Charles William Cox (1884-1966) was born at Ebrington on 7th December 1884, the eldest of 11 children of William Cox and his wife, Alice Jane (née Bacon). At the time of the 1901 census, he was still living with his family at Ebrington, working as an agricultural labourer. A week or two later, the whole family moved to Belmont Terrace, Badsey.
In about 1903 the Cox family moved to Wickhamford. This was the year in which Charles married Sarah Bennett. It is assumed that Charles and Sarah moved to Wickhamford with the rest of the family, as a daughter, Inez Rose, was born on 2nd March 1904, and was baptized at Wickhamford on 25th September 1904.
On 29th March 1906, Charles, Sarah and Rose set sail on the Dominion Line from Liverpool to Halifax, Nova Scotia, bound for a new life in Canada. Four more daughters were born in Canada: Lillian Stella (1907-2001), Constance Ada (1912), Clarice (1914-1914) and Almedia Maude (1915).
Alberta Homestead records on Ancestry reveal that on 21st August 1907, Charles gained entry to a homestead for north-east quarter section of Section 14, Township 34, Range 21 West of the 4th Meridian, which became known as Big Valley. Under the Dominion Lands Act, once Crown land had been surveyed and officially declared available for settlement, individuals could apply to homestead a quarter section (160 acres) of their choice. Then, after paying a $10 filing fee and “proving up” their homestead claim (occupying the land for at least three years and performing certain improvements, including building a house and barn, fencing, breaking and cropping a portion of the land), the homesteader could apply for patent (title) to the land. However, on 13th January 1909, Charles, giving his address as Big Valley, applied for a homestead in a locality called Scollard, about eight miles south of Big Valley. The following year, when his younger brother, George, settled in Canada, George applied for a homestead on the land which his brother had acquired. A patent for Scollard was granted on 13th September 1915. Charles’ obituary, written in 1966, indicated that he was well-known in the dairy industry, operating Gracelyn Holstein Dairy Farms.
In 1916 the Cox family was living at 527 Sarcee Camp, 3rd Avenue West, Calgary East, Alberta. Charles was now described as a soldier; he had joined the Canadian Army on 1st January 1916. He saw active service in France. Charles and his brother, George, were released from service in the Canadian Army following their father’s death in Wickhamford in 1917. This was Canadian Government policy, as the family had no breadwinner. However, shipping records reveal that Sergeant Charles William Cox was recorded on a Dispersal Draft proceeding to Toronto; the draft left Liverpool and arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 24th March 1919. He was then going to his residence in Calgary.
Charles, in his later life, was a visitor to Wickhamford on several occasions, and is remembered for wearing a Stetson and smoking a large cigar around the village!
Charles died at Calgary, Alberta, on 2nd June 1966, his wife having died four years earlier. The following obituary appeared in "The Calgary Herald" of 3rd June 1966:
Rumsey Area Homesteader dies at 81
Funeral will be held Monday for Charles William Cox, an Alberta homesteader, who died Thursday. He was 81.
Born in Gloucester, England, Mr Cox came to Winnipeg in 1905 and homesteaded in the Rumsey district after 1906. He was well-known in the dairy industry, operating Gracelyn Holstein Dairy Farms. During the First World War, he served overseas with the 137th Battalion. He came to Calgary in 1928.
He is survived by 4 daughters, Mrs Inez Sjøgren and Mrs Almedia Jackson, both of Calgary, Mrs L L Attridge of Salmon Arm, BC, and Mrs R H Richmond of Caroline, Alta; 12 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren; 2 sisters and 3 brothers in England. He was predeceased by his wife Sarah in 1962.
Funeral will be conducted by the Very Rev Dean Stiff at 1.30 pm at the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer, and burial will be at Queen’s Park Cemetery.
Some years after the death of both Charles and Sarah, their eldest daughter, Inez, related memories of the pioneering days in Canada for an article in a publication called “Pioneer Days”.