Matthew Cox of Greene County, TN
Revised January 2009
By John W. Cox
January 13, 2009

The past ten years have seen two remarkable technology advances that have and will continue to have enormous impacts on the quest for family roots: the Internet and DNA testing. The Internet is allowing many people of the same family line or at least similar surnames to communicate across great distances and to share vast quantities of data gathered by all of these individuals and the many special services provided for genealogy research. In addition, several historical organizations and institutions have begun placing their data files on servers so that they can also be accessed by family members seeking information about their past. DNA testing is a fairly new area for genealogists, but several results have proven a person is a descendent of a particular family line and also has been used to eliminate lines when the exact linage is in doubt and one has had to research multiple lines because of a lack of concise data. Both of these technologies will be shown to have played a significant role in helping to determine “Who is Buried in Matthew Cox’s Grave.”

For several years the prevailing family history of Matthew Cox of Greene County, Tennessee is that he moved to the county sometime prior to 1783, lived there and raised a family, died in 1807, and was buried in the Kidwell Cemetery located on Baileytown Road, Greene County, Tennessee. There is a grave marker at the cemetery identifying Matthew Cox. Written on the marker are the following words: “Matthew Cox; Continental Line Revolutionary War; 1732; 1807; Also in French & Indian War.” It is a well-established fact that Matthew had married Ann Smith, daughter of Alexander Smith from North Carolina. Ann’s gravesite is not identified at the Kidwell Cemetery.

In the years 1965 to 1967, Mr. Buford F. Reynolds visited many cemeteries in Greene County, TN including the Kidwell Cemetery and chronicled the gravestones that were present. His manuscript of these gravestone readings was published after his death in 1971. This manuscript does not include any reference to a Matthew Cox that was born in 1732 and died in 1807 being buried in the Kidwell Cemetery; however, Matthew’s grandson, Matthew Cox, born 1814; died 1884, does have a gravestone listed in the transcript along with his wife Nancy Carter Cox. Ms. Stevie Hughes visited the cemetery in July 2001 and noted the existence of the grave marker for Matthew Cox of the 1732-1807 time period. According to Ms. Hughes this grave marker and other similar grave markers were already in place when the cemetery was reclaimed from nature in the mid-1980’s. Apparently the grave marker for Matthew Cox of 1732 was placed in the cemetery sometime between 1967 and the mid-1980’s. Many of the current grave markers at the Kidwell Cemetery, including Matthew Cox of 1732, have been identified as “DAR” markers. A request was sent to the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution for copies of any evidence of this being one of their markers (a picture of the grave marker was provided.) This request generated a response that said: “In the Ancestor Database, Matthew Cox’s entry is flagged as “Grave of Patriot Marked.” The Office of the Historian General searched their records and found no entries for the grave of Matthew Cox being marked. This may be because some graves are marked without the Office of the Historian General being notified, especially in the early 1900’s.” An earlier request to the DAR for information about this Matthew Cox generated the following response:

“A search of our Patriot Index provided the information found below.

COX, Matthew
Birth: VA 1732
Service: NC
Rank: PS
Death: TN Before (ante) 27 Apr 1810
Patriot Pensioned: No Widow Pensioned: No
Children Pensioned: No Heirs Pensioned: No
Spouse: (1) Nancy Ann Smith

Please note that his service was Patriotic Service not MILITARY.”

In addition the DAR also sent a copy of a certified application for DAR membership that shows Matthew Cox was deemed a Patriot for a pay voucher from the state of North Carolina for services rendered during the American Revolution. His exact service was not specified. That pay voucher is recorded in the North Carolina Achieves as Revolutionary Army Accounts, Volume 1, page 40 – Folio 2. A copy of the actual pay voucher shows Matthew Cox was paid 4 pounds and 8 schillings for “public claims’ by the state of North Carolina, Salisbury District on September 6, 1782. Currently there is no data to support that Matthew was actually a soldier in any NC militia or continental line. The voucher simple states that he received money “for public claims.” Census records for NC indicate that there was other “Matthew Coxes” living in the area during this time period: in 1790, a Matthew Cox in Burke County, NC and in 1800, a Matthew Cox in both Burke and Wilkes Counties, NC. Wilkes, Surry, and Burke Counties were all in the Salisbury District at this time. However the State Census of North Carolina 1784-1787 does NOT list any other Matthew Cox other then the one in Surry County. Since the voucher was paid in 1782 and the census for the years just following that date show only one Matthew Cox, it is reasonable to speculate that the Matthew Cox of Surry County, NC that removed to Greene County, TN are the one and same as received the voucher.

