Saturday, May 11, 2013

Copenitus Bannister Maynard (1904-1991)

From the Bastrop Advertiser, July 23, 1942.

   As the old saying goes, "everything is bigger in Texas." In the nearly 170 year history of the state of Texas many colorfully named characters have served in some political capacity within its borders. From former Texas Republic President Mirabeau Buonaparte Lamar to state senate members Demosthenes F. Goss and Astyanax Douglass, Texas has had a penchant for yielding many odd-named political figures in its century-plus history. Following on the heels of Dethloff Willrodt (a member of the Texas Legislature from 1899-1901) and McCamey Alexander Harris (a representative from 1876-79) we continue our stay in Texas to highlight the life of a man whose impressive name holds true to the above-mentioned quotation.....Mr. Copenitus Bannister Maynard of Bastrop County!
   A descendant of a family long prominent in Bastrop County civic affairs, Copenitus Bannister "C.B." Maynard was born in that county on December 5, 1904, the son of William Edward (1858-1926) and Mollie Clements Maynard (1857-1914). It can safely be said that public service ran deep in the Maynard family, as William Edward served five terms as District Attorney of Bastrop and Copenitus Bannister (1827-1889, namesake of our subject) served as county district clerk for a number of years. While Copenitus received his unusual name in honor of his paternal uncle, he is listed by many sources of the time by the initials "C.B." Because of this abbreviation, one can wonder if Maynard ever had a difficult time explaining the origins of his outstanding appellation!
   Maynard received his education in schools local to the Bastrop area and later attended the San Marcos Academy in San Marcos, Texas. He went on to enroll at the University of Texas and graduated from that institution's Law School in the late 1920s. While still attending law school Maynard began to test the political waters, announcing his candidacy for the Texas State House of Representatives in April 1928. The Bastrop County Advertiser ran an article (shown below) on the young man's candidacy, stating that Maynard was "admirably fitted to the office to which he aspires, being a gentleman of  honor, integrity and gifted with a high order of mental power."

                                               From the Bastrop Advertiser, April 19, 1928.

   Maynard was successful in his candidacy for the Texas State House of Representatives and took his seat in January 1929. At the age of twenty-four he was one of the youngest men ever elected to the legislature in its history, and during his one term of service held a seat on the following committees: Banks and Banking, Contingent Expenses, Counties, Enrolled Bills, and Insurance and Labor. 

Maynard as he looked during his time in the legislature, circa 1929.

   At the conclusion of his term in 1931, Maynard returned home to Bastrop and in that same year won election as County District Attorney, a post he would continue in for four years. In 1931 he married in Bastrop to Mary Lucy Rivers (1907-1993), with whom he would have two daughters, Lucy Rivers Maynard (1933-1942) and Mary Clements Maynard (born 1936). Five years after leaving the post of District Attorney, C.B. Maynard was elected as Bastrop County judge. His tenure in this post extended three years and during his term tragedy struck the Maynard family.
   On October 8, 1942, nine-year-old Lucy Rivers Maynard was returning home from the Bastrop School when she was offered a ride home by a soldier stationed at Camp Swift, a Pvt. George C. Knapp. Knapp, a 38-year-old resident of St. Paul, Minnesota, had been employed as a gunsmith in that state and had also spent time in a mental institution there some years previously. The Bastrop Advertiser notes that Lucy Maynard accepted Knapp's offer for a ride, but at a great price. Knapp abducted Lucy and after she became frightened he began attacking her. After driving around the Bastrop vicinity Knapp deposited Lucy's unconscious body in a pasture on the outskirts of town. After committing this atrocity Knapp stopped at a filling station for gas and subsequently drove off without paying. He shortly thereafter returned to Camp Swift in his vehicle, which had been stolen earlier that day from a Captain stationed on the base. Knapp was soon placed under arrest and spent the night in custody. 
  In the meantime, military police at Camp Swift had been alerted to Lucy's disappearance and a search began, with local citizens and patrolmen lending a hand. The following day Lucy was discovered (barely alive and badly injured) in a ravine a few hundred yards away from the highway. The Bastrop Advertiser notes that she was immediately taken to "the Orgain Memorial Hospital, suffering with severe cuts and bruises and exposure" and that she "succumbed to pneumonia, brought on by exposure" on October 8, 1942. Shortly thereafter funeral arrangements were held for the slain girl, and she was interred at the Fairview Cemetery in Bastrop.
  Authorities questioned Knapp in regards to his involvement with Lucy, and he admitted to giving her a ride. He then related that after Lucy became frightened and began screaming, he began attacking her physically. Shortly afterward he left Lucy in a pasture and began the trek back to Camp Swift. The below newspaper article on the crime appeared in the Orange Leader on October 9, 1942. 

  Knapp was later court-martialed and ordered to stand trial for the slaying. He was found guilty and six months after committing the murder was hanged on March 19, 1943, at the Leon Springs Military Reservation near San Antonio.
   Despite losing his daughter to such a terrible crime, C.B. Maynard pressed on and continued to serve the Lone Star state during WWII, resigning his judgeship in January 1943 to take on a position in the Judge Advocate General's Department of the U.S. Army. He was promoted to captain towards the end of 1943 and was deployed overseas the following year. 1945 saw Maynard serving in France, where he was promoted to Major. A Texas legislative resolution honoring Maynard in 1990 notes that he was part of "Gen. Omar Bradley's 12th Army" and was awarded a Bronze Star in September 1945 for his "meritorious service". At the conclusion of the war, Maynard participated in the early stages of planning the Nuremberg Trials, and left the Army in 1946, having attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. 
  After returning to Texas Maynard practiced law and is also listed as being a government appeals agent for the county of Bastrop. He went on to serve as the President of the Bastrop County Bar Association for a decade and later was a Director of the State Bar of Texas from 1964-1967. Two years after the conclusion of his term Maynard was appointed by then Texas Governor Preston Smith as a judge for Texas' 21st Judicial District, succeeding Judge John Simmang, who had died before the expiration of his term.

C.B. Maynard, from the 1967 Texas Bar Journal.

    C.B. Maynard served on the bench for six years, retiring at age 70 in August of 1975. His numerous contributions to Bastrop County and Texas were acknowledged in a 1990 legislative resolution, which noted "his outstanding career in public office" and his "dedicated efforts in public and private life to preserving and enhancing the greatness of this state." Copenitus Bannister Maynard died shortly before his 87th birthday on November 2, 1991, and was interred at the Fairview Cemetery in Bastrop, the same cemetery in which his daughter was laid to rest nearly sixty years before. Maynard was survived by his daughter Mary Clements Maynard and his wife Mary, who passed away in April 1993 at age 85.

1 comment:

  1. Not to diminish the tragedy of the poor girl's abuse and death, but (given the nature of this site) it was hard to avoid noting that the post commander under whom C. B. Maynard served at Camp Swift was Colonel I. A. Klutz.