James Cox of
Grayson County, VA

James Cox, son of Capt. John COX & Margaret DAVIS, was born Feb. 24, 1763, in Botetourt Co., VA, and died Apr. 17, 1842, in Ashe Co., NC. He married (1) Mrs. Elizabeth Terrill, the widow of Timothy TERRILL, May 15, 1782 (her maiden name is unknown). She was born Feb. 24, 1753, probably in Virginia, and died Nov. 1, 1814, in Grayson Co., VA. He married (2) Sarah Fielder, Feb. 14, 1815. She was born Aug. 9, 1778, in Virginia, and died after 1855 in Grayson Co., VA.

Children of James Cox & Elizabeth:

  1. John Cox, b. Mar. 4, 1784, Montgomery Co., VA; d. Nov. 1, 1814, Morgan Co., KY; m. Judith Ann SEXTON (b. Apr. 15, 1782; d. ?); bur. Cox Cemetery, Hazel Green, Morgan Co., KY.
  2. Susannah Cox, b. Dec. 1, 1785, Montgomery Co., VA; m. unk. REEVES.
  3. Joshua Cox, Apr. 1, 1787, Montgomery Co., VA, or maybe July 10, 1778 (sources conflict); m. Mary Elizabeth CANNADY.
  4. Mary Elizabeth Cox, b. July 10, 1789, Montgomery Co., VA; d. Dec. 1853, Lawrence Co., IN; m. Edward EDWARDS, son of Young EDWARDS, Sr., abt. 1812 (b. abt. 1786; d. Sept. 1838).
  5. +Catherine Cox, b. June 2, 1792, Wythe Co., VA; d. Jan. 20, 1864, Alleghany Co., NC; m. Young EDWARDS, Jr., son of Young EDWARDS, Sr., abt. 1811 (b. Jan. 28, 1781; d. Jan. 22, 1864); bur. Isom Edwards Cemetery, Hooker, Alleghany Co., NC.
  6. Hiram Cox, b. Apr. 8, 1794, Wythe Co., VA; d. in Kentucky.
  7. Solomon Cox, b. Dec. 14, 1795, Wythe Co., VA; d. in Kentucky; m. Mary Ann SEXTON.
  8. James Robertson Cox, b. June 2, 1798, Wythe Co., VA; d. Mar. 29, 1847, in Kentucky; m. Sarah unknown (b. abt. 1790; d. aft. 1850, Grayson Co., VA) (I have also seen his wife identified as Elizabeth BELCHER).  Daughter married Elijah COLLINS.

Step-children (children of Timothy & Elizabeth Terrill):

  1. Hezekiah Terrill, b. abt. 1770, Botetourt Co., VA. Moved to Kentucky.
  2. William Terrill, b. Apr. 25, 1773, Botetourt Co., VA.
  3. Elizabeth Terrill, b. abt. 1774, Botetourt Co., VA; m. Jesse REEVES, son of George REEVES, Sr., & Jane BURTON (b. 1760; d. Sept. 10, 1833).
  4. Obediah Terrill, b. Sept. 3, 1774, Botetourt Co., VA.
  5. Sarah Ann Terrill, b. Aug. 10, 1776, Botetourt Co., VA; m. William REEVES, son of George REEVES, Sr., & Jane BURTON.
  6. Lucy Terrill, b. Sept. 4, 1780, Montgomery Co., VA; d. Nov. 23, 1852, Grayson Co., VA; m. John COX, son of David COX, Sr., & Margaret Ann MCGOWAN, abt. 1798 (b. Apr. 4, 1774; d. Jan. 29, 1856).


James Cox, son of Capt. John Cox, was born in Fort Chiswell, Virginia, in 1763.  Fort Chiswell was located in what was originally the southern part of Botetourt County, VA.  This area became Montgomery County in 1777, Wythe County in 1790, and Grayson County in 1793.  James Cox served his father as an "Indian spy" during the Revolutionary War.  He applied for a pension in 1832 (NARA Pension File No. R2412, see below), but his application was rejected because he could not show that he had served six months in a regularly organized military corps as required by the Pension Act.  The Act did not contemplate the sort of guerilla warfare that James had engaged in.  In a letter dated August 22, 1833, the Pension Office explained, "The alleged service of the applicant cannot be considered a military service in the meaning of the Act of June 7, 1832."

James' widow, Sarah Cox, applied for a widow's pension in 1855.  She testified that her maiden name was Sarah FIELDER, she married James Cox on January 4, 1815, and James Cox died on April 17, 1842, in Grayson County, VA.  Mrs. Cox spent several fruitless years trying to convince the Pension Office to grant her application.  James Cox's file in the National Archives contains over 100 pages of documents, including numerous supporting declarations and letters submitted over the years on behalf of both James Cox and Sarah Cox.  A number of individuals from Grayson and Ashe counties testified that James Cox was a soldier in the Revolution, including his brother Joshua COX, Benjamin PHIPPS, Charles COLE, Jonathan THOMAS, Jesse RAY, John TOLIVER, Henry GAMBILL, and Henry HARDIN.  However, the evidence the Pension Office never reversed its decision that James Cox's service was not of a "military character." 