There are several references that show a Matthew Cox served in Captain Peter Hogg’s militia unit during the battle of Great Meadows in 1754 when Col. George Washington led the army to fight the French in Pennsylvania. Most militia units were made up of men from a particular county and could, once they reached the age of 21, be “drafted” to be in the militia. Peter Hogg came from Scotland in 1745 and settled in Augusta County, Virginia. Since, in general, men formed a militia unit from the same county, this Matthew was probably also from Augusta County and was probably in his early 20’s. This would make his birth date around the early 1730’s. For his service, Lord Dunmore issued Matthew Cox a land grant in 1772 for “400 acres or what may be allotted to them in the military survey on the Ohio and Big Sandy for 28,627 acres.” This property is located in what is now West Virginia. Matthew was listed as a “common soldier at battle of Great Meadows.” The property was later transferred to Carter Cox, his attorney. There are no other records that show a Matthew Cox being part of the French and Indian Wars other then the one associated with Capt. Peter Hogg’s unit.

At this point there is data that indicates a Matthew Cox was in the French and Indian Wars, and a Matthew Cox had some type of involvement in the American Revolutionary War that was not military in nature.

In 1900 Dr. Aras B. Cox published a book he had written called “Foot Prints on the Sands of Time.” Based on the data in this book and other research by Dr. A. D. Wood in the 1930’s, a Cox family from Halifax County, Virginia was chronicled. Dr. Cox was in fact the grandson of a Matthew Cox and Matthew’s wife, Lucy Dickerson Spencer Cox. In the book Dr. Cox relates that his grandfather “Matthew Cox, Sr. was a soldier in Col. George Washington's regiment with General Braddock at Pittsburgh in 1755 when the English were defeated.”

These data places this Matthew Cox in the Battle of Great Meadows and places him in a Cox Family that had roots in Halifax and then Floyd Counties in Virginia. This Matthew Cox had seven children, one was named Carter Cox and another was named Matthew Cox (Jr.). The younger Matthew Cox was born in 1786 in Floyd County, VA and died in 1860 in Ashe County, NC. Matthew Jr. married Mary Bishop and they are both buried on their son’s (Aras B. Cox) farm in Ashe County, NC. Dr. Cox also mentions in his book that "Esquire Isbel in after years owned the farm where Matthew Cox, Sr. lived, and where he and his noble wife's bodies rest in their honored graves. (This assumes Dr. Cox was referring to Matthew Cox and not Esquire Isbel!!) Spring Camp farm, at the foot of Buffalo Mountain, on the south side, is one of the most valuable farms in the county." Buffalo Mountain is in Floyd County, VA. The Carter Cox mentioned as being the lawyer for Matthew Cox of Floyd County is probably Matthew’s son. Based on these findings, neither of these Matthew Coxes is buried in Tennessee.

Mr. E. Cox of South Carolina, Mr. J. Cox of Texas, and the writer have participated in the most recent development in genealogy, DNA testing. Comparisons of the DNA testing results between Mr. E. Cox and the writer have shown NO agreement with any markers!! However, the test results between Mr. J. Cox of Texas and the writer show that 37 markers match. This level of matching, in general, suggests that there is an 88.9% probability that there is a common ancestor within the past 8 generations. A generation is usually defined as 25 years. Discounting the current generation, one should expect to find a common ancestor between the years 1750 and 1775. Mr. E. Cox of South Carolina is a direct descendent of Matthew Cox of Halifax/Floyd Counties, VA. The writer has compelling evidence of being a direct descendent of Matthew Cox of Greene County, TN. Since there are no marker matches between Mr. E. Cox and the writer, the Matthew Cox of Greene County cannot be related to the Cox line from Halifax/Floyd Counties, VA.

There appears to be ample evidence that the Matthew Cox that was present at the Battle of Great Meadows and served under Col. George Washington was the Matthew Cox of Halifax/Floyd Counties, VA. Therefore the Matthew Cox of Greene County, TN is NOT the Matthew Cox or related to the Matthew Cox that was in the French and Indian Wars.

