Coxe House

Coxe was built around 1907 along Spruce Street between E. F. Smith and Rodney. George Nitzsche writes in 1918 that "COXE HOUSE was named in honor of the Coxe family for their many benefactions to the University and in appreciation of the gift of a large sum of money by Eckley Brinton Coxe, Jr., of the Class of 1893 College, towards an endowment fund to increase the salaries of professors. The house has accommodations for 47 students." (p. 68). Currently 57 students live in the building in a total of five different floors as do E.F. Smith and Rodney. The generous donor, Eckley Brinton Coxe, Jr., was the President of what was to become the Penn Museum with a keen interest in the archaeology of Egypt.

G.E. Nitzsche (1918) University of Pennsylvania. Its History, Traditions, Buildings and Memorials, Philadelphia.

Eckley Brinton Coxe, Jr. (1872-1916)

Not many men would, some sixty years after their death, be celebrated by a great research institution, but Eckley B. Coxe was to the University Museum, what on a more opulent scale, John D. Rockefeller was to the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. The Museum owes a great debt to Coxe, for it was the combination of himself and two extraordinary men, C.G. Harrison and G.B. Gordon, which fostered the first major period of the Museum’s growth (1910-1916). As President of the Museum Coxe was extraordinarily generous, and by 1916 was paying half of its operating expenses personally; but his letters reveal that he also took his administrative responsibilities seriously and that, while ‘he took some time to arrive at a decision’ it was always the ‘generous and just decision of a gentleman’ (C. C. Harrison in The Museum Journal, VII. 3, 1916, p. 141).

Coxe was born in 1872, descended from a prominent family which settled in the eastern United States in the 17th century and ultimately acquired extensive anthracite coal fields from which Coxe derived his wealth. Coxe always had a strong interest in Egypt and it was he, advised by Harrison and Gordon, who ensured that the Museum become a leader in Egyptological research. From 1905 Coxe paid for the salaries of MacIver, Woolley and, later, Fisher, for their expeditions and for the other costs of the Egyptian Section. He was not a dilettante. As Chairman of the Egyptian Section he expected, and received, detailed and frequent reports from the field, both from the ebullient MacIver(the work is now ‘fast and furious’; March, 1907) and the more restrained Fisher. Coxe himself, with Gordon, visited Buhen (caption 26, p.20) in 1910 and, with MacIver’s advice, undertook excavations there himself, while his letters home show a detailed understanding of the historical importance of the discoveries made there.

Coxe was a modest man, who quietly supported many charities and struck his contemporaries as ‘a fine gentleman (and) a noble and generous citizen’ to the Philadelphia community. He avoided public recognition, insisting that the Museum Rotunda, opened in 1915, be named for Harrison rather than himself. Not until the Coxe Wing opened in 1926 was a section of the Museum formally dedicated to his memory.

Coxe’s death in 1916 did not end, but rather ensured the Museum’s Egyptological research, for he left an endowment of $500,000 which was primarily for the Egyptian Section. Until the nineteen fifties all the expenses of that section—curatorial, professorial and other salaries, gallery and collection maintenance, large field expeditions and publications—were met by the income from the Coxe endowment. Today of course, inflation has restricted the income’s functions. Egyptian expeditions are funded largely by government and institutional grants and even salary and overhead expenses are no longer fully met by the income. Nevertheless, it is Coxe’s generosity which still maintains the essential core of the Egyptology program; and which challenges us to find further sources of endowment that will enable the Museum to maintain itself as a leader in Egyptological research and training, as Coxe intended.

Much scholarship has stemmed from Coxe’s informed generosity. We can fairly say of him, what the ancient Egyptians said of their learned scribes: ‘it has come to pass that their names will endure forever, although they are gone, having completed their lives, and although their offspring are forgotten… they made heirs for themselves of the writings and books of instruction which they made.’ [Papyrus Chester Beatty IV, trans. By W.K. Simpson.]

Adapted from: Expedition Magazine, 21, 2, winter 1979, p. 44.



