Cozens Family

Clark Z. Cozens family, c.1906. Left to right, standing: Ruby Gertrude (Ogilvy), Frank Arthur, Jessie Louise (Shellabarger). Seated, Clark Zane and Julia Ellen.
Clark Z. Cozens family, c.1906. Left to right, standing: Ruby Gertrude (Ogilvy), Frank Arthur, Jessie Louise (Shellabarger). Seated, Clark Zane and Julia Ellen.

Clark Zane Cozens was a Littleton carpenter and builder, who, as well as his family, made significant contributions to the community. Born in Longuiel, Canada in September 1842 as Clark Town Blucher Cozens, he adopted the middle name of Zane after he was grown. Zane was a family name that came from the maiden name of one of his great grandmothers.

After serving in the Union forces from New York during the Civil War, he came to the Wet Mountain Valley of Colorado. There he married Julia Ellen Parcels April 18, 1882 in Silver Cliff on her thirty-first birthday. She had been born on April 18, 1851 in Peru, Indiana. Her parents were James Parcels and Lucy Crabb; she was one of twenty-one children.

The newlyweds came to Littleton and stayed in a house on North Curtice Street while Clark built a house on West Main Street. Later the Cozens lived in Denver where their first child was born. This child was Louis Clark Cozens who was born August 3 and died August 16, 1883. His parents buried Louie in Riverside Cemetery in Denver, but they chose to move him to the Littleton Cemetery in 1893.

Their second child, Ruby Gertrude, was born in Denver November 9, 1884. An economic depression of the early 1880s made carpentry work hard to find in Denver, so Clark and Julia came back to Littleton where they bought a small farm on Platte Canyon Road. Here their daughter Jessie Louise was born February 10, 1888. When writing about Jessie after she had been named Littleton's Foremost Mother of the Year in 1944, the local newspaper said that the farm on Platte Canyon Road was the one known as the "Henry Back (Lathrop) place." Son Frank Arthur was also born there. He arrived on May 20, 1890.

About 1900 Clark and Julia sold the farm and built a home in Littleton at 172 Santa Fe Avenue (now 5760 South Bemis Street). About the same time Clark Cozens also built a house at what is now 5710 South Bemis.

In the 1890s while Clark was doing carpentry work and building houses and barns for residents in and around Littleton, Julia was busy with the newly organized Methodist Episcopal Church. Local Methodists had been meeting sporadically for many years in members' homes and rented halls above downtown stores to hear circuit-traveling ministers. But in December 1890 they were formally organized as a church. Julia Cozens became one of the nine charter members. Soon her husband became actively involved as well. Clark Cozens tended to keep cryptic, almost daily accounts of his activities in little books of widely varying shapes and sizes. On January 26, 1892 he wrote that he began to build the Methodist "Tabernacle," a structure with board sides and a canvas top on Main Street. His diary entry nine days later on February 3 read, "I worked on the church, got through." It was indeed a movable tabernacle, for as soon as the Methodists had acquired a lot of their own on Nevada Street, he wrote, "Took my team over and pulled the M. E. Tabernacle on the church lot."

Clark Cozens became Littleton's postmaster in 1906 when the post office was in the Coors building annex, now 2485 West Main Street. His health was beginning to fail, and when he developed pneumonia, his daughter Ruby Cozens was in charge of the office. He died while still in the office on January 11, 1908. The newspaper said, "Mr. Cozens was a highly respected citizen here and prominent among local lodgers. He was a member of the Odd Fellows, Columbine Grange, and G. A. R. [Grand Army of the Republic]."

His other daughter, Jessie, was appointed Littleton postmistress in March 1908 and served until March 1912. Jessie Cozens married William Adam Shellabarger October 30, 1912. A year or two later she and her husband moved to Castle Rock, Colorado where he operated a grocery with his brother Hugh Shellabarger. William Shellabarger died in February 1928. Jessie returned to Littleton with her three children and lived with her mother, Julia Cozens, at 5760 South Bemis Street.

When Jessie Cozens Shellabarger was named Littleton Foremost Mother in May 1944, the newspaper praised her raising of three notable children: Gladys who married Professor Willard Eddy and became a teacher of air corps clerical students at then Colorado State College, William C. who was a petty officer on a Navy submarine, and Dorothy who was a teller at the Littleton National Bank. Dorothy later married James Kimsey and worked for Littleton School District No. 6 for many years.

Jessie was also cited for her volunteer work at the Littleton Service Men's Center during the war. It had been started by the Littleton Woman's Club in the summer of 1942 and was in the U. C. Thomas building on Main Street. Jessie Shellabarger began writing cards to the mothers and wives of the soldiers who were entertained there just before going aboard a train for an unknown destination. Five, sometimes six, days a week she went to the center and invited the men to write their names in her little book. She also tried to get the name and address of the boy's mother. Each evening she wrote her cards. When the mother lived not too far away, she often telephoned her after the train left. Many mothers gratefully replied, and some sent donations to help carry on the work of the center. It was said that she probably brought more warmth and comfort to mothers throughout the forty-eight states than any other Littleton woman.

Julia Parcels Cozens lived to age ninety-six. When she died on December 5, 1947, the newspaper described her journey to Colorado sixty-five years earlier. She was the daughter of a Methodist minister who was a circuit rider in Indiana and Illinois for over fifty years. After her parents died, she came to Silver Cliff, Colorado to join a brother. It was pioneer times, and she made the last part of the trip from Granada to the mining camp by stagecoach. In Littleton she was a charter member of Manzanita Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star, active in the Tuesday Reading Club, Ladies Guild, Women's Relief Corps and Rebekah Lodge.

Julia and Clark Cozens' daughter Ruby married Andrew Olgilvie June 17, 1908 and lived in Eugene, Oregon by the time her mother died in 1947. Son Frank married Nellie Durkin December 2, 1914. Frank and Nellie had four children: Gayle Marie who married Bixler, Frank Roswell, Roger William and James Wendell. Frank, Sr., died March 13, 1942.

Clark Cozens' siblings included William Zane Cozens who was a colorful sheriff of Gilpin County, (based in Central City), Colorado, and later a well-known rancher in Middle Park in Grand County. The home and stagecoach stop of William and his wife, Mary York, is now the Cozens Ranch Museum at Fraser, Colorado.

Another brother was Nelson Zane Cozens. He also served in the Civil War from New York, then was under-sheriff to his brother William in Central City. Nelson and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Dickson, lived in Littleton for several years and were members of the Littleton Methodist Episcopal Church. Nelson had mining interests in Nathrop, Colorado. He died in Denver in 1926.

The Cozens brothers and their wives braved the difficult pioneer life of the Rocky Mountains and saw many changes during their lifetimes. In Littleton the Cozens name was known for many years.


Hulse, Doris Farmer. Littleton United Methodist Church of Littleton, Colorado. Littleton, Colorado: Columbine Genealogical and Historical Society, Inc., 1996.

Littleton (Colo.) Independent. The Littleton Independent Publishers, 1888-

Littleton Museum. Card file: Cozens; Vertical file: Cozens.

____. Photographic Archives.

Mount Rosa Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Littleton Cemetery, Littleton, Colorado. Littleton, Colorado: Mount Rosa Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1983.

United States Post Office Department. Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-September 30, 1971, Colorado, Colorado Territory. Littleton. Micropublication M841. Washington: National Archives. Roll 14.

Photographs courtesy of the Littleton Museum unless otherwise noted. To order copies, contact the museum at 303-795-3950.

Compiled by Doris Farmer Hulse

Updated March 2021 by Phyllis Larison