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Foster Dwight Coburn was born in Cold Spring township, Jefferson county,. Wisconsin, May 7, 1846. His father was Ephriam W. Coburn, and his mother Mary Jane Mulks. At eighteen he was corporal in company F, one hundred and thirty-fifth regiment, Illinois volunteer infantry, and promoted from private to sergeant-major of the sixty-second regiment, Illinois volunteer infantry, veterans.


Arriving in Franklin county, Kansas, February, 1867, he was a farm laborer and farmer there until July, 1880, when invited to a position in the office of the State Board of Agriculture under Secretary J. K. Hudson. In 1869 he was married to Lou Jenkins.

Mr. Coburn was unanimously elected secretary of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture, vice J. K. Hudson, resigned, serving until January 11, 1882, when he was displaced, on a legal technicality, for William Sims. He was president of the Indicator Publishing Company, of Kansas City, Mo., and editor-in-chief of the Livestock Indicator for five and a half years, 1882 to 1887, and later was editorial writer on the Kansas City Gazette with George W. Martin. He has prepared and published, as secretary, some thirty-odd volumes of reports of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture, and has contributed much to various periodicals upon agricultural and kindred topics, and is one of the editors of Country Life in America.

Twice appointed by Governor Glick as regent of the State Agricultural College, and twice unanimously elected president of the Board of Regents.

Sole judge of swine at the Cotton States Universal Exposition at New Orleans, 1884. Sole judge of three breeds of swine, and member of the committee of three judging all other swine, at the Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893.

Elected secretary of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture (succeeding Martin Mohler) January 12, 1894, and reflected by acclamation in 1896, 1898, 1900, 1902, 1904, 1906, 1908, 1910, 1912 and 1914; resigned, to take effect June 30, 1914. Refused, before the State Editorial Association meeting in 1898, at Kansas City, Kan., to be considered as the candidate of the Republican party for governor. Notwithstanding this declination, he was given eighty-odd votes for governor at the Republican state convention at Hutchinson, later, when W. E. Stanley was nominated.

Treasurer of the fund raised by Kansas to relieve the famine sufferers in India. Unanimously elected president of the first American Corn Congress, held in Chicago, February 15 and 16, 1898. Twice appointed by Governor Stanley as a regent of the State Agricultural College, and unanimously elected vice president of the board of regents, and served until he resigned, upon accession of W. J. Bailey as governor. Elected but declined to serve as president of the Kansas Semicentennial Exposition Association. Chief of the Department of Live Stock of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, 1903-'04.

Given honorary degree of doctor of laws by Kansas State Agricultural College, November 11, 1909. Given honorary degree as master of arts by Baker University, June, 1909.

Director and vice president of the Prudential Trust Company, Topeka. Director of the Prudential State Bank, Topeka (was urged at the organization to accept its presidency, but declined). Director of the Bank of Topeka. Director and vice president of the Capitol Building and Loan Association, Topeka.

Tendered by Governor Hoch appointment as a senator in Congress, vice J. R. Burton, re'signed, 1906; declined. Four times unanimously elected president of the Kansas State Temperance Union, serving as such four full terms; declined a reelection as president, but was made treasurer. Chairman executive committee Kansas State Temperance Union ten years. Named by law ex-officio chairman Kansas State Dairy Commission during its existence, 1907-'08.

Chairman of the joint Kansas-Oklahoma committee to investigate the Kansas State Penitentiary, December, 1908, and January, 1909; appointed by Governor E. W. Hoch. Chairman of a like Kansas committee for similar duty in 1910; appointed by Governor W. R. Stubbs.

Life member and has been named by law ex-officio chairman Kansas State Entomological Commission from its beginning in 1909. Honorary life member Kansas State Horticultural Society. Many times unanimously elected a director of the Kansas State Historical Society. Honorary member Kansas State Editorial Association.

Author of "Swine Husbandry," 1877; "Alfalfa," 1901; "The Book of Alfalfa," 1907; "Swine in America," 1909; also many volumes of reports of the Kansas Board of Agriculture on special subjects.