Nancy Irene Sanders Cox

By her family

Nancy Irene Sanders Cox was born October 1, 1856 in Union Fort, south of Salt Lake City. She was the first child of John Franklin Sanders and Mary Irene Clement. They lived in the fort until the spring of 1859. They came--Father, mother, Nancy, and Frank, a baby—to Mt. Pleasant, a town just being settled that spring. They stayed there that year while the men worked on a fort in Fairview, six miles north.

After they moved to Fairview they lived in the Fort. One day Mary Irene was going after water. Her 4-year-old daughter wanted to go with her. It was cold and when her mother sent her back, Nancy cried and held her breath. She sat down in a little rocking chair in front of the fireplace. The chair tipped forward, throwing her head under the rod that held the logs on the fire. The only other person in the house was Uncle Tommy [Thomas Alma] Clement, who had his eyes bandaged and was sitting on a trunk under the window playing his violin. When she screamed, her mother ran back and neighbors rushed in. When they brushed off the coals, the hair and skin came off the top of her head and most of her face.

Nancy was a pretty child with such a lot of dark hair and smooth skin, her eyes a dark blue-grey or hazel. They used homemade black salve to heal the burn. The salve was made by burning tar and mixing it with balsam gum and mutton tallow. It is a miracle she lived and that the scars were not deeper. Her mother always combed her hair for her parted on the side to cover the scar and Nancy said her mother always cried. Many years later when her husband Walt was asked how he felt about the large scar, he replied: “Scar? What scar?” She was always beautiful and perfect to him.

Nancy went to school whenever she could. Tuition was $3 a quarter. She often helped with the younger children and her last teacher was John Acton. He quite often got drunk and Nancy taught for him then.

Nancy’s Grandmother, Amanda Armstrong Fausett Sanders lived in St. George. The St. George Sanders’ were very friendly. They came up each year with molasses, raisins and dried peaches to trade for flour. The summer of 1875 Nancy went to St. George to visit her grandmother, who, incidentally was redheaded, short, plump, and had very small feet. She had a good visit but while she was there, her mother died from what today seemed to be an ectopic pregnancy.

By the time Nancy got home, many of the things her mother had to keep house with had disappeared. Nancy mothered her brothers and sisters in Fairview while her father and Aunt Jane Gibson, his second wife, homesteaded in Thistle Valley. Nancy had to make do much of the time. Butter and eggs were her only means of barter for anything she could not grow on the farm. Often Aunt Jane would come and take the eggs Nancy had back to her family in Thistle Valley. Nancy also took care of Aunt Jane’s oldest (Phebe) when she got old enough for school.

She stayed single longer than most of the girls in those days. In fact she was considered an old maid for 2 or 3 years and the married men were after her for polygamy.

One year Walter came home sick, had a fever, and Nancy went down to see him. One of her friends teased her about nursing him and Nancy told her as quick, “You bet I’ll see him thru, then I am going to marry him.” They went together for quite awhile. Nancy decided she wanted to be married at conference time. Walter thought Nancy was getting a little offish so he was ready to trap her. Nancy borrowed a couple of ponies and she and Alice Tucker got the wagon packed for the journey to Salt Lake. (One reason she borrowed some ponies is because all Walt had was an ox team, and ponies were faster and more fashionable.) When Walter came with his fall trapping outfit the boys talked him into going to see Nancy. The next day was her 20th birthday.

Alice and Kirg Wilson rode in the back, Nancy and Walter on the spring seat. Nancy knit and Walter had to hold the reins to drive the buckaroos. He wished he had oxen, then he cou1d have put his arm around Nancy, but then she couldn’t be bothered. She had her knitting. First night they camped in Thistle Valley, Second at Hot Springs (Castella), Third in Pleasant Grove, and Fourth Sa1t Lake City.

They camped at the tithing office. They spent four days going to Conference. They were married October 9, 1876 in the Endowment House. One couple wore temple clothing to show how all should be dressed. Walter wore a long shirt that reached to his ankles. Nancy had her mother’s wedding dress, a beautiful white plaited shirt with a plain belt-waisted blouse. There were so many getting married there was hardly standing room. They couldn’t all get in the sma1l rooms so they sent the Salt Lake people home.

