Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb1,2,3

ID# 1476, (1876 - 1944)
FatherJoshua Clark Cobb4,5,6 (7 Jul 1839 - 22 Dec 1895)
MotherManie Saunders4,7,8 (14 Feb 1852 - 26 Jan 1932)

Key Events:

Birth: 23 Jun 1876, Paducah, Kentucky9,10
Marriage: Laura Spencer Baker, 12 Jun 1900, Savannah, Georgia11,12,13
Death: 10 Mar 1944, New York, New York14,15
Burial: Oak Grove Cemetery, Paducah, McCracken Co., Kentucky16,17

Spouse: Laura Spencer Baker (about 1876 - 1967)
     Child:

  • Elizabeth B. Cobb5,30 (8 Oct 1902 - )
AncestryThe Linah Mims - Rebecca Davis Family
The Cobbs of Pawlet, Vermont

Copyright Notice

Narrative:

     Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb was born on 23 Jun 1876 in Paducah, Kentucky.9,10 Irvin appeared on the 1880 Federal Census of Locust St., Paducah, McCracken Co., Kentucky, in the household of Reuben Saunders, his grandfather, with his parents, Joshua Clark Cobb and Manie Saunders.18
     Irvin attended public schools for the most part. From 1886 to 1888 he attended a private school run by Dr. Lewis Schuck, the minister of the First Baptist Church. In 1890 he was enrolled in a private school run by William A. Cade in the suburb of Arcadia.19
     Irvin's father's eyesight grew much worse from his war injuries, and in early 1892 the steamboat company he worked for changed hands and he was fired. The family's plans for Irvin to go to military school were abandoned when he had to go to work to support the family.20,21 He was became an apprentice reporter for the Paducah Evening News. He became managing editor four years later, in 1896. He later worked for the Louisville Evening Post, and as a reporter there developed a reputation as a trial reporter. He returned to Paducah in 1901 and worked at the Paducah Democrat until 1904, when he left for New York City in Paducah, Kentucky.22
     He appeared on the 1900 Federal Census of Paducah, Kentucky in the household of his mother, Manie Saunders.8
     Irvin married Laura Spencer Baker, daughter of Marcus S. Baker Sr. and Fannie Krenson, on 12 Jun 1900 in Savannah, Georgia.11,12,13
     He later worked in New York for the Evening Sun and the Evening Herald. His reputation as a humorist and reporter grew until he was widely syndicated throughout the United States. He also wrote fiction, most of which focuses on his Kentucky childhood. Many of his stories were published in the Saturday Evening Post. He was hired by the New York Post and went to Europe in 1914 to cover World War I. He and four friends were captured by the Germans and later released. An illness interrupted his plans to return to Europe, and led to his best-seller, Speaking of Operations, published in 1915.22,23,24,25
     He was a friend and supporter of President Woodrow Wilson and as such reluctantly supported the U.S. involvement in World War I. He again worked for the Post in Europe in 1917 and 1918, this time reporting on the state of the American soldiers there. He was the most popular source of war information in the country. He reported so favorably about the black American soldiers that he became a hero among black Americans, a group of which honored him in Paducah in December 1918. He made a speech at Carnegie Hall in 1918 with Theodore Roosevelt in support of relief for black soldiers.
     In 1923 he left the Post for Cosmopolitan and there published more fiction and humorous essays. He sold several scripts to Hollywood in the 1920s. He and his family moved to California in 1934 so he could advise his friend Will Rogers on a movie, Judge Priest, based on Cobb's fiction. Cobb was Master of Ceremonies for the 1935 Academy Awards and played the Mississippi riverboat captain in the 1935 film "Steamboat Round the Bend." He appeared in five other movies and in 1936 had his own radio show called, "Paducah Plantation."22
     Irvin and Laura Spencer Baker appeared on the 1920 Federal Census of Ossing, Westminster Co., New York, enumerated 6 Feb 1920, reporting that the family owned its home, mortgage free. Their daughter Elizabeth was listed as living with them.26
     Irvin and Laura appeared on the 1930 Federal Census of New York City, New York, at 830 Park Ave., enumerated 17 Apr 1930, reporting that they owned an apartment valued at $30,000, and owned a radio. Their daughter Elizabeth was listed as living with them, as were two maids, a 24-year-old from Ireland and a 37-year-old from Germany.27 Irvin and Laura also appeared on the 1930 Federal Census of East Hampton, Suffolk Co., New York, enumerated 21 Apr 1930, reporting that they owned a home valued at $90,000, and owned a radio. Their daughter Elizabeth was listed as living with them.28
     Irvin and Laura appeared on the 1940 Federal Census of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Co., California, at 1717 La Mesa Dr., enumerated 30 Apr 1940, reporting that they owned a home valued at $40,000, and had lived in the same city in 1935. Also listed as living with them were their eight-year-old grandson and Melissa Morgan, a maid.29
     Irvin died on 10 Mar 1944 in New York, New York, at age 67.14,15 He was buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Paducah, McCracken Co., Kentucky, under a granite boulder inscribed "Back Home."16,17

