town site, so in December of 1892, eight men set out to find the valley.

Amos would not have been in this group, as he had his hands full with Indian troubles until the beginning of 1894.

The Church purchased 6,240 acres of the valley from a Mr. Garcia of Mexico City for 40 cents per acre in gold.

The name of the valley was Chuhuichupa, later shortened to Chuichupa, but the locals, affectionately called it Chupe. The original name is a Tarahuamara Indian word for “Place of the Mist or Valley of the mist”. Chupe lies in a large valley on the back bone of the Sierra Madre Mountains, at an elevation of 7,028 feet, with crystal clear streams filled with trout. Wild game and birds of all kinds were in the near by forests. Amos loved to fish, and would take his children with him which they enjoyed very much. He would always de-bone the fish as he was afraid the family would get the small bones stuck in their throats.

Chupe is located near the western border of the state of Chihuahua, 45 miles south of Pacheco and 25 miles south of Colonia Garcia.

The valley is very fertile, but the growing season is short. Some grains and sometimes corn could be harvested. Carrots, potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips, turnips, beets, and cabbage could be grown. The main industry though was cattle and cheese production.

The town was founded in 1894. Sometime after 4 Jun 1894 and before 4 Jun 1896, when Cleesa was born in Chupe, Amos had moved his entire family, along with his in-laws, the Chestnuts, there. The trip was 75 to 80 miles of hard, rocky roads and trails.

Aunt Lette did not stay in Colonia Juarez at this time, because in the narrative of Bertha Whetten Shupe, she was listed as the Primary President in Chupe.

After getting his family settled, with temporary shelter and planting done, Amos probably headed for the mountains for timber to build a home. Amos had gained a lot of experience working with his father, hauling logs from the mountains. John W. Header had brought a small sawmill into the valley, making it possible to build more comfortable homes. It was probably during these trips to the mountains that Amos discovered his gold and silver mines. They were named Asteriscos Gemelos or Twin Stars.

He later sold one of the mines and was able to build a fine home, with all the available amenities, including electric lights, linoleum floors, telephone and a beautiful organ, which was a real luxury in those days.

Cleesa told of riding with her father on the ore wagons when he hauled the ore to Casas Grandes, to the rail road. She told of one trip, when she was about fifteen, that he bought her a corset and some face powder, and she said she felt very grown up. The fact that she used the name “wagons” in the plural sense, indicates that this may have been a fairly large operation and was probably the silver mine that was sold. The gold mine on the other hand was probably a one man operation and kept secret, because when the Mexican Revolution was taking place in 1912 the rebels were trying to get Grace to tell them where the map to the gold mine was hidden.

One wonders if the reason Aunt Lette was unable to have children was because the Lord had a special mission for her while on this earth, to comfort and care for the Saints, where there were no doctors. If she had an immediate family to care for, her main interests would have been with them, and she may not have developed into the caring and talented midwife she was. What better husband than Amos could she have, who had the natural ability to have been a doctor or dentist. He also had the gift of healing to go along with it. At an early age, while in Orderville, he was asked for, by a young lady who was dying, to be the one to give her a blessing. She had received a blessing before by other Elders and was still sick. He was so scared that he asked the Lord, while still in the field, what he should say. She was healed and lived to raise a large family. All through his life he would be called upon to give blessings, set bones, and pull teeth all hours of the night. He and Aunt Lette were always willing and never complained.

Amos and Grace always had a good relationship with the Mexican people. The Mexicans ate tortillas and had never tasted yeast bread, until the Mormons came. They loved it and would come to the door begging and saying, “Da me pan” (Give me bread). She never turned them away, giving them bread, milk, fruit and vegetables. The Mexican women learned to make yeast bread from the Mormons. Cleesa said she liked to watch the Mexican women pat tortillas on their knees.

In Chupe they quite often had violent thunder and lightening storms. On one occasion, Grace felt she should take all the kids and go to the blacksmith shop where Amos was working. It was a bad storm, and when they returned to the house the lightening had struck the chimney, and circled all the way around the house to the ground. Grace felt if they had stayed home they would have all been killed.

