William A. Cox

Submitted to the West Virginia Biographies Project by:
Valerie & Tommy Crook
November 10, 1999

The History of West Virginia, Old and New
Published 1923, The American Historical Society, Inc.,
Chicago and New York, Volume III,
pg. 304-305

WILLIAM A. COX. While his residence has not been con-
secutive, William A. Cox was one of the first citizens of
Junior in Barbour County, and has played a varied part
in the affairs of that mining center. For the greater part
of his life from boyhood until he retired he was engaged
in mining and coal operations, and it was hard labor that
won him substantial success.

He was born in Monongalia County, West Virginia, April
30, 1859, son of William Purnel and Sara Jane (Myers)
Cox. His father who was born in Fairmont, in November,
1837, and died in the same city March 19, 1902. He was
a boy playmate of Governor Pierpont, the first governor of
West Virginia. He could not serve in the Union Army on
account of some physical disability. He was a coal miner,
and in later years a teamster. He was a republican and a
member of the Christian Church. His wife was born in
Pennsylvania, but near Blacksville, West Virginia, in
August 1839, daughter of William and Mary E. (Walker)
Myers. Her grandfather came from Germany and founded
the family in this country. Mrs. Sarah Jane Cox is now
living at Parkersburg, in the home of her daughter, Mrs.
Annie Fleming, and has attained the age of eighty-three.
Her children were: William Azareal; Mary, who died at
Parkersburg in 1917, wife of William Haught; Clara, who
died unmarried; John M., of Jackson County; Mrs. Annie
Fleming; Minnie, wife of Frank Morris, of Parks, Texas;
Lloyd; and Ella, Mrs. Omer Dils; of Ravenswood, West

William A. Cox when a boy went with his parents to
Germantown, Ohio, where his family had their home until
1867. Returning to West Virginia, they located at Pala-
tine, now the First Ward of Fairmont. William A. Cox
had little opportunity to attend school, and most of his
reading and study were done by the light of the open fire
in his home. At the age of fourteen he went into the mines
with his father as a coal digger, later as mule-driver, and
subsequently as boss driver. From Fairmont he went to
Wilsonburg, where he dug coal four years, and in 1880
removed to George’s Creek, Maryland, and dug coal in the
Big Vein Mine there. In the fall of 1883 he opened a
mine for the Atlantic and George’s Creek Consolidated
Company in Mineral County, and for this company was sub-
sequently roadman and night boss. He returned to Fair-
mont, and for a year was with the Aurora mines, and then
returned to Elk Garden, to the Atlantic Mine. In 1892
he made two openings at Womelsdorf for the Womelsdorf
Coal Company, and the following year established his fam-
ily there.

It was from Womelsdorf that he came to Junior in 1894.
That place was still called Rowtown, and the name Junior
was given the locality in honor of Junior Davis, a son of
Senator Henry Gassoway Davis. Mr. Cox helped incorpo-
rate Junior as a town, carried the chain when the town-
site was surveyed, and he was chosen the first mayor of
the new corporation. In the fall of 1894 he went to work
in the local mine, later was promoted to mine foreman,
and spent seven years with the Davis Coal Company. From
here he removed to Lillian as superintendent of the Balti-
more Smokeless Coal Company, and was promoted to general
manager before he left the service of that company a few
years later.

This was his last active work as a coal man, though
he has been more or less directly or indirectly interested
in coal mining. For eighteen months he was a road sales-
man ior the Friction Rail Brake Company of Charleston,
and gave up that business to take up the study of chiro-
practic at Belington, and practiced that profession at
Middleport, Pomeroy and Racine, Ohio, and at Red Fork,
West Virginia. For ten years Mr. Cox was in business at
Greensburg, Pennsylvania, as proprietor of the Keystone
Bottling Works. He made a success of the business, but
probably expended more arduous labor in doing so than
in any other occupation that engaged him. On leaving
Greensburg in 1915 Mr. Cox returned to Junior, and took
the first real vacation he had ever had. For about two
years he lived at Parkersburg, assisting in the care of his
aged mother, and did not leave her until her health was
completely restored.

