Settling Long Valley
Posted on March 14th, 2011
Orville Southerland Cox and his wife Elvira Pemilia Mills came across the plains from Missouri to Utah in 1848 – 49 and were called to Sanpete from Salt Lake City to help settle the area. They moved there during the winter and early spring of 1850. The quickest means at that time of getting shelter was to make a dugout in the hill. Orville dug a hole in Temple Hill and set two posts with one across the top to form a door frame. A quilt hung across the opening served as a door. They had scarcely gotten settled when Elvira gave birth to the first male child in Manti, March 24, 1850. They named him Delaun Mills Cox, better known as “Lon” for short. The afternoon of the day before Lon was born; snakes came from the rocky hillside. The new settlers had to get out their pitchforks and axes and build big bonfires to burn the snakes after they were killed. In fact, several snakes slithered into the dugout the night Lon was born.Elvira was always busy, never knowing an idle moment, and was also known for her quick temper. One day she hit Delaun, then just a little boy, across the back with an iron fire shovel and knocked him down. When he gathered himself together he made up his mind that he would not live there any longer and spent the night sleeping in the straw stack. In those days it was a common occurrence for boys to leave or run away from home because of corporal punishment. The next morning Elvira went out and found him. She gave him two warm biscuits and molasses then brought him back into the house. For quite some time, she did everything possible to let him know she was sorry. Lon had an ‘Aunt’ Eliza (the third wife of his father Orville) who proved to be a wonderful mother to him. He had to leave home early and help his father move his families to the Muddy because they received a call from Brigham Young to move to Overton, Nevada, called the “Muddy Mission”. Aunt Eliza went along with them, and help Lon out on several occasions when he was in distress. At nine years of age, Lon drove the team and moved Aunt Eliza to the Muddy. He told of how frightened he would get at night as he had to make his bed under the wagon while Auntie and the children slept in the wagon. The wolves would come quite close and their howling was terrific. One night, so many howled and came so close he felt sure they would tear him to pieces before morning. While he lay there too frightened to move, Aunt Elize called, “Lon, would you like to come and get in the foot of my bed?” Oh, how he love her for that! Whenever he told this incident the tears would stream down his face. He said he’d have died for her if the need arose. Another incident on that trip always made Lon cry when he told it: They were camped somewhere along the Virgin River. Aunt Eliza told him to go to the river to get a pail of water. She had a young daughter about five years of age, who, unnoticed, took her pail and went to the river too. They hunted quite some time for her and finally found her body on a sand bar about a half mile down the river. They dug a hole, and wrapping her little body in a quilt, buried her near their camp site. What a tragedy for so young a boy to be the only man along at such a time. Indian encounters were very prevalent at this time. One experience Lon tells is about when he became old enough to herd the town milk cows alone. His mother always gave him two biscuits spread with molasses for his lunch. One day as he sat on the hillside eating, an Indian came along on a horse and demanded the balance of his dinner. Fear made Lon hand it right over. In a few days the Indian came again so Lon divided his lunch again. By and by he was told he didn’t have to divide it, but eat it earlier in the day. Well, the Indian made Lon understand that if he didn’t come through with lunch for him every day he would shoot him with an arrow. The family talked t over at home and decided that Lon would take an extra biscuit for the Indian so there would be no more trouble. This pleased the Indian so much he gave Lon a nice arrow and taught him how to shot with his bow. They were always good friends after that.At the age of 17, Lon entered the Blackhawk War. He tells of how he had a fine, big painted warrior picked out to shoot, and his gun was resting through the crotch of a tree. He would not be able to miss, but was waiting for the captain to say the word. But the word didn’t come. Finally the general pulled out a white cloth from his pocket, tore it in two and handed one to the Indian Chief. After what seemed hours for anxious young warriors on both sides, waiting to go to war, the white rages were raised on sticks. Guns and bows were lowered and Blackhawk and the general shook hands and the Blackhawk War was over.While at the Muddy, Lon met and courted Charlotte Kelsey. He asked her hand in marriage, but she said no. Lon said, “If you ever change your mind, Lottie, please let me know.” She did!! So, Lon, at the age of 19 and Lottie at almost 15, in June 1871, and taking three weeks to make the trip, drove an ox team to Salt Lake City where they were married in the Endowment House. They settled in Washington, near St. George, and two of their 10 children were born there. Lon worked mostly in the cotton factory. After the call came to leave the Muddy, the young Cox family moved to Long Valley. About this time the Church issued the call for saints to join together and live the United Order. This they did wholeheartedly. Lon was a master mechanic and was head of the cooper department making tubs, churns, buckets, wash boards, barrels, etc. He could do anything that had to be done, even making water run up hill, as some of the people said. After many years, Lon became an old man who had an association with a Utah lawyer named Arthur Wooley who was instrumental in getting Lon a pension for having fought in the Blackhawk War. He received an $1,800.00 lump sum for back pay and $50.00 a month until he died in 1932.
Submitted by Larry & Joyce Rhodes
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