Loading...
BYH to Greg Murphy who seems to never have met a government healthcare program he didn't want to expand....

The father of Winterville: A.G. Cox known for industry, education

cox_plow_advertisement.jpg
1 of 5

The letterhead for the A.G. Cox Manufacturing Company showing a Cox plow.

cox_amos_portrait.jpg
cox_amos_hunsucker_buggy.jpg
110617JHRHistorian-2.jpg
ss12
Loading…

By Steven Hill
For The Daily Reflector

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Amos Graves Cox, a native of Pitt County, was the founder of Winterville. He was a wealthy farmer, manufacturer, banker, and merchant. Winterville’s A.G. Cox Middle School was named for him.

A.G. Cox’s father served as a soldier during the Civil War in Company G, Eighth Regiment of the Confederate States Army. John C. Cox married Elizabeth Gardner, and the couple lived in a log cabin on land cleared by Cox. The couple had two boys, three girls and 17 grandchildren.

A.G. Cox was known as the founder of Winterville, or “Mr. A.G. Cox’s town.” Incorporated in 1897, Winterville’s roots were in Cox’s 12 by 15 foot workshop where he manufactured a cotton planter that had been patented by his father. In 1887, A.G. Cox purchased 75 acres from two men who were relocating to Arkansas. He purchased 45 acres for $250 from Godfrey Mill, and 30 acres for $190 from Arden Dawson. At the time, Winterville was known to be the highest point in Pitt County at 75 feet above sea level and also known for its mineral water which was believed to have medicinal value.

Inventors and manufacturers

John C. Cox was believed to have invented and manufactured the first wheat thresher sold in Pitt County and a cotton planter which was widely known across the South. These two machines proved to be the springboard for A.G. Cox’s later successes. A.G. Cox, like his father, was inventive, and this trait was cultivated while he worked for his father doing mechanical work and carpentry. While A.G. Cox had developed many of his own farm implements which he patented and sold, the mass-manufacturing of the improved “Cox cotton planter” earned him the greatest success.

Initially, Cox made only cotton planters, but that changed with the construction of the Wilmington and Weldon branch of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, which sat only a half mile from Cox’s manufacturing center. The railroad contracted with Cox to stop to pick up wood to fuel the train; this led to Cox being permitted to load his freight for delivery. Soon thereafter, a railroad depot was built in Cox’s town, and Winterville became a regular stop on the route.

By 1900, with the availability of a dependable delivery service at his doorstep, Cox greatly expanded the number of items produced and sold: cotton planters, thousands of feet of lumber, plow harnesses, coffins, 10 bales of cotton per day, guano sowers, tobacco trucks, carts, wagons, tobacco flues, 1,000 hogsheads per season, school desks and more, all under the banner of the A.G. Cox Manufacturing Company.

Winterville’s growth and name were derivative of Cox’s savvy business decisions, and A.G. Cox’s wealth mirrored Winterville’s expansion. In 1889, a post office was established in Cox’s business, and he served as its postmaster. The new post office required a new name, and while there was a Coxville Township in Pitt County, it was said that A.G. Cox wanted the name of his town to reflect history of the Cox cotton planter or his last name. Because there were too many Post Office locations with names close to his own, the selection of “Coxtown” and “Coxville” were rejected. A.G. Cox decided instead to study a list of towns where his cotton planters were sold, and he chose the name of Winterville, a town in Georgia.

Cox’s participation in community and civic affairs was robust: he served the small Pitt County town of Winterville as its mayor as well as an alderman; he was the chairman of the Pitt County Board of Education for 25 years; he acted as trustee of Winterville High School from its inception; he served on the draft board during World War I; he was a trustee for Raleigh’s Meredith College; he was a treasurer of the Neuse-Atlantic Association; and he was president of the Winterville Cotton Oil Company and of the Bank of Winterville, the only bank in Pitt County to remain during the Great Depression. Winterville was the first municipality in Pitt County to have electric lights beginning around 1900.

Captain of industry

In a time when great business tycoons employed dubious means to gain riches, Cox was hailed as an honest “captain of industry” who practiced “the doctrine of ‘make all you can, save all you can, give all you can.’”

His support of education was a foremost concern. Although he had never “rubbed his head on a college wall,” one report claimed that Cox had done more to educate the people of “his section” than any other man in the state of North Carolina.

Winterville, incorporated in 1897, was known to the Missionary Baptists Association as a town possessive of “upright citizenship and excellent church advantages.” Being distant enough from the “vices and temptations of larger cities,” the Baptists opened their school there in 1901 on four acres of land that Cox donated. Cox was the benefactor of Winterville Academy, later called Winterville High School, so nearby children could obtain a quality education that stressed “good discipline and thorough instruction.”

A.G. Cox was the “most liberal contributor” and supporter of education in Winterville where there were “no frills” or “fads” being taught, only “old fashioned North Carolina ways, where industry, economy, application to studies, thrift and character are given first place.”

In honor of Cox’s educational leadership, the newly constructed high school was dedicated on May 4, 1937, as the A.G. Cox High School building; Cox’s name lives on in Winterville at A.G. Cox Middle School.

