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Cox, Nathaniel

Was a native of Maryland, and born in Talbott County, but at an early age emigrated with his parents to Chillicothe, Ohio.  After living at several different places he came to Jeffersonville, in this State, where he remained a short time.  From the latter place he came to Indianapolis in the fall of 1821.  He was a great hunter and fisherman, and for some time did but little except in that line.  He would often dress himself in Indian costume, and hunt for several days without returning, camping out as an Indian.  He was very fond of frightening those who had just come to the settlement, and who had not seen much of the Indians. 

    He was a great wag, and fond of playing pranks on the unsuspecting, to many of which I have been the victim.  One of his best practical jokes was upon himself.  Before the days of soda fountains, he requested Mr. Hannaman to prepare him two glasses, one containing carbonate acid, the other soda, as he wished to try the effect of the effervescence in the stomach.  He first drank one draught and then the other.  The experiment was satisfactory, at least so much so that he never wished to try it again.  The fluid came from his eyes, ears, mouth and nose in such a way that it alarmed the bystanders.  I have often head him say he thought the Falls of Niagara were running through and out of his head. 

    In the month of January, 1825, and while the Legislature was in session, he conceived the idea of serenading its members.  There was a society, of which he was the head and master spirit.  This organization Mr. Cox named the "Indianapolis Anarugian Society."  They numbered about thirty persons, and their object was fun or amusement, in any shape whatever not injurious to the public.

    One Pete Harmon was the proprietor of four yoke of oxen and two log-sleds, which he used for hauling saw-logs to the mill.  The sleds Mr. Cox attached together in such a way that a platform was built on them to accommodate the whole society, who were dressed in all kinds of fantastic style that fancy or convenience might dictate, and with everything conceivable that would make a loud and disagreeable noise--strings of tin cups, horns, cow-bells, drums, tin pans and kettles--and to the sleds the four yoke of oxen were hitched.  On the near steer of each yoke was a driver, dressed in a similar manner to the performers on the platform.  In this way they left the store of Mr. Jacob Landis, about nine o'clock at night, and, after visiting the various hotels and boardinghouses, where members of the Legislature did mostly congregate, and performing at each place upon their instruments, returned to the place of starting, where a bountiful supply of Mr. Landis' staple article, "peach and honey," awaited them.

    While Mr. Blake was supervisor of the roads, he had some men at work on Meridian street, in Pogue's Creek bottom, among whom was Mr. Cox.  Mr. Blake, missing him from work, sought and found him sitting in the shade on the bank of the creek, with a sewing-thread and pin-hook, fishing for minnows.

    Mr. Cox was a singular and erratic man, possessed a generous and kind heart, and was universally respected.  He died about the year 1850, leaving a wife and a respectable family of children, all of whom yet reside in the city.

Nowland, John H. B., “Early Reminiscences of Indianapolis, with Short Biographical Sketches of Its Early Citizens, and of a Few of the Prominent Business Men of the Present Day,” 1870, pp. 99-101. 


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