Thursday, January 1, 2015

Vaneverie Bascom Cozby (1875-1949)



Dr. V.B. Cozby at the Lions Club of Grand Saline, courtesy of the Van Zandt Co. Genealogical Society.
    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 w
ould not have been possible had it not been for 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.
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 involvment 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 corp for many 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 eight more 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. 

                Dr. V.B. Cozby (on extreme right) with members of the 1936-37 Grand Saline City Council.


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