Anthony W. Ivins came from Church Headquarters to visit the Colonies in Mexico, and later built a home in Colonia Juarez. While visiting Chupe he stayed with Amos and Grace. They were proud to have him as a guest in their home and always spoke well of him. The fact that he stayed with them lends credence to the statement of one of their grandchildren, “Amos was a counselor to Bishop Brown”; however, the history written did not mention this Bishopric.

Amos had dug a well in the front yard by digging a hole down a few feet, laying up rocks around the inside, not too tight to the wall, then digging under the rocks and letting them slide down; lay the rocks, dig the dirt, lay the rocks, dig the dirt, etc. When he hit water he thought he would drown before he could get out.

While Grace was recuperating from the birth of her second daughter, Mary Diantha ( Mamie ), born 12 Oct 1898, she looked out the window and saw sixteen month old Cleesa walking on the rocks on the top of the deep well. Thinking quickly, she calmly said, “Cleesa come in and see the baby”; which she did, while Grace was trying to get the lump out of her throat.

Grace loved flowers, and while she would be planting her flowers, she would look back to find that Clessa also loved flowers, except she was pulling them up to get a closer look at them. This continued to be a problem until Grace came up with a unique solution. Cleesa was afraid of feathers, so feathers were strewn among the flower beds. Problem solved! The neighbors probably thought she had a strange way of raising flowers though.

A little over four years later, on 23 Feb 1902, their third daughter Zelma was born. When she was a young girl a rattle snake bit her near the knee. Amos slashed the fang marks and sucked the venom out, saving her life. She was a very beautiful girl and President Marion G. Romney, a counselor to President Kimball said, “I had a big crush on her when we were kids”.

Three and a half years later, on 3 Aug 1905, twin boys, Amos Fielding and John Franklin, were born. They were quite different. Amos would say “lummer, lummer, lum, and Johnnie would say “nummer, nummer, num, when something tasted good. There was great sadness in the family when nearly two years later John, an apparently healthy little boy, died. Apparently he didn’t need to be tested in this life.

Five years after the twins were born, on 17 Sep 1910, Viola was born in Colonia Juarez. All the previous children were born in Chupe.

School in Juarez

When children reached the eighth grade, they were to be enrolled in the Colonia Juarez Stake Academy. Some people began to move back to Colonia Juarez, in order for their children to continue their education. Amos instead built another nice home, with all the amenities, and Aunt Lette moved there so Cleesa, who would be starting the eighth grade in the Fall of 1909, could continue with her schooling, and take piano lessons from a German lady.

Things were going very well for Amos, and his family, and for all of the colonies as well. Business was booming, mainly because a large English company had started a sawmill complex which was planned to be the largest in the world. They were in the process of building a modern city, in order to have all the latest facilities. The city was named Pearson, after the millionaire that owned the company, and was located only ten miles south of Colonia Juarez. Many of the colonists had found good paying jobs there. They didn’t know that soon their lives would lead in a different direction.

Troubles between the Federal Troops and the Revolutionists had been going on in the south, so the Colonists weren’t overly concerned about Mexican politics, until on 05 Mar 1911, the Rebels attacked the Federals at Casas Grandes. The revolution was now in their backyard, and things were to go downhill from this day on.

Since Mexican President Diaz had taken asylum in France, and his officers had abdicated, civil control had become disorganized. Lawlessness and stealing from the Colonists progressively got worse, and a few were murdered in cold blood. Bands of Rebel troupes led by Zapata, Villa, Salazar, Orozco, And others would come into a community and take what they wanted. On one occasion one of these bands was approaching Chupi, so Amos road out to meet them, and said what ever they needed he would get for them. He took their leader on a tour of the town, and got them two beef and fifty chickens. That satisfied them and they moved on leaving the town safe at least for the time being.

Amos was apparently spending a lot of time in Colonia Juarez, as he was caught up in a situation that created many problems for those involved.

The killing of Juan Sosa, a belligerent radical, by a posse of Mormon men, deputized and sent to arrest him, set a new stage and produced events that might have proved disastrous. At this time, thievery and lack of respect for human rights were at a high point. Sosa was the leader of one of the several robber bands that were ravaging the country. Nothing was safe unless under lock and key. Clothes were taken from the line, hay from the barns, along with tools of all kinds.

