Attilla Cox (1843 – 1909)

Note:  The wife of Attilla Cox, Kate Ware Martin was the great-granddaughter of Edmund Ware and Susannah Brasfield.

“ATTILLA COX, Sr. was one of Kentucky’s prominent financiers and business men. His success was achieved from comparatively humble beginnings, but for a number of years before his death his influence was counted one of the most powerful exercised by any individual in the state.

He was born in Ghent, Carroll County, Kentucky, August 16, 1843, a son of James P. and Felicia (O’Boussier) Cox.  His grandfather , Edward Cox, was a Virginian, a mill owner on the Rappahannock River, at one time had business associations with Thomas Jefferson, and acquired a large estate in Virginia.  James P. Cox was born in Orange County, Virginia, in 1818, and died at Ghent, Kentucky, in1856.  Luke O’Boussier, father of Felicia Cox, was born in Lusanne Switzerland, in 1781, and oncoming to the United States was identified with the Swiss colony at Vevay, Switzerland County, Indiana.  He acquired land on the opposite side of the Ohio River in Carroll County, Kentucky, and there laid out the Town of Ghent.

Attilla Cox was thirteen years of age when his father died, and after that had to depend largely upon his own resources.  He attended school at Ghent, also Ghent College, and after leaving home was a clerk at Louisville until eighteen.  In 1862 he and his brother Florian established the firm of F.&A. Cox, drygood merchants, at Warsaw, Gallatin County.  The business was subsequently removed to Owenton, Owen County, and as a merchant there Attilla Cox laid the foundation of his fortune.

His name first became known in state politics upon his election to the State Senate in 1879.  He was re-elected in 1882.  He ws a Kentucky delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in1884, and a member of the committee to tender the official nomination to Mr. Cleveland.  President Cleveland subsequently appointed Attilla Cox collector of internal revenue for the Louisville District.  He held that office during the four years of Cleveland’s first administration.  After leaving this office he organized the Mechanics Trust Company, later consolidated with Columbia Finance & Trust Company, and was president of the latter corporation until his death on Jul 7, 1909.  He was also a director of the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, the Ohio Falls Car Manufacturing Company and the Louisville Gas Company.  He was appointed receiver of August 7, 1892, and recognized the affairs of the Louisville, St. Louis & Texas Railroad, acting as receiver until 1896, when the road became the Louisville, Henderson & St. Louis Railway and he became its president, serving in that capacity until his death.

June 29, 1869, Attilla Cox married Miss Kare Ware Martin, who was born and reared in Owen County, Kentucky, daughter of Judge James B. Martin. They were the parents of three children.  Their only daughter , Katherine, who died in 1907, was the wife of C. Edwin Gheens.  The two sons are Leonard M. and Attilla Cox Jr.”

Source:  History of Kentucky, Judge Charles Kerr editor,Vol. 3, by William Elsey Connelley and E.M. Coulter Ph.D., The American Historical Society, Chicago and New York, 1922, page 378


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