Hon. Jefferson D. Cox. A lawyer of more than twenty years’ experience in old Indian Territory, in Oklahoma, Jefferson 1). Cox is a resident of Tahlequah and occupied a seat in the Fifth Assembly as the representative from Cherokee County. In fighting for fundamental constructive legislation that tended to increase the efficiency of government and eliminate useless expenditures, Representative Cox exercised the judgment of a mature lawyer and man of affairs and quietly and effectively assisted in carrying out the pledges of his party and in supporting the policies of Governor Williams, whose candidacy he espoused in the campaign of 1914.
Jefferson D. Cox was born at Walhalla, South Carolina, October 1, 1861, a son of Harmon and Adeline (Landreth) Cox. His father was a Union sympathizer up to the outbreak of the Civil war, but was too old to participate as a soldier. At the secession of his state he bowed to the inevitable, and two of his sons fought in the Confederate army. Harmon Cox was a native of South Carolina, and a farmer and mechanic. The maternal grandfather, Thomas Garvin, was the grandson of a full blood Cherokee Indian, and was himself for many years a leading man in the councils of the Cherokee tribe.
Representative Cox received his fundamental education in the public schools of Northeast Arkansas, whither his father had removed in 1870, and grew up on a farm. At the age of thirteen the death of his father threw upon him the responsibility for caring for his mother, three younger brothers and a younger sister. With such a burden of obligation, his early education was necessarily limited to the exigencies of the family household. During 1881-82 he managed to secure a business and commercial course in the Gaskell Business College of Jersey City, New Jersey. He then returned to the farm, took up the study of law, and by wise and systematic reading completed an education. In 1880 Mr. Cox was admitted to the Arkansas bar and soon afterwards became a deputy sheriff in Fulton County. Later he was for three terms in the office of the sheriff of Baxter County, two terms as office deputy and one term as field deputy. Mr. Cox began the practice of his profession at Springfield, Missouri, but in 1893 removed to Chelsea, Indian Territory. There he organized and became president of the first democratic club of the town, and in 1896 was one of the four delegates that attended the National Democratic Club Convention in St. Louis, and was elected secretary of the organization for Indian and Oklahoma territories.
For varying lengths of time Mr. Cox practiced at Nowata, Claremore and Wagoner, in Indian Territory, and located permanently in Tahlequah in 1903. He has been at the head of twelve law firms in his legal experience, and is now senior member of the firm of Cox & Pitts.
A successful lawyer, he has naturally been drawn into participation in public affairs, and he has been identified with democratic politics ever since he attained his majority. He was an advocate of single statehood, and stumped his district for Sid Wiley, who sat as a member of the Constitutional Convention. In 1907 he championed the cause of Lee Cruce for governor, and after the primaries canvassed a large section of the state for the democratic ticket at his own expense. He was a candidate for the democratic nomination for the State Senate in 1907. but withdrew during the convention in favor of Mack Landrum, who was nominated and elected. When his candidacy was announced for the nomination for the legislature in 1914, he had no opponent in the primaries, and in the general election received a larger majority than had ever been given any of his predecessors. In the Legislature Mr. Cox was chairman of the committee on private corporations, and a member of other committees, including judiciary No. 1, criminal jurisprudence, judicial and senatorial redistricting, and public service corporations. Among the bills introduced by him was one making an appropriation of $40,000 for an auditorium for the Northeastern State Normal at Tahlequah and increasing the appropriation for maintenance by $17,000 for two fiscal years. His service in the Legislature was primarily directed towards the prevention of what he deemed needless legislation and in behalf of the reformation of the judiciary after the plan suggested by Governor Williams, a plan which would increase the number of justices of the Supreme Court and enable that body to keep up with its work. He favored the creation of the office of district attorney, whose duties would be to supervise and try the more important criminal cases, thereby securing better results and making a saving of expense. His chief argument for this plan was that under the present system there are too many young and inexperienced county attorneys and too many who by reason of old age are not competent to meet the best private talent in the trial of causes. Mr. Cox showed special interest in the passage of a usury law that would protect the honest banker and business man as well as the borrower, and contended that the democratic party would suffer by the failure to enact such legislation. He stood for adequate appropriations to maintain the higher educational institutions, not only in his home district but over the state at large. He is at present judge of the County and Probate Court of Cherokee County, Oklahoma.
Mr. Cox is a member of the Cherokee County and Oklahoma Bar Association, and was first vice president of the state association from 1910 to 1912. His fraternal affiliations are with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias, and he has filled chairs in both lodges and is a past chancellor of the Knights of Pythias. October 2, 1884, Mr. Cox married Miss Sarah E. Hawkins at Mountain Home, Arkansas. She died May 22, 1907. Their three children were: Mrs. J. I. Coursey, wife of a prominent young lawyer of Tahlequah; Mrs. Arch Fulcher. whose husband is an abstractor at Tahlequah; and William Grover Cox, now completing his education in the Northeastern State Normal School at Tahlequah. October 1, 1913, Mr. Cox married Miss Carrie Lee Akers, who for a number of years was engaged in the millinery business at Paoli, Kansas, and is a cousin of Earl Akers, state treasurer of Kansas. Mr. Cox has three brothers and four sisters: William N. Cox, a half-brother, who is a veteran of the Civil war and was with General Lee at the surrender at Appomattox, now lives at Westminster, South Carolina; F. F. Cox lives at Mountain Home, Arkansas; E. H. Cox is a California resident; Mrs. John Williams of Cumi, Arkansas; Mrs. Jane Karnes, of Heart, Arkansas; Mrs. John Duke, of Texas, and Mrs. Malinda Briggs, of Kingston, Tennessee.