Monday, December 15, 2014

Vaneverie Bascom Cozby (1875-1949)

Dr. V.B. Cozby, from the May 2, 1963 Grand Saline Sun.

    Today marks a return to Texas to highlight the life of yet another strangely named Lone Star state public official, and I think you'll agree that he possesses one of the oddest names I've come across in quite a while.....Vaneverie Bascom Cozby! A resident of the city of Grand Saline, Mr. Cozby's placement here on the site rests on his near three decade tenure as mayor of Grand Saline, a lengthy term of office that brings to mind another long-serving Texas mayor that was profiled recently, one Uncas Norvell Clary of the town of Prosper. 
   A veteran of World War I as well as a practicing physician, Cozby served as Mayor of Grand Saline from 1919-1947. Despite his prominent status in Grand Saline, very little exists online in regards to Cozby's life, and this article would not have been possible had it not been for the help of Sibyl Creasey and the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society! A few weeks ago I sent an e-mail to Sibyl inquiring about further information on Mr. Cozby, as well as about a possible portrait of him (shown at the very end of this write-up). Up until today Mr. Cozby was just another a "faceless" oddly named Texas mayor who lacked a portrait, and now, with the aid of the aforementioned folks, there will finally be a biography of this prominent Grand Saline man available online! Many, many thanks to Sibyl and the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society for their help regarding Mr. Cozby!!
    Born on September 29, 1875 in Colfax, Texas, Vaneverie Bascom Cozby was the son of Chappell Columbus (1853-1905) and Sarah Jane "Sallie" Mayne Cozby (1855-1936). Given the highly unusual first name "Vaneverie" upon his birth, Cozby would attend school in Colfax and would later be employed as a school teacher in that town. At the dawn of the Spanish-American War Cozby would sign on for service as a volunteer infantryman and following his service married in Colfax on December 23, 1900 to Linnie Geneva Kirkpatrick (1881-1963). The couple would be married for nearly fifty years and has a total of four children, listed as follows in order of birth: Harold Otis (1901-1956), Raymond Wilson (1906-1965), Ruby Cozby Kuykendall (1910-1996) and Ruth (1915-2009). It should also be noted that two of Cozby's sons (Harold and Raymond) followed in the father's stead and went on to careers in medicine. 
   Following his marriage, Cozby decided upon a career in medicine and in the mid-1900s entered upon study at the Southwestern University Medical College in Texas. He would graduate in the class of 1908 and soon afterward relocated to Grand Saline to establish his medical practice.

                                                               V.B. Cozby, from the 1908 Southwester Yearbook.

   Cozby would operate his medical practice in Grand Saline until the dawn of American involvement in WWI. He served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps and was honorably discharged in 1919. Cozby would be affiliated with the medical corps for a number of years afterward, and in 1935 received the appointment as Major in the 144th Infantry Medical Corps. 
   Following his return to Texas Cozby was elected Grand Saline's Mayor, beginning a tenure that would last for 28 years. His lengthy tenure in that office is noted as bringing about "the materialization of some noteworthy civic improvements" and after serving nearly twenty years in office "requested his name be left off the ballot" in that year's (1938) mayoral election. However, Cozby's popularity with the citizens of Grand Saline won out, as the "voters wrote it in", and after winning the election continued in his role as mayor for a further eight years.
   During the twenty-fifth year of his mayoralty, Cozby was honored by the citizens of Grand Saline by having a hospital dedicated in his name, The Cozby-Germany hospital, in November 1944. Formerly opened in 1946, this hospital remained the lone hospital in Van Zandt County until its closure in January 2014
   In the 1947 election, the then 72-year-old Cozby faced off against an opponent half his age, John Edward "J.E." Persons (1910-2000). On election day it was Persons who won out, defeating the man whom Grand Saline citizens had called Mayor for nearly thirty years. Two years after his defeat Vaneverie Bascom Cozby died in Grand Saline on November 29, 1949. His death was attributed to "Bronchial Pneumonia (Terminal)" and he was survived by his wife Linnie and all of his children. Burial later occurred at the Woodside Cemetery located in Grand Saline. 

V.B. Cozby at the Lions Club of Grand Saline, courtesy of the Van Zandt County Genealogy Society.

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