DOINews: DOI Museum: Picture This

Last edited 09/05/2019

Scott Denman, standing beside a portrait of his great,great grandfather, Secretary of the Interior Jacob D. Cox
Scott Denman stands beside a portrait of his great, great grandfather Secretary of the Interior Jacob D. Cox while holding a prop provided by DOI Museum registrar Jason Jurgena. Photo by DOI.

As Scott Denman prepared for his trip from Maine to the U.S. Department of the Interior headquarters in Washington, D.C., he received enthusiastic help from the Interior Museum and Interior Library employees in researching his great, great grandfather Secretary of the Interior Jacob D. Cox. A prominent Union Army general during the Civil War and former governor of Ohio, Cox served under President Ulysses S. Grant at Interior from 1869-1870.

Then, when Denman arrived at the main Interior building on Nov. 12, Interior Museum curator Tracy Baetz noticed a similarity in appearance between him and Cox.

She took this whimsical photo of the duo in the corridor where all the portraits of past Secretaries are displayed, repurposing props that the Museum's staff members had created for their own award-winning costumes as part of Interior's recent Halloween costume contest.

"You never know what a day will bring at the Interior Museum, Baetz said. "We were happy to introduce Mr. Denman to the official Secretarial portrait of his ancestor -- do you see any family resemblance?"

Several observers did. Besides sharing Cox's bearded appearance, Denman, a longtime leading voice for conservation and renewable energy, is fascinated by how America's public lands have been central characters in both his career and that of his ancestor. “I learned that my great, great grandfather was, for the 19th century, relatively progressive on some issues," he said. "So I figure that I inherited that gene with a 21st century twist. Thanks so much to the Library and Museum professionals -- especially Tracy Baetz -- who pointed me to resources about our family ancestor Secretary Cox online and in other museums, libraries, and institutions, such as Oberlin College. What great knowledge and hospitality at the Interior Department!”

By: Joan Moody, senior public affairs specialist, Secretary's Office of Communications, DOI

Nov. 19, 2014

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