Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Fortunatus Cosby, Jr.


Fortunatus Cosby, Jr., a native of Kentucky, was born on May 2, 1802 at Harrod's Creek, near Louisville. His father, after whom he was named, was a prominent lawyer, member of the Kentucky legislature, and a circuit judge. Cosby was a student at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky and graduated from Yale College in 1819 where he studied law. Cosby did not actively pursue his work as a lawyer. He took up residence in Washington, D.C. and worked as a clerk in the U.S. Treasury department and served as U.S. Consul at Geneva, Switzerland. Between 1840 and 1850, Cosby was a frequent contributor of poems and prose to Louisville newspapers (Louisville Journal) and other magazines. He died in Louisville, Kentucky on June 16, 1871 at age 69. [Sources: Rufus Wilmont Griswold, The Poets and Poetry of America 293 (New York: James Miller, Publisher, rev. ed., 1872); Lewis Collins, 1 History of Kentucky 559 (Covington, Kentucky: Collins & Co., 1878)(rev. & enlarged, Richard H. Collins)][See also, "Fortunatus Cosby, Jr.," in John Wilson townsend, Kentucky in American Letters 113-123 (Cendar Rapids, Iowa: Torch Press, 1913][online text][And see: Fannie Porter Dickey (ed.), Blades O'Bluegrass 325 (Louisville: John P. Morton & Co., 1892)][online text]

"Mr. Cosby has been twice married—in 1825 at Louisville, and in 1854 at Washington City . . . . His son Robert, who died when he was about twenty years of age, gave promise of excellence as a poet. He was lamented by a large circle of friends as a young man of rare gifts." [William Turner Coggeshall, The Poets and Poetry of the West: With Biographical and Critical Notices 272 (Columbus, Ohio: Follett, Foster and Company, 1860)]

Property Transactions

[The property transactions referenced here
also involved William Haines Lytle, another lawyer poet]


Fortunatus Cosby, Jr., "Firside Fancies," in Bennett H. Young (ed.), Kentucky Eloquence. Past and Present. Library of Orations, After-Dinner Speeches, Popular and Classic Lectures Addresses and Poetry 444-445 (Louisville, Kentucky: Ben LaBree, 1907) [online text]