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  • Writer's pictureLawrence Lore

Cobe Garrard- IL State Board of Agriculture

According to the IL State Register, Springfield, Illinois, 7-22-1908, Wilson Coburn “Cobe” Garrard was born in 1849 in Maysville, Mason County, Kentucky, on the Ohio river, about fifty miles southeast of Cincinnati, Ohio. His obituary published in the Lawrence County News, Lawrenceville, Illinois July 23, 1908, page 1 stated that he was born in Paris Kentucky in November 1848.

Wilson Coburn Garrard was the son of Dr. William Mountjoy Garrard (grandson of James Garrard, the second governor of Kentucky) and Matilda Ann Coburn (daughter of Dr. Wilson Coburn, of Maysville, Kentucky). His father, W. M. Garrard, practiced medicine in Kentucky before moving to Lawrenceville, Lawrence County, Illinois in 1855. Dr Garrard was one of the pioneer physicians of this county. 

While in Lawrenceville, Cobe, as he was known by everyone in Lawrence County, acquired his public-school education and grew to manhood.  Early in life Cobe manifested his fitness for public life and in 1867 before he was of age, he was appointed deputy county clerk under I B Watts, serving with marked distinction in that office.  In 1872 he was nominated for sheriff on the Democratic ticket but was defeated. In 1878 he was made clerk of one of the most important committees in the lower House of Congress, under J R Eden and again manifested his fitness for the position.

In October 1879 the Lawrence County Democrat newspaper was established by Cobe Garrard. The Garrard’s were radical in their politics and so was their paper. Cobe published the eight-page folio for about two years and then sold the paper to S B Rowland.  T P Lowery became the principal editor, and it was conducted in the interest of the Grange and was called the Farmers Union. It later became the Democratic Herald.

On October 19, 1882, the Sumner Press newspaper published in Sumner Illinois announced that Cobe Garrard of Lawrenceville had received an appointment in the tax auditor’s office of the B & O Railroad at Cincinnati and had departed for the place.  Cobe held that position until 1885 when he resigned to accept a clerkship with the Illinois State Board of Agriculture.  He held this position for four years until the Sumner Press announced on February 28, 1889, that Cobe had been elected secretary of that body. Much of the success of the Illinois state fairs before his death was due to his untiring energy and work. His obituary reported that the standing of that institution then was due perhaps more to his efforts than any other single man.

Wilson Coburn Garrard, who had resigned his position because of ill health in 1907 as secretary of the Illinois State Board of Agriculture after a faithful service of over twenty-six years, died at 8:45 o'clock July 21,1908 at his home, located at the southwest corner of Washington street and Douglas Avenue, Springfield, Illinois. The cause of death was “softening of the brain” according to a telegram sent by J K Dickirson to the Lawrence County News July 23, 1908, Page 1.

Mr. Garrard was twice married, the first time to Miss Susie Rawlston, of Baltimore, Maryland in August 1879, as reported in the Rural Republican published in Lawrenceville, Illinois August 29, 1879, and the second time to Miss Caroline Huey of Springfield, Illinois according to his obituary.  The couple had two daughters, Caroline and Sue, who survived him. 

According to IL State Register, Springfield, IL, 7-22-1908, Cobe was raised an Episcopalian, but in later years united with the Catholic church, in which faith he continued steadfastly until his death.  In addition to his bereaved wife and daughters, he was survived by two sisters, Mrs. Anna Barrett, of Greenwood Mississippi and Mrs. Sue Kennan, of Hot Springs Arkansas.  Mrs. L C Tracy, of Lawrenceville, Illinois, was the only living relative of the deceased in Lawrence County, she being a cousin. 

Wilson Colburn “Cobe” Garrard was buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois.

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Just the Facts

Lawrence County is comprised of 371.98 sq. miles of land. There are 6,272,640 square inches in every acre. 1860 there were 931 farms. 2007 Census Lawrence county o Number of farms - 421 o Land in acre


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