Photo: Cox Family 2014 -front row, from left, Marcus Cox, Peggy Cox, Jennie Cox, Cam Cox; back row, from left, Travis Cox, Campbell Cox Sr., Thomas Cox.
The Nacogdoches County Agribusiness Committee has named the Peggy & Campbell Cox, Sr. Family the 2014 Farm Family of the Year.
In the 1800s the Cox family moved to Nacogdoches County, and have been involved in agriculture ever since. Campbell Cox was raised working on the farm, and now heads the family’s cow/ calf operation on the Big 4 Ranch seven miles east of town. He and his wife, Peggy, have raised two sons, Campbell Jr. -- known as Cam - and Marcus. The operation is seen as a "model farm" by many in the ag community.
Campbell stresses that it has been a team effort with his family, numerous good cowboys, and fence builders. The family appreciates Rita Murdock, who was the manager of Campbell's tire business. Her work at the store allowed Campbell to tend to things at the farm.
Peggy played a big role by being flexible when Campbell asked her to bring a meal to the farm or put dinner on hold until he got back late at night from working. She also helped numerous times by following Campbell when he drove the tractors to the farm. She was very active along with her mother in the Flora Garden Club. The club kept up the park across the street from the Fredonia, and had several projects to help beautify Nacogdoches over the years.
Campbell also credits Joe Daniel, who headed up the Nacogdoches County Soil & Water Conservation District for several years. "Joe provided valuable advice and information throughout the years," Campbell recalled.
Another rancher once told Joe that he didn’t understand why Campbell’s operation was so much better than his. Joe replied, “It’s because Campbell listens to me and you don’t.”
George Wages, who served as Nacogdoches County Agent in the mid-1970s, agrees. "Campbell has always been very innovative. If something looked good, he would research and try it. He would try different feeds, rotation on pastures, grasses on hayfield. He always uses good equipment - tractors, bailers and cutters. He keeps it in good shape and goes for the quality stuff."
While Cam and Marcus have pursued careers outside of agriculture as adults, "we were very involved as kids helping out," recalled Cam. "We hauled hay, mowed fields, repaired fences, fed the cows and sprayed weeds. Marcus is planting trees to replace the ones that died due to the droughts. In addition, he has planted numerous fruit trees on the farm." The brothers also have about 24 acres in plantation pines.
Campbell’s grandparents operated a farm south of town. In 1939 his father, Navarro Cox, went in with three other businessmen to purchase 880 acres which they named “The Big 4." Over the years Navarro bought out the interest of the others. As a young boy, Campbell helped out working on a two man hay bailer, planting corn (one kernel at a time using only a stick to poke holes in the ground), and riding cotton wagons to the Simpson Cotton Gin on Highway 21. He also helped with a neighborhood “Victory Garden” near the Old University Building during World War II.
While in high school, Campbell was a member of FFA. He married the FFA Sweetheart, Peggy Green. She continues to be his sweetheart after more than 57 years of marriage. Peggy’s father, Dr. J.C. Green, taught Agriculture at Stephen F. Austin from 1947 until 1977, and served as the Department Chair for numerous years. We have Dr. Green to thank for the SFA Duck Pond. Several decades ago, the pond was used for the dairy cows raised by SFA Ag students. When SFA moved the dairy farm, one proposal was to fill in the pond and put a building on its location. Dr. Green led the efforts to keep the pond as a gathering point for the students to enjoy.
In 1962 Campbell bought another farm on Highway 21 near his father’s. He bred registered Angus until one day when a friend showed him at a sale barn that Brangus calves brought $100 more per head. Ever since then he’s had a commercial Brangus cow/ calf operation. He also sold bulls to other breeders over the years. His ranch records include a count for the number of feral hogs that he’s shot. He’s now over 360.
Campbell has enjoyed hosting numerous educational events at his farm for SFA ag students, high school FFA students, and other ranchers. Many students have participated in judging contests for grass, clover, soil, hay, and timber at his farm. Campbell says this is where the “rubber meets the road” when it comes to agricultural education.
When he’s not tending to his cows Campbell stays busy with other community groups. He served on the boards of Blood Center of East Texas, the Nacogdoches County Convention and Visitors Bureau, The East Texas Plant Materials Center, the airport, and as Chairman of the Nacogdoches County Soil & Water Conservation District as they developed Lake Naconiche. He has served as president of the Greater East Texas Angus Association and the Nacogdoches Booster Club. He is a member of the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association, a Paul Harris Fellow in Rotary, and a lifelong member of the First Methodist Church.
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About the Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet
The 14th annual Nacogdoches County Agriculture Appreciation and Awareness Banquet is Monday, March 31 at the Nacogdoches County Exposition & Civic Center . A social hour begins at 6 p.m., and the program starts at 7 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.
Keynote speaker is Leroy Shafer, Chief Operating Officer, Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.
Four awards will be presented:
• Farm Family of the Year: Peggy & Campbell Cox, Sr. Family (Sponsor: Tipton Ford);
• Agriculture Pioneer: Stanley Jones – Belle Brook Farms (Sponsor: Heritage Land Bank);
• Agribusiness of the Year: EasTex Vet Clinic – James A. Weatherly, DVM
(Sponsor: First Bank & Trust East Texas);
• Ag Educator of the Year: Ted Thompson - Ag. Teacher, Central Heights HS
(Sponsor: Citizens 1st Bank).
Banquet tickets are $28 each or $300 per table of eight and are available now at the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, 2516 North St., or call 936-560-5533, or go to www.nacogdoches.org.
The Nacogdoches Agribusiness committee consists of representatives from Nacogdoches County Farm Bureau, Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce, Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau, Nacogdoches Economic Development Corp., Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Cooperative Extension Program, Pineywoods RC&D, Stephen F. Austin State University - Agriculture Department and the Texas Forest Service.
The group has organized farm tours of the county for media and business representatives on Friday, April 4. Contact Jamie Sugg at 560-7711 for tour information.