One thing very annoying was to go out to milk the cows and find them already milked. This happened several times to Ernest Hatch, and he decided to catch the culprits. On 11 Apr 1911, as he watched from his hay loft early one morning, two men came into the corral with pails and milked the cows. Ernest called to them to stop, but instead they ran, and as they crawled under the fence he shot them with a gun loaded with salt, which found its mark. The men were recognized and arrested. They revealed the names of others in the band, and named Sosa as the leader. The tithing office was being used as a court building. During a court hearing, Sosa burst into the room, belligerently threatening all legal personnel, including (the Judge) President, Jesus Jose Rodriguez. After this blustering outrage, Sosa made his exit and returned to his premises in the lower part of town.

Such an outrage had to be dealt with. Judge Rodriguez ordered Guy C. Taylor, Sheriff of Colonia Juarez, and eight deputies—Jesse M. Taylor, John E. Telford, Leslie Coombs, Frank Lewis, Amos Cox, Ed Taylor, Ernest Hatch, and Charlie Conover to go and arrest Sosa and bring him in. They encountered him watering in the lower Duthie lot near his home by the river. Guy Taylor ordered him to surrender, but he replied, “I will never surrender”. So Guy Taylor said, “Men advance and take him into custody”. As Frank Lewis attempted to crawl through the wire fence, Juan raised his shovel and struck Frank on the head, putting him on the ground, with blood gushing from his wound. Sosa followed with another blow, but before he made the third strike Taylor shouted, “Fire!”, and as the shots rang out Sosa fell to the ground dead.

All the Sosa family and native members from the southern part of town came out menacingly against the posse. Imagine for a moment the danger these men were in and what might have then occurred. The posse and Mexicans that had been arrested were kept in jail that night for their protection. The ongoing desire for revenge on the part of Sosa’s brother and sons, and local natives, continued to be a problem. There were court proceedings and intervention by Captain Creighton, Pascual Orozco, and Raul (Blanco ?) Madero. So they were all taken to Casas Grandes, where Francisco I. Madero, the revolt leader, (and soon to be president of Mexico), exonerated the posse, setting them free. This quenched the flames of this once dangerous situation for the time being.

Upon the departure of Madero’s troops, Demetrio Ponce and his cohorts attempted a number of times to arrest the posse. But they were unsuccessful, because of watchful friends who warned the posse members of the danger. For some time after, these posse men had to remain under cover in a grim game of hide-and-seek. The men were having to run all the time and could not support their families. Everyone was miserable. Amos, who unlike the others was quite well off, didn’t need to be there to support his family. Shortly after Madero released them on July 1st 1911, he was called on a mission to the southern states, and was able to avoid the game of hide-and-seek.

In the meantime, President Romney and lawyer, Charles Edmund Richardson, and other leaders of the Colonies, decided to send a man to Mexico City to see General Madero, now President, to find out if he would stand by his order to set the men free. He said, “If these men are innocent, as claimed, the case is to be dismissed”.

When this order was given to the judge, he said that there would have to be a trial to see if they were innocent. He suggested that one member of the posse be tried to settle the question. He promised to give bail to the man and said he would hasten the proceedings as much as possible. Richardson, the lawyer, advised that Leslie be the one to stand trial as there was proof that his gun had never been fired. Leslie was hesitant as he was uncertain of getting justice in Mexican courts. The brethren then said it was a call they were giving him, and after that he felt he couldn’t refuse. The judge then refused to let him out on bail, but after four days in prison, Orozco, another Mexican General, captured Casas Grandes and released all prisoners. Leslie returned to Colonia Juarez with all speed possible.

Mexican Revolution, and Exodus

The relations between the church leaders and the revolution leaders continued to deteriorate. President of the Juarez Stake, Junius Romney, and General Salazar had a heated exchange, because Salazar wanted all of the Colonies to turn over their guns to his rebels. The United States had put an embargo on selling weapons to Mexico, so Salazar decided to take what he wanted from the colonists. They gave up their hunting rifles, but secretly kept the long range rifles that had been smuggled in by Orson P. Brown. He had attempted to smuggle rifles in earlier, but they were confiscated by the U.S. Government. Senator Reed Smoot tried many times to get the rifles released. President Taft agreed to have them released, but it was slowed down by a lot of red tape, until finally all agreed, including the leadership of the Church, that it was best not to proceed.

