In the field of political life, teaching and the railroad business in Marion county, Illinois, the subject of this sketch has won distinction, and today is numbered among the leading, influential and honored citizens of Salem. He has figured prominently in public affairs, ever lending his influence in the development of all worthy causes looking to the development of the locality at large, being an advocate of progressive measures. He is now filling the position of Deputy County Clerk and the promptness and fidelity with which he discharges his duties have won for him the favorable criticism of leading representatives of both political parties.
George Cox was born in Parke county, Indiana, July 11, 1848, and came to Iuka, Illinois, September 4, 1868. His father was Alfred Cox, a native of Ohio, who migrated to Indiana when a very small boy. Joshua Cox, grandfather of George Cox, was a native of Hamilton county, Ohio, who migrated to Indiana at a very early date and entered land when the United States land office was at Vincennes, he being compelled to go to Vincennes to make his payments, making the trip on horseback, and it was his custom to camp and hunt on the way. Grandfather Cox was a farmer of great ability for those early times. His widow survived him several years. George W. Overpeck, grandfather of the subject on his mother's side, was born in Pennsylvania. His father and mother having died in early life he drifted to Hamilton county, Ohio, and died in the spring of 1867, having been survived several years by his widow. They spent their lives on a farm.
The father of the subject is now a resident of Illinois and makes his home among his children here and at Shattuc, this state. The mother of the subject was known in her maidenhood as Mary Overpeck, a native of Ohio. She passed to her rest in April 1902, at Shattuc, Illinois, at the home of her daughter. Both the father and the mother of our subject were the oldest representatives of their respective families. Following children were born to them, seven of whom are living at this writing, 1908, named in order of birth as follows: George, our subject; Mary Jane, wife of P. B. Anderson, of Shattuc, Illinois; Sally Ann, wife of H. C. Brown, of Vandalia, Illinois; John, of Clinton county, near Huey, Illinois; Amanda, deceased; Perry, of Iuka township, this county; Warner, of Decatur, Illinois; Eva, deceased; Julia is the wife of Milton Andrews, of Ouray, Colorado; Libby is deceased as are also the last two children born to this couple.
George Cox was reared on the parental farm in Parke county, Indiana, and attended the common schools there, also the graded schools by working mornings and evenings to pay his tuition, as his parents were poor and could not defray the expenses of an education for our subject, but he was possessed of an indomitable will and forged ahead despite obstacles winning definite success in after life as a result of his energy and persistency. After completing the course of study laid down in the graded schools he attended school at Rockville for a time, after which he taught school with great success for several years, becoming known as one of the able educators of the county and his services were in great demand. He continued teaching until his health failed. He then went to railroading, locating in Iuka September 4, 1868, as indicated before. He attended school that winter at Xenia, Illinois, passing the examination for teacher's license. He then took a course in the Wabash Commercial College at Vincennes, Indiana, after which he returned to railroading first as brakeman, then a freight conductor later as passenger conductor on the old Ohio & Mississippi Railroad, now the Baltimore & Ohio, Southwestern Railroad. During all these years of railroad service he would at times return to teaching school in both Indiana and Illinois. In 1880 our subject moved on a farm in Iuka township and for twenty-one consecutive years taught school during the winter months, farming the remainder of the year. He made a success of whatever he undertook whether it was farming, teaching or railroading. In the latter he won the confidence of his employers who regarded him as one of their most valuable employees.
In April 1908, Mr. Cox became Deputy County Clerk, which position he is holding with much credit to his innate ability and to the entire satisfaction of all concerned.
When teaching school our subject was principal of the Iuka schools. He was offered many important positions as a teacher but declined as he desired to teach near home and live at home.
Mr. Cox was united in marriage in 1879 to Mary E. Young, the talented and accomplished daughter of W. J. Young, of Iuka township, one of the pioneers of Marion county. Mr. Young was an influential citizen and served as a lieutenant during the Civil war.
One child was born to the subject and wife who died in infancy.
Mr. Cox still owns a valuable farm of eighty acres in which he takes a great interest, having improved it up to a high standard of Marion county's valuable farms, it ranking with the best of them. It is located four and one-half miles southeast of Iuka. An excellent residence and several substantial out buildings stand on the place.
Mr. Cox has been a candidate for County Superintendent of Schools at different times but was defeated by a few votes. In politics he is a Democrat. In his fraternal relations he is affiliated with the Masons at Iuka and is an honorary member of the Modern Woodmen. Both Mr. and Mrs. Cox are members of the Methodist Episcopal church and both belong to the Eastern Star.
Extracted 06 Jun 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical Review of Marion, Counties, Illinois, pages 115-117.