In the book Footprints in the Sands of Time (1900), the Grayson County historian Dr. A.B. Cox wrote that James Cox married "the Widow TERRELL."  She was probably the widow of Timothy TERRILL of Ashe County, NC, who was killed by Indians while exploring Tennesse in 1781.  (His death is described in The Annals of Tennessee (1853), p.455.)  Her first name (Elizabeth) and birth date (Feb. 24, 1753) are reportedly from a Bible that at one time was in the possession of Mrs. W.H. Welch of Lansing, Michigan.  According to the Terrill family, Timothy's wife remarried and lived in Grayson County, VA.  Some of the family later moved to Kentucky. (Source Terrill Website by John Terrill Wayland Jr.)  James Cox's Revolutionary War pension file in the National Archives contains an interesting letter from Mrs. W.H. Welch, dated July 18, 1932:

July 18, 1932

Lansing, Mich.

Dear Sir:

A short time ago I wrote you in regard to my Rev. ancestor James Cox R.2412.  You stated that he married Sally Fielder Feb. 4, 1815.  This was his second marriage.  The first marriage was to Elizabeth Terrill (widow of Jesse[*] Terrill who was killed by the Indians).  James Cox & Elizabeth Terrill were married May 15, 1783.

My ancestor John Cox their son was born Mar. 8, 1784
Susannah Dec. 1, 1785
Joshua Apr. 1st, 1787
Mary July 10, 1789
Catherine June 1st 1791
Hardin Apr. 8, 1794
Solomon Dec. 14, 1795
James Robertson June 2, 1798

Elizabeth Terrill Cox died and when James Cox was fifty two years of age he married Sarah or Sally Fielder.  James Cox died Apr. 17, 1842.  Have you any record of his father Capt. John Cox.  Is there any place other than your dept. to ask for records.  I will greatly appreciate any assistance you may give me.  I do not know the name of his wife.  His children were
James b. Feb. 24, 1763
Joshua b. Mar. 3, 1772

Can you give me any other help.

Sincerely & greatly obliged
Mrs. W.H. Welch

*The name written by Mrs. Welch starts with a "J"—it appears to be Jesse Terrill, or perhaps Jim.  However, other researchers believe that Elizabeth was married to Timothy Terrill who was killed by Indians in Tennessee in 1781, according to the book, The Annals of Tennessee.

Who was Mrs. Elizabeth Terrill?  Some sources identify her as Elizabeth SEXTON, but there is no proof.  There is a James COCK who married an Elizabeth SEXTON in Grayson County, VA, in 1800, but that is 18 years too late.  Some researchers believe that James Cox actually married three times, to Mrs. Elizabeth Terrill in 1782, Elizabeth Sexton in 1800, and Sarah Fielder in 1815.  Other researchers, however, believe that the James Cock who married Elizabeth Sexton in 1800 was the son of Andrew COCKE (not Cox) of Grayson County.

It is possible that the "widow Terrell" was Elizabeth ROBERTSON of Fort Chiswell, VA, daughter of William Robertson and Elizabeth Crockett.  This is an assumption based on the geographic proximity of the Robertson and Cox families, as well as the fact that James and Elizabeth Cox named their youngest son James Robertson Cox.  (Thanks to Jerry Cox for this information).  On the other hand, it is also possible that the Coxes were simply admirers of James Robertson, a famed explorer of western North Carolina and Tennessee.  Boys were often named after local heroes and other famous people.  So, the identity of Mrs. Elizabeth Terrill remains an intriguing mystery.


1793 Tax List, Wythe Co.,VA: JAMES COX, 1 tithe, 1 horse

1800 Tax List, Grayson Co., VA: JAMES COX, 1 male over 21, 5 horses, 3 slaves over 16

1805 Tax List, Grayson Co., VA: JAMES COX, 1 w/m over 16, 3 blacks over 16, 5 horses.

1810 Tax List, Grayson Co., VA: JAMES COX, 1 white titheable, 3 slaves over 12, 4 horses.

1820 Census, Grayson Co., VA, p.44: JAMES COX
1 w/m 10-151 w/f under 10
1 w/m 16-251 w/f 26-45
1 w/m over 45 
1 slave 

1828 Tax List, Grayson Co., VA: JAMES COX, 1 white tithe, 2 black tithes, 1 slave over 16, 4 horses

1830 Census, Grayson Co., VA, p.250: JAMES COX
1 w/m 10-142 w/f 10-14
1 w/m 20-291 w/f 30-39
1 w/m 60-69;1 w/f 50-59

1835 Tax List, Grayson Co., VA: JAMES COX, 1 white tithe, 1 horse.

1840 Census, Grayson Co., VA, Western Dist., p.324: JAMES COX
1 w/m 70-791 w/f 60-69

Pension Application of James Cox

Extracted from the Grayson Co., VA, Court Order Book
and checked against the NARA Pension File
Source: New River Notes
NARA Pension File No. R2412

State of Virginia
Grayson County

On this 24th day of September 1832 personally appeared in open Court, before the Justices of the Court of Grayson now sitting James COX a resident of Grayson County & State of Virginia aged 69 years & 7 months, who being first duly sworn according to Law, doth, on his oath, make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.

