An American Family History

John Fox and Sarah Jane Ricketts

Bill Smith's Notes on the Fox Family

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

The parents of Eliza Fox Smith were John N. Fox and Sarah Jane Ricketts Fox. John Fox's gravestone indicates he was born in 1839 and died in 1914. His grave is at Salem Cemetery, near Russell Iowa, Lucas County. He married Belle Shelton [Isabelle Solinger] after his first wife Sarah Jane died. John and Bell had a son, Earl [Fox]. Earl and John Fox are buried adjacent to each other.

According to her gravestone, Sarah Jane was born May 2, 1844 and died November 18, 1885. She was first buried at the New York Cemetery (not far from Russell, Iowa). Her daughter Mae had Sarah Jane's remains re-interred in the Glendale Cemetery at Des Moines, Iowa. Her new grave is at the foot of another daughter's (Orpha Fox ) grave. You have to search to find it.

The 1870 census shows the family to be at Benton Township, Lucas County, Iowa and Eliza was five years old. The 1880 census for the same township shows Eliza's age at 14. This places her birth at about 1865-66, and undoubtedly in or near Benton Township.

Sarah Jane and John Fox ran a dairy farm. It is told by my father, Bryan [Smith], that John worked the kids hard and worked Sarah to death. Sarah was alleged to have at had a high fraction of Native American blood by my father (Bryan) and his sister Ethel [Taylor]. However, when I talked to Eliza's older sister Clara [Fox Woods]'s daughter, Fern Woods, about this, Fern more or less denied a Native American relationship. [The Ricketts family was not Native American.]

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
  • The Wind in the Willow
    Table of Contents
    Josiah and Sarah (Pitts) Smith
    John Newton and Sarah Jane (Ricketts) Fox
    Josiah and Eliza (Fox) Smith 
    Mary Grace Smith White
    John Elmer Smith
    Bertha Edna Smith Kimsey
    Harry William Smith
    Ethel Edith Smith Taylor
    Bryan Sewell Smith
    Augusta Lena Smith Larson
    Andrew Jack Smith
    Twyla Mae Smith White
    From Jack Smith's Letter

    Illinois became a state in 1818. A large influx of American settlers came in the 1810s by the Ohio River.

    She [Eliza Fox] came from a line of German people who had settled in Peru in the early days. There was always a John Fox down to and including her father. Her forefathers had migrated to Ohio, then Illinois, then Iowa. Her father married one of the younger girls of a family named Ricketts by the name of Sarah Jane: They had 7 kids:

    Clara:  Married a guy named Woods; they had 5 girls Fern, Becky, Fay, Golda and Catherine and this family (those that are alive) live in or around Des Moines with the exception of Golda who married a guy named Smith and went to Texas.

    Bonay:  Married an older sister of C. W. White [husband of Grace Smith] and they moved to Bushyhead, Oklahoma about 1900.  They had a son, Walter and 2 or 3 girls.

    Eliza, my mother

    Merritt: Can't remember who he married, but they had a girl and a boy, lived in Canada

    Orpha: An old maid, now dead

    Ettie: Married, but I can't remember who to, or if there were any kids or not, but she lived around Grinnell, Iowa , I think.

    May: Stayed single til well up in years, and then married an old boy friend by the name of Mac something or other. No kids. She lived in Des Moines.

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



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    ©Roberta Tuller 2020
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