Like yesterday’s Surname Saturday article, today’s article is inspired by my visit to historic Estacado Cemetery in Lubbock County, Texas. Quaker colonists who arrived in late 1879 were some of the first settlers on the High Plains of Texas, according to the Texas State Historical Association.
Paris Cox was born on October 17, 1846 in Asheboro, North Carolina to parents Gideon and Huldah (Mendenhall) Cox. According to Quaker Meeting Minutes, Gideon and Hulda had married on September 6, 1843 at the Holly Spring Monthly Meeting. Before her death in 1857 Huldah bore Gideon five children: Anson, Paris, Larkin, Esther and William. On September 30, 1858, Gideon married Asenath Barker and to their marriage were born five more children: Huldah, Orlando, Manly, Oliver and Lydia.
Most Quakers of that day were pacifists, so when Paris was drafted by the Confederate Army he purchased an exemption and moved to Indiana. In 1870 he was living with the Mills family in Hamilton County, Indiana, employed as a sawyer. After marrying school teacher Mary C. Ferguson, Paris worked at a sawmill with his father-in-law.
When the timber supply began to dwindle, Paris headed West to seek other opportunities, joining a group of buffalo hunters who were headed to the Llano Estacado on the High Plains of Texas. One night while camped above the Caprock, Cox was taken by the beautiful vista and reportedly proclaimed, “Here, by the will of God, will be my home.” After heading home to Indiana and discussing the possibilities with his family, Paris returned to the land in Texas he had fallen in love with, securing land at twenty-five cents an acre.
Paris hired Henry Clay Smith, who had just moved to the area in 1878, to dig a well and plant a variety of crops on thirty acres of land in the summer of 1879. Smith provided a good report to Paris following the fall harvest, sending along crop samples and reporting water at sixty-five feet. Paris packed his belongings and traveled with his wife and two sons, along with three other families (Spray, Hayworth and Stubbs), to settle on the High Plains of Texas.
Upon their arrival Paris built a sod house while the other families decided to dwell in tents. The winter of 1879, however, was a particularly harsh one. After the high winds of spring came and blew the tents down, the other three families returned to Indiana. Paris, determined to stay and work the land, planted and reaped abundant crops of corn, oats, millet, melons, vegetables and more that first year.
Encouraged by Paris’ success, family and friends began to arrive and in 1881 Paris persuaded Gideon and Asenath to make their new home in Texas as well. Another son and daughter were born to Paris and Mary and by 1882 there were ten families in the Quaker settlement.
The town of Marietta, named in honor of Mary Cox, was first established in 1879 and later changed to Estacado (there was already a post office named Marietta in Texas). A primitive dugout school was established in 1882 and classes were moved to the meeting house in 1884. Estacado became the county seat of Crosby County and Paris Cox was elected as a district clerk in 1886.
By 1890 there were around two hundred residents (although some sources report as many as six hundred), that is until Emma was named the county seat in 1891. Paris Cox had died of throat cancer on November 21, 1888 and was buried in the Estacado Cemetery.
Without his leadership and vision the community began to fade, especially after a plague of grasshoppers and drought devastated the area in 1892 and 1893. Gideon Cox died on January 22, 1892 and Mary Cox is said to have been buried in the Estacado Cemetery, although the location is unmarked and unknown. Paris’ half-brother Oliver Cox is also buried there, dying at the age of twenty-one on September 20, 1888.
According to the Crosby County Historical Commission, a county land survey left many Quakers without clear titles to their land. The Quakers wanted to isolate themselves and found it increasingly difficult to do so, since after non-Quaker settlers began to come their daughters began to marry area cowboys.
By 1895, the Quaker families of Brown and Lewis had enough of the harsh conditions and the disputes which arose over land, as well as the use of their school building by people of other faiths. After disbanding the Quaker settlement they headed south to the Galveston area to what they called their “Promised Land”. Tune in next week for more Part Two of “Quakers in Texas”.
Everyone have a great day — someday it will be history!