William Coxe (1723-1801)


(Information on William Coxe comes from the Archives of the University of Pennsylvania. Click on Mr. Coxe's name to go directly to the archive website)

  • Trustee 1759-1771
  • Treasurer of the Board of Trustees 1768-1769


William Coxe's family connection to the University of Pennsylvania is unusually strong. William Coxe was the son of Colonel Daniel Coxe, Jr., the first Grand Master of Masons in the colonies, and the Quaker Sarah Eckley. In 1750 his brother John Coxe was one of the first donors to theAcademy of Philadelphia. Another brother, Daniel Coxe was the grandfather of John Redman Coxe, M.D. 1794 and professor in Penn's medical school.

William Coxe himself was a trustee of the Academy and College of Philadelphia from 1759 to 1771, serving as treasurer in 1768 and 1769.

William Coxe married Mary Francis, the daughter of Tench Francis, Penn founder and early Trustee. William and Mary Coxe had thirteen children, including Daniel Coxe, a student in the Academy 1752-1753; John D. Coxe, A.B. 1769 and Trustee 1806-1807; and James Coxe, A.B. 1790. Many of William Coxe's descendants attended Penn, including Eckley B. Coxe, Jr., A.B. 1893, President of the University Museum, 1910-1916.


Matriculates, Alumni Records for James Coxe (1771-1793) A.B. 1790 and John D. Coxe A.B. 1769



John Redman Coxe (1773-1864)

(Information on John Redman Coxe comes from the Archives of the University of Pennsylvania. Click on Dr. Coxe's name to go directly to the archive website)

  • M.D. 1794
  • Professor of Chemistry 1809-1818
  • Professor of Materia Medica and Pharmacy 1818-1835
  • Trustee 1802-1809
  • Physician
  • Medical educator
  • Writer

John Redman Coxe was born in Trenton, New Jersey, in 1773, the son of attorney Daniel Coxe and Sarah Redman. Because Daniel Coxe was an ardent Loyalist, who moved to New York in 1777 and then to England after the war, John Redman Coxe was raised in Philadelphia by his maternal grandfather, noted physician John Redman. Later, however, John Redman Coxe joined his parents in England and received a classical education in London and Edinburgh, including courses in anatomy and chemistry at London Hospital in 1789 and 1790. He then returned to Philadelphia to study under Dr. Benjamin Rush (including work in the 1793 yellow fever epidemic) and courses at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. After earning his M.D. in 1794, Coxe traveled to Europe again to continue his medical education in London, Edinburgh and Paris.

John Redman Coxe began his medical practice in Philadelphia in 1796, two years before he married Sara Cox, with whom he would have ten children. Coxe quickly became associated with various medical institutions in the city, serving as resident physician at Bush Hill Hospital in 1797, Philadelphia port physician in 1798, and physician at Pennsylvania Hospital and the Philadelphia Dispensary from 1802 to 1807.

Coxe actively promoted vaccination; as one of the first Philadelphia doctors to vaccinate, he vaccinated his infant son and himself in 1801 as encouragement for others to do the same. He had been one of the founders of the Chemical Society of Philadelphia in 1792 and was later elected a lecturer there and then president. Given Coxe's interest in chemistry, his lucrative medical practice included a drugstore; his "Coxe's Hive Syrup", used as an emetic, expectorant and diaphoretic, became a popular syrup for more than fifty years.

At the time of his 1809 appointment as the chair of chemistry in the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, Coxe gave up his drugstore and resigned from the Chemical Society. Not finding much success as a chemistry professor, Coxe applied for and was elected professor of materia medica and pharmacy in 1818. Coxe urged the University to offer a master of pharmacy diploma, but Philadelphia pharmacists preferred to avoid control by a medical faculty by establishing their own institution in 1821, the Philadelphia College of Apothecaries (later Philadelphia College of Pharmacy). The Penn medical faculty eventually found the subject of materia medica and pharmacy to be of secondary interest; they also had little respect for Coxe's abilities as a teacher. Thus, in 1835 Coxe lost his professorship at the University of Pennsylvania.

