The late Jared Copeland Fox was one of Atchison's ablest citizens, public spirited, a successful financier and a familiar figure in the leading circles of the city for many years. Merchant, banker, scholar, a kind husband and father, his demise left a void which can never be filled. Coming of a distinguished family, born October 30, 1841, in Chili, N.Y. his life bears out the oft repeated assertion that lineage and birth have something to do with shaping a man's destiny and influencing his career. His parents were Jared Ware and Mercy Chapman (COPELAND) Fox. Jared Ware Fox was a son of Alanson and Elizabeth (WARE) Fox. His maternal grandfather was Jonathan Copeland, who married a Miss WELLS at Charlton, Mass., who was a direct descendant of Ruth, a daughter of John and Priscilla ALDEN. On April 2, 1816, Jonathan Copeland was commissioned a captain in the militia and adjutant on the governor's staff of Massachusetts in 1816. In 1819 he was appointed a brigadier commander of the state militia. After his marriage he removed to New York and was there a colonel in the state militia of New York. He held five different commissions in Massachusetts and New York. The Fox family is of English descent and originally settled in Connecticut. The maiden name of the wife of Col. Jonathan Copeland was Rebecca EDWARDS and she was a connection of the family of which Rev. Jonathan Edwards was a member. Colonel Copeland had three children: Mercy, Elizabeth and the Rev. Jonathan Copeland, a Congregational minister of New York, who conducted an academy in that city and one of whose pupils was Philip ARMOUR of beef packing fame. Jonathan was born October 16, 1786, died in 1858 in new York; Rebecca was born in 1790, died February 6, 1863, in Kansas.

Alanson Fox, grandfather of Jared C., removed from Connecticut to a farm near Sherburne, N.Y., and here Jared Ware was born December 5, 1810. Rev. Jared Ware Fox was educated for the ministry, studying four years in Oneida Institute and one year in a seminary in New York City, and for fifth years preached the Gospel according to the Congregational faith. In the early days he was sent to Kansas by his church to establish and organize churches in the new towns and cities building up on the board prairies. He formed a church at Burlingame and Ridgeway, Kan., making his home at the latter place and preaching throughout the country serving churches at Kunwaka, Waveland, Valley Brook and one year at Lawrence. He spent one year in Topeka in charge of a church in the capital city. He was a strong abolitionist and was in his natural element when he first came to Kansas in 1860, the year of the "great drought." He took an active part in the relief work in Kansas at that time and sent his son, Jared C., then but eighteen years of age, back to Galesburg, Ill., where an old friend of the family resided, to gather potatoes and produce for the sustenance of the drought suffers. He died March 2, 1898, leaving the following children: Charles G., on the old homestead at Ridgeway, Kan.; Jared C.; Irving Dwight, deceased; Herbert Everett, of California; Herman Elliot, Davenport, Iowa. The mother of these children, Mercy C. (Copeland) Fox was born February 16, 1816, and died April 11, 1983.

Jared . Fox received an academic education in New York and accompanied his parents to Kansas. At the age of nineteen years he was first employed in a general store conducted by CROSBY Brothers at Valley Falls, Kan., at a salary of $150 per year and his board. He yearned for a larger field and came to Atchison in 1862, entering the employ of William Smith, who owned a dry goods store. During a part of the Civil War he served as clerk in the commissary department at Rolla, Mo., under Major GRIMES for two years. After the close of the war he was deputy county treasurer under Sam C. KING, and upon Mr. King's resignation from the county treasurership, he was appointed to serve for six months finishing out Mr. King's unexpired term. He then served as deputy United States marshal under Charles WHITING. For some years previous to embarking in the drug business he was associated in the real estate business with H. Clay PARK, former postmaster of Atchison and editor of The Patriot, and now one of the editors of the St. Joseph News. In 1869 Mr. Fox made the business venture which was the turning point of his fortunes and launched him on the high road to financial success. He entered into partnership with W. E. McPIKE, S. C. King and Frank ALLEN in the wholesale drug business. Later Mr. Fox and Mr. McPike became the sole owners of the business, Mr. Fox disposing of his interest to T. M. Walker and the firm removed to Kansas City, where it is still doing business under the name of the McPike Drug Co. Mr. Fox became interested in banking and at the time of his death was vice-president of the Atchison Savings Bank, the oldest state bank in Kansas. He conducted a loan business as his financial resources increased in strength and he became one of Atchison's wealthy citizens.

