Newspaperman, author, and irrigation booster Samuel D. Cox had years of achievement behind him at the time of his sudden death on December 29, 1906. Raised in Humboldt, he graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1880 and worked on the Nebraska State Journal in Lincoln as a reporter and city editor.
In 1888 he and two others, H. M. Bushnell and Al G. Fairbrother, began publishing the Republican Daily Call in Lincoln. Vigorous and aggressive, it competed with some twenty-six other periodicals then in Lincoln. The Call was sold in 1894 due largely to the loss of business generated by the national financial panic of a year before.
Cox relocated from Lincoln to Minatare, Scotts Bluff County, in 1895. He had invested in water rights near there during his Lincoln years and in the irrigation plans which he hoped would make agriculture in western Nebraska profitable. He also hoped the climate would improve his declining health. Cox claimed a homestead near Minatare and established the Minatare Sentinel with himself as editor. His wide circle of friends in both eastern and western Nebraska “understood him to be on the road to a competency, if not wealth.” (Nebraska State Journal, December 30, 1906)
However, Cox’s bright future did not materialize. In the late afternoon of December 29, 1906, he was shot to death on a downtown Minatare street by hotelkeeper Ernest S. Kennison after a brief verbal exchange. Witnesses to the tragedy were not standing near enough to overhear what was said. It was thought, however, that the incident was provoked by a strong anti-liquor editorial which had appeared in the Sentinel shortly before.
In spite of his achievements, Cox was not long remembered after his untimely death. He was survived only by his elderly father, Dr. James G. Cox of Humboldt; two married sisters (one in Florida); and a wife, who did not long remain in Minatare. Cox’s name today is usually encountered on the book History of the City of Lincoln, Nebraska, which he wrote with A. B. Hayes (published 1889). Several copies are in the Library/Archives of the Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln.