City Bosses in the United States: A Study of Twenty Municipal Bosses

By Harold B. Zink | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
"OLD BOY" GEORGE B. COX

In 1925 Cincinnati made a revolt against its boss and adopted the city manager form of government. While on this particular occasion the late Rud Hynicka happened to be the martyr, such revolts always call to mind the founder of the Cincinnati dynasty, George Barnesdale Cox, who dominated the city and Hamilton County for more than twenty-five years and successfully weathered three or four similar political storms.

Mr. Cox was born on Carlisle Avenue in Cincinnati, April 29, 1853. His father had emigrated from England in 1847, spent the remaining years of his life in Cincinnati as a none too prosperous laborer, and finally died in 1861, leaving a family which included a wife, two girls, and one boy in addition to George. Mr. Cox said of his father, "He was a very pious man, but he died when I was only eight years old without leaving a dollar. I had to leave school and help support my mother."1 Mrs. Cox died in Cincinnati in 1912.

Young George spent some time prior to his ninth year in elementary school and then went to work selling newspapers to help out at home "because it was," as he said, "the only work I was fitted for."2 From newsboy he advanced to errand boy, boot-black, and finally at the age of twenty to butcher boy for Ross Fenton at a weekly wage of five dollars. After driving a vegetable wagon from door to door for a time, he operated a delivery wagon for Pogue's Dry Goods Emporium, and then accepted a job as a tobacco peddler. A brother-in-law, Tom Mead, later employed George Cox as a

____________________
1
Cincinnati Post, May 20, 1916, p. 1. See also New York Times, May 21, 1916, sec. 7, 3:1. The author is indebted to the municipal reference bureau of the University of Cincinnati for information relative to the parentage of Mr. Cox.
2
Cincinnati Post, May 20, 1916, p. 1.

-257-

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