By now we know that the Matthew Cox buried in Greene County, TN was NOT in the French and Indian War, and with a high probability was NOT a Revolutionary War soldier.

When a time line of known facts about Matthew Cox of Greene Co., TN is drawn, one issue that becomes apparent is the possible discrepancy between Matthew’s date of birth and his fathering of his children. In his will which was written in 1807, Matthew states: “---I will unto each one of my Dere & loving children, to be paid by my Executors out of my estat as they shall come of age (The Writer’s emphasis.) one horse Sadle & Bridle, to be valued to One hundred Dollars, One feather Bed & Furniture, my Daughter Leah & my Son Eliakam & my Daughter Ann---.” Based on this writing, Matthew had three children under the age of 21 at the time he wrote his will. That would place these three children being born no earlier then 1786. If Matthew was born in 1732 he would have been 54 and older when he fathered these three children. Although this is not unheard of, it is unusual for a man that apparently was only married one time. Since Matthew also had four other children, all named in his will, that were at least 21 years old or older, that could place his first born no later then the year 1782. William, Matthew’s son, was listed as one of the executors of the will, and there is a record of his marriage to Mary Gass in 1797. This would place William’s birth date around 1776.
Mr. J. Cox of Texas has a family linage that shows only one Matthew Cox; born approximately in 1750, having a brother named John, and being the son of William Cox from Orange County, VA. Tying the DNA evidence to the Matthew Cox time line suggests that Matthew may have been born in the 1750 time frame, not in 1732.
The family tradition of naming your first-born male after your father adds some additional weight to this possibly being the correct line; i.e. Matthew’s first-born son was named William.

Based on Mr. J. Cox’s lineage he is a descendent of John Cox, son of William Cox of Orange County, VA. John Cox therefore is a possible brother of Matthew Cox. John Cox applied for a revolutionary war pension (#S.21124) on December 30, 1833. He stated in his claim that he was born in Orange Co. VA; he enlisted in 1776 and served three months as a private in Captain John Scott’s Virginia Company; he was drafted twice in 1777 and served three months each time; after the last service John went to North Carolina to “see his brother.” He was taken prisoner during this trip, but was released later; John then enlisted in Captain White’s regiment that was stationed in Wilkes and Burke Counties, NC. John then moved to Surry County, NC and lived there for about 16 years before moving to Roane County, Tennessee. John states he was 75 years old at the time of his claim for the pension. This would put his birth date at ~1758. John’s home in Surry County, NC is established thru several pieces of data. In the 1790 census for Surry Co., NC there is a John Cox, one free white over 16, listed with 5 free white males under 16 and two free white females. Also shown in the 1790 Tax List for Surry County, Capt. Humphrey’s District, is John Cox with 100 acres There is also a John Cox in Wilkes Co., NC, but this John has 4 free females; “our” John has only one daughter and 9 sons. There is no John Coxes listed in Burke Co., NC for 1790. In the 1800 census there are no John Coxes listed in Burke or Wilkes Counties, NC. However, there is a John Cox, age 26-45, in Surry Co., NC that has 9 males; 5 under 10 and 4 between 10 and 15. There are no daughters listed this time. In the 1810 census for Surry County, NC John is shown, age over 45, 2 males under 10, 3 males 10-15, 3 males 16-25, one female under 10, and one female 26-45. Again there are no John Coxes listed in Burke or Wilkes Counties, NC. There is no John Cox listed in the 1820 census for Surry Co., NC, and the census records for Roane Co., TN have been lost. John does appear in the 1830 census for Roane Co., TN at age 70-80. Based on his birth date of 1758, this is a match. John appears again in the 1840 census for Roane Co., TN at age 80-90 with one of his sons, Samuel, living next door, one of his son’s wives, Nancy wife of Thomas, living just a few houses down and also James Hankins living a couple of homes from John. James is one of the executors of John’s will. John is also shown in the 1840 census as a “Pensioner” at age 82. In addition to the census data there are land deeds for property bought and sold by John Cox in Surry Co., NC. One of the deeds includes his wife, Mary, signing her dower away for the property. Also, on one deed, there is a Matthew Cox as a witness in 1785.

