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Below is a family biography included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Foster Dwight Coburn, whose prolific pen devoted to the agricultural interests of Kansas, as well as his distinguished public services in connection with the State Board of Agriculture and the State Agricultural College, have made him known all over the land, is a native of Wisconsin but Kansas has claimed him since 1867. Mr. Coburn was born in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, May 7, 1846, and remained there on the parental farm until 13 years old and then lived three years at Hannibal, Missouri.

Mr. Coburn is a graduate of no college or university, his school training having been confined to what he could secure in the common schools of his native county. When but a youth of 18 years he enlisted for service in the Civil War, entering as a private Company F, 135th Reg., Illinois Vol. Inf., at Greenville, Illinois. After the close of his first term of service, he reenlisted in the 62nd Regiment, Illinois Vet. Vol. Inf., and served until March, 1866, when he was mustered out with the rank of sergeant major, at Fort Gibson, Indian Territory.

After the close of the war, Mr. Coburn came to Kansas, more interested in agriculture than anything else, being led to this section on account of the location here of his former superior officer, Col. L. C. True. Colonel True owned a ranch in Franklin County and he engaged Mr. Coburn’s services and gave him an opportunity to prove his ability. He soon became so interested in the various branches of his work that he consented to discuss various topics at the farmers’ meetings and to contribute articles for the local press upon what he considered important subjects, that by 1880 he had attracted enough attention to be offered a position in the office of the State Board of Agriculture. In the following year he was unanimously elected its secretary. After serving for a short period, he located at Wyandotte, now Kansas City, Kansas, where he took editorial charge of the Kansas City (Missouri) Live-Stock Indicator, a journal he conducted successfully for nearly six years, increasing in this time his popularity as an agricultural authority to such a degree that in 1882 he was appointed by Governor George W. Glick, a regent of the State Agricultural College, and made president of the board. Upon the expiration of his term he was reappointed, and reelected president. In 1894 he again became secretary of the State Board of Agriculture and was reelected on five excessive occasions by acclamation. When Governor William E. Stanley became chief executive of the State, he appointed Mr. Coburn a regent of the State Agricultural College, and he was elected vice-president of the board.

Mr. Coburn has contributed vastly to the agricultural history of Kansas and his books on general agricultural subjects form of themselves a library, which covers many of the most important subjects. Among these works may be mentioned as leading ones: “Swine Husbandry,” “Alfalfa Growing,” “The Helpful Hen,” “Cow Culture,” “The Modern Sheep,” “The Horse Useful,” “Corn and the Sorghums,” “Forage and Fodders,” “Shorthorn Cattle,” “Hereford Cattle,” “Polled Cattle,” “Pork Production,” “Kansas Wheat Growing,” ‘Modern Dairying” and “Potato Production,” all of these, as will be noted, on such practical subjects as to make them valuable as text-books.

Mr. Coburn was married in 1869 to Lou Jenkines, and they have three children, all of whom are graduates of the State Agricultural College. Mr. Coburn has always been a consistent Republican and on more than one occasion has been urged to accept political offices of the highest character. In 1898 he was brought forward as his party’s candidate for Governor but absolutely declined the honor. He has also been tentatively proffered the presidency of the Agricultural College, but, while appreciating the confidence of his fellow-citizens, has declined to serve. Mr. Coburn’s portrait accompanies this sketch.

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This family biography is one of 206 biographies included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  For the complete description, click here: Shawnee County, Kansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Shawnee County, Kansas family biographies here: Shawnee County, Kansas

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