At Galena Coxes held vast tracts of land
Edward Coxe, a wealthy gentleman of Scotch descent, came to North Mississippi before the formation of Marshall County and bought large tracts of land for his five sons. To William Henry Coxe fell the land in which Galena was built. This was in 1832. It is located 12 miles west of Holly Springs on the old Chulahoma Road. William Henry Coxe migrated to this section from South Carolina having spent a short time in Georgia on the way. He came with a large caravan of covered wagons which transported all his slaves, household goods, etc. The livestock was also included in this migration. The family, with the old black mammy, drove through in the family carriage.
Reaching their destination they first erected a crude log cabin in which they lived until they could build a house to their liking. Around this site there was erected a regular village consisting of a commissary, a blacksmith shop, wagon shop, cabinet shop, brick kiln, etc. The house, two years in construction, designed by Will H. Coxe, was of a peculiar type of architecture, being in the form of the letter H. Through the center of the house, running the full length, was a wide hall with vaulted ceiling. Opening into this hall from the east was the dining room; from the west was the parlor. A distinctive feature of this house was the bathroom, which joined the family bedrooms, and was equipped with a shower bath. (Bathtubs were unheard of in this section at that time.) The kitchen and storeroom, built of brick, were separate from the house. The framework of this house was all of solid oak, handhewn, morticed and pinned; the lumber, heart pine. All of the bricks were burned on the plantation by slave apprentices. The cabinet work was also done by these apprentices.
The name Galena was chosen because of an Indian legend to the effect that there was a certain stone on this property that possessed magical powers. Contact with this stone brought peace and rest and quiet. The doors of this home were ever open to the public, and stories of the grand social functions, elaborate and expensive, which have been passed down from generation to generation, still stir the heart and excite the imagination of the hearers. William Henry Coxe traveled extensively and bore the evidence of these travels by the beautiful pieces of furniture and other decorations that graced the home.
Prior to the Civil War, Henry Coxe deeded Galena to his daughter, Mrs. Lida Coxe Brewer, whose family lived there, William Henry Coxe having moved to Holly Springs. During the Civil War, Galena was frequently in the line of march of the Federal army. The only fighting that took place there was a skirmish at Coxe's Crossroads, but that was a rather important skirmish. All the valuables of Galena were hidden away. The silver, very old and valuable, was put in an old leather trunk. Its hiding place was kept secret until the last year of the war; one of the slaves revealed the place to the last bunch of Yankee raiders that visited the place before the surrender. It was all taken. In former raids, cotton, mules and other farm products were stolen or confiscated. On one occasion the Yankees were in the act of taking away the corn sheller, which was considered an indispensable farm article by Mrs. Brewer. She discovered their purpose and protested, attempting to take the corn sheller from the Yankee vandal. A scuffle ensued in which Mrs. Brewer would have been the loser but for the timely arrival of a commanding officer, who made the miscreant relinquish the sheller to its owner.
During the Reconstruction Period, at the time when Galena was closed and Mrs. Brewer was living with her brother, Matt Coxe, some two or three miles distant, two German peddlers came at dusk and asked the caretaker (a Negro woman who with her small children were living in the back yard of Galena) if they might sleep on the back porch that night. Permission was given and soon they were all asleep. Sometime in the night some local bandits disguised as Ku Klux, supposing that the peddlers had money, came and foully murdered one and left the other unconscious. They took all the money and articles of value that were on their persons and in their packs. The noise of the onslaught so frightened the Negros in the yard that they locked and barricaded the doors, and not even cries for help from the wounded man after he had returned to consciousness could move them to open the door until daylight. At dawn they opened the door and went to the aid of the man. They sent for Mrs. Brewer, who opened the house and ordered the caretaker to nurse him back to health. Mrs. Brewer visited him daily, bringing him little delicacies to stimulate his appetite. He was soon sufficiently restored to go on his way. Many years later Mrs. Brewer was in a fashionable ice cream saloon in Memphis when a well-dressed prosperous-looking man came up to her and said, "Are you not Mrs. Brewer of Galena?" On being informed that she was, he told her that he was the man that she had nursed back to health. He insisted on treating her to the nicest treat the house afforded.
Soon after this, Mrs. Brewer sold Galena to her uncle Matt Coxe and moved to Vicksburg. At the death of Matt Coxe, she inherited the property, and for many years her family would alternate from Vicksburg to Galena as their fancy struck them. A peculiarity about this home is that there has never been a birth or marriage in it. At the death of Mrs. Brewer the property went to her granddaughter, Mrs. Amelia Lacey.
For many years the house with its wealth of furnishings has been closed. It is said that there is a fortune tied up in the antique furniture tucked away in this old home. The style of furniture adopted by William Henry Coxe, the builder of Galena, was very plain, massive type, of the best wood. The bedroom furniture was rosewood, the dining room of oak, the piano of rosewood. There were many odd tables collected by William Henry Coxe from his world travels. Mrs. Lacey has a rare collection of old papers and documents, jewelry and antebellum apparel in her townhome in Holly Springs. She has the original land grant on which is the mark of the Indian from whom Edward Coxe, the founder of the Coxe family in Marshall County, bought the property. She has a fancy shirt that was worn by William Henry Coxe in his balmy days; a letter written by George Washington to General Moultrie, who was great-grandfather of Mrs. William Henry Coxe; General Moultrie's silver card receiver, a silver spoon with a palmetto tree, the Moultrie coat of arms engraved on it; the pearls, rings and wedding ring worn by General Moultrie's daughter when she married Lloyd Ainsley. Eight generations of brides in this family have worn these jewels at their weddings, the last of which was Mrs. Amelia Lacey. This house is in a splendid state of preservation owing to the excellent material used in its construction.
