An American Family History


Earl Fox


Chariton is the county seat of Lucas County, Iowa and is in Lincoln Township.

earl driving earl inez

Earl Fox was born in Lucas County, Iowa on September 6, 1895. He was the son of John Newton Fox and Isabelle Solinger Groves Shelton Fox Welch.

Earl was married at age nineteen to Inez Ruby Baker who was sixteen on April 27, 1915. Inez was born on August 27, 1898 in Kansas City. Her parents were Charles Franklin Baker and Minnie May Laurine.

Earl and Inez had one son, Richard Earl Fox who was born in 1922.

The family appeared in the 1930 census in Chariton, Lucas County, Iowa. Earl was 34 and working as a railroad switchman with the Burlington Railroad. His son, Richard wrote

my father seemed to do quite well and with such a strong wife beside him would have been quite prosperous if the depression hadn't hit him.He was the last to be laid off of the train crews at the Burlington (CB&Q) railroad in Chariton which gave him a little work whenever the regular men took a day off.. . . With the income from the two cows and the fruit and vegetables we raised we did just fine. Most of the other children's fathers were on welfare or on the WPA and I felt like a rich kid. The fourth grade teacher asked the class how many had breakfast that morning and I was among about five to eight of the pupils, out of thirty, who had a hearty breakfast.

. . . [Earl] seemed to have an intricate knowledge of what made a healthy happy cow. For instance he knew that cottonseed would make their coats shine, but that cottonseed lacked certain vitamins and unless you supplemented it the cows would go blind. This was at a time when vitamins were just starting to be recognized. He had steel lined bins (to keep rodents away) with compartments of different grains to make a cocktail for the cows. You put a coffee can full of this grain and a half a coffee can of that grain, etc. The cows would go crazy over their dessert. Although he didn't have much money to invest, his milking shed had good stanchions to keep the cows in place and a good wooden floor above concrete so that their feet would stay healthy and that they would be dry and comfortable at all times. Our cows produced a cream level that went far below the center of the bottle and all the rich women in Chariton let the grocer know that they would only use our milk because the quality exceeded any other. Of course today we wouldn't be able to sell hand bottled whole unpasteurized milk. But it got us through the depression. As a young one, I often wondered where he learned his expertise."


In the 1830s settlers began arriving in Iowa from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, and Virginia. Iowa became a state in 1846.

earl inez

The Great Depression was world wide and originated in the U.S. with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929. Income, revenue, profits, prices, and trade plunged.. Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25%. The negative effects of the Great Depression lasted until the end of World War II.

Richard Fox also wrote

Isabelle gave my father the vacant lot next door to build a house and my mother who was very frugal saved up enough money in a year or so to pay cash for the lumber to build a one bedroom, four room house. My father hired an old retired carpenter and the two of them built the house. At the rear of that lot was where all this [from John's horses] fertilizer had been deposited for some years and that rich soil grew huge vegetables to get us through the depression. In addition we had apple trees, cherry trees, pear trees, concord grapes, currant bushes, gooseberry bushes, black raspberry patch and more. We had little money, but we ate and lived better than a lot of the wealthy people. When I got old enough to date and got invited to dinner I couldn't believe the junk some of those people ate."

Earl died of a heart attack in February, 1947 in Ottumwa, Iowa. He is buried in Salem Cemetery with his father John Fox. Inez died on January 19, 1893 in Santa Clara, California.

Earl Fox is Taken by Death
Earl Fox died suddenly Friday of a heart attack at his home, 821 Jay Street, Ottumwa. Fox was a former resident of Chariton employed as a switchman with the Burlington railroad being transferred to Ottumwa a few years ago. He is survived by his widow, Inez, and one son, Richard Earl, of Phoenix, Ariz.

Funeral services were held at the Lester Jay funeral home at Ottumwa Monday at 11:00 a.m. Burial was made in Salem cemetery southeast of Chariton.
Children of:
John Newton Fox and
Sarah Jane Ricketts
  • Clara Fox Wood
  • Eliza Fox Smith
  • Bonham Fox
  • Merrit Fox
  • Orpha Fox
  • Etta Fox O'Dea
  • Mae Fox McKelvey

    Isabelle Solinger
    and R. Groves
  • Edward Groves
  • Isabelle Solinger
    and John Shelton
  • Clyde D. Sheldon
  • Leonard William Shelton
  • Maud May Shelton Netherow
  • Thomas Del Shelton
    John Fox and
    Isabelle Solinger
  • Earl Fox
  • Descendants of Absalom Fox and Christian Bonham are Mayflower Descendants.

  • Samuel Fuller
  • Hannah Fuller Bonham
  • Hezekiah Bonham
  • Amariah Bonham
  • Christian Bonham Fox


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    ©Roberta Tuller 2023
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