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Civil War Blog

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Obituary of James Cox – How One Thing Leads to Another

Posted By on December 23, 2013

An obituary of James Cox (1833-1909), was contributed to the USGenWeb Archives.  It provides some interesting facts and stories not previously noted here about this Corporal who served in the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry, Company L, from 19 August 1861 through 24 August 1864.

In August 1861, inspired by love for his adopted country, he being a resident of Schuylkill County at the time, enlisted in Capt. J. Claude White‘s company which eventually became attached to the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry whose Colonel was W. H. Averill, a West Point graduate and officer of commanding ability.  The company originally enrolled numbered 109, all residents of Schuylkill County and numbered, amongst others, many who after the war became residents of Williamstown amongst them David Challenger, Holden Chester, Daniel Jones and others.

This statement led to further research on the Chester family in that no person named Holden Chester had been identified for this Civil War Research Project.  In a prior blog post, it was mentioned that the only previously known member of that family associated with Williamstown was Daniel Chester – whose officer commission had been recently discovered and was restored and presented to the Williamstown-Williams Township Historical Society.  The subsequent preliminary research on Holden Chester led to the fact that he was a mining engineer – so, after a brief consultation with fellow blog contributor Jake Wynn – who just happens to be doing specialized research in the Civil War mining activities in the Williamstown and Lykens Valley areas, connections were made which led to the realization that there were actually four men who were surnamed Chester, that all were mining engineers, and that it was possible that all served in the Civil War.  Two of the men had been previously included in the Veterans’ ListDaniel Chester and John Chester – Daniel, who was associated with Williamstown, and John, whose name appeared on the Lykens G.A.R. Monument.  The two other men who have now been identified as Civil War soldiers are Holden Chester and Joseph Chester.  Joseph Chester, while serving with the 48th Pennsylvania Infantry, Company H, as a Private, was wounded at Spotsylvania, 12 May 1864, and later died at a hospital in Virginia, 24 May 1864.  While the connection has not been completely confirmed, it now seems that the four men were brothers and that they all had some connection with Williamstown and the area mining interests.  It could very well be that the Chester Post G.A.R. at Williamstown was named after Joseph Chester who died in the war rather than Daniel Chester.  Were these four men brothers?  This connection will be explored in later posts.

Continuing with the obituary of James Cox, the following tribute was given by the writer:

No man in the company shone more resplendent than the dec’d and whether on scout, skirmish, or the charge of battle, he was always prominent, his actions winning the plaudits of his comrades and the econiums of his officers.  His services throughout his term of enlistment, his hair breath escapes from desperate situations, his horse on one occasion having been shot dead from under him, his coolness under fire, his various soldierly escapes some of them ludicrous in the extreme, would, if collected together fill a volume of no mean proportion, but now he is gone, and, like a knight of old his body is entombed, his sword is rust, and his soul has gone to the God who gave it.

The elements of military funeral were also described by the author of the obituary:

Funeral services were conducted by Rev. A. M. Witmer on Monday afternoon.  His [James Cox‘] body, clothed in his Grand Army suit, in his richly arrayed couch casket surrounded by floral tributes was viewed by hundreds of friends….The pall bearers were selected from Chester Post as follows:  James Cox, Robert Pennel, James Baird, Adam Row, William Young, Jacob Clonser.  Following is the order procession, a riderless black steed from the saddle of which hung a pair of cavalry boots and a sword.  Thos. McCord bearing craped colors and bugler William Raudenbush; the Citizens’ Band; a firing squad of twelve members of the Sons of Veterans; members of the Chester Post and other Veterans, Ladies Relief Corps, mourners, followed by a large array of persons of both sexes.  At the grave the rituals of the G.A.R. and the Ladies Aid the rendering of “Nearer My God to Thee” by the band, the firing over the grave by the firing squad and the mournful taps closed the impressive service.

The obituary concluded with the names of the survivors and with a list of those who gave floral tributes.  The complete transcribed obituary may be viewed at USGenWeb.

In addition to the Civil War veteran Holden Chester who was identified in the obituary, the following additional veterans were noted, all most likely members of the Chester Post G.A.R.David Challenger, Robert Pennell; Daniel Jones; James Baird; Adam Row; William Young; Jacob Clouser; Thomas McCord; and William Raudenbush.  Further research needs to be done to determine if David Challenger, Thomas McCord, Daniel Jones and William Raudenbush were veterans, as no one by those names is presently included in the Project’s Veterans’ List.


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