Citations

  1. [S1042] Connelley and Coulter, History of Kentucky, pg 496, shows name as Irvin Shrewsbery Cobb.
  2. [S1950] Battle, Perrin and Kniffin, Kentucky - A History of the State, pg 291, shows name as Irvin S. Cobb.
  3. [S1043] Manie S. Cobb household, 1900 U.S. Census, McCracken Co., Kentucky, shows name as Irvin S. Cobb.
  4. [S1950] Battle, Perrin and Kniffin, Kentucky - A History of the State, pg 291.
  5. [S1042] Connelley and Coulter, History of Kentucky, pg 497.
  6. [S1669] Reuben Saunders household, 1880 U.S. Census, McCracken Co., Kentucky, shows Joshua as son-in-law and the child as grandson of Reuben, and both with surname Cobb.
  7. [S1669] Reuben Saunders household, 1880 U.S. Census, McCracken Co., Kentucky, show Mamie as daughter and the child as grandson of Reuben, and both with surname Cobb.
  8. [S1043] Manie S. Cobb household, 1900 U.S. Census, McCracken Co., Kentucky.
  9. [S2314] Oak Grove Cemetery, list of burials, C burials 1800 thru 1999, pg 19, shows date.
  10. [S1669] Reuben Saunders household, 1880 U.S. Census, McCracken Co., Kentucky, shows age 4 and state.
  11. [S1042] Connelley and Coulter, History of Kentucky, pg 497, shows date, town, and state.
  12. [S2187] Irvin S. Cobb household, 1930 U.S. Census, New York Co., New York, shows married, with his first marriage at age 23 and hers at age 21.
  13. [S2186] Irvin S. Cobb household, 1920 U.S. Census, Westchester Co., New York, shows married.
  14. [S49] Freeman, Family File "David and Deborah.GED," 31 Jul 1998, shows date, city, and state.
  15. [S2314] Oak Grove Cemetery, list of burials, C burials 1800 thru 1999, pg 19, shows date, and last residence as New York City.
  16. [S2314] Oak Grove Cemetery, list of burials, C burials 1800 thru 1999, pg 19.
  17. [S49] Freeman, Family File "David and Deborah.GED," 31 Jul 1998, citing John Kleber, editor, The Kentucky Encyclopedia (Union Press Kentucky: 1992), shows cemetery, town, state, and description of the marker.
  18. [S1669] Reuben Saunders household, 1880 U.S. Census, McCracken Co., Kentucky.
  19. [S3064] Lawson, Irvin S. Cobb, pp 13-4.
  20. [S3064] Lawson, Irvin S. Cobb, pg 20.
  21. [S1977] Cobb, Exit Laughing, pg 342.
  22. [S49] Freeman, Family File "David and Deborah.GED," 31 Jul 1998, citing John Kleber, editor, The Kentucky Encyclopedia (Union Press Kentucky: 1992).
  23. [S2186] Irvin S. Cobb household, 1920 U.S. Census, Westchester Co., New York, shows occupation as author, industry as magazine, and that he worked on his own account.
  24. [S2187] Irvin S. Cobb household, 1930 U.S. Census, New York Co., New York, shows occupation as writer, industry as books, working on his own account.
  25. [S2188] Irvin S. Cobb household, 1930 U.S. Census, Suffolk Co., New York, shows occupation as writer.
  26. [S2186] Irvin S. Cobb household, 1920 U.S. Census, Westchester Co., New York, street name is not clear, but appears to be House.
  27. [S2187] Irvin S. Cobb household, 1930 U.S. Census, New York Co., New York.
  28. [S2188] Irvin S. Cobb household, 1930 U.S. Census, Suffolk Co., New York.
  29. [S5289] Irvin S. Cobb household, 1940 U.S. Census, Los Angeles Co., California.
  30. [S2186] Irvin S. Cobb household, 1920 U.S. Census, Westchester Co., New York.