Mr. Cox grew up in a republican household, but east
his first presidential vote for James B. Weaver of Iowa,
the populace and greenback candidate. He was reared a
Methodist and leaned toward that faith, though his mother
is a member of the Christian Church. Mr. Cox was made
an Odd Fellow in Philos Lodge at Westernport, Mary-
land, in 1881, is a past noble grand of the lodge and a
past grand representative. He became a member of the
Knights of Pythias at Piedmont, West Virginia, and is a
past chancellor of that Lodge and has sat in Grand Lodge
a number of times. In March, 1902, he instituted a Knights
of Pythias Lodge at Junior, and was made its first chan-

At Oakland, Maryland, November 23, 1882, William A.
Cox married Miss Addie L. Fimple, daughter of John T.
and Mary (Compton) Fimple, the latter a daughter of
Henry Compton. The Fimples are a family of French ori-
gin, and her grandfather, Job Fimple, was the first to come
to West Virginia. John T. Fimple was a Union soldier
in the Civil war, under Capt. T. Maulsby. Mrs. William
A. Cox died September 23, 1893, mother of the following
children: Mary J., wife of William Hunt, of Junior;
W. Fred, who lives at Junior and married Amy Valentine;
Grace, wife of William Miller, of Junior; Howard Dawson,
of Junior; Myrtle, wife of Frank Pingley, of Lebanon
Church, Virginia; and Charles, of Junior.

Howard D. Cox is one of the prominent coal operators
at Junior. He had a public school education, and at the
age of fifteen went to work in the mines with his father.
On leaving the mine work at Lillian he spent three years
in the stone quarry business as an employe of R. G. Has-
kins of Barbour County. For another three years he worked
in the mines and paper mills at Luke, Maryland, and
Junior, West Virginia. For the following year he was
at Winter Haven, Polk County, Florida, in the service of
his old employer, Haskins, who was promoting an orange
grove. On returning North he became associated in 1911
with his father in the bottling business at Greensburg, but
on April 1, 1915, returned to Junior and again took up
mining for the Davis Colliery Company. In August, 1916,
he was made machine man for the Gage Coal and Coke
Company, and since December of the same year has been
that company’s mine foreman as successor of Opha G.
Shomo, who lost his life by accident at the mine.

Howard D. Cox was one of the active promoters of the
Merchants and Miners Bank of Junior, has served it as
director continuously and is its vice president. He also
helped organize the Mildred Coal Company, was its first
vice president and has been in charge of its operations.
He has been a member of the Town Council of Junior and
town recorder, and during the war was one of the leaders
in the locality in promoting the sale of bonds and other
securities. For almost a year he was acting postmaster
of Junior. He is a republican, a member of the Metho-
dist Episcopal Church, and fraternally he joined the Junior
Lodge of Odd Fellows at the age of twenty-one, is a past
noble grand, and in Masonry is a member of the Lodge
at Belington, the Royal Arch Chapter at Philippi, and the
Consistory at Wheeling.

December 14, 1912, Howard D. Cox married Hattie Price,
daughter of Israel and Harriet (Arbogast) Price. She
was born on a farm in Randolph County, West Virginia,
September 29, 1893. The oldest child of her parents is
Sherman, who has rounded out ten years of service with
the Regular Army and was with the American Contingent
of troops in Russian Siberia. Francis, the next son, lives
at Grafton. George is a resident of Junior. The two
youngest are Mrs. Cox and Israel, twins. Israel was a
soldier in the famous Rainbow Division in France, and
was with the first troops to reach Coblenz with the
Army of Occupation. Mr. and Mrs. Howard D. Cox have
five children: Forest Hugh, Christine May, Dorothy Ellen,
Mary Frances and William Arthur.