Biography of the Fox Family
Clarion County, PA Biographies





FOX, The Fox family has been more or less identified with lands lying within what is now the boundary of Clarion county for nearly a hundred years; warrants for several tracts of land, including those at the junction of the Allegheny and Clarion Rivers, having been taken out by Samuel M. Fox in 1796. A little over a quarter of a century later his son, Joseph M. Fox, went to live there, and the family has since made that place their home for a part of the year. Having been thus interested in the county since its formation, it seems not unsuitable that a short memoir of the family should appear in this book. Justinian Fox, who, tradition says, was a doctor, came from Plymouth, England, to Philadelphia, a few years after William Penn. He married Elizabeth Yard, whose father emigrated from Devonshire, England, about 1688. Justinian Fox had seven children, Joseph being the only one who need be mentioned here. His father having died very poor (the inventory of his estate amounting to but sixty seven pounds, and five shillings), Joseph was apprenticed to a carpenter. He afterwards became possessed of some means through a legacy left him in 1737, and married on September 25, 1746, in Quaker meeting in Philadelphia, Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel and Thomazine Mickle (née Marshall). He built the large double house, now standing, Nos. 46 and 48 North Third street, Philadelphia, which is still in possession of his descendants. On January io, 1765, he was elected Speaker of the Colonial Assembly, at that time an office of high trust and distinction. He died on December 10, 1779. He had thirteen children, among them Samuel Mickle (born October 4, 1763, died April 30, 1808), who married on November 27, 1788, at the Market Street meeting-house, in Philadelphia, Sarah, daughter of Samuel and Mary Pleasants (née Pemberton). With a belief in the future value of lands in the interior of the State, he sold properties in Philadelphia, and bought back lands, including the land in Clarion county on which his descendants now live. At his death one hundred and eighteen thousand acres, not including his land in then Venango, now Clarion county, were divided. He had thirteen children, of whom the oldest was Joseph Mickle (born October 25, 1779, died February 12, 1845). He bought from the trustees under his father's will twelve tracts of land in what is now Clarion county, containing thirteen thousand two hundred and eighty-four acres, the consideration paid being eleven thousand four hundred and twenty-nine dollars and forty cents. He married on April 6, 1820, Hannah Emlen, daughter of George and Sarah Emlen, (née Fishburne.) From her the borough of Emlenton derived its name, it being built on land owned by her husband. At the time of his marriage he was practicing law at Bellefonte, Pa., and shortly after moved to Meadvile. In the year 1827 he decided to settle on and improve some of the land belonging to him, and with this purpose went to Foxburg, since then the summer home of his family. The county was then very sparsely settled; the farmers (and there was no other occupation in the vicinity at that time) were Pennsylvania Dutch, far scattered, and, owing to the difficulty of transportation, almost entirely self-supporting. An old servant still with the family, who, as a boy, went with Mr. Fox to Foxburg in 1832, states that he was the first to introduce coffee into the district. The nearest post-office was Shippenville, sixteen miles away. Later Mr. Fox was instrumental in having one established on his own land, and was himself for a time postmaster. He served as State senator through an election held in 1829 to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Eben Smith Kelly, his district (the twenty fourth) then comprising the counties of Venango, Warren, Armstrong, Indiana, Jefferson, and Cambria. He died in 1845, leaving one child - Samuel Mickle Fox, then twenty four years of age.

