Threescore and ten years measures the length of Mr. Coburn 's life to the present time, but measured by what he has experienced and accomplished, his career has many distinctions not dependent on the passing of time. Now living retired at Portsmouth, with abundance of material comforts, he spent his youth in the country district of Scioto County, won honors and rank as lieutenant during the war, and later devoted himself to varied business activities in this and other counties of Ohio.


Oscar M. Coburn was born in Columbiana County, Ohio, December 25, 1844, and in the same house was born his father, Arthur A. Coburn, in 1810. The grandfather, a native of Ireland, at the age of twelve came to America with an older brother, who settled in New England. Subsequently Grandfather Coburn made his way into Northwest Territory, settling in what is now Columbiana County, where he secured a tract of timbered land about five miles from Salem and seven miles from Wellsville. Having improved a farm he and his wife lived there until death. Their eight children were James, Thomas, William, Arthur. Samuel, John, Margaret and Sarah.


Arthur A. Coburn was reared and married in his native county and made it his home until 1846. The previous year he had visited Scioto County, and entered a tract of government land in Madison township. He proceeded to clear up five acres, and in the same fall sowed it to wheat and also built a cabin of round logs, with spilt-puncheon floors, a mud and stick chimney, and the roof was covered with clapboards, rived by hand and held in place by weight poles. The door was also made of a heavy puncheon, with a wooden latch, lifted by a deer thong, and the neighbors afterwards measured the hospitality of the Coburn home by saying "the latch string always is out." When this part of his pioneer home-making was finished, he returned to Columbiana County for the winter, and in the spring embarked his household goods, stock, farm implements, and family on an Ohio River steamboat, and came down the river to the new settlement. At that time there were no railroads in this section of Ohio, all transportation being by river, canal or highways. Mrs. Arthur Coburn was a type of the old-fashioned housewife. She carded, spun and wove both flax and wool, was the family tailor and dressmaker, and clothed them all in homespun. Mr. Coburn with the assistance of his growing sons, cleared a farm and later built a commodious hewed log house, which he weatherboarded and painted, and in which he lived until his death, in January 1876.


Arthur A. Coburn married Martha Caldwell. She was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The father, Joseph Caldwell, was born in Scotland, and on coming to this country located in Pittsburg, where for several years he was engaged in the manufacture of axes. Later he moved north of Pittsburg into Mercer County, and bought land that included Sandy Lake, remaining there until his death at a good old age. His wife survived to the remarkable age of ninety-eight. Mrs. Coburn was well educated, and was a teacher before her marriage. She died in July, 1880. Her children were Thomas, Phebe A., James, Harvey, Caldwell, Martha J., Arthur, Oscar M., Robert and Theodore. Four of these sons, including Oscar, were soldiers in the Civil war. Thomas was killed at the battle of Fredericksburg, another died at Lexington, Kentucky, while Harvey, who enlisted at the first call and fought in the first Bull Run, was honorably discharged and while coming home was crippled in a railway accident.


Oscar M. Coburn grew up in the community where his parents had settled when he was a child, and got his education from the rural schools. He was not yet seventeen when the war broke out. but he became one of the many boy volunteers who bore the brunt of the task of putting down the rebellion. In August, 1861. he enlisted in Company E of the Thirty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry, and was with his command in its various skirmishes, battles and marches until the battle of Perryville, Kentucky. There he received a severe wound, was taken to the hospital at Louisville, and was given an honorable discharge February 27. 1863. Not yet satisfied with soldering, he again enlisted May 9, 1865, this time in Battery F of the First Ohio Heavy Artillery. He went by rail to Lexington, Kentucky, and thence marched to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he arrived the same month, being made corporal in his company. He had been in Knoxville only a short time when he was one of six detailed by General Schofield for secret service. This squad, commanded by George W. Kirk, crossed the mountains to North Carolina, their purpose being to discover a feasible route for an army. A Cherokee Indian was secured for a guide, but lost his way, and for three days they wandered in the mountains without food. Many of the loyal mountaineers joined in the expedition and piloted the way to Camp Vance, where 354 Confederates were guarding 398 Union prisoners. On reaching that place. Captain Kirk, who then had about ninety men around him, concluded to capture the prison camp. Young Coburn was detailed to take a flag of truce into the camp and demand its surrender. He got into the camp at daybreak while its commander was still in bed. He gave the commander five minutes to answer his demand for surrender, and after a hurried consultation the demand was complied with.