On December 22, 1868, Mr. Fox was married to a charming southern lady, Miss Virginia Alexina TORTAT. This union was blessed by the birth of five children as follows: Jared Copeland, Jr. Manager of the Howard Manufacturing Co., of Atchison, and father of eight children, Virginia Parker, Marjorie Parker, Jared Copeland, Jr., Parker, Amelia Joanna, Lawton, Edith and William Horan; Edith Fox JACKSON, wife of Judge W. A. Jackson, and mother of two children, Jared Fox and Edmund Valentine; Henry Irving, wholesale druggist at Wichita, Kan., and father of Everett Cranson, Florence, Mary Anne and Sarah Virginia Fox; William Tortat, assistant Cashier in the Atchison Savings Bank, and father of one daughter, Mary; Florence at home with her mother. The mother of these children, Mrs. Virginia Fox, was born at Eufaula, Ala., December 20, 1847, a daughter of Henri Sylvest and Nancy (DECKER) Tortat. Henri S. Tortat was born in October, 1811, in France. He was destined to be a clergyman by his parents, but, having no intention to enter the priesthood, took part in the three days' revolution again st Charles X. He left home and joined an uncle who was an officer in the French army of occupation in Algiers in 1833. He came to America in 1836 when a young man and was married at Wiscassett, Me., to Nancy Decker, whom he met at Boston, Mass. After his marriage he took his bride to Charleston, S.C. and thence to Eufaula, Ala., and conducted a merchandise store there until he was induced to join a colony of southern people who were going to Kansas in May, 1857. When he came to Kansas he first took up a homestead claim and then purchased a bakery at Tecumseh, Shawnee County, but died July 6, 1858, before he could get fairly settled in the new country. Seven children were born to and reared by Henri and Nancy Tortat: Henri Alexis, deceased; Mrs. Amelia Caroline BARRY, deceased; Mrs. J. C. Fox; Jean Paul, deceased; Augusta makes her home with Mrs. Home; William Marshall, Peabody, Mass.; Mary died at the home of Mrs. Fox. Six years after Mr. Tortat's demise, the mother and children removed to Atchison, where she died December 20 1864.

In his younger days Mr. Fox was a Republican, but later became a Democrat and was a strong Cleveland adherent. He was a supporter of President Theodore Roosevelt during his first administration,. He was a stanch supporter of Woodrow Wilson when Wilson was a candidate for the presidency, but was generally broad minded in his political views. He was a member of Washington lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Knights Templar, a Mystic Shriner and an Odd Fellow; he was reared in the Congregational church atmosphere, but after marriage chose to attend the Episcopalian church with his wife. His death occurred August 23, 1914, when a strong and noble character passed to the great beyond. Mr. Fox was blessed with a singularly happy temperament which manifested itself even on his bed of illness; he was with a kindly disposition, made him a prime favorite with his friends and acquaintances. He was a great reader, an expert accountant, possessed a strong memory and was a Shakespearean scholar, quoting from Shakespeare while lying on his couch awaiting the last summons, and also quoting the Twenty-first psalm on his last day on earth. He served the city as a member of the city council and was president of the school board for a term, being of material assistance in handling their financial affairs, because of his genius in this direction.

Taken From:

History of Atchison County, Kansas

by Sheffield Ingalls - 1916

Submitted by:

Clemi Higley Blackburn, September 2003