This week we bring you the story of Theodora Cox, a Millwood native and a life-long Va educator. Once again, quarantine restrictions made researching her life a tad difficult, so this is an incomplete study.
Theodora Cavalier Cox was born December 30, 1887 in Virginia to parents William H. Cox ( 1844 - 1912) and Margaret Nagle (1851-1930). She was the youngest of 3 girls.
Fun Fact: each census record places her parents' birth location in different states AND countries. William's death certificate lists him as having been born in New Jersey, and Margaret's death certificate lists her as having been born in Baltimore. Why the census records are so wild is unknown.
"U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012"; School Name: State Teachers College at Harrisonburg; Year: 1935
In keeping with the theme of murky beginnings, much of her early life is unknown, but we can make a few assumptions: William, her father owned and operated what is now the Locke Store from 1884 till his retirement in 1905, and the family lived across the street in Brookside (24 Tannery Lane, the house beside the Burwell-Morgan Mill). Typically speaking, families of general store owners, particularly in the late 19th century, tend to do very well, and are able to comfortably support their families (even ones with 3 girls). It is also possible they farmed in addition to running a store. At least one of the sons-in-law of William was a farmer in Millwood. We are not certain where Theodora and her sisters received their early education, but it is possible they attended one of the girl's schools in the area, or they attended a private school.
What we DO know with certainty is the middle part of Theodora's career. in 1950, the Fairfax High School yearbook lists Theodora as an English teacher, having received her B.S. degree from Madison College, and also having attended the University of Virginia. Jump back a few years, and we have her potentially graduating (or at least attending) the State Teachers College, Harrisonburg in 1935, presumably where she got her formal teaching degree. We do not know if she was teaching before this and went for further specialization, or if this is her initial teaching certificate. But it does appear she was what we would now call a "non-traditional" student. In 1935, Theodora was 58. Most women could expect to be much younger when they got their teaching degree.
However, as early as 1920 Theodora is listed as the Secretary for the Clarke County chapter of the VA State Teacher's Association, and in 1924 she wrote an account of the history of Boyce Agricultural High School for the University of Virginia Record.
We can chart a bit of her time at Fairfax High School thanks to yearbook listings:
1950 and 1951 - English Teacher
1952 - English and Latin Teacher
1955 and 1956 - Latin Teacher
At some point, she was also a teacher a Boyce Agricultural High School, but precisely when remains uncertain (this was the part that's hard to research remotely), and it's possible she taught elsewhere in the state. We do not know when her career began or ended.
When her father died in 1912, he left his estate to his three daughters - each got 1/3 of the property. We do not know the circumstances, but in 1948 Theodora was in control of the entire property, and was living at Brookside. She never married, and she lived there until her death (or just before her death) in 1977. She died in Winchester of natural causes.
Melanie is the current archivist for the Clarke County Historical Association, in Berryville, Virginia. She is a graduate from Shepherd University, where she earned a degree in History.