The following land deed data is based on copies of the actual land deeds on record at the Surry County, NC Clerk of Courts Office.

John Cox:

1. 1785: Bought 200 acres in Surry Co., NC on both sides of Stewart’s Creek from Benjamine Griffith. Land bordered Widow Griffith, John Gitten, and John Griffith. Witnesses to the deed were: Robert Harris, Matthew Cox, and James Gittins. (This a excellent indication that John and Matthew are related.)
2. 1787: Sold the land above to Richard Adams. Witnesses were: Hugh Armstrong, James Dickerson, and Collins Hampton. John’s wife, Mary, signed relinquishing her rights to the land. Therefore Mary, John’s first wife, was still alive in 1787.
3. 1789: Bought 100 acres in Surry Co., NC on Stoney Creek from William Saffoon. Part of tract of Gilbard Ce_ney. Witnesses: Alex. Bryson, Thomas Normond, and Frost Snow, jr. John’s first wife was Mary Bryson, and it is believed his second wife was a Snow.
4. 1794: Bought 46 acres in Surry Co., NC on Stewart’s Creek from John Davis. Part of a survey for John Bledsoe. Land borders lines of Snow and Davis. Witnesses: Robert Hammock, Frost Snow, and Aaron I_sby.
5. 1795: Bought 140 acres in Surry County, NC on Stuart’s Creek from Moses Bledsoe. (I believe this is the same Creek as Stewart’s.) Witnesses: John Stuart, Abraham Bledsoe, and Cornelius Kitt.
6. 1798: Received a grant, #1807, for 100 acres in Surry County, NC on Stewart’s Creek.
7. 1809: Sold the 100 acres on Stoney Creek to Joseph Guine. Witnesses: Johnson Snow, Robert Hammock, and John Snow.

Matthew Cox:

1. 1781: Bought 150 acres in Surry County, NC on Stewart’s Creek from Solomon Nelson. Witnesses: James Anderson, John Harris, and William Rogers.
2. 1782: Bought 50 acres in Surry County, NC on Stewart’s Creek; bordering Solomon Nelson’s, and John Harris’ corners. Witnesses: Robert Harris, Aaron Kemp, and Joel Mackey.
3. 1784: Grant for 150 acres in Surry County, NC on West side of Beach Creek. (There is no grant number shown.)
4. 1786: Sold to William Bruce 200 acres on the South side of Stewart’s Creek in Surry County, NC; bounded by John Harris, John Gittens, and John McKinny. Witnesses: John Harris, Robert Harris, and M. Mily. This probably is a combination of the two plots listed above; 150 A plus the 50 A.
5. 1788: Sold to Henry Herrin 150 acres on Beach Creek in Surry County, NC. Witnesses: Colby Creed, Mich. Miles, and Bennet Creed.

Note: All of the deeds except for the Grants list both John and Matthew as “--- of Surry County in the State of North Carolina---.” This statement indicates that both John and Matthew were considered residents of the County and State at the time of the transaction.

Similar names appear as witnesses to both John and Matthew’s transactions. Also, the names of people who own bordering properties indicate that John and Matthew bought land either next to or nearby each other. These are compelling data that suggest John and Matthew were closely related.

Studying the early tax records of Greene County, TN, one notes that there are several family names associated with Matthew Cox. In his will, Matthew lists Daniel Carter and James Goodin as some of his executors, and Matthew’s will has Issac Armitage, John R. Ross, and William Jones as witnesses. In the 1783 tax list for Greene County, TN John Ross, James Goodin (Gooden), and William Jones are shown. Daniel Carter is shown in the 1800 tax list. Issac Armitage is shown in the 1809 tax list for Greene County along with Matthew’s sons William and Lemuel Cox. Also on these lists are other family names associated with the Matthew Cox family: Gass, a daughter married Matthew’s son William; and Gist, Matthew had obtained a land grant in Greene County from Jacob Gist. Also on the 1783 tax list are Benjamin, Ephraem, and Thomas Cox. Their relation to Matthew is unknown at this time. None of these other Coxes, Benjamin, Ephraem, and Thomas, except for Matthew appear in later tax lists for Greene County, TN; i.e. 1798 and 1800.

