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African American Genealogy: He Worked for the Dial But Was a Minister and Traveled

Robin Foster
by Robin Foster

Now we will share with you even more findings from researching the board members of The Dial, an African American newspaper, that we told you we found while restoring Fairview Cemetery.  The first person researched was Conley Lincoln Henderson.  He was the newspaper’s editor, and he served in several counties as a minister. His burial has not been determined yet.

I cannot emphasize enough how the first discovery of each person was in the cemetery. They were forgotten under debris and kudzu.  In addition to that, they influenced people from all over the state. Rev. Robert F. Fox (1849-1939) was an associate editor of The Dial. I remember uncovering the graves for Rev Robert F. and Amanda Fox.

Census

In 1900, they lived in Greenwood County, South Carolina:

 

Robert and Amanda Fox, 1900 U.S. Census

Robert and Amanda Fox, 1900 U.S. Census.
“United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-XX6Q-HYT?cc=1325221&wc=9B7X-VZD%3A1030550901%2C1032467801%2C1032502301 : 5 August 2014), South Carolina > Greenwood > ED 79 Greenwood Township (east part) > image 21 of 53; citing NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

 

1910 finds them living in Henderson County, North Carolina with two daughters, Willie and Nettie:

 

Robert and Amanda Fox, 1910 U.S. Census

Robert and Amanda Fox, 1910 U.S. Census.
“United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33S7-9RNB-9MTD?cc=1727033&wc=QZZQ-F7F%3A133642301%2C139261701%2C139458301%2C1589089148 : 24 June 2017), North Carolina > Henderson > Hendersonville > ED 78 > image 8 of 88; citing NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

 

They had moved back to Greenwood County, South Carolina before the 1920 US Census:

 

Robert and Amanda Fox, 1920 U.S. Census

Robert and Amanda Fox, 1920 U.S. Census.
“United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRNN-HL?cc=1488411&wc=QZJY-ST9%3A1036472401%2C1036981701%2C1036627001%2C1589332317 : 14 December 2015), South Carolina > Greenwood > Greenwood > ED 74 > image 21 of 30; citing NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

 

The 1930 US Census, Greenwood, South Carolina, would have been the last taken with them living. They both died in 1939. The “O” next to Robert’s name means own, so I could look for a deed or a will at the time of his death.

 

Robert and Amanda Fox, 1930 U.S. Census

Robert and Amanda Fox, 1930 U.S. Census.
“United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GRZR-VZP?cc=1810731&wc=QZFW-RPV%3A648803101%2C649740101%2C648899601%2C1589282443 : 8 December 2015), South Carolina > Greenwood > Greenwood > ED 9 > image 18 of 34; citing NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002).

 

Card of Thanks

We do not always find a “Card of Thanks” in the newspaper, but this was the first find letting me know Amanda died before Rev. Robert F. Fox:

 

Amanda Fox Card of Thanks

Amanda Fox, Card of Thanks (The Index Journal), Greenwood, South Carolina, 15 January 1939, Page 15, Column 8, < https://www.newspapers.com/clip/21294532/the_indexjournal/>, Newspapers.com

 

Obituaries

Next, I came across a death certificate for Amanda Fox. She was described as one of Greenwood’s loyal souls. Tabernacle Baptist Church handled her service.

 

Amanda Fox Obituary

Amanda Fox Obituary

Amanda Fox, Death of Amanda Fox, (The Index Journal), Greenwood, South Carolina, 9 January 1939, Page 5, Column 1, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/21294575/the_indexjournal/, Newspapers.com

 

I had a hard time finding the death certificate for Rev. Robert F. Fox because he died in Columbia, South Carolina. Macedonia church in Greenwood handle the service, and Fairview Cemetery was confirmed as the place of burial.

 

Rev. Robert Fox Obituary

Rev. Robert F. Fox, Rev. R. F. Fox Dies, (The Index Journal), Greenwood, South Carolina, 23 April 1939, Page 8, Column 8, < https://www.newspapers.com/clip/4755653/the_indexjournal/>, Newspapers.com

 

Death Certificates

The death certificate for Rev. Robert F. Fox has his parent’s names, and this is great because he was born in North Carolina. Sam and Phillis Fox born during enslavement.

