1845-1880

November 29, 1845, near Mount Storm, West Virginia.

November 17, 1880, Union District, Grant County, West Virginia.

Idleman Cemetery, Mount Storm, West Virginia.

Cosner’s parents were Samuel Cosner and Mary Anne Cosner, a daughter of Frances D. Idleman. As there were no public schools in Virginia until long after his childhood, William had poor opportunities for his early education. His parents taught him to read and write, and he then attended two pay schools. Each of these schools lasted for about three months and were called Quarter Schools. After he had finished the second quarter, his father died, and Cosner was obliged to remain at home and work to support his mother and sisters. During this period, he spent his spare time studying and writing poetry.

Cosner had a deeply religious nature and though quite young, was a worker in the first Sunday School organized at Mount Storm. After a time, he left Mount Storm with his mother and sisters and located in Canaan Valley where he organized a Sunday School in a log school house where he was never absent from service save once. While living in Canaan, he rode on horse back to Moorefield, a distance of 50 miles, to join the Presbyterian Church of which his mother was an ardent member. When asked by the pastor, Reverend George W. White, his grounds of hope he replied by handing him a poem he had written beginning, Jesus is my full salvation. This so pleased Dr. White that he carried it before the next session of the Presbytery, where it was unanimously decided to offer to educate him for the ministry. Dr. White was immediately sent to Canaan Valley to make the arrangements. William gladly accepted the offer and pursuant to the plan moved his family back to a home among relatives at Mount Storm. He then attended school two years at Moorefield.

Cosner then entered Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, where he stayed three years. During that time, he and a classmate, by invitation, called upon former Confederate general Robert E. Lee. It was a short time before Lee’s death and he was quite feeble. At the close of their visit Lee asked them to kneel beside him while he prayed God to bless them. William was so impressed by Lee’s gracious and dignified bearing that he exclaimed to his schoolmate that he was the most perfect gentleman he had ever met.

After leaving Washington and Lee, Cosner entered the University of Hampden Sidney, Virginia, where he completed his course and was ordained. He had gained a year’s time on the scheduled course and graduated with the highest honors of a class of twenty-six students. At the request of his neighbors and friends at home he was installed by Dr. White as a Home Missionary in the Allegheny Field, of which he was the founder. He labored industriously here over a large field for about two years until his death.

  1. Ah, This Heart Shall Cease Its Longing
  2. Dear Jesus, My Shepherd
  3. Have You Any Room for Jesus?
  4. I Am Thine, Entirely Thine, Savior
  5. I Will Sing of That Home
  6. If Indeed We Are Led by the Spirit of God
  7. Jesus Is My Full Salvation
  8. Jesus Is Precious, Jesus Is Mine
  9. Jesus Now Is Waiting
  10. Joyfully Again We Meet
  11. Let the Little Children Sing
  12. Lift Up the Gospel Banner
  13. Little While in Darkness Here, A
  14. Look Up, the Stars Are Shining
  15. My Savior Dear, I Come to Thee
  16. O Come, We Are Marching
  17. O How Sweet the Blest Assurance
  18. O Plenteous Is the Harvest
  19. O Tell Them of Jesus, Those Children So Dear
  20. Oft We Sing of a Home
  21. Path That Leads to the Heavenly Land, The
  22. Precious Savior, Thou Art Mine
  23. Prodigal Child, The
  24. Rest By and By
  25. Rise in Thy Splendor, O Star
  26. Savior Is Calling for Thee, The
  27. Savior Left His Home, The
  28. Savior Will Care for the Children, The
  29. Stand by the Gospel Banner
  30. There Is a City, Lovelier Far
  31. There Is Music over Yonder
  32. There Remaineth a Rest to the People of God
  33. ’Tis Sweet, Blest Lord, When Breaks the Rosy Morning
  34. ’Tis Sweet, Blest Lord
  35. ’Tis the Promise of the Father
  36. Watch, for the Hour Is Coming
  37. When from Those That We Love We Are Parting
  38. When Is Set Life’s Golden Harvest
  39. When the Evening Shadows Slowly Gather