Kristi Martens, PhDGrand County Historical Association

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August 30, 2012
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Meet the Cozens (pronounced 'cousins')

Cozens Ranch MuseumWilliam and Mary Cozens homesteaded the Fraser Valley from 1869 to 1924. Their ranch was the first permanent Euro-American settlement in the high mountain Fraser Valley.At its peak, the ranch covered more than 700 acres. Of the once many ranch buildings, today only the house, stage stop, and post office remain, and these are preserved to historic homestead times. For decades, the Cozens Ranch served as a center for the pioneer community and a welcoming home for Cozens family, friends, and early travelers coming over Berthoud Pass when the Stage Coach road opened in 1874. Cozens Ranch Time Capsule1830: Mary York is born in Ireland, and William Zane Cozens is born in eastern Canada.1860: Mary and William marry in Central City, having met there in the Gold Rush era where William was sheriff.1872 : William Zane Cozens II ("Uncle Billy") lays claim to an initial 70 acres in the area now known as the Fraser Valley, and then returns to Central City via Rollins Wagon Road.1874: Cozens returns to the Fraser Valley to begin building the homestead. Berthoud Pass is now stagecoach and freight passable allowing an influx of homesteaders. Early Grand County and Fraser Valley tourism begins.1875: The Cozens family - William and Mary, along with their three children (William Zane Cozens III, Sarah Agnes, and Mary Elizabeth) - move into their new home, which also serves as a hotel for new immigrants. Construction begins on stagecoach stop.1876: Mr. Cozens is appointed first Fraser U.S. Post Master on July 26, one week before Colorado becomes the 38th state.1881: Mr. Cozens modifies his home, hotel, and stagecoach stop to accommodate a US Post Office room with office and storage. 1884: The son, Will, becomes a "Justice of the Peace." Over the next several years, the Cozens homestead hosts a flurry of activity as the son holds court proceedings, community meetings, and sells groceries. 1887: Daughter Mary Elizabeth Cozens starts a journal and records daily life for a year. She notes who arrives on the Stage Coach, the daily temperature ("-47 degrees today!"), how far their dog Shep had wandered off, and especially the gardening schedule of planting bulbs and spring flowering. Her diary, "Haps and Mishaps in Fraser Valley" (transcribed and published by GCHA) is available for purchase in GCHA Museum Gift Shops in Fraser and Hot Sulphur Springs.1890s: As the area's population grows, the Cozens family expands operation. New buildings are erected across Cozens' Lane (now Highway 40) to house a larger post office, court, and grocery activities. 1901: Jesuits from Denver's Sacred Heart College make the Cozens' Ranch their "summer getaway."1904: The father, William Zane Cozens dies on Jan. 17. With his death, and given Mary's background as a devout Catholic, the Jesuits are deeded 80 acres at the cost of $1,200. The region celebrates the opening of the Denver, Pacific & Northwestern Railroad over Rollins Pass and through the Fraser Valley toward Salt Lake City, Utah.1907: The son Will Cozens and Evan Lemmon open the first Fraser Mercantile store (still operational on Eisenhower Drive in Fraser).1909: Just two days shy of her 79th birthday, the Irish immigrant and matriarch, Mary York Cozens, passes away on March 15.1911: Following gambling losses, Will signs over the entirety of property rights to his sisters. Cozens Ranch land encompasses the area where Safeway and the Fraser River Trail and ponds are today. 1923: Sarah Agnes Cozens passes away at age 56.1924: Mary and Will deed the house and remaining acreage over to Jesuits. The property becomes a summer retreat for the priests. Will is in residence with them in Denver and joins them at the ranch in summers. Eventually, priests build their own social and recreational hall along with a dormitory across the Fraser River - where St. Bernard's Catholic Church stands today. 1928: Daughter and journal writer, Mary Elizabeth Cozens dies at 64.1937: The last member of the core family, William Zane Cozens III, dies in Denver at age 75. None of the three Cozens children ever married or had offspring of their own. The family is buried together in the family cemetery close to the ranch, just across the Fraser River.After the Cozens FamilyThe Jesuits live in the homestead, as well as several caretakers. It was during these years that most of the Cozens' furnishings are taken or given away. Families of the extended Cozen Family (William was one of four brothers) acquire some items, while the Jesuits of Regis College as well as the Colorado Historical Society assume ownership of other Cozens Ranch items. By 1953 most of the out buildings and barns are gone and a new Loyola Jesuit rectory building is built.Recent history1960 to 1970s: Catholic Church services are held in the old parlor of Cozens Ranch.Early 1980: When the Cozens Ranch House becomes unoccupied, locals become concerned about its future and care. The Grand County Historical Association approaches Regis College requesting they turn Cozens Ranch over for restoration. 1987: The Jesuits of Regis College agree to deed the Cozens Ranch House and a small parcel of land to Grand County Historical Association. With assistance from the Town of Fraser, restoration is in full swing with huge community support.1988: The Cozens Ranch and Stage Shop is placed on The National Register of Historic Places. The restoration project wins local and national awards and recognition.1991: "Cozens Ranch House Restoration Museum - 1876 Stage Stop and Post Office" opens to the public. In 1994, Regis College sells the remainder of their Cozens acreage to developers to fund infrastructure at their Denver campus. In 1999, the lands pass from the Jesuit's Maryvale LLC to Koelbel and Co. of Denver.Into the 21st centuryThe Rendezvous real estate office is built next door to Cozens Ranch Museum. Across Hwy 40, a new Fraser Valley Rec Center opens along with Grand Park development. New highway access and entrances, and beautiful bridges across the Fraser River embrace the historic white house with green trim that once housed the first Fraser Post Office and Uncle Billy Cozens' famous early stagecoach stop and hotel. With the growth and changes throughout Grand County, the Cozens Ranch Museum & Gift Shop represents Fraser Valley's unique heritage and the area's only museum. In all, Cozens Museum contains 13 exhibit rooms, including special exhibits on President Dwight Eisenhower, Doc Susan Anderson, Berthoud Pass, and an exact replica Stage Coach of the type used in the early Cozens days. A frequently asked question: Do Cozens family members come by? Yes, descendants of William Cozens' brothers live in Colorado, and often stop by to discuss their family history.Keep Cozens openCozens Ranch Museum & Gift Shop is a historic treasure located where the towns of Winter Park and Fraser meet. Cozens Museum is the eastern extension of Grand County Historical Association (GCHA). Cozens Ranch Museum cannot run on visitor dollars alone. In recent years, out of economic necessity, GCHA closed Cozens Ranch Museum for over a year. To ensure Cozens Museum is never closed again, GCHA is hosting a benefit for Fraser Valley's unique history house museum. A Taste of History - help us keep Cozens Ranch Museum open!Champagne Brunch & SocialAt the historic Wabooson Lodge, on the lawnFabulous food, coffee bar and fruit drinks, live music with Alpine Classic Trio, live auction of artwork and fly fishing excursions.Saturday, Sept. 810 a.m. - 1 p.m.$50 per person, $40 for GCHA MembersRSVP 970-726-5488, or stop by any GCHA museum for tickets Cozens Ranch Museum & Gift Shop77849 US Highway 40, Fraser, CO 80482 Tel: (970) 726-5488www.grandcountymuseum.com, email: cozens@qwestoffice.net


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The Sky-Hi News Updated Aug 30, 2012 05:13PM Published Aug 30, 2012 12:25PM Copyright 2012 The Sky-Hi News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.