1814 – 1888

Orville Sutherland Cox, one of twelve children born to Jonathan Upham Cox and Lucinda Blood, was born Friday, 25 November 1814 at Plymouth, New York. Orville’s father died when Orville was about fifteen years of age. Arrangements were made for him to serve an apprenticeship, learning the trade of a blacksmith. Even though this arrangement was very unpleasant and the smith did not keep his part of the contract, Orville learned valuable skills he used throughout his life.

Finding his situation unbearable, Orville “jumped” the apprenticeship, and over time worked his way toward Ohio where he was united with his family at Nelson, Portage County. Following his mother and other members of the family to Missouri, Orville became acquainted with the Mormons, and eventually, after being driven from the state of Missouri and settling at Morley’s Settlement near Lima, Illinois, he married a Mormon girl, Elvira P. Mills. Three days later, 3 October 1838, he went to Nauvoo and was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by the Prophet Joseph Smith. When the Nauvoo Legion was organized he became a member of the band.

After the Prophet Joseph was killed he attended the meetings called by Sidney Rigdon and the apostles and was in the meeting and witnessed the change in the appearance of Brigham Young when the “mantle of Joseph fell on him” and he never afterward doubted that Brigham was God’s chosen leader.

When the Saints were leaving Nauvoo, he was appointed one of the “rear guard” to keep the mob from working evil before all the people had a chance to cross the river into Iowa. The mob started violence, the guard had few arms, so Browning (father of the gun manufacturer of Ogden) and Cox made two cannons, using an old steam boat shaft for the barrels. Then they held the mob in check. Crossing the plains he was in Charles C. Rich’s company and arrived in Salt Lake Oct. 3, 1847.

Very early in the spring of 1848 Orville moved from the adobe fort at Salt Lake and began farming at Sessionsville, now Bountiful, where he served as the first bishop of the Sessionsville Ward. In the fall of 1849 he was called to go with “Father” Morley’s company to colonize the valley of the Sanpitch, arriving at Manti 19 November 1849.

He was among the first settlers of 15 different towns in the mountain region. He surveyed 45 irrigation canals that carried the first irrigation streams for their localities. Irrigation was a natural gift to him. To many it was a difficult problem. In some instances he surveyed ditches and took the water higher than professionals with scientific instruments could do.

He had a cheerful optimistic disposition. There never appeared a situation in pioneering so difficult that he could not solve it. Nor was there a job of work too hard for him to willingly undertake it. Orville Sutherland Cox died at Fairview Utah, July 4, 1888. He is buried at the Fairview Pioneer (Lower) Cemetery, Plot: L2-24-1.

Married Elvira Pamela Mills, 3 October 1839 at Lima, Adams, Illinois
Married Mary Elizabeth Allen, 3 July 1853 at Manti, Sanpete, Utah
Married Elizabeth Jane Losee, 22 June 1859 at Fairview, Sanpete, Utah




Biographical Sketch of Orville Sutherland Cox, by Euphrasia Cox Day (daughter), transcribed by Paul Day, Nov. 8, 2006

Biographical sketch of Orville Sutherland Cox, Pioneer of 1847, partly from a sketch written by Adelia B. Cox Sidwell for the “Daughters of the Pioneers,” Manti, Utah, 1913.

Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, Charles C. Rich Company (1847)

LDS Biographical Encyclopedia – Vol. 4, page 621

Pioneers & Prominent Men of Utah – page 825

Pioneers & Prominent Men of Utah – photograph page 102

Biographical sketch of Orville Sutherland Cox, Pioneer of 1847 and pictures

Biographical sketch of Orville Sutherland Cox, Pioneer of 1847 Directory of Histories

Biographical sketch of Orville Southerland Cox – (OCR copy)

Bishop of North Mill Creek Canyon Ward (Davis County) before being called to Manti

Biographical Sketch of Orville Sutherland Cox

Picture of gravestone – Fairview Cemetery

Genealogical data & photographs