Editor's Note: This home has been torn down.
Submitted by Martha Fant.
(Source: Tour information file at Marshall County MS Library) The story of Galena had its origin in the 18th century. Lord Ainsley's daughter married General Moultrie of Revolutionary fame and later Governor of South Carolina. From their union was a daughter who became the wife of a young Scotchman, William Henry Cox, who settled in Georgia. After the 1832 cession, the elder Cox purchased estates from the Chickasaw and sent his five handsome sons with several hundred slaves to Mississippi to cultivate them. William Henry, Jr., built Galena – from timber to brick, nails and ironwork – all with the labor of his slaves. The slave quarters were so large that travelers often asked what village they were passing. The plantation name, given for the Scotch mineral symbolizing peace, is in contrast to Galena's history. Lavish entertainers, foppish dressers, heavy drinkers, dare-devil sportsmen, the Cox brothers came to violent ends. William Henry, Jr., on a drunken spree, rode a spirited horse up a stairway leading to the house and broke his neck. Toby, a younger brother said to have been more beautiful than any woman, killed his bride during a drunken orgy, then turned the gun on himself. Because his bride's family would not allow her body to be buried on the Cox lot, she lies in an unmarked grave; but Toby sleeps beneath a masterpiece of imported Italian marble, as do all the members of the Cox family. Another of the brothers, groomed to the last degree, drove a span of horses over a bluff at Memphis into the Mississippi River; a street in Memphis now bears his name. Of the five brothers, William Henry was the only one to have a child; his daughter Lida, married Clark Brewer. At the death of her father and uncles she inherited the plantation. The post office located in her store was closed at her request; but when people living a mile or so from Galena asked for a post office, the Government obtained permission from Mrs. Brewer to use the stamp of Galena. Hence the community, like so many other Mississippi communities, took the plantation's name. During the War Between the States, the battle of Cox's Cross Roads was fought nearby, and a number of family treasures were stolen. Other family heirlooms, however, are in possession of the descendants.
We copy the Memphis Whig of the 9th inst., the following narrative of one of the most horrible tragedies ever heard of:
We heard yesterday, the particulars of one of the most melancholy tragedies that we have known for many years, which occurred in Marshall county, Miss., about 19 miles from Holly Springs, on Wednesday last. Mr. R. R. Cox, a planter in good circumstances, killed his own wife while she was lying asleep in her bed, and then shot himself through the head, killing himself instantly. This occurred sometime during the night, but was not known until the next morning, when a negro man went to the room to make a fire and found the door fastened. Not being able to raise any one on the inside, the negro called the overseer, who came and forced the door open, when he found both Mr. and Mrs. Cox dead - she lying on the bed with two bullets through her head, and he lying on the hearth, shot through the regions of the heart, with his hand still grasping the deadly revolver. They had been married but a short time, and it is supposed that Mr. Cox was insane at the time, as he has freqently suffered from aberrations of the mind. Both Mr. and Mrs. Cox were known by many citizens, he as the possessor and occupant some two or three years since, of the dwelling in the southern part of the city known as the "Swiss Cottage," while the young and beautiful bride was, but a few months' since, a gay and lively school girl, attending Mrs. Armstrong's school in this city, and will be remembered by many as the pretty Miss Sallie Wilson. Leaving school, she married Mr. C. sometime last fall, and now she has been cut off from all earthly hopes and happiness by him who had solemnly avowed to love and protect her. Mr. Cox was a worthy young man, and there can be no doubt but that he was laboring under insanity at the time of this awful calamity, in fact, many circumstances that transpired a day or two previous go to show that he was not in his right mind. Much sympathy is felt in this community for the families and friends of both the deceased persons - families of the first standing in North Mississippi. May God be their help in this, their hour of the deepest and most heart rendering affliction. The Memphis Enquirer, speaking of the affair, says the parties had been married only six weeks, and adds: Mr. Cox is the third male member of a worthy family who has died a violent death within the last eight or ten years. Once, in a fit of insanity, threw himself from the deck of a Mississippi steamer, and was drowned; another was slain by the accidental discharge of a double barreled shot gun, when starting on a camp hunt; and now we have to record the death of still another, and that of his fair young wife, by his own hands.
Auburn [NY] Weekly Journal, Feb 1855
Please note the following correction/addition to the above information from the tour information file at the library:
Edward Coxe was born in Oglethorpe County, Georgia, the son of Bartley Coxe (of Virginia) and Susannah Carlton. Edward married Charlotte (or Eliza?) Victoria James, and they had the five sons who came to Mississippi following their inheritance of his Chickasaw Cession lands. In 1842, at the age of 17, William Henry Coxe married 16-year-old Amelia Brailsford of coastal South Carolina. The Brailsfords were a very prominent family connected with William Henry's mother's family, the Jameses.
Source: A Southern Tapestry: Marshall County, Mississippi, 1835-2000, by Hubert H. McAlexander Jr., (Virginia Beach, VA: Donning, for the Marshall County Genealogical Society, 2000). pp. 27-28, 38, 43, 48-49, 65, 67, 68; illustrations inside front and back covers pp. 28, 57, 119, 137.
Corrections submitted by Barbara G. Fant, Sep 27, 2002, former owner of Coxe Place
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