Samuel Mickle Fox was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and had been admitted to the bar at Philadelphia, where he was entering upon the practice of the law, when his father's death brought to him other duties in the management of his and his mother's affairs. He married at Wakefield, near Germantown, Philadelphia, Mary Rodman Fisher, daughter of William Logan and Sarah Fisher (nee Lindley). He was a man of scholarly instincts and great culture, of a retiring and contemplative disposition; he had no desire for the notoriety of public life, and was devoid of political ambition, although during the civil war his pronounced views made him in his district a leader and strong advocate for the cause of the Union. In 1861 he was the Republican candidate for State senator from the twenty-eighth district, composed of Jefferson, Forest, Elk, and Clarion counties, and although running far ahead of the rest of the party ticket, was defeated in his district, which was heavily Democratic. It is difficult to measure his life with words, as no great deeds marked it, and its worth and usefulness lay in the small acts of every day, of which no record can be made. It was a life of unobtrusive well-doing, and was passed with the calm quietness of a gentle nature in benefiting in many ways those with. whom he came in contact, and whom, with his larger means, he was often able to assist. He was desirous for the improvement of his neighborhood, and was among the first to introduce the newer agricultural implements and the better breeds of stock into Clarion county. His manners were quiet and retiring, and he had a strong personal magnetism which commanded confidence and gained friends without effort. Once he bought a large tract of land which had long been in litigation and had been largely taken possession of by squatters, who declared that the land was theirs, and that they would shoot any one who claimed it. He quietly went alone on horseback among them, meeting no resistance, and some of the squatters became afterward his devoted friends. He died at Foxburg, on Christmas day, 1869, and his epitaph was not unaptly spoken by one of his friends, who, when he heard of it, said, "A gentleman has died." A short time previous to his death petroleum was discovered on his lands. The Allegheny Valley Railroad had been built through them, and building was begun on the land where the village of Foxburg now stands. The face of the country rapidly changed, and while it grew in wealth it lost its isolation, which to him had been one of the chief pleasures in his home.

He left four children - William Logan, Joseph Mickle, Sarah Lindley, and Hannah, of whom Joseph and Hannah survive. William Logan Fox was eighteen years old at the time of his father's death. He had passed through the Junior class of the University of Pennsylvania, and was then at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, at Troy, N. Y., from which he graduated as a civil engineer four years later. He then spent a year in Europe, and on his return assumed, in conjunction with the trustees under his father's will, the active management of the business at Foxburg, then of some magnitude, owing to the recent developments of petroleum in the vicinity. About this time, and furthered by his energy and moneyed aid, the bridge across the Allegheny River at Foxburgh, and the one across the Clarion, were built, and the turnpike from Foxburg to Petersburg was made.

Early in 1879 the Foxburg, St. Petersburg and Clarion Railroad was projected, and he, believing it would be of material benefit to the village of Foxburg, entered into its construction with his usual energy. He was made president, and the road was vigorously pushed toward completion. Later he bought a controlling interest in the Emlenton, Shoppenville and Clarion Railroad, running from Emlenton to Clarion, the total length of both roads being about fifty miles. He had in contemplation the enlarging of his railroads, and had acquired a charter to Kane, intending to make connection with the Philadelphia and Erie Railroad. This has been done since his death, and the roads are now part of the Pittsburgh and Western Railroad.

William L. Fox took a deep interest in politics, and was strong in his belief in and support of the Republican party, and in its interest started at Foxburg a weekly newspaper, The Rupublican Gazette. He was a member of the Electoral College of Pennsylvania, which voted for Garfield in 1880, but died before it met, and at the time of his death was chairman of the Republican County Committee. He died at Foxburg on April 29, 1880, leaving a widow, Rebecca Clifford, daughter of Samuel F. and Anna C. Hollingsworth (nee Pemberton). He left no issue. His death was a distinct loss to the community about Foxburg, and indeed to his county, for already at the age of twenty. eight his enterprise in business matters had made itself felt, and his ambition and zealous work in the political field had stamped him as one who might in the future hope to receive broad recognition.

To his and to his father's memory the Memorial Church of our Father was built, overlooking the village of Foxburg, and serves not unfitly as a monument to two men whose life work was done, and whose death took place near where it stands; and it is earnestly hoped that as in their time their influence was for the good, it may perpetuate their work by being a benefit to the community, and that the love for the dead which built it may be of lasting help to the living. It is dedicated to the services of the Protestant Episcopal Church, the first one in the county belonging to that denomination. While it was building another memory was added to it through the death of Sarah Lindley Fox, on June 20, 1882. She was deeply interested in its success, and her death was. the loss of an ardent worker in its cause. On the death of William L. Fox the manage-. ment of the fimily property devolved on his brother, Joseph M. Fox, who married at. Charleston on May 10, 1883, Emily A. Reed, daughter of Benjamin Huger and Julia. Read (nee Middleton); issue, Mary Lindley, born December 12, 1884.


From:
History of Clarion County, Pennsylvania
With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches
of some of its prominent pioneers.
EDITED BY: A. J. Davis
D. Mason & Co., Publishers
1887


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