The rest of the posse were still in danger of being captured, and once Leslie had to sneak out the back door and hide in the willows by the river, as the Mexican officers were asking about members of the posse out front. President Romney decided to have him taken back to the U.S., during night time, for his protection. This was probably in early January 1912, and his family would follow soon.

The Ward and Stake leaders, after communicating with church headquarters, met and decided to move the women and children to the United States immediately. A committee was formed to arrange for transportation to move the twenty-three hundred souls to safety.

Senator Smoot was able to get $100.000 allocated to compensate those displaced for their losses. Nothing was ever reported of it being dispensed though, probably another case of red tape.

Soon three trains were arranged to leave from Colonia Dublan, Pearson and Chico, the closest rail station to Chupe.

Cleesa was at a picnic with her classmates at a lake or reservoir. When she got home Aunt Lette was baking bread, cooking food, and packing their clothes. The rebels had given them only a few hours to get out. They were taken to Pearson to begin the four hundred mile trip to El Paso. No sooner had they gotten underway when a sister began having a baby. Since Aunt Lette was a midwife she responded to some other part of the train. The train was overcrowded. Cleesa was scared and sick. She didn’t see Aunt Lette again until they reached El Paso.

In the meantime, Grace was alone in Chupe with the rest of the kids, when the rebels arrived. They turned their horses and mules into the orchard and vineyard, and ruined them. They came into the house, ripped the curtains down with their swords, and threw pans of milk all over the piano, trying to frighten Grace into telling them where the map to the gold mine was. She was fearful she and the children would all be killed. Amos had left a map to the gold mine with her, but she convinced them that there wasn’t one. They were told they only had a short time to get ready to leave and said she could take only one trunk. About all they could take was some food and clothes, and she hid the map, which she had all the time in the trunk.

They were taken twenty miles to Chico to board the train for the long ride to El Paso. They arrived around the first of February. Because of the crowded conditions, it took days to find Aunt Lette and Cleesa. They were put up in a lumber company warehouse, where they waited for a month until Amos could get word of what had happened and return to his family. What a reunion that must have been.

The church had made arrangements with the City of El Paso to furnish food for the destitute colonists. Their money was exchanged upon reaching the U.S. for forty- three cents on the dollar.

Consider Amos’s situation. Fifty-six years old, just deprived of the results of 25 years of hard work, the most productive years of a man’s life. All they had left were a few personal items, and whatever funds he had on hand. It would only be a guess as to his financial situation at this time.

Orderville, again

On the train ride back to Utah, which took them through New Mexico, Colorado, and then across to Marysvale, Utah, one incident stood out. The train ran through a large herd of sheep. Before the train could stop, many sheep were killed. The men had to get off and remove them from the tracks.

What transportation, from Marysvale to Orderville, was available at that time would be interesting to know. Back home after an eventful and very interesting twenty-seven years, the peaceful and quiet town of Orderville must have been a welcome change. Their last two children were born there, Walter Valden on 08 Dec 1913, a little over nine months after Amos returned from his mission. Then Melvin Truman was born on 07 Mar 1916. Amos had lost his blacksmith shops and all tools, but must have had the funds to start again, as he set up another shop in Orderville.

It was apparently during their stay in Orderville that Amos worked for the railroad out of Marysvale. It may be that he worked for the railroad long enough to afford the equipment to set up the blacksmith shop. If he had to be out of town working, there was plenty of help at home with the three older daughters there. Cleesa, however, was married to Maurice James Hinton on 13 Dec 1915 in the St George Temple, and moved to Hurricane.

Hurricane, located at a much lower elevation than other communities to the north and east, had a much earlier and longer growing season, and Maurice took advantage of this by hauling fruits and vegetables to them. This is how he made the acquaintance of Cleesa. You have to watch out for those traveling salesmen.

The family moved to Hurricane in 1917 for a short time, then moved to Cedar City in 1918 where he built a home and farmed. It didn’t take long for the local boys to come around sporting the Cox girls. On 20 Dec 1919, twenty-one year old Mary Diantha married John Bullock Sherratt. They were later sealed in the St George Temple on 26 Jun 1936.

