An American Family History

John and Sarah Fox

Benton Township, Lucas County, Iowa

Lucas County is in south central Iowa. It was founded in 1846 and the county seat is Chariton.

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

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

The Civil War had more casualties than any other American war. Disease and infection were the biggest killers.

John Newton Fox and Sarah Jane Ricketts married in Wayne County, Iowa on January 21, 1863 during the Civil War. They lived in Benton Township, Lucas County, Iowa where John was a farmer and all of their children were born. 

Their oldest daughter, Clara Fox Wood was born on April 29, 1863. Eliza Fox Smith was born on October 18, 1865, Bonham Fox was born on April 30, 1868, and Merrit Fox was born in February 1870.

A little of the Fox oral family history is written in the Wind in the Willow.

At the time of the 1870 census, the household consisted of John age 31, Sarah age 25, Clara age 6, Cira (sic Eliza) age 5, Bonham age 3, and Merit age 4 months. The value of their real and personal property was $1,700.

The children attended school in Benton Township. The teacher's register for the 1873 term included Clara Fox age nine, Eliza Fox age seven, and Boma Fox age five.

Etta Fox O'Dea was born in 1875 and Orpha Fox McKelvey was born on January 10, 1880. 

At the time of the 1880 census, the household consisted of John age 40, Sarah age 33, Clarrie age 16, Eliza age 14, Bonum age 12, Merett age 10, Ettie age 5.

The teacher's register for the 1880 term enumerated Eliza Fox, age fourteen, Bowman Fox, age twelve, Merritt Fox, age ten and Ettie Fox age five.

The Fox family appeared in the 1885 Iowa state census of Benton Township. The household consisted of John N. age 45, Sarah J. age 41, Clara age 20, Eliza, age18, Bonham age 16, Merritt age 14, Ettie age 10, and Orpha age 5.

Mae Fox McKelvey was born on April 30, 1885.

Sarah Fox died in November of 1885 leaving John with a new baby and six older children. 

Soon after she died, the older children began to marry and make their own way in the world. Eliza married in 1886 and Bonham married in about 1890. When Orpha was only about twelve years old, she also had to make her living away from home. Clara married in 1894 and Merritt married in 1898. 

John married Isabelle Solinger in 1893. Isabelle had been married twice before. John became a step-father to her three children: Leonard William Shelton, Maud May Shelton, and Thomas Dell Shelton.

Isabelle and John had one son, Earl Fox who was born in 1895. 

Their grandson, Richard Fox, said that

John had a friend named Davis who played the fiddle and they would gather at someone's house while Mr. Davis and some of his musical friends would entertain. It therefore doesn't appear that my grandfather was stiff religionist, but rather had a reasonable social life.

On May 22, 1894 John N. Fox deeded the 60 acres from his father to Phoebe Gookin and they left the farm and moved to Chariton City. At the time of the 1895 Iowa census, Etta age 20, Orpha age 15, and Mae age 10 were living with their sister Clara Woods.

At the time of the 1900 census, the John M. (sic). Fox household consisted of John age 69, Isabelle age 49, Leonard Shelton age 16, Maud Shelton age 15, Thomas Shelton age 13, and Earl Fox age 4. John and Sarah's children were not living with him. John was a day laborer. Richard Fox wrote

my mother [Inez Baker] told me that John N. had a team of horses and a wagon and that he hauled coal from the mines to the homes in Chariton. That would coincide with his being listed as a day laborer.  .  . John N. stabled those horses at the rear of the lot and of course where there are horses and cattle there is fertilizer.

Richard wrote

my father [Earl Fox] was courting my mother shortly before John N. Fox died [in 1914] and my mother was invited to the Fox home to dinner on occasion. She said that my grandfather was bedridden at that time (probably sometime in 1913) and in extreme pain. She only got to see him in his bedroom and I am certain that there was little communication between them due to his illness. She described the family as very fun loving and hospitable.

John died on January 2, 1914 in Chariton, Lucas County, Iowa.

After John died, Isabelle married William P. Welch in 1920.

Isabelle died on January 23, 1935.

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

The Foxes are Mayflower descendants: Samuel Fuller, Hannah Fuller Bonham, Hezekiah Bonham , Amariah Bonham, Christian Bonham Fox, Bonham Fox, Levi Fox, John Newton Fox

In the Civil War (1861 to 1865) eleven Southern states seceded from the U.S. and formed the Confederate States of America.



Colonial Maryland
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Watauga Settlement
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©Roberta Tuller 2023
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