Jacob Cox was born in Burlington, New Jersey, the first of ten children born to a Quaker couple. His parents died in separate ferry accidents in Delaware; his mother when he was eight and his father two years later. He was raised primarily by his grandfather and an aunt in Washington, Pennsylvania. Cox was already interested in art at an early age and did charcoal sketches on whatever available canvas he could find. These were usually wooden boxes, but occasionally he used the fence or barn at his grandfather’s farm. Punishments for these latter transgressions possibly discouraged him from seeking a career in art from the beginning, because at the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to a tinsmith. In 1830 he set out with his younger brother Charles to establish a tinsmith shop in Pittsburgh. There Jacob Cox met and courted Nancy Baird. Not long after they married in 1832, Jacob and Charles set off on foot for Indianapolis, having decided to move their business there. Nancy arrived about a week after they did on a “conveyance”, according to historian J.P. Dunn. She brought a supply of tinware and hardware with which the brothers set up a shop on the south side of Washington Street.