JOHN JASPER COX, whose home in Virden stands upon a lot he purchased October 1, 1856, and who is one of two persons now living who settled in Virden in 1853, may truly be regarded as a pioneer. He served his country faithfully when it needed defenders during the great Rebellion and in times of peace he has ably and conscientiously performed his duty as a public-spirited citizen. He was born in Jersey county, Illinois, January 20, 1835, a son of Henry and Levis (Utt) Cox. The father was born near Louisville, Kentucky, and the mother in Scioto county, Ohio. The father came to Jersey county, Illinois, in 1833 and four years later moved to Calhoun county where he engaged in farming, becoming the owner of two hundred acres of land near Hardin. In his family were eight children, namely: William Utt, who died in California, April 27, 1904; Mary Ann, who became the wife of Myron Bacon, of Calhoun county, and is now deceased; Margaret, deceased, who married Isaac Fobal, of Calhoun county, and afterwards wedded Wilson Virden, of Virden; Canna Sada, now Mrs. John C. Read, of Jerseyville; Rebecca, the widow of Antone Fesenmeyer, of Jerseyville; John J., of this review; Robert, deceased; and George W., a resident of Denver, Colorado. The mother of these children died in 1841 and two years later Mr. Cox was again married. By this union there was one son, Frank, who is now living at Batchtown, Calhoun county. The father died in 1844, about a year after his second marriage.
After the death of his parents John J. Cox became a member of the family of his uncle Jacob, with whom he continued until nineteen years of age. He possessed advantages of attendance at the common schools and as he grew to manhood became thoroughly acquainted with farm. Work. In the spring fo 1853, soon after the construction of the Chicago & Alton Railway through Virden, he arrived in this place and began learning the blacksmith's trade, to which he was destined to devote the principal years of his life. When the Civil war overshadowed the land his patriotism was aroused and on February 1, 1862, he enlisted as a mechanic in Company F, First Illinois Light Artillery. The regiment was assigned to the Sixteenth Army Corps and in July following was transferred to the Second Brigade, Fourth division, Fifteenth Army Corps, under General John A. Logan. Private Cox participated in twenty-two important battles of the war, among which may be named the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, Iuka, Memphis, Coldwater, Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain. He was also present at the siege of Vicksburg and took part in a number of the great campaigns which finally led to the overthrow of the confederacy. During the Atlanta campaign he was employed as an ambulance driver. He was honorably discharged at Springfield, Illinois, March 8, 1865, and returned to Virden where he resumed employment as a blacksmith under the same man with whom he was working when he enlisted in the army. On September 1, 1865, he opened a shop on his own account, which he successfully conducted for thirty years. Since 1895 he has lived retired. He owns three brick store buildings and a beautiful home in Virden, and erected a number of buildings which he disposed of, thus adding to the growth and prosperity of the community.
On the 8th of October, 1867, Mr. Cox was married to Miss Mary A. Emerson, a daughter of William and Elizabeth (Hill) Emerson. She was born in Hull, England, and was three years old when brought to this country by her parents in 1850. Seven years later Mr. Emerson located in Virden, Macoupin county, and engaged in the wagon making business, with which he was identified for many years. He died March 27, 1904, and his wife was called away September 1, 1896. They were the parents of two children, John, who is living in Virden township; and Mary A., now Mrs. John J. Cox.
In politics Mr. Cox is an earnest advocate of the republican party and while he has never sought office he has served as a member of the city council. He is identified with John Baird Post, No. 285, G.A.R., of which he was a charter member. In religious faith he is a Baptist, while his wife is a member of the Methodist church. During many years of his active life he applied himself with great energy and he now enjoys the comforts of his wisely directed efforts. He ranks among the most respected citizens of Virden.