Matthew married Ann Smith, daughter of Alexander Smith. Alexander Smith served in Capt. Hargets Company in the Continental Line of North Carolina during the Revolutionary War. Alexander apparently was in a battle near Hillsborough, NC. He probably died before 1784, and Ann Smith Cox, as the only heir, was given a Land Grant for 640 acres located in Sumner Co., Tennessee – North Carolina Land Grant #2425 through a military warrant No. 887a in recognition of her father’s service. Matthew and Ann transferred this land in 1785 to Obed Baker. Obed Baker in turn sold the land to Sampson Williams in 1788. Sampson Williams sold the land to Jason Thompson. The survey of the property was completed in 1792 and shows Jason Thompson as the owner. (The actual warrant was not entered until Nov. 1790 and not issued until Dec. 1793 – Entry Number 1352.)

Based on land deeds and transfers in North Carolina, it appears that Matthew and Ann were married before moving to Greene County. William, possibly their first-born child, lists in the 1850 census his birthplace as NC. The State Census of North Carolina 1784-1787 under Captain Humphre’s District, Surry County, in 1786 lists Matthew Cox with one male 21-60, 2 males under 21, and 3 total females of all ages. These ages correspond to the ages of Matthew’s children: William, Lemuel, Jane, and Maholah. Matthew’s brother, John, is also shown with one male 21-60, 3 males under 21, and one female of all ages. In addition other individuals associated with Matthew’s and his brother John’s land deeds are also listed in this census. Of primary interest is the listing of Obed Baker who was the person that Matthew and Ann transferred the Sumner County land to. Based on land deeds in both Surry County, NC and Greene County, TN, it appears that Matthew and Ann moved to North Carolina (Tennessee) locating at Roaring Fork of Lick Creek, Greene Co. (TN) around 1789-90. Since the 1786 census for Surry County, NC contains both Matthew and John Cox and the 1790 census for the same county contains only John Cox, it can be assumed that Matthew has left the county by this date. Greene County, TN was formed in 1783 as part of North Carolina. Tennessee did not become a state until 1796. Although a Matthew Cox is shown in the 1783 Greene County, TN tax list, the overwhelming evidence that “our” Matthew was a resident of Surry County, NC until 1788 shows that this must be a different person.

The first Federal census was in 1790. At that time, Greene County, TN was part of the state of North Carolina. Unfortunately, the census data for Greene County in 1790 has not survived. This is also true for the 1800 census, 1810 census, and the 1820 census data. Any information showing residence must be gleaned from the Tax Lists for those years or possibly land deeds. Matthew Cox purchased 100 acres of land from Alexander Gooden on September 28, 1792. In 1793 Matthew Cox was granted 100 acres on the Roaring Fork of Lick Creek in Greene County, TN. The Roaring Fork Community is now known as Bales Chapel Community. The warrant was originally issued to Jacob Gist. Matthew Cox is listed in the 1798 Greene County Tax List for Captain Christopher Bullard’s Company; he has 250 acres. Matthew Cox is listed in the Greene County, TN Tax List of Capt. John Jones Company for the year 1800. He is shown having 250 acres on the Pigeon Creek. A William Cox purchased 328 acres on the south side of the Roaring Fork of Lick Creek from Thomas Stanfield on March 21, 1801. Matthew Cox duly proved by oath this sale. Matthew died February 2, 1807 and Ann died in 1831.

The above set of information provides a clear and concise documented chronological assessment of the heritage of Matthew Cox. He was born around 1750 in Orange County, VA to William and Rebecca Cox. One of his brothers was John Cox, born in 1758, and removed to Surry County, NC and then to Roane County, TN. Matthew removed to Surry County, NC and then to Greene County, TN. His move to Greene County occurred around 1789 to 1790. Matthew was probably not a soldier of the Revolutionary War, but participated in a “Patriot” capacity. He definitely was not involved in the French and Indian War. Matthew married Ann Smith and had seven children. These children have formed the basis of the Cox family in Greene County, TN.

This is the Matthew that is buried in Matthew Cox’s grave.


© 2009 John W. Cox, Greene County, TNGenWeb coordinator and/or individual contributors. You are welcome to copy information found on this Greene County  for your personal use, but this information may not be sold,  used,  reposted or cached elsewhere  without expressed permission of the copyright holder(s).  Last updated 01/13/2009