Josephine Cogdell Schuyler: From Granbury to Harlem

Josephine Cogdell was born on June 2, 1897 in Granbury, Texas and died May 2, 1969 in New York City. She was the last child born to Daniel C. Cogdell and Lucy Norfleet (Duke) Cogdell. By most accounts Josephine was an intelligent child, somewhat of a tomboy and perhaps over indulged as the youngest and a “late in life child”. Her father, Daniel C. Cogdell was one of the “Booster Businessmen” who contributed significantly to the growth and development of Granbury and Hood County. Josephine left home at an early age and moved to California. In 1927, after 10 years in various Los Angles and San Francisco art communities, Josephine moved to Greenwich Village in New York. In 1928, she married George S. Schuyler, a well known New York journalist. They had one daughter, Philippa Duke Schuyler, who was tested at an early age to have an I.Q. over 180. Philippa, a well known child pianist and composer, performed before royalty and heads-of-state in Europe, Africa, Asia and South America. Philippa gave at least two performances in Texas, one in Dallas and one in Austin. Later, Philippa followed her father’s footsteps and turned to journalism and reporting. In 1967, Philippa died in a helicopter accident in Vietnam. sadly, most of her Texas relatives never met her or heard her perform because Philippa was an interracial child and would not have been welcomed in Granbury’s society. Although Josephine kept in touch with her siblings and made several trips back to Granbury to see her relatives, she was never accompanied by her African American husband, in part because interracial marriages were illegal in Texas until 1967 and George was not the type of person to create discord with his wife’s family. Numerous books, articles and research papers have been written on Philippa’s life and accomplishments. George has also been the subject of many articles and books including an autobiography. Typically, Josephine has been dismissed by historians and book reviewers as a “blue-eyed, blonde, rich Texas heiress beauty queen” from a former slave holding family. She has also been described as a manipulative, demanding stage mother from hell. However, a review of her diary, correspondence and publications suggest that her husband description of her as: “American womanhood at its best: brilliant, adventurous, self-sacrificing, loyal and courageous” also describes this independent, intelligent and inquisitive woman from Granbury, Texas.