While these things were going on, young Coburn was too busy to write home, and his mother had addressed a letter of inquiry which fell into the hands of Capt. A. B. Cole, of Company F, First Ohio Heavy Artillery, and his reply to her in a letter which she carefully preserved, is an interesting document in Mr. Coburn 's career, and the substance of it is copied as follows: The latter was addressed from Knoxville, August 2, 1864, and reads as follows: "Your note to the Christian Commission was put in my hands this moment by one of the agents. You seek information of your son Oscar M. Coburn of my Company F, 1st O. V. H. A. I am surprised at this, for I had supposed that Oscar was very prompt in writing to his friends, and if he was not I know no good reason why you or any of his friends should hesitate for a moment to ask information of his captain, or rather of his former captain, for I am no longer so. Oscar is a first lieutenant in the Third North Carolina Cavalry. Oscar is in excellent good health and in fine spirits, and is a number one soldier. He was in my tent until 11 o'clock last night, and went to town but a few moments since on business for his regiment. We the officers of his former regiment bought and presented him a sword. He is very well liked by his new friends. He went to North Carolina with Colonel Kirk of the Third North Carolina Mounted Infantry on his great raid when they captured Camp Vance and 300 prisoners. They had no white flag to send in when they made the demand for the surrender. Col. Kirk tore the tail or skirt from his shirt, and Oscar carried it in and made the demand for the surrender, which was complied with. In conclusion I would say that Oscar is very capable of taking care of himself, and you should give yourself no unnecessary anxiety on his account," etc.


As the letter explains, after the capture of Camp Vance, Mr. Coburn and his comrades returned to the battery at Knoxville, and soon afterward he was commissioned lieutenant of Company O of the Third North Carolina Mounted Infantry. On December 20, 1864, he was wounded at the battle of Indian Creek. North Carolina, and for thirty-six years carried the bullet in his body. At the close of hostilities he resigned his command and returned to the homestead farm in Ohio.


After his marriage he began his career as an independent farmer on rented land at Lucasville, but two years later bought a sawmill and was a lumber manufacturer two years. His chief business, however, continuing for twenty-five years was as contractor in the building of roads, railroads, bridges and similar construction work. He then entered the merchandise business in Harrisonville and in Harpster, Wyandotte Comity, for a year, following which for two years he operated a roller flour mill at Stockdale, in Pike County. He next began investing in farm lands, buying a farm in Madison Township, and in time had about 600 acres. His home was in the country until 1895, when he moved to Portsmouth, bought a house on Summit Street and some unimproved land, and after making some improvements sold and bought 7½ acres of the Young homestead, where he lived until October, 1914, when he moved to New Boston, Ohio. Mr. Coburn has laid out in lots and sold a portion of this city property. At present his only business is in looking after his private interests.


On July 24, 1867, Mr. Coburn married Elizabeth Deemer, who was born in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, a daughter of Jacob and Susan (Bonzoe) Deemer, natives of the same county. Grandfather Deemer was a native of Germany, while Grandfather Bonzoe was born in France. Mrs. Coburn 's parents settled in Madison Township, Scioto County, on a farm, in 1857, and her father died the same year. Her mother died at the Coburn home in 1884 in her eighty-seventh year.

 

Mr. Coburn and wife have reared five children—Launa. M., Lizadore, Ida Florence, Oscar M. and Ernest H. Launa is the wife of John R. Monroe, and their five children are Ida F., who married John Spry and
has two daughters, Goldie and Charlotte; Enid, who married Sylvane Portee, and has a son Cullen; John; Edith and Harlan. The daughter Lizadore married John S. Violet, and their four sons are Raymond D., Charles J., Forest C. and Arlin. The daughter Ida is the wife of William M. Brown, and has a daughter Wilma. Oscar M., Jr., married May Wheeler. Ernest married Ethel Dugan.


For many years Mr. Coburn took a prominent part in the affairs of the Grand Army. He was a charter member of Bailey Post No. 164, and later organized Scioto Post at Harrisonville. He is affiliated with the Harrisonville Lodge of Knights of Pythias. He was reared in the Presbyterian Church, while Mrs. Coburn is of the Lutheran Church.

 

From "A Standing History of the Hanging Rock Iron Region of Ohio" by Eugene B. Willard, Daniel W. Williams, George O. Newman and Charles B. Taylor.  Published by Lewis Publishing Company, 1916