Biography of Thomas Harper Cobbs
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Thomas Harper Cobbs, lawyer and senior member of the firm of Cobbs & Logan, 1111-1116 Third National Bank building, St. Louis, Missouri, was born August 26, 1868, on a farm in Fairview township, Lafayette county, about six miles southeast of Napoleon, Missouri. His father, Thomas T. Cobbs, was a native of Tennessee. His grandfather, Thomas Cobbs, was a native of Virginia and a descendant of EnglishWelsh parents. His grandfather was among the pioneer settlers of Lafayette county, having come to that county in 1830, and having built the first gristmill in that section. After his grandfather’s death, his father operated the old water power gristmill until it became out of date and then devoted himself to farming until 1890, when he retired and moved to Marshall, Missouri, where he died in 1913. His mother, Catherine Harper Cobbs, was a native of Woodford county, Kentucky, and a member of the Harper family, one of the best known families in the “blue grass” region. They were breeders of fine horses and were the owners of “Longfellow” and “Tenbroek,” two of the most famous race horses of their day. His mother died at Marshall, Missouri, in 1910. He has one brother, William S. Cobbs, of Norborne, Missouri, and one sister, Mrs. Ethel Hyland, of Marshall, Missouri, now living and has lost two sisters, Mrs. Catherine Chinn and Mrs. Sarah Drysdale.
Thomas Harper Cobbs was reared on the home farm and attended the Fairview district school and the Pleasant Prairie Cumberland Presbyterian church until he reached the age of seventeen years. In the fall of 1885 he entered Odessa College at Odessa, Missouri. In January, 1888, he left Odessa College temporarily and entered Warrensburg State Normal School, taking the teachers’ training course, from which he graduated the following June, obtaining a state teacher’s certificate. He taught a country school in the Wolfenbarger district, southeast of Odessa, in the fall of 1888, and re-entered Odessa College in January, 1889, and graduated with his class in June, 1889, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Science. After a trip to California in the summer of 1889, he became principal of the public schools at Blue Springs, Missouri, where he taught one term. In March, 1890, he joined his family in Marshall, Missouri, and entered Missouri Valley College, where he pursued his classical studies for about two years. In January, 1892, he was selected as principal of the Slater (Mo.) high school and in the fall of 1892 was elected superintendent of the public schools of Roodhouse, Illinois. While in charge of the Roodhouse schools he spent one summer in scientific investigation at Illinois College, Jacksonville, Illinois, and two summers at the University of Chicago. He resigned his position as superintendent of schools at Roodhouse in 1895 and entered the St. Louis Law School, a department of the Washington University. While taking his first year in law he also took a regular year of resident work in the Washington University and graduated from that institution with the degree of Bachelor of Arts, with the class of 1896. In the summer of 1896 he read law with the firm of Boyd and Merrill in Marshall, Missouri, and in August, 1896, took the bar examination at Higginsville and was admitted to the bar of Missouri. In the fall of 1896 he entered Yale Law School at New Haven, Connecticut, and in June, 1897, graduated from that institution, receiving the degree LL. B. from Yale University. While at Yale he was elected president of the famous Yale-Kent Club, a debating society, and also won the Munson thesis prize for the best thesis written by the class of ’97 in the Yale Law School. His thesis was on the subject, “Bills of Lading Given for Goods not in Fact Shipped,” and was published in the Yale Law Journal in January and February, 1898, Volume VII, Nos. 4 and 5. After graduating from Yale Law School he began the active practice of the law, in the fall of 1897, with the firm of Flower, Smith and Musgrave, in Chicago, Illinois, where he continued until his physicians advised him to get away from the severe climate near Lake Michigan.
With the beginning of the twentieth century, January 1, 1901, Mr. Cobbs returned to St. Louis and joined John E. Bishop in the organization of the law firm of Bishop & Cobbs. That firm engaged in the general practice of the law until its dissolution, October 1, 1918. Mr. Cobbs bought the assets and goodwill of his old firm and continued the practice of law alone until January 1, 1919, when he admitted Mr. George B. Logan into his office as a junior partner and formed the new firm of Cobbs & Logan. In his profession Mr. Cobbs has devoted himself exclusively to civil practice and has handled many of the most important legal matters which have come up in St. Louis during recent years. He is conscientious and untiring in his work and is recognized as one of the most capable and successful lawyers at the St. Louis bar. He is a member of the St. Louis, the Missouri and the American Bar Associations and takes a keen interest in everything which affects his profession. Mr. Cobbs takes an active interest in all educational matters. He is a member of and counsel for the board of directors of Lindenwood Female College, St. Charles, Missouri, and a member of the alumni advisory board of Washington University. He belongs to the Sigma Nu college fraternity and is a member of the Yale Alumni Association and of the Washington University Alumni Association, of which latter association he has served as president.
While he is a democrat, Mr. Cobbs has never taken a very active part in politics. He reserves to himself the right to support the men and measures which he thinks are best, everything considered.
He takes an active interest in all civic matters and is an active member of the Chamber of Commerce and other civic and business organizations. Mr. Cobbs has been very active in the movement to build in St. Louis a great zoological garden.
More than ten years ago he suggested and helped to organize the Zoological Society of St. Louis, and has been a member of the board of directors of that society since its organization. He prepared the ordinance by which a part of Forest Park was set aside as a Zoological Park and also prepared the state statute which was afterward enacted as a law and under which the city of St. Louis voted a mill tax for the support of the “Zoo.”
In religion he is a Presbyterian and is an active member of the Kings Highway Presbyterian church and has been a ruling elder in that church for many years. He is a member of the board of trustees of the St. Louis Presbytery and of its church extension committee and devotes considerable time and effort to social service and religious work. He is a thirty-second degree Mason and a Shriner, being a member of Tuscan Lodge, the Scottish Rite and Moolah Temple and in 1919 was honored by appointment as a K. C. C. H. He is an officer and takes an active part in the work of the Scottish Rite.
On August 30, 1898, Mr. Cobbs was married to Miss Lucie Mae Jones, of Carrollton, Illinois. Mrs. Cobbs is a member of one of the most prominent families in central Illinois, being the daughter of Mr. John Jones who has held public office in Greene county, Illinois, for many years. She is active in the club, church and social life of the city and devotes much time to philanthropic work. She is a member of the board of directors of the visiting nurse association of St. Louis. In 1909 and 1910 Mr. and Mrs. Cobbs built their own home at 6224 Waterman avenue, in “Parkview,” one of St. Louis’ most beautiful restricted private places. They have no children, having lost their only son in infancy in 1905. They are very fond of home life and their home is one of happiness for themselves, their relatives and their friends.
Mr. Cobb is a member of the Missouri Athletic Association and Sunset Hill Country Club. He was one of the organizers and is a director of the Midland Valley Country Club. He takes some interest in golf and is fond of fishing (especially trout fishing) and of traveling. He is always frank, courteous, kindly and affable and those who know him personally have for him warm regard. He is a man of high ideals and definite purposes. His personal and professional conduct is exemplary. He seeks justice and right rather than victory and supports those interests which are intended to benefit and uplift humanity. He bears and deserves a splendid reputation as a thorough Christian gentleman and as a good lawyer.