The Fox-trot is basically from the Two-step, however it is done with a broken instead of an even beat (Basically Slow-Slow-Quick-Quick.) The Fox-trot was 'supposedly invented' by Harry Fox, (most logical story) who was a vaudeville performer in (June) of 1914. Mr. Fox did a fast but simple trotting step to ragtime music in a hit musical show of that year at the New York Theatre (aka: Jardin de Danse) for Ziegfeld's (1869-1932) - "Danse De Follies Cabaret." A critic reported that "Mr. Fox, very rollickingly dances with a tendency to put everyone in good humor." Harry Fox married Yansci Dolly of the Dolly Sisters.
On September 3rd, 1914, the "American Society of Professors of Dancing" had already set in motion, standardizing the steps of the Fox-
trot. Oscar Duryea (an established Dancer/teacher) was hired to introduce the dance to the public. Duryea modified Fox's dance, as the trotting could not be kept up for long periods without tiring out the dancers, so the trot was replaced by a glide or "Saunter." This "new Foxtrot" was an instant hit and has remained a stable part in anyone's dancing syllabus ever since.
Supposedly, the first written mention of the Fox Trot was in the New York Times newspaper advertisement from M.B. Wilson Studios advertising lessons on dance including the Fox-trot (Arthur Murray worked here during that time as a teacher). In 1914, a piece of sheet music was created with the title "Original Foxtrot" by Jack Mcenness and Dorothy Hunter. The Reuben Fox-trot was introduced by Miss Sonia Baraban and Charles C. Grohs, another was the Kangaroo Hop which was listed as a Fox Trot and Uriel Davy's created the Davy's Foxtrot as well, all these in 1914. However, there is sheet music dating before these times stating the words "Fox-Trot" such as "The Oriental Foxtrot" (1905) and the "The Get Together" (1908). However, they are probably re-prints as the most commonly believed date is 1914 and Fox as the creator.
In another story by Noble Sissle (1889-1975), Sissle states that: 'It was reported that the Castles originated the Fox-Trot from James Reese Europe's (1881-1919) version of W.C. Handy's (1873-1958) Memphis Blues (1912), but Sissle says the Castle's reportedly called it the Bunny Hug! ... But the castle's were vehemently against the animal dances of the ragtime era, which included the Bunny Hug. How Fox's name got to it is very unclear, however the original version had Castle similarities' (could be Fox was there and stole the dance?). Some European historians claim it was the Castle's "Castle Walk" dance that was really the Foxtrot (not true ... see Castle Walk.) In 1908, Tom Walton introduced a dance called the Boston Two-step which may or may not be related to the Foxtrot. By 1915 the Foxtrot had become the most successful dance of the day.
There was even confusion back in the day on it's creator and most of the people were still popular and alive at the time. As an example, in his book "Dancing Made Easy" in 1922 by Charles Coll, he states that:
"While I have heard many versions of its origin, have listened to many of its self-styled originators, I have credited Captain Vernon Castle (1887-1919) as its originator and preceptor. The story has it that on one of his quests for innovations his attention was called to a certain exclusive colored club. At the time he attended, the members were dancing the Fox Trot, even at that time so-called, and he became enthusiastic over it and determined to bring it out for a little fun for a few. Hardly realizing that the dance was to win for itself a high place in the favor of the many. But this fox that Mr. Castle cornered was a mighty wild one indeed. The writer confesses to being one who predicted its early demise. It was one continuous romp from beginning to end and he felt that it would hardly survive a hard summer and be." As you can see, this was one dance, like the Lindy hop that everyone wanted to lay claim.
In 10/23/1915 the Oakland Tribune had an article based on "Mathematics are changing dance" and listed the Foxtrot and Waltz as being officially changed by the Dance Masters of the day. But whoever invented the Fox-Trot, the Fox Trot was the dance that changed the dancing world for which we know it today, for without the fox-trot the music and dances which followed might be totally different today. The fast Fox-Trot (originally a One Step) is called the Quickstep today. The fashion world also came aboard with Ladies Foxtrot Suits, Hats, and Coats which really depicted the style of the day.
As a side note... Arthur Murray started his road to fame and fortune by printing the basic step of the Foxtrot and selling them for 10 cents each through the mail. It was the first time anyone had printed dance steps and sold them mail-order. Also ... in 1912 there was a dance called the Fox Dance (7/21/1912 Oakland Tribune).