Spencer Cosby – Colonel, United States Army

Spencer Cosby was born on 10 October 1867 in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Frank Carvill and Charlotte Melvina Spencer Cosby.  He married Yvonne Shepherd at Washington, D.C. on 15 September 1909.

Spencer Cosby of Maryland

Appointed from Kentucky, Cadet, United States Military Academy, 16 June 1887 (1)
Additional Second Lieutenant, 12 June 1891
Second Lieutenant, 12th Engineers, April 1894
First Lieutenant, 13 October 1895
Major of Engineers, U. S. Volunteers, 13 June 1898
Honorably discharged from the volunteer service, 31 December 1898
Captain, U. S. Engineers, 2 February 1901

Colonel Spencer Cosby served as White House administrator and commissioner from March 1909 to October 1913.  Cosby was “first” in his West Point class and well versed in the social graces.

Shortly after his appointment Cosby oversaw design and construction of new executive offices at the White House. One new office for President William H. Taft’s use became known as the Oval Office. Cosby remained commissioner into the early months of President Woodrow Wilson’s administration. He not only helped guide the new president through his first inauguration, but also worked with his family on remodeling their quarters. Cosby went on to become military attaché to the American Embassy in Paris, France, as World War I began in Europe. After additional diplomatic and military service, Cosby retired in 1928 as Division Engineer of the Lakes Division in Cleveland, Ohio.

NOTE: His father, Frank Carvill Cosby, Rear Admiral, United States Navy, and his brother, Arthur F. Crosby, Captain, United States Army, are also both buried in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery.

Military Aide to President Taft Takes Miss Shepard as Bride

SOUTHAMPTON, Long Island – September 15, 1909 – In St. Andrew’s-Dune Church here today Miss E. Yvonne Shepard, daughter of the late Dr. Charles R. Shepard of Washington, D.C. was married to Colonel Spencer Cosby, U.S.A., senior military aide to President Taft, by the Rev. Dr. Herbert Shipman of New York City.

The bride wore white satin and a long tulle veil and carried a shower bouquet of clematis.  He only attendant was her cousin, Miss Schenck of Lenox. The bridegroom was attended by his brother, Arthur Fortunatus Cosby of New York City, as best man.  The ushers were Lieutenant Colonel Charles P. Echols of West Point, Pay Director John S. Carpenter, U.S.N.; John Cadwallader, Jr., of Philadelphia, and Frank B. Keech of New York City.

After the ceremony, a wedding breakfast was served as the residence of the bride’s mother, Mrs. Charles R. Shepard, at The Mill.  Among the guests were Mrs. Frank C. Crosby of Washington; Mrs. Frederick Schenck of Lenox, Massachusetts, and representative from the Summer colony at Southampton.

After an extended wedding tour, Colonel and Mrs. Cosby will reside in Washington.  Among the wedding gifts was a handsome silver centerpiece from the President and Mrs. Taft.

Colonel Directed Planting of Cherry Trees in Capital

WASHINGTON, March 27, 1962 – Colonel Spencer Cosby, who directed the planting of the famed Japanese cherry trees in Potomac Park fifty years ago, died yesterday at the age of 94.

Colonel Cosby was military aide to President William Howard Taft when the Mayor of Tokyo offered the trees to the people of Washington.  As District Engineer Commissioner, he had become interested in developing Potomac Park, then “just a mudhold,” and it was at his suggestion that the trees were planted there in 1912.

He served in Puerto Rico during the Spanish-American War and from 1913 to 1917 was military attaché in Paris.  Colonel Cosby returned to this country to help organize and train engineer regiments after this country entered World War I.  He retired from the Army in 1928.  His widow survives.


Engineer Colonel Spencer Cosby, (center), Commissioner of Public Buildings and Grounds
for the District of Columbia, and President Woodrow Wilson (right) prepare to leave the White
House for the inaugural parade in 1913


Colonel Cosby (front, left) leads Wilson’s inaugural party to the reviewing stands.



Colonel Cosby (left in reviewing stand) joins President Wilson, Vice-President Marshall, and
their inaugural party as they review Wilson’s inaugural parade


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 10/02/1867
  • DATE OF DEATH: 03/26/1962
  • BURIED AT:   SITE 317 ES


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