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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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Roswell L. Cofran, thrice honored by election to the highest municipal office in Topeka, is one of the city’s leading business men and for years has been closely identified with the city’s advancement and commercial prosperity. Mr. Cofran was born in 1845, at Wheelock, Vermont, and is a son of John and Nancy (Hoyt) Cofran.

Mr. Cofran’s life until the opening of the Civil War, in 1861, was spent mainly in securing an education, his studies including academic and university courses. Although but a youth, he entertained such loyal sentiments that when the Sixth Vermont Regiment was formed, he enlisted as a member of one of its companies, in which he was promoted to be a corporal, and gave his services all through the struggle until 1863.

In 1870 Mr. Cofran first became a resident of Topeka. His natural inclinations led him to learn the trade of machinist and he was employed for six years in this city in the Topeka Foundry (now known as the Western Foundry). Mr. Cofran showed a natural aptitude for such work and his close application to his duties and ready comprehension of the details of this line of industry soon gave him a just reputation as a careful and reliable workman. In 1876 he became the proprietor of the Western Foundry, since which time the success of this plant has been assured. In connection with the foundry, he owns a large machine shop which is thoroughly equipped with modern machinery, and a blacksmith shop and a brass foundry. The trade of this large concern extends all over the West and Southwest and even into Mexico.

In addition to managing this important and constantly expanding business, Mr. Cofran has been very prominently identified with political affairs here and is an acknowledged Democratic leader. In 1885 he was elected mayor of Topeka for a term of two years, in 1889 he was reelected mayor and again in 1891. Each time his opponent was Hon. D. C. Metsker, who was elected to the office in 1887 but was defeated two years later by Mr. Cofran.

In 1881 Mr. Cofran was married to Caroline Fritchie, of Topeka, and they have two daughters and one son, namely: Grace, Maud and Roswell L., Jr., all living at home. Mr. Cofran belongs to the Masons and has taken all the degrees up to and including the 32nd. He is also a member of the I. O. O. F., B. P. O. E. and K. P. His 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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