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Santa Cruz County History - People
Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson
HECOX, JAMES MONROE (1835-1863)
Santa Cruz Sentinel (July 25, 1863)
Another Volunteer Gone
The third of the Santa Cruz Volunteers in Capt. Brown's Company who have come home to die, was buried in Evergreen Cemetery on Wednesday.
James Hecox, a young man of irreproachable character, loved and respected by all who knew him. His funeral was attended by a large number of the military companies and the Sons of Temperance.
Santa Cruz Sentinel (August 16, 1863)
Letter From Captain Brown
A Letter dated Ruby Valley, August 3d has been received by a friend of Capt. Brown, who allows us to make the following extracts:
I have heard nothing of the death of James Hecox, except what you wrote. It is necessary for me to have official notice of it from the attending physician, in order that his friends or legal heirs may get what is due him from the Government. I believe the relatives of Asa Anthony never received his pay. It was with much surprise and sorrow that I heard of Hecox's death. He was a good soldier, patient, uncomplaining and always ready and reliable...
Santa Cruz Volunteers (Editorial)
The allusion to the death of James Hecox, made by Capt. Brown in the letter published in another column, reminds us of the remark made by us in our notice of the death of Mr. Hecox, that it is the fourth case of the kind that has occurred in his company. [Editor's note: The Sentinel is probably referring to Asa Anthony, Alexander Brown, and Ruel Kittridge] Among the people of Santa Cruz we sometimes hear this spoken of as unfortunate, but in mentioning the fact in the Sentinel we did not intend to censure Capt. Brown in the least. So far as we have heard, no aspersions have been cast upon the Captain in connection with Mr. Hecox's untimely death. It is possible that soldiers' life might be prolonged or saved in some cases by discharge from service at an earlier day than is sometimes allowed. But the regimental surgeon is the man to decide the matter, not the Captain of the Company. It is true the Captain has some influence in procuring dismissals, but in many cases he many not be fully aware of the physical condition of the men under him. When young men, not of vigorous constitution, join the army, the officers should be informed of the fact by the soldier or his friends. It is not alone by personal appearance of a man that we determine his powers of endurance; we must also be informed of the general tone of his health in order to judge correctly. Mr. Hecox was so quiet and reserved that an ordinary observer could learn little more of him than his personal appearance indicated. It requires a long and intimate acquaintance with such men to ascertain the natural strength of the constitution and capacity to endure hardship. Service as a soldier seldom leaves a man as it finds him. Especially is this true of young men. It brings on what may be called the crisis of life: if this period is safely passed, they generally find themselves in robust health, insured to hardships and with a long lease on existence. It often makes or breaks men physically and even close observers sometimes know not which it will be until death strikes or the danger is past.
Santa Cruz Sentinel (June 2, 1918)
Home Soldiers Dead
In Evergreen Cemetery are located the soldier graves of four of our young men who went forth to war immediately on the announcement being made that Fort Sumter had been fired on.
James M. Hecox, died July 20, 1864. Mr. Hecox still has cousins residing in the counties of Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara, his uncle, A.A. Hecox, having been an alcalde in Santa Cruz, then a justice and later an associate judge, and was the keeper of the local lighthouse at the time of his death.
Editorial Notes from Robert L. Nelson
James Hecox was born on September 24, 1835 in St. Joseph, Michigan. He was the son of James and Ida Hecox and the nephew of Adna Hecox, the lighthouse keeper and one of the founding fathers of Santa Cruz. In 1852 the Hecox family, which also included a brother Oscar, headed for California by wagon. Somewhere along the Platte River James Hecox Senior died. The family proceeded on to Santa Cruz where they settled. On February 26, 1854 Ida married Christopher Miller in Santa Cruz. The 1860 census describes James Hecox (jr.) born in Michigan, as being 24 years old, married, and a woodsman by occupation. His net worth was noted as being $400. Physical records at the time of his enlistment in the Union Army in 1861 describe him as being 26 years old, 5' 6" tall, with blue eyes and brown hair.
On September 11, 1861 James M Hecox was enrolled as a private in Company L of the 2nd California Cavalry. He was mustered into service on September 23, 1861 and died July 20, 1863 in Santa Cruz California. James and the new recruits initially camped on the east bank of the San Lorenzo River near River Street in Santa Cruz. The company was then sent to San Francisco aboard the steam ship "Salinas" which was provided by Davis and Jordan Company. Upon arrival in San Francisco they proceeded to Camp Alert near Mission Dolores where they were equipped and trained. In March of 1862 according to a 1900 interview with Company L commander Albert Brown.
"The company was ordered to Salt Lake, but on the way quite a number of the Santa Cruzan's became disappointed at not having been ordered East and left the company. They first went to Fort Churchill, where Major McDermott was in command. At that time the Piutes were troublesome. They were in Owens River Valley, Nevada. Captain Brown was ordered to pursue the Indians. With his company known as Co. L, he started after the Piutes. They destroyed their food which had been cached. They chased the Indians to the mountains. Orders were given not to pursue them further without a guide. As no guide could be found the company, regardless of orders continued the chase anyhow. They followed the Indians who soon surrendered. There were about 1,200 of them, almost reduced to skeletons, for their only subsistence was grass."
In May 1863 James was performing duties as a blacksmith at the companies post at Fort Churchill, Nevada Territory. As a private, James Hecox was paid $13.00 a month. His records state that at one time he was charged .48 cents for a canteen and strap, while at another time he was charged .61 cents for ordinance and a picket rope, (which he paid for from the $13.00 a month pay). The Unit [Company L of the 2nd Cavalry] was then assigned to duty on the Owens River in Inyo County. While there, James Hecox contacted Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, transmitted by ticks. He remained ill for several months while at the camp. On July 1, 1863 Hecox returned home to Santa Cruz on sickness furlough. He died on July 20, 1863.
In a General Affidavit for US veteran pension application filed in March of 1892, Ida Hecox Miller stated:
That she is the mother of said James Hecox who at the time of his enlistment in 1861, was a sound healthy young man, in good health and free from any disease or ailment. That he was taken sick while in the service with what afficient understood was called "mountain fever" or "brain fever". That by reason of such sickness, he was granted a "sick furlough" and came home, as near as afficient can now remember, about the first of July 1863. He was sick when he came home and immediately took to his bed and within one or two days Dr. Baley or Bailey, was called in to attend him, but could not stop or stay the disease, and son of (illegible) grew worse, and died of sickness, and disease within about 12 days after his arriving home on furlough. The date of his death was July 20, 1863. Afficiant knows, from what her said son told her, that he was very sick for some time before he came home. That his sickness commenced some five or six months before his death. Afficiant well remembers that said son told her that he was sick in his quarters, either company or regimental and was under a nurse whose name was Mrs. Fowl. That Dr. Bailey who treated on his return home and until his death is dead, therefore afficiant cannot furnish medical evidence showing date and cause of death. That widow of said doctor is yet living and is knowing to the death of said soldier as above set forth. Afficiant further says that she had made inquiry of said DR's widow and find that Dr. Bailey left no record of said soldiers sickness and death so far as can be discovered.
Hecox's mother's request was granted for the amount of $12.00 a month until she died in 1909. Her pension was only a dollar less then his monthly payment at the time of service. A flag was purchased for him by Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Hynes of Palo Alto. They also purchased a pole. The flag was first flown May 27, 1975.
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