Ten months after Mary (Mamie) was married, 07 Sep 1920, Zelma, almost 20, married Jordan Large in Cedar City.

Amos bought his first car, a Chevrolet, which he was having a hard time getting used to the gear shift. He loaded a bunch in and took it out for a spin. On the way home, Jordan Large came up behind them and knowing his new father-in-law was still shaky driving, decided to stay close behind while honking his horn. Amos became nervous and pulled over for him to go by, but Jordan kept honking his horn. Amos apparently had a lot more experience driving a team and wagon, because while approaching the gate at home, he began pulling back on the steering wheel and yelling WHOA!!! WHOA!!! But that darned old chevy just wouldn’t listen. It ran right through the gate. That was not the way to impress your father-in-law.

He was farming while in Cedar. Part of his crop that fall was squash, which he had stored in the basement of their home. Faulty electrical wiring caused a fire and the house burned to the ground. Everything was lost, including all the squash he had planned to sell. He sued the power company for his losses. During the trial the lawyer would read off a list of items lost, but each time he would forget about the squash in the basement. So Amos would pipe up and say, “And a basement full of squash”. This happened a couple of times, so the judge said “Squash, Squash. Cox must love Squash”. Everyone in the court got a big laugh out of that one.

Hurricane, the final move

About 1927, Amos moved his family back to Hurricane where he rented a home twice, then was able to buy the property across the street to the north of Maurice and Cleesa. They built a house and setup his blacksmith shop again. Aunt Lette lived in a house on the corner, just north of the family home.

Those who lived in Hurricane, before the new highway across the Arizona strip to highway 89, will remember the old road coming off the Hurricane hill and how sharp the turn was near the bottom. Amos had a Model T Ford, and he and Viola were coming down the hill. By the time they got down the long grade and about to make the sharp turn, the brakes had heated up enough that they didn’t work well enough. He must have thought Fords would listen better than the Chevy had in Cedar, so once again he yelled WHOA!!! WHOA!!! Fortunately they made the turn, but ended up with a wheel in the ditch.

In those days, a man had to be able to do many of the things that are done for us today. Amos’s resume was a long one. Along with his main occupation he was outstanding at the following: doctor, farmer, prospector, miner, railroad worker, butcher, peace officer, hunting guide, musician (flute), singer, dancer, shoemaker, teamster, mason, teacher, family patriarch, healer, bishop’s counselor, sunday school superintendent, missionary, and outstanding fisherman. He was also known as the best shot with a flipper in Hurricane. Every young man and many men carried a flipper, and a pocket full of small rocks to knock birds out of the fruit trees. Amos taught his sons and grandsons how to make flippers and how to shoot straight. The pesky birds didn’t have a chance. It was said that his grandson, Orvin Hinton, was a dead eye, along with Sherwin, one of Valden’s sons.

Amos fixed whatever the neighbors brought to him, usually for no charge. That is if he could find his tools, when he needed them, as his two youngest sons, Val and Mel, were always working on one project or another, and as sons will do failed to put the tools back where they belonged.

He also served as the local dentist, which amounted to pulling teeth when they ached. On one memorable occasion, Maurice had a bad toothache. So with the forceps sterilized and Mausy, as he was called, holding fast to the bottom of the chair, Amos proceeded to drag him by the pesky tooth, back and forth across the porch until it finally came out. The children would also come to him to have their loose baby teeth pulled.

They bought a piano with the hopes that the younger children would learn to play it, which they apparently didn’t. A neighbor girl was taking lessons and was allowed to come over and practice on it, but the others just used it to plunk on. This got on Amos’s nerves, so while Grace was gone to a Relief Society meeting he traded it to a neighbor for a cow and calf, and some flour. Now Grace was a quiet, patient, little lady who would never loose her cool, but boy oh boy was she mad when she got home. She said “I hope the darn cow dies”, and it did.

Just as in Mexico, when a doctor was not available, Amos and Lette would be called out to bless and care for the sick. Through fasting, prayer, blessings, and the many remedies they knew, they were a great help to many. Viola, who was not expected to live, was saved from a serious case of pneumonia. He stayed by her bedside night and day administering to and praying for her. Viola had great faith in the gift of healing. Later in life her faith kept her from losing her leg, below the knee, to blood poisoning or a staph infection. Later Valden was saved from death after coming down with typhoid fever. Once again Amos stayed by his bedside, feeding him chicken soup and blessing him.

