Obituary Record

Luther W., Colonel Osborn
Died on 10/17/1901
Buried