John Reid Fox
This representative farmer, who has been a life-long resident of Shelby county, was born on the same farm he now occupies on the 8th day of April, 1843. His people were among the early settlers of Marion township, his father, Jacob Fox, migrating to this part of Indiana when the country was a wilderness infested with wild animals and their scarcely less wild companions, the red men. Mr. Fox entered and improved the land which the subject of this sketch now owns and cultivates and while cutting the timber and burning the logs and brush he was frequently visited by the Indians, who warmed themselves by the fires, but never molested nor in any way annoyed either the pioneer or his family. Deer were then plentiful and easily obtained; the flesh of these animals with that of wild turkeys, ducks, geese and other edible denizens of the earth and air, affording an agreeable addition to the housewife's bill of fare. In addition to clearing and improving a good farm, Jacob Fox build a blacksmith shop on his place which was highly prized by the early settlers for many miles around. He also raised a great many hogs, which he drove to Cincinnati to sell, that city being the nearest market place, not only for live stock but for nearly all of the produce upon which the pioneers depended for their groceries, clothing and necessities. Mr. Fox took a prominent part in the improvement of the country and the development of its resources and in due time became one of the best known and most influential citizens of the county. He was a zealous politician of the old Democratic school, took an active interest in political and public affairs and in the immediate neighborhood was frequently consulted on legal and business matters, in both of which his counsel and advice were judicious and in not a few instances, prevented much useless and expensive litigation. A North Carolinian by birth, he accompanied his parents to Indiana when a young man, and spent the remainder of his life in Shelby county, dying many years ago on the family homestead which he redeemed from the wilderness.
Jacob F. Fox and Sarah Reid were married in this county and became the parents of nine children, of whom the subject of this sketch, only, is living, five sons and three daughters having rejoined their father and mother on the other side of death's mystic stream.
John Reid Fox spent his early years amid the stirring scenes of the pioneer period and as soon as old enough to be of service bore his part in the clearing of the farm and the cultivating and gathering of the crops. Owing to the absence of school facilities his education was sadly neglected; nevertheless, by attending a few terms of subscription school in an old log building of the most primitive type, he obtained a fair knowledge of the usual branches, which, supplemented by a wide range of reading and contact with the world in after life, made him quite a well informed man.
On reaching the age when most men become self-supporting, he turned his attention to agriculture, and after the death of his parents and the other members of his family, came into possession of the homestead, which he still owns, and which, under his industry and judicious management, has been so improved that it is now regarded as one of the most productive and valuable farms of its area in Marion township. This place lies in section four, and is well adapted for agriculture and stock raising, in both of which Mr. Fox has met with encouraging success, while the old house, erected about sixty-five years ago, has been remodeled and improved until it is now a substantial and commodious edifice, its imposing and fine old-fashioned appearance suggesting ideas of comfort and rest foreign to dwellings of a more modern date.
Mr. Fox was married in 1867 to Sarah Ellen Howery, who was born March 24, 1851, the daughter of Jacob and Sarah Howery, who moved from Ohio to Shelby county in pioneer times and became well known among the early settlers of Marion township. To Mr. and Mrs. Fox five children have been born, all but one living, their names being as follows: Talma C., who married Pearl Fox and resides in Shelby county; Elbert V., a farmer of Marion township, whose wife, formerly Mary Biss, has presented him with three children; Charles also a married man and the father of two children, is a farmer by occupation, his wife having formerly been Louisa Kaster; and Leander, likewise a man of family and a tiller of the soil, who married Grace Bass and is now the father of one child.
Mr. Fox has never taken a very active part in public affairs, belonging to that large and eminently respectable class of yeomen who, by actions rather than words, make their influence felt for good. A life-long Democrat and in harmony with the principles of his party, he has never permitted his quiet to be disturbed by ambition for office or leadership. Mr. and Mrs. Fox are members of the Christian church.
Transcribed from Chadwick's History of Shelby County, Indiana. Pages 539-540
Surnames: Bass, Biss, Fox, Kaster, Reid
Contributed by Mary Harrell Sesniak