Newspaper Article from March, 1942


The following is an article printed in the Austin American in March of 1942. ****************************************************************

Every Day Is Circus Day at Coxville Gardens Near City Where Proprietor Has Everything From Rocks to Monkeys on Display


SHAMROCK FROM TEXAS is the centerpiece In Mrs. W. J. Cox' Coxville Gardens. If you look closely, you can see the clover leaf-shaped center in the rock above the middle of the fish pond. Mrs. Cox' curious assortment of rocks are pictured scattered about.

... Rocks From All 48 States

By The Austin American Staff

Every day is circus day at the Coxville rock gardens, filling station, zoo, grocery store, alligator farm, kennel, meat market, auto appliances, curio shop, soda water and Ice cream stand.

Everything is for sale except the little monkey that sits on your arm.

Mrs. M. J. Cox, a little grey-haired lady who started the whole thing because her little adopted daughter saw a rock that looked like a kitten, just turned down $100 for the little monkey.

"I wouldn't sell him for anything," she said. "The children like to play with him because he's gentle."

She meant the children of people who come into the filling station-her daughter died in 1937.

Coxville Gardens are located eight miles north of Austin on the Dallas highway. They were started in 1936 with a rock that looked like a kitten, and now consist of driveways and walks lined with odd-looking rock, from every state in the union and five foreign countries.

Most Is Given

Mrs. Cox buys allot of the rock, but most of it is given to her, she said. The rocks from the various states were given to her by people who stopped at the filling station and remembered to send something back when they got home.

She has one rock from Belgium, given her by a little boy who brought his collection of rocks with him when his family fled from nazi invasion. Others are from France, Germany, Great Britain and Puerto Rico. A school teacher In Puerto Rico, who had attended the University of Texas, sent in. the Puerto Rican Item.

Prize Collection

Mrs. Cox' prize collection is a shamrock, plowed up by a negro named Peter Organ, who donated it to the garden. In the center of the garden, which is rapidly spreading out in all directions, is a sort of panorama of civilization depicted in miniature. This was started in 1936 and had been intended to symbolize Texas centennial celebration.

Houses, barns, churches, railway stations involved in this miniature civilization were modeled by Mrs. Cox out of concrete.

Made In a rough cone-shape about 15 feet across at the base, the Coxville version of Texas civilization begins, and ends in violence. The beginning shows toy pioneers battling Indians, and the end, which is the present day, presumably, depicts man's one-sided conflict with motorized transportation-a miniature automobile smashed into the side of a miniature mountain. The circular story in toys goes from a covered wagon to an electric, stream-lined train.

Sole protection of the collection is a little sign stuck in the dirt which says, "Thou Shalt Not Steal."

Collection Varies

Mrs. Cox' collection of rocks varies from petrified trees to chunks of shale which have fallen apart in the form of animals. Clearly identified are rabbits, giraffes, ducks, cows. Three large boulders look like three bears and two others, placed nose to nose, are referred to by Mrs. Cox as the gingham dog and the calico cat. She says her most appreciative visitors are children.

Wednesday, however, the children visiting the gardens had forsaken the gingham dog and the calico cat for the more noisy and alive collection of animals on the other side of the filling station, which stands as a bizarre reminder of modern day, between the eerie collection of rocks and the zoo.

The zoo contains two alligators, two bobcats, four foxes, four monkeys, two squirrels, four pheasant, a raccoon, two crows (one of which barks like a dog), 17 pekingese dogs and four more of questionable heritage, four rabbits, a garrulous parrott, a guinea pig, assorted cats and innumerable white mice.

The zoo was started with the foxes last year. Mrs. Cox said a man came by and gave them to her. She said then she decided to collect animals.

Mrs. Cox breeds the pekes for sale to people who want pekes, and the off-breeds for sale to people who want a gentle pet for children. The off-breeds, she said, are part peke and part rat terrier. "They also make good watch dogs," she said.

Neither Are Disturbed

The crows and the pheasants live next door to the dogs. Neither seemed to be disturbed by the great barking and clamoring the dogs put up for the benefit of the visitors. One of the crows, however, a sad-looking creature who looks like he just came from a chamber door, has been irritated to the point where he thinks he is a dog and barks right along with the legitimate creatures.

The rest of the collection lives in separate cages. All except the little monkey, who is about 10 inches tall, who sits on a bench in front of the filling station. He is the center of attraction, with his sad, moronic expression, and is gentle enough, Mrs. Cox said, to be handled by children. One woman, however, posing for a picture with the monkey, kept him at a safe distance

Next to the little monkey in friendliness is the 'coon, who races around in his cage making queer choking noises, obviously to attract sympathy.

The foxes were sophisticated; they sat in their cages and stared with blase eyes.

The bobcats had retired, and wouldn't come out; the alligators were out, but asleep in the sun, and showed no interest in anything.

The white mice were hiding in shredded newspaper, but Mrs. Cox was positive they were there. She said that she sold one to a man last week, who came in to "buy a little surprise for the wife." Mrs. Cox said she'd wager the wife was surprised.

Mrs. Cox has just started on her curio shop and doesn't have it completely stocked yet, but it already has a collection of numerous items such as Mexican spurs, decorated stirrups, fancy lariats, braided bridles, rattlesnake skins, pottery, potted plants.

Also, there's a collection of cactus being started, although Mrs. Cox said she doesn't take much interest in that project. It was started just to decorate the rock garden.

Mrs. Cox said she just "fools" with her project in her "spare time." The rest of the time she works in the grocery and meat market, ice cream and soda water stand part of the filling station, which also sells auto appliances, cigars, cigarettes, chewing gum and candy.

She has never charged any admission to see the collection, but recently she set up a bottle into which anybody who cares to can place donations.

"I guess," she said, "that you might call me a jack-of-all-trades--and good at none of them."


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