Coxe made more important contributions as a medical author and editor. The most significant of his many publications were Practical Observation on Vaccination, or Inoculation for the Cow-pock (1802) and the American Dispensatory (1806). Coxe edited several journals, including Philadelphia Medical Museum (1805-1811), Emporium of Arts and Sciences (1812-1814). Coxe was also considered an exceptional Greek and Latin scholar. His many intellectual endeavors earned him election to the American Philosophical Society in 1799. He served as Trustee of the University of Pennsylvania from 1806 until his appointment to the medical faculty in 1809. John Redman Coxe died March 22, 1864.


Henry Sidney Coxe (1798-1850)

(Information on Henry Sidney Coxe comes from the Archives of the University of Pennsylvania. Click on Mr. Coxe's name to go directly to the archive website)

  • A.B. 1815, A.M. 1818
  • A founder of the Philomathean Society
  • Head of the St. Louis branch of the Bank of the United States


Henry Sidney Coxe was born in Philadelphia to Tench and Rebecca Coxe in 1798. Tench Coxe, industrialist, land speculator, journalist, and Tory sympathizer, had briefly attended the College of Philadelphia in the early 1770's.

Henry Coxe entered the University of Pennsylvania in 1812. Here, on October 2, 1813, he was one of thirteen founding members of the Philomathean Society, Penn's first student organization.

After graduating he went on to become the head of the St. Louis branch of the Bank of the United States. He was married twice, first to Lucy Fitzhugh and then to Mary Berry. He died at his St. Louis home in January of 1850.


Coxe Family Mining Papers

Born in England in 1640, Daniel Coxe, the ancestor of the Coxe family in America, was a doctor and a land speculator. Dr. Coxe acquired a great deal of land in New Jersey, eventually becoming the governor of West Jersey, but he never visited his vast American holdings. He died in 1730 at the age of 90, bequeathing a legacy of land acquisition and development to succeeding generations of the Coxe family.

His son, Colonel Daniel Coxe, was born in London in 1673. Like his father, he was known as a prominent land developer. He was the first Coxe to make the journey to America, eventually settling in New Jersey in 1703.

By the time the Colonel’s grandson, Tench Coxe, was born in Philadelphia in 1755, the Coxe family name was well-established in America. Coxes owned thousands of acres of land, despite the fact that Tench’s father, William Coxe, did not share the passion for acquiring and developing new lands that his own father and grandfather had. But young Tench picked up the family trait and by the early nineteenth century, had purchased roughly 80,000 acres in what would become the Pennsylvania anthracite coal region. When he died in 1824, he passed on these lands to his family.

Charles Sydney Coxe, Tench's son, took control of the properties after his father’s death. A well-respected lawyer and judge in Philadelphia, Charles retained the coal lands despite a heavy tax burden and constant struggles against timber theives and squatters. Prior to his death Tench had insisted that they would bring handsome profits once developed. Like his father before him, Charles encouraged the next generation of Coxes to take an interest in the coal trade, and eventually his four sons and a nephew began mining operations on the lands of the prescient grandfather.

By the 1880s members of the Coxe family had founded mining companies and built numerous collieries and mining towns. The heirs of Tench Coxe reaped the benefits from these enterprises. Royalties on the coal vastly increased the family’s already considerable wealth and prominence. While Eckley and Alexander lived and worked in the coalfields, many of the other Coxes lived in style and elegance in Philadelphia. They had always married well and they continued intermarrying with other prominent Philadelphia families, including the Brintons, Fishers, Norris’ and Youngs.

After Henry B. Coxe's death in 1904, Alexander was left to run the business himself. By 1905 he was ready to retire and it was during this year that he sold the mining company interests to the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company, surrendering direct family control over mining operations.