That he entered the service of the United States under Capt. John COX at the age of 15 or 16 and assisted in building a fort on New River, near the mouth of Peach Bottom Creek, in the year 1778 and from that time until the year 1780 he acted as an Indian Spy for the said Capt. John COX, and from his intimate knowledge of the country, was upon every occasion sent as a pilot to conduct those who were unacquainted with the mountains, in safety to where the different parties had their encampments. The tories about this time or about the time the British were invading North & South Carolina, became very troublesome in the county where he was (having but very few neighbours who were not tories) and those, with those of the adjoining State of North Carolina, would frequently assemble themselves & overrun the country. The declarants father, the aforesaid Capt. John COX, Enoch OSBORNE & his family, Benjamin PHIPPS, Peter HUNT [or Peter HART], & William HARDIN were the only whigs who would render any assistance when required. In this situation, surrounded by tories, the declarant and a few others had to combat the whole neighbourhood, and when they found themselves too weak, the declarant was sent by the said Capt. John COX, his father, as an express [?] to Col. Benjamin CLEVELAND who was stationed on the Yadkin River near where the town of Wilksboro has been since built, to inform him of the fact that the tories were collecting in large bodies in the mountains shortly after his return from Col. CLEVELANDS camp he was taken prisoner by the tories who intended to take & deliver him to the British, but in the mean time Col. CLEVELAND and Majr LOVE had joined their forces and overtook the tories at a place called the big Glade, now in Grayson County Va. The tories when they discovered the whigs determined to seek safety by flight and in their terror forgot the declarant who availed himself of the opportunity and immediately run with all speed to the whigs and informed them of what the tories had done, the whigs then pursued them, wounded some and took others prisoners whip'd or flogged several severely, & hanged one man where the declarant now lives.

After this the declarants father Capt. John COX being on an expedition against the Indians, the tories under a Capt. GREEN made another ascension into the mountains and the declarant raised his fathers company and pursued the tories under GREEN, & killed & made prisoners of GREEN & his entire company. GREEN afterwards died of his wounds, and only one of the said company survived; this was a brother of the said GREEN, who afterwards enlisted in the Regular army of the United States. Sometime after this affair, a certain Capt. ROBERTS, of the tory party, came into the neighborhood with a company of Six Hessians, and this declarant with Majr LOVE pursued them into Carolina near the head of new River, determined to overtake them, but Capt Baker of North Carolina had heard of them, got in before the declarant & his party, overtook, killed & wounded the whole party except ROBERTS, their Capt, who made his escape. This declarant does not now recollect the precise time he was engaged in the War of the revolution, but he is very certain that he served under his father Capt. John COX, and Majr William LOVE, as an Indian Spy, for the term of 2 years and that he was engaged under the same officers, against the tories for 2 years more making in all 4 years service.

This applicant was born in Fort Chisal [Chiswell], in the County of Wythe then Botetourt & afterwards Montgomery County Feby 24th 1763. He has a record of his age in a large family bible which was given to the declarant by his father. He lived in Montgomery County Virginia when he entered the service, now Grayson County Virginia where he has lived ever since the War of the revolution, and where he now lives.

He was a volunteer during the whole service. There was no regular officers in the neighborhood. He never had any discharge, indeed his only wish was to conquer & subdue the enemys of his country. He is known to Benjamin PHIPPS & Isaiah AUSTIN contemporary survivors and to John JONES & Charles COLE, who can certify to his character for veracity, and as to their belief of his services in the War of the Revolution. He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present, and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any State.

Sworn to & subscribed the day & year aforesaid.


We Benjamin PHIPPS residing in the County of Grayson and Charles COLE residing the same County, hereby Certify that we are well acquainted with James COX, who has subscribed and sworn to the above declaration, that we believe him to be 79 [sic] years & 7 months of age; that he is reputed in the neighborhood where he resides to have been a soldier of the revolution, and that we concur in that opinion.

Sworn, and subscribed, the day & year aforesaid.
Benjamin PHIPPS, his mark
Charles COLE

And the said Court do hereby declare their opinion, after the investigation of the matter, and after putting the interrogatories prescribed by the War Department, that the above named applicant was a revolutionary soldier and served as he states. And the Court further certifies that it appears to them that Benjamin PHIPPS and Charles COLE who have signed the preceeding certificate, are residents of Grayson County Virginia, that they are credible persons, and that their statement is entitled to credit.