Stephen Clarkson Cox, son of Calvin and Sarah (Sally) Cox, was born on August 12, 1862. He was named for Thomas Clarkson, a famous English Quaker who led a movement in 1790 against the use of sugar produced by slave labor. He attended Buffalo Ford School and the Liberty Academy during the 1880’s.
Clark married Mary Frances (France) York on February 23, 1890. Mary Frances was the daughter of Enos and Lucinda Kivett York. She had grown up in the Kildee area. Clark and France moved in with Clark’s grandmother Sarah, widow of Nathan. Nathan had died thirteen years earlier. Sarah had remarried, but she and Washington Parks chose to live in their separate homes, so she was alone. Sarah died two years later on July 26, 1872. Clark bought Nathan’s home and land from his father, Calvin. They continued living in the old home until 1898 when they moved into a new home they built further from the river.
Clark farmed and ran the grist mill. He also operated a sawmill located beside the grist mill. Mary Frances was a frail woman who cooked, cleaned and ran a household filled with boys of all ages.
Although Clark was a birthright Quaker, he and France joined Parks Cross Roads Christian Church. Clark led the singing at his church. During this period, music (singing) schools were held in rural churches and the family attended these. Singing was an activity the family enjoyed. Clark and the boys frequently gathered around the family organ for hymn singing. The organist would be Michia, the only daughter, or Cecil, one of the sons. The family love for music continues today in the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Clark believed in education and enjoyed reading. The children were sent to Parks Cross Roads School and to high school in Ramseur. Before school buses and cars were available, the children boarded with relatives and friends. James, the youngest son, drove one of the first school buses in Randolph County.
Clark and France had eleven children, ten boys, and one girl. Their first-born son died when he was ten days old. The boys were Walter, Ivan, Arthur, Hubert, Milton (Bill), Cecil, Rufus, Talton (Tally), and James (Jim). The daughter was Michia.
The boys grew during the time when baseball was a favorite recreation. The Clark Cox boys had their own baseball team during the 1920’s and 1930’s. They played other local teams in and around the county. Their coach was their father who settled any disputes that might arise.
Sources: Files of Evelyn W. Cox.
Johnson, Emily C. “Stephen Clarkson Cox.” The Heritage of Randolph County, North Carolina, by Cheryl Lynn. Martin, Randolph County Heritage Book Committee, in Cooperation with the Heritage Book Collection and Delmar Print., 1993, pp. 213–213.
All the Clark Cox children remained residents of Randolph County. Several remained on farms in the community that was originally known as Coxborough. Clark died on July 26, 1938. Mary Frances died on December 29, 1945. Both are buried at Parks Cross Roads Cemetery.