Cox, Samuel L.
Diary of Baptist Minister, the Rev. Samuel L. Cox, kept while a student attending the University at Lewisburg, forerunner of Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and at Madison University, forerunner of Colgate University, Hamilton, New York, 1856-1857

small quarto, 131 manuscript pages, bound in contemporary ¼ leather, marbled paper covered boards, spine chipped away, reinforced with clear adhesive tape, boards worn and scuffed at corners and edges, entries dated 25 April 1856 to 15 April 1857.

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Rev. Samuel Lewis Cox (1835-1902)

 Rev. Samuel L. Cox was the son of the Rev. Charles Cox, Sr. (1798-1871) and his wife Rosetta Cox (1800-1866). The Rev. Charles Cox was born in England and died at Middlesex County, New Jersey. He is buried with his wife and three of his children at Cherryville Mountview Cemetery, at Flemington, Hunterdon County, New Jersey. The Rev. Charles Cox, Sr. was a Baptist minister

Samuel had a brother, the Rev. Charles Cox, Jr. (1820-1848) and two sisters, Rosetta Cox Bennett (1822-1848) and Annie M. Cox Trimmer (1831-1871). The Rev. Samuel L. Cox was born on 9 December 1835.

Samuel attended the University at Lewisburg and Madison University, and perhaps elsewhere as well. Samuel appears to have been ordained at Wertsville, New Jersey in 1857. He was in active ministry for over forty-four years.  In a history of the Baptists in New Jersey, he is found at the following New Jersey stations: 1858-1860 Wertsville; 1866 at Manasquan; 1868 Oxford;1869-71 Samptown; 1873-74 Lyons Farms; 1876-78 Marlboro; 1881-82 Cedarville; 1882-85 Allentown; 1885-87 Upper Freehold; 1887 Eatontown; 1888-90 Mt. Olive; 1898 again at Oxford. Besides these appointments in New Jersey, he also served at Brookfield, Missouri; Bloomfield, Iowa; and Huntington and Port Jefferson, New York.

             Samuel L. Cox matriculated at the University at Lewisburg, but did not finish the course, having transferred to Madison University. His diary places him at the University at Lewisburg as early as April of 1856. Founded in 1846 as the University at Lewisburg, it eventually became Bucknell University and traces its origins to a group of Baptists from White Deer Valley Baptist Church who deemed it “desirable that a Literary Institution should be established in Central Pennsylvania, embracing a High School for male pupils, another for females, a College and also a Theological Institution.” Money was raised and a charter was granted, opening as the “Academical and Primary Department of the University at Lewisburg.” The Female Institute was opened in 1852. The first commencement was held in 1851 for a graduation class of seven men. President James Buchanan was a one-time member of the board of trustees. When the school faced dire financial times in 1881, they reached out to William Bucknell, a charter member of the board of trustees for help. He replied with a $50,000 donation and the board unanimously voted to change the schools name to Bucknell University.

          One of Cox’s entries mentions an offer by textile manufacturer John Price Crozer to move the school to Delaware County, Pennsylvania, where he lived:

“Friday 16th – The subject of the expediency of removing this institution to the eastern part of the state was discussed this afternoon in the two college literary societies. Think myself it would be well to have it taken from this place for it rather appears to my mind that it will not flourish here very much for one while, and perhaps never. Mr. J. R. Crozer of Delaware County has proposed to the Trustees &c. that if they would move it to his place he would give 50 thousand dollars towards its erection. Pretty liberal that...”

           The school remained at Lewisburg. As for Crozer, after his death, his family converted the old Normal School at Upland, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, into the Crozer Theological Seminary in his honor. The most famous student of Crozer was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who graduated there in 1951.

          Other entries show Cox’s loneliness at seminary school:

            “Friday 9th – My heart was quite rejoiced today by the return of my roommate, Bro. Fish. Bro. McNair also returned today. It seemed good to hold our evening devotion together this evening. That is, Chum and myself. Have today been earnestly entreating my heavenly Father to preserve me from temptation.”

          Cox does not specify what was tempting him, but it did coincide with the arrival of his roommate. On July 8th, 1856, he feels a “spiritual coldness” has set in at the university:

             “Tuesday, July 8th...We have now begun our reviews in all my studies. Very little in attendance at our prayer meeting this afternoon. It is to be greatly lamented I fear that there exists at this time a great spiritual coldness in the College. O that we might be quickened to diligence!”

          On July 11th, 1856, Cox writes that he would like to leave Lewisburg and go to Hamilton, New York (Madison University, the forerunner of Colgate):

“Friday, 11th...Have received...very good news from home. Father has received and is going to accept a unanimous call from the Second Church Salem, N.J. On some accounts I do not greatly like this university in every respect and having a desire to go to some other institution, I wrote home some time since that I should love to go to Hamilton. Father has now sent me word that I shall go there and that too this coming fall.”

          After a little while longer at Lewisburg, he goes home to Hilltown, Pennsylvania, where his father, a minister, is preparing to move to his new assignment at Salem, New Jersey. They move to New Jersey and while the family settles in, Cox goes on short trips visiting family and friends and traveling to Quakertown, Elizabeth, Trenton, Philadelphia, etc., before starting school again at Madison University. On 3 November 1856, Cox begins attending Madison University (later known as Colgate University) at Hamilton, New York. He was part of the sophomore class of about twenty five students. The diary ends while he is a student at Madison.

          Samuel L. Cox married first Sarah Roland and together they had three children: Charles Newtown Cox, M.D.; Francis Wayland Cox; and Joseph Cox. He married second Mariana Bolan (1848-1925), of Athens, New York, by whom he had Thomas Lewis Cox; William Morell Cox; Ida Louetta Cox; George Kingsley Cox; Samuel Hillman Cox; and Harris Norton Cox.

           Samuel L. Cox died on 25 December 1902. He and his second wife were buried at Old Brick Reformed Church Cemetery, Marlboro, Monmouth County, New Jersey.  Both his father and his brother were also Baptist ministers.

The diary helps to give insight into the early years of the institutions that became Bucknell and Colgate Universities, from a student’s viewpoint. The daily activities, student life etc. The diary also shows that Cox was already preaching from time to time when the diary begins in 1856.