During the years 1905-1968, the family continued to collect money from coal that was mined by various operators who leased their lands. The agents of the Estate of Tench Coxe collected royalties and distributed checks to each of the Coxe heirs. Alexander Brown Coxe, Henry B. Coxe, his son Henry B. Coxe, Jr., and Daniel M. Coxe all served as agents. The Coxe family regained direct control of its coal properties in 1950 after breaking its lease with Coxe Brothers & Company, Inc., which was wholly owned by the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company. The Coxe family began liquidating its property in 1962, largely due to the depressed condition of the anthracite coal industry. By 1968, the heirs had sold the last of their coal lands. The liquidation ended nearly 200 years of Coxe family involvement in the coal business.


Copyright 2001 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania




The Companies

The Coxe family’s connection to Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal industry reflects the foresight of statesman and family founder, Tench Coxe. Recognizing very early the significance of anthracite coal for the development of the new Republic, Coxe purchased nearly 80,000 acres of Pennsylvania land marked by anthracite outcroppings. He hoped his descendants would profit from the land when anthracite came of age, and indeed it was this purchase that would secure the Coxe family and all their future enterprises well into the twentieth century.

Tench Coxe himself died before the family’s anthracite holdings were put to use. But in January 1865, his grandchildren Eckley, Alex, Henry, Charles & Franklin leased the Drifton Property from their grandfather’s estate and formed Coxe Brothers and Company. Coxe Brothers succeeded beyond their expectations, opening new collieries in rapid succession. Other siblings and cousins soon joined the effort, forming a new company called the Cross Creek Coal Company in 1882. Cross Creek took over the Coxe Brother’s mining operations, and continued to process its coal at Coxe Brother’s collieries. .

Profits in anthracite mining depended in these early years on securing favorable shipping rates from the railroads. But because railroads also mined coal on their own lands, railroad owners generally charged inflated shipping fees to independent mining operations, forcing companies like Cross Creek to charge higher wholesale prices for their coal. Eckley Coxe attacked the power of the railroads by arguing successfully that their pricing practices violated the rules of the Interstate Commerce Commission. But, having “beat ‘em,” the Coxe family also decided to “join ‘em,” creating the Delaware, Susquehanna & Schuylkill Railroad in 1891, a move that ultimately assured their position as the largest indpendent anthracite producer in Pennsylvania.

The Coxe family continued to proliferate corporations and concerns in the region. Eckley B. Coxe, Jr., great grandson of Tench Coxe, and Ezra B. Ely were made partners in the Cross Creek firm in June 1893, just weeks prior to the organization of two more Coxe-owned companies. Coxe Brothers and Company, Inc., which was organized as a selling agency, had offices in Buffalo, New York, Chicago, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. Coxe Iron Manufacturing Company, incorporated the same day, took control of the machine shops that built and repaired mining and railroad equipment. In March 1900, the stock of both companies was transferred to the Cross Creek Coal Co., which adopted the name of Coxe Brothers & Company, Inc.

In 1905, the company was successfully wooed by the land-hungry Lehigh Valley Railroad. The family sold the capital stock of Coxe Brothers & Co., Inc. to the Railroad for $18.4 million, ending all family interests in the company. But the gigantic company was too big for the Interstate Commerce Commission to accept, and the Railroad was found in violation of Federal Anti-Trust Laws & the Commodities Clause of the Interstate Commerce Act. In 1923 the District Court of the United States assigned the full voting power of Coxe Brothers’ stock to a government trustee, who was ordered not to vote in any way that would “bring about a unity of interest [between the two companies] or suppression of competition.” This trusteeship would continue for twenty years, during which time Coxe Brothers & Co., Inc. would enter into a series of agreements and sub-leases on their land holdings. After a series of lawsuits between the Estate of Tench Coxe and Coxe Brothers over management of the property, both sides agreed on 27 July 1950 to cancel the 1904 lease, thus putting Coxe Brothers & Co., Inc. out of business and setting the stage for its formal dissolution.

Copyright 2001 The Historical Society of Pennsylvania