Bio: Sarah Antoinette Edwards
A lovely name often inspires lovely thoughts - Sarah Antoinette Edwards. Perhaps that is what John Edwards and his wife Mary Burch Edwards were thinking when they named their little daughter. Most public records show her simply as "Sarah A", but in the years after her marriage to Angenol Cox, he named a visionary opera house after her - Antoinette Hall. Today Antoinette Hall is being rescued and refurbished in Pulaski, Giles county Tennessee.
Sarah A Edwards was born about 1830, in or near the community of Cornersville (Comersville) in Giles county Tennessee. Her father was Dr John Edwards, a local physician, and her mother was Mary C Burch. Her maternal grandparents were Cheadle Burch and Judith Virginia Markham.
From the Marriage Records of Giles County Tennessee, available in the ancestry.com database, we learn:
Angenal Cox married Sarah Antoinette Edwards; 28 December 1859; Giles county Tennessee; married by William G Hensley, Deacon.
The 1859 date raises some questions, and needs to be confirmed. It is wondered if this marriage might have occured in 1851. Both Angenol Cox and Sarah A Burch were living with their parents in 1850. He was truly "the boy next door". The 1860 census confirms five children born to them between 1851 and 1859. When three of those children died in 1861, their joint gravestone read: In Memory of the Dear Children of Angenol and Sarah A Cox.
[note - A check of the 1859 date indicates it was in error. The year of the marriage is 1850]
Angenol Cox and Sarah A Burch were the parents of fourteen identified children, at least six of whom died in infancy and childhood. The surviving children have been difficult to follow. I have had some success in tracking their sons, Alexander Cox and Edgar Cox.
The 1860 census of Giles county Tennessee identifies A Cox as a methodist minister, but I have not come across any records to associate him with a local church. Stories of his later life suggest that he was an interesting and successful promoter and man of business.
In 1868, following a devastating fire along the east side of Pulaski Tennessee's town square, Angenol Cox announced that he would build an Opera House for the town. It was eventually named for his wife - Antoinette Hall. Drawing from articles in the Pulaski Citizen (local newspaper), several interesting accounts have been recently written about the Hall's outstanding contributions to life in Giles county Tennessee.
The successful Exposition of Fruit Growers [in 1871] was attributed to Angenold Cox, who traveled north to research the fruit yielding varieties to find the best suited to our climate and soil for best productivity. Fruit growing proved to be very prosperous for Pulaski and Mr. Cox, whose vineyard yield was three thousand gallons of wine of which his best were on display. Fruit growers from northern Alabama and Tennessee as far north as Nashville came to Antoinette Hall to participate in the Exposition . . .
[source] The Opera House, a research paper by Kimesia Chiles, 1983.
I have seen mention that Angenol Cox sold off his properties in Tennessee and moved to Denver Colorado. But, I have actually found Sarah and Angenol Cox in the 1880 Census of Butler county Kansas, noted in the small community of Walnut, and living with four of their younger children. Records indicate that Angenol and Sarah Cox are buried in Elmwood Cemetery in the nearby town of Augusta in Butler county Kansas. Unfortunately no dates are given on the small stone markers in the cemetery. WF Cox and Mary Cox are buried with them, but I am not certain of their identity. Mary Cox may be their youngest daughter.
Do you want to know more?
Link to Sarah Antoinette Edwards
The Opera House, a research paper by Kimesia Chiles, 1983.
Opera House: Rediscovered; Cody Crawford, 2014.
Biography of Sarah Antoinette Edwards; written by Pamela Hutchison Garrett for John Markham of Chesterfield website; 2015.