James M. Hecox (1863/07/20)

Hattie Hecox final words to her husband were "we will meet you bye and bye."

James Monroe Hecox, Jr was born on September 24, 1835, in St. Joseph, Michigan, to James and Ida Hecox. No information is available as to his formative years.

In 1852 the Hecox family boarded a covered wagon train bound for California. While traveling across the plains, James Sr. became ill and died, leaving his wife Ida and sons James and Oscar to continue to Santa Cruz. Shortly after their arrival, James, who was seventeen, began seeking work to support his mother and twelve-year-old brother. Lacking a profession or trade, he secured employment in the lumber industry and worked as a woodsman in the nearby redwood forest.

Early in 1861 Hecox, who was twenty-six, married a sixteen-year old Santa Cruz girl, Hattie T. At the time of his marriage he was physically described as being five feet 6 inches tall, with blue eyes and brown hair. The Santa Cruz Sentinel also noted "he was so quiet and reserved that the ordinary observer could learn little more of him than his personal appearance indicated."

James Hecox enlisted in Company L, 2nd California Cavalry, in September 1861. The recruits were assembled at a camp on the San Lorenzo River where they remained until September 27. They were then marched through Santa Cruz to the steamship Salinas and taken to San Francisco to be trained at Camp Alert. During the next nine months James was given a rudimentary military training course, which was frequently interrupted by the weather.

In late July 1862, Hecox and Company L left San Francisco for Fort Churchill, Nevada. While at that fort, he served as the company blacksmith. Captain Albert Brown, his commanding officer wrote that he was "a good soldier, patient, uncomplaining and always ready and reliable."

During 1862 the Paiute Indians began marauding activities in California's Owens Valley. In April 1863 Company L was sent to Camp Independence located on the eastern slope of the Sierra Mountains to track down the hostile Indians. Captain Brown's "boys" encountered a number of Paiute bands and after defeating them, chased the survivors into the Sierra Mountains.

It is believed that during a mounted patrol into the Sierra Mountains, James Hecox contracted Rocky Mountain spotted fever. After Company L was relieved, they returned to Fort Churchill where James' illness became more severe. By July 1 it was apparent that his medical condition was not improving at the fort and he was sent home on a sick furlough. His mother in a pension affidavit described Private Hecox's final days,
“He was sick when he came home and immediately took to his bed. Within one or two days Dr. Bailey, was called in to attend him, but could not stop or stay the disease, and my son grew worse, and died of sickness, and disease within about 12 days after his arriving home.”

James Hecox died on July 20, 1863. At his death his wife Hattie's final words to him were, "we will meet you bye and bye." On September 1, 1885, she fulfilled her promise.

(CMWR, Pg. 289; MAHL; NARA Pension Application Mrs. Ida Hecox Miller March 1892; SCSn August 16, 1863, SCSn November 12, 1972)

Creator: Nelson, Robert L.
Source: Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010.
Date: Undated
Type: OBIT
Coverage: 1860s
Rights: Reproduced by permission of Robert L. Nelson and The Museum of Art & History.
Identifier: RO-HECOX


Nelson, Robert L. “James M. Hecox (1863/07/20).” Remembering our own: the Santa Cruz County military roll of honor 1861-2010. Santa Cruz, CA: The Museum of Art & History, c2010. SCPL Local History. https://history.santacruzpl.org/omeka/items/show/4833. Accessed 20 Jan. 2022.