Soon after Nancy and Walter were married, Nancy’s father left her youngest brother and sister, Olive, 6, and Darius, 3, with her and moved Aunt Jane and the rest of the family to Arizona. Nancy and Walter raised the two children as their own. They lived a mile south of Fairview on the farm. Their first home was ½ mile east of the present old farm we all knew. Their first home was split log with a slab lean-to and a big fireplace on the north wall. The attic was not big enough to stand in. The children climbed the stakes in the side of the wall and slept in the attic. Their first child, Fred, was born there. As the family grew they added to their living space. Next came an adobe house, 2 stories high, bedrooms upstairs, that was built for the first winter. Finally they bought a home that was in the fields north by a big quicksand spring and moved it next to the other buildings. Each log was marked with an axe so it could be put back together. / // /// etc. This was the most spacious of all the rooms even though it was not very high. It had an attic also and all of the attics connected. The north side of the house was corral.

The water for the old place was obtained from a sump too close to the corral. Belva and the other family members were often sick. They had Typhoid, Scarlet fever and diphtheria. The doctor finally said they would have to find a better supply of water or they would lose Belva and perhaps others. They moved to town and lived in uncle Al’s big house where the ballpark now is, for 2 years while building the big house. They located the new house next a fresh spring that broke out after an earthquake in the area.

Uncle Al [Almer Bingley Cox] had gone to colonize in Mexico. He took only the bare essentials and left beautiful china and fixings in the house. Nancy and Walt’s families never touched these things but Belva always remembered their beauty.

Nancy wanted a red brick house like the Birch creek school and others in the area that were using bricks from a nearby brickyard, but Walter wanted a nice warm solid wooden one. The new house was built of squared logs 10” high and 5” thick with notched ends and wooden pegs to hold them together. There was siding on the outside and tongue and groove vertical panels inside. The inside walls were covered with ‘factory’ (unbleached muslin). The selvedges were sown together and tacked to the wall and the next width was pulled over so no tacks were showing. Some rooms were painted and some were papered over the factory. The house was three stories high and had seven bedrooms; always room for everyone and everyone was made welcome. The ceilings were built a low 7 ½ feet so it was easy to heat. Frances Ella was the first baby born there. Belva was 9 or 10. The attic had the spinning wheel in it. It was a large wheel almost as tall as a standing adult. It was seldom used after they moved.

When they built their new home, “the big house”, they again moved the log building, using the same marks to rebuild it, and this was used as the granary. They also had a woodworking shop and blacksmith shop there on the farm.

Nancy and Walter served on the School Board of the Birch Creek School (one mile south of the farm) when it was built in 1899. Before 1916 public schools went to the 8th grade. The church throughout the state established high schools that the students went to, usually boarding in town. Walter Cox was very conscious of his lack of schooling. His children were sent away to school as soon as they were ready. Some of them went to Snow in Ephraim, some went to the AC in Logan, and some went to the Y. Most of them went to more than one place. Two different years Walt got very perturbed over the boys in town hanging around the local saloon so he went to the school board and after much discussion arranged to hire a teacher for these boys. Other parents were grateful for the arrangement and paid their share of the teacher’s salary but it was Walter Cox who saw that there was a teacher. Walter also sent others who were not family but who had the desire but not the means to school.

In his family it seemed to be arranged so that there was a girl to take care of the boys away from home and a girl to stay at home to help. Also a boy was home to run the farm. These periods of schooling and helping on the farm were rotated so all had their share of schooling.

The farm had all kinds of animals on it. The geese used to be plucked and the down saved for bedding and never was a chicken or a duck cooked without the feathers being saved for mattresses, pillows or etc. The bees were always a large part of farm life. They were close to the old homestead. They had currants and gooseberries and rhubarb amongst the bees. When the railroad went thru they had an opportunity to get topsoil from the new right of way. So they got some for the currants from a flowerbed and got a wonderful start of Shirley poppies and other flowers that looked so pretty among the beehives. In 1911 they shipped a carload of honey back east.

The cows were taken to the mountain each summer and there the boys took care of them and also made cheese.

Nancy remembered many with a call and a kind word. When the circus came along for so much for a family, she would gather all the neighbors and go for butter and eggs. They never said how big a family, so she gathered quite a few.

Even when Nancy was so sick she knew she couldn’t live, she was thinking of others. She wrote letters and prepared everything she could before she gave up to say she was sick.

On January 1, 1916, Nancy Irene Sanders Cox died. She had a ruptured appendix and died in the Mt Pleasant hospital. This was a blow to the whole family.

Walter worked the farm until all his children were gone and then he moved to Fairview where he lived with Belva. He spent many winters in Arizona.

Compiled about 1960 by Nancy C Mackay from information from Belva, Verona, Stanley & others. Edited 2006.