Amos didn’t need a guard dog around the place, as he had a big tough rooster that was the cock-of the-walk. The older grandchildren would just shoo him away, but he had Orvin’s number, and would bully him every time he tried to come over. He would have to yell for Uncles Val or Mel to come and rescue him. He said Grandpa would tell him, “When that old rooster jumps at you just slug him as hard as you can right in the breast”, but Orvin just couldn’t get it done. Whether Orvin finally won, or the rooster got old and died, only Orvin knows.

They raised all kinds of farm animals, and Amos would take all the children around to see them when they came to visit.

Amos and Grace were always faithful members of the church. They always supported the leaders and even donated part of their lot to make bricks for building the big white church that used to be on the corner of Main and State Streets.

Amos and Grace loved music especially hymns. They also enjoyed country music. They loved to hear Valden and his wife, Vivian, along with Melvin and Jay Hinton play the guitars and sing. Amos Fielding played the harmonica quite well and Cleesa played the piano. So there was a lot of music in the Cox family. Amos played marches and folk songs with his flute. Some said he had a beautiful baritone voice, while others said he sang bass. The young grandchildren always wanted him to sing the pig song (Suzanne is a funny ole man).

Amos enjoyed reading the Book of Mormon and the Bible. He would sit under the big cottonwood tree in the back yard and study the scriptures. He could quote many, especially from Proverbs. His grandchildren tell of sitting on his lap and listening to stories from the Bible, but especially from the Book of Mormon. When they got a little older and heavier, he would kindly suggest they pull up a chair to make room on his lap for the younger ones. He always gave the grandchildren good advice, such as live by the golden rule, always keep the ten commandments, honesty is the best policy, and a good example is better than a sermon.

His dual purpose of life was Church and family. He lived his last days in Hurricane, Utah. He lived to be 80 years old. Sarah Arletta preceded him in death.

About Grace Ellen Chestnut

Her parents, Henry Chestnut and Euphemia Knox, were both born in Scotland, but were raised in Ireland. So Grace had many of the traits of the old countries. She was born in Holden, Millard County, Utah, on 18 Mar 1872. Her mother and two younger sisters were casualties of the Smallpox epidemic that swept through Holden in 1876. Her father was a freighter, and probably had more than one team and wagon, as Grace was said to have driven a team and wagon all the way to old Mexico when she was only fourteen years old. Her main objective in life seemed to be to make a good home life for her husband and children. She was a good housekeeper and an outstanding cook. Not so much with fancy dishes. She could, however, make everyday food taste better than just about anyone. She also taught her daughters well. Can anyone question the quality of the Cox girl’s potato salad, rice or bread pudding, biscuits, gravy, Irish stew, or chili. The list could go on. She was a fine seamstress and here again she taught her girls how to quilt, embroider, crochet, etc. She was loved and respected by her children and grandchildren. Her life was a good example for anyone to follow. She was a little lady, but the word little was never used without sweet, and quiet being used with it. Even though she had many hardships, she was never, ever heard to complain, or to have a bad word to say about anyone. She always tried to make the best out of any situation. She had great love for her children and grandchildren, and would always have a treat for the young ones when they visited.

She loved and respected her parents. While in Chuichupa, she would take food over to her father.

She didn’t quote from the scriptures very much, but it seems her Scotch and Irish traditions had changed many of the gospel truths into wise little sayings. She seemed to have one for every situation. Following are a few of them:

  1. If you can’t say something good about someone don’t say anything at all.
  2. Sweep the dust off your own doorstep before you worry about someone elses.
  3. Pity is akin to love, but never mistake pity for love.
  4. A stitch in time saves nine.
  5. If something is worth doing at all, it’s worth doing well.
  6. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
  7. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
  8. If wishes were fishes, we’d all have a fry.
  9. The early bird always gets the worm.
They were good citizens and good neighbors to all, and have set a great example for all of their descendants to follow.

The Mexican government reimbursed Grace Ellen for the Mexican property (partially) and a home was built in Hurricane, where she lived until her death in 1943.

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