Manti  was settled by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, in 1849 as part of their larger colonization of much of the Intermountain West. Although the town was surveyed in 1850, tension between the newcomers and the native Utahns, the Sanpitch (Shoshone) Indians, confined most families to the protective forts which were constructed in the town during the first decade of settlement. A large fort, enclosing nine city blocks was completed in 1854 and several families began building private residences within its stone walls. Orville Southerland Cox, one of the members of the first company to reach Manti, began hauling oolite limestone from the nearby quarry in 1858 for his two-story home.
Orville S. Cox was born in 1815 in Plymouth, New York. A blacksmith by trade, Cox followed the westward moving frontier, landing by 1837 in the Mormon settlement near Lima, Illinois. Here he met and married a Mormon girl, Elvira P. Mills. In 1839, the young couple visited Nauvoo, where Orville was converted and baptized by the Mormon prophet, Joseph Smith. After the martyrdom of Smith and the expulsion of the Saints from Illinois, the Coxes followed the general exodus to Utah in 1847. Orville served two years as the presiding bishop of Bountiful, a town several miles north of Salt Lake City, before being sent in the pioneer party to Sanpete County in 1849. In the new community of Manti, Cox was primarily engaged as a blacksmith and lumber dealer as well as serving as counselor to Bishop John Lowery, Sr. By 1860, Orville Cox had entered into Mormon sanctioned polygamy and had three families. In 1861-1862, he moved his first wife, Elvira Mills, to the town of Fairview, Sanpete County. In 1864, Cox moved with his two other wives, Mary Allen and Eliza J. Losee, to the LDS settlement on the Big Muddy, in Nevada. In later years, the Coxes also participated in the cooperative, Utopian experiment at Orderville. Orville S. Cox died in 1888 at Fairview.