The Cox have been empire builders since the 1600s

Dr Daniel Coxe III had a pretty good job in England. He cared for King Charles II, who ate and drank in moderation, exercised a lot and rarely fell ill.

He conducted scientific studies, such as the effect of nicotine on animals. There is an entry in Samuel Pepys’ journal about poisoning a cat with tobacco at a medical conference.

The doctor married the Lord Mayor’s daughter and set out to build an empire.

In 1686, the King granted Coxe the right to buy and rule a million acres in what became New Jersey. Six years later, Coxe sold much of that to the developers. And in 1696 he acquired “Carolana”, an area with the present north-south limits of North Carolina, but extending to the west coast.

Some of his friends thought he had been duped. Coxe operated at a long distance through an MP, encouraging settlement and defending against competing claims.

American history is full of acts of dueling.

For example, Coxe had gone beyond the claims of the Indians and Quakers to become the William Penn of his territory. Then, in 1731, a year after his death, his son and heir, Colonel Daniel Coxe IV, expelled the families from the Hopewell section which Dr Coxe sold, after demonstrating in court that their purchases and improvements had failed. not accompanied by legal documents.

Many families refused to move and went to war with the newly recruited settlers.

A wave of families migrated to the Jersey colony on the Yadkin River (near present-day Salisbury).

Dr. Coxe knew he needed to surround his Carolana claim, and possibly mine it, and had outfitted two ships to explore his new territory. The ships were pushed back by the French, and one of them never returned home.

The doctor’s son, Colonel Coxe, maintained a keen interest in the claim. He published a book on this subject: “A description of the English province of Carolana” (1722), is largely a compilation of explorers’ accounts. It is a source of Indian place names. It also contains the famous first published appeal for a federal government, precipitated by the need to defend precious resources.

When Colonel Coxe died in 1739, he left it to his children to make their royal estate profitable.

The heirs approached Benjamin Franklin, who wanted to be an investor, and who was able to obtain a hearing with the Privy Council of England.

For a year Franklin and an English agent defended the Coxes’ case, “but after diligent research,” writes Jacob Cooke in his book “Tench Coxe and the Early Republic,” they “failed to find the grant. original by Dr. Daniel Coxe. “

In compensation for Carolana’s loss, the Council gave the Coxes 100,000 acres in New York.

A generation later, Colonel Coxe’s grandson, Tench Coxe, reinvested in western North Carolina, purchasing 500,000 acres. He founded the Speculation Land Company and promoted the region’s natural wealth.

“He bought so much and there were so many questions of title and descriptions,” said his great-great-grandson, Frank Coxe, of Asheville, in an interview with Dr. Bruce Greenawalt, of UNCA. in 1979, “that he had to get rid of it in order to avoid bankruptcy.”

With his earnings, he established an anthracite coal empire in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

Her son, Francis Sydney Coxe, moved to County Rutherford; and Francis’s son, Colonel Frank Coxe, settled at Green River Plantation, the large estate built by Samuel Carson, the grandfather of Colonel Frank Coxe’s wife.

The property was restored as an event venue by William and Ellen Cantrell after their purchase in 1987.

From Green River, Colonel Frank Coxe funded the Western North Carolina Railroad and built the Battery Park Hotel mansion in Asheville in 1886.

His son, Tench, developed offices and stores backing on Wall Street and worked with EW Grove to further develop the downtown area, selling the Grove Battery Park property for demolition.

Tench’s son, Franklin Coxe, helped organize Asheville’s rebound from the Depression, founding the Asheville Industrial Council.

In the Council’s “Facts for Industry”, Coxe wrote about everything from climate to labor supply.

“There are no hot, stuffy, sweltering nights where sleep is impossible,” Coxe said, “and almost every night in the summer we sleep under a blanket. Tests have shown restful nights. lead to increased daily efficiency. “

Citizen Times columnist Rob Neufeld

Rob Neufeld wrote the weekly “Visiting Our Past” column for the Citizen Times until his death in 2019. This column was originally published on July 25, 2011.

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