In 1902, Cox was a characterized as a prohibitionist and referred to as the “Pitt County War Horse” on the cause of temperance (the banning of alcohol). Because he did not subscribe to what was seen as the “heresy” of alcohol consumption, he sought to build a town that would be noted for industry, education and temperance.

A large landholder, Cox never sold property without having it recorded in the deed that no whiskey was to be manufactured, sold or given away on the land for a period of 99 years. Nevertheless, Cox was sympathetic to people who were prone to drink and alcoholism.

Baptized at age 26, Cox was a charter member of the Old Antioch Church near Winterville; and, he was largely responsible for constructing the Winterville Baptist Church, in which he served as senior deacon and superintendent of the Sunday school for 30 years. Politically, he was known as a Democrat in 1931; 20 years earlier he had also been known as a Granger, [Farmers] Alliance man and as a Farmers’ Union member.

Cox was known by those around him as modest, with a good sense of humor, and thought to be honest and fair-minded. Many also knew him as sympathetic to the black members of the community.

Amos Graves Cox died at age 74, and his internment was at the Winterville Cemetery on Nov. 6, 1929.

Steven A. Hill is a teacher at J.H. Rose High School who has been working to chronicle a history of Pitt County’s Schools. This piece on A.G. Cox was written for NCPedia. Visit www.ncpedia.org/cox-amos for links to other articles by Hill.

Hill headlines annual dinner

Pitt County Schools historian Steven A. Hill will headline the Pitt County Historical Society’s annual dinner on March 26

Hill, a teacher at J.H. Rose High School, has been compiling histories on figures who helped build the school system in Pitt County and has done significant research on African-American education in the county.

Hill present his research, “The Legacy of Early 20th Century African-American Educators in Pitt County,” during the dinner, which is from 6-8 p.m.  at the C.M. Eppes Cultural Center, 400 Nash St.,

The dinner will feature a classic Southern menu catered by G.K. Cafe.The deadline for purchasing tickets is Friday. For more information and/or to RSVP contact pchs_president@outlook.com. Contact Deb Higgins at 327-8859 for further details.

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Look

April 24, 2019

When it comes to healthy eating, looking for nutrient-rich foods to include in your diet is one of the more important goals. However, when warmer weather is in full swing, it may be tricky to incorporate nourishing foods that are versatile enough for grilling season.

For a keto- and paleo-friendly…

686270804

April 24, 2019

 

With warmer days on the way, chilled soups are a bright and refreshing alternative to a steaming bowl of soup. And while cool soups are certainly a solution to the heat of summer, they are also delicious year-round.

In fact, the slightly chilled temperature often amplifies the flavor and…

Chilled Pea Soup With Creme Fraiche, Lemon and Tarragon

April 24, 2019

As the flames rushed through Notre Dame Cathedral's wooden rafters — each beam cut from an individual oak — a squad of firefighters began a strategic mission.

Their leader was Father Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain of the Paris Fire Brigade. The goal was to save a crown of thorns that…

APTOPIX France Notre Dame Fire-1

April 24, 2019

DEAR HARRIETTE: My brother and I live together in a two-apartment house. I like our arrangement. Even though we are both adults, we are young, and it feels safer having him around. He has a dog — a puppy, really — that he got about a year ago. Because my brother is still in school and…

Harriette Cole

April 24, 2019

It is no secret that head and neck cancers, like any type of cancer, can be best treated with early detection.

But early detection can be tough to achieve due to lack of transportation, finances or other resources.

Now, local health care partnerships are making early detection and education key…

HeadNeck2.jpg

April 24, 2019

Q: My daughter was recently diagnosed with PCOS. She is of normal weight, so we were surprised. Does what she eats make a difference? — MEM, Winterville

A: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition caused by hormone imbalances in a woman’s body and although it is often associated…

Kolasa, Kathy

April 21, 2019

During my middle school years, my parents always used to invite my mother’s eccentric Uncle Bill to our house for Sunday dinner on Easter and other holidays. I don’t remember much of anything about Uncle Bill — except that he somehow managed to find ways to embarrass me in front…

Bob Garner

April 21, 2019

The refrigerator beeps if I accidentally leave the door open, which I do a lot, but it's a different beep than the one the dishwasher makes to tell me it has finished putting spots on my glasses.

Do I really have to know when the dishwasher is finished with its spotting cycle? Besides, when the…

JimMullen

April 21, 2019

It’s a one-way journey for helium, but a round trip for the ant-watchers.

Every day, a worldwide fleet of 1,800 balloons launches into the atmosphere for the sake of weather science and data reliance.

It’s a daily space race.

In this era of drones and rocket ships, balloons filled with…

joy moses-Hall.jpg

April 21, 2019

I surrender.

In wartime these words admit defeat and put the speaker in the custody of an adversary. They do not usually gain admiration.

Instead, we celebrate the advice popularly attributed to Winston Churchill: “Never give up. Never, never, never give up.”

We admire the single word…

DGMartin.jpg
178 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 18
        Next Page»   Last Page»