 

Death Certificate for Reverend Robert Fox

Death Certificate for Reverend Robert Fox.
“South Carolina Deaths, 1915-1965,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DRG9-6GF?cc=1417492&wc=M6Y6-CZS%3A30939001 : 5 April 2018), 004179168 > image 1076 of 1671; Department of Archives and History, State Records Center, Columbia.

 

According to her death certificate, Robert Cofer of Washington, Georgia was the father of Amanda Fox:

 

Death Certificate for Amanda Fox.
“South Carolina Deaths, 1915-1965,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-DBLS-DFK?cc=1417492&wc=M6Y6-CP6%3A30936701 : 5 April 2018), 004179165 > image 604 of 1639; Department of Archives and History, State Records Center, Columbia.

 

All of this was discovered after Rev. Robert F. and Amanda’s graves were uncovered. I even found a biography and a photo. Here it is in its entirety:

 

Photo of Reverend Robert Fox

Photo of Reverend Robert Fox.
A. B. Caldwell, History of the American Negro and His Institutions, South Carolina, (Atlanta, Georgia: A. B. Caldwell Publishing Co., 1919), 48-51.

 

“With a wide acquaintance and varied experience in the ministry. Rev. Robert Fox, who was for a time District Missionary of the Western North Carolina Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention, and a popular pastor of upper South Carolina, residing at Greenwood, can look back on nearly forty years of service as a preacher. He goes back to the ante-bellum days and was eleven years of age at the close of the Civil War, having been born November 15, 1854.

His father. Rev. Samuel Fox, was a preacher and was by trade a blacksmith. His mother was, before her marriage, Felicia Hoyle. On the paternal side, his grandfather Jim Fullenwyler, was a skillful forge man at the iron furnace. On the mother’s side, his grandfather, Bars Hoyle, was a wheel-wright. Both grandmothers were cooks in the old slavery days when there was quite a distinction between cooks and field hands.

The Foxes lived till after the war at the old town of Dallas in Gaston county, N. C.

Robert was a big boy at the close of the war, and being compelled to begin life without means did not find it easy to get an education as he had no one to help him nor any means to buy books. He attended school first at Wilson Institute and later did special work at All Healing Springs.

He was converted at the age of twelve and entered the Baptist ministry in 1880, having been ordained by the St. Paul Baptist Church.

He began his work in North Carolina and before entering upon his missionary work served the following churches as pastor: St. Paul, six months; Mt. Pisgah, three miles south of Gastonia, which he built, three years ; Eskerg Grove, two years ; Star of Bethel, Hendersonville, two years and a half ; Flat Rock, two years ; Good Hope, Pleasant Rock and Mt. Nebo.

In 1911 he was made Missionary of the Western North Carolina Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention and was successful in the work, and was re-elected for the second term. He resigned this work to get back into the active pastorate and accepted the call of the Gold Hill and Mt. Hermon Baptist Churches.

He has made steady progress and is regarded as one of the strong men of his denomination.

His reading begins and ends with the Bible and religious literature. His political activities have been limited to voting.

His long years of experience and extensive observation of conditions as he has traveled among his people, have convinced him that the welfare of the race depends upon righteous living, careful economy and more watchful care concerning the purity and character of the womanhood of the race. He believes with Solomon that “Righteousness exalteth a nation ; but sin is a reproach to any people.”

On April 6th, 1895, Rev. Fox was married to Miss Amanda Cofer, a daughter of Robert and Rosa Cofer. They have two children : Willie Lee and Nettie G. Fox.

Rev. Fox has written two booklets. In 1891 he brought out The Hard Heart which sold at 25 cents per copy. In 1907 he wrote The Character and Reward of the Earthly Minded.”

Sharpen the Saw

Was it amazing how I learned bits and pieces from all the different places I looked? I still have yet to look for a will and deed. One valuable thing that I learned from the biography was Amanda’s mother’s first name. I’m still looking for Beverly, but you know what? These people are not related to me, but this lost history can be found. When we research, we can watch out for other people who will come behind us. How can you implement this in your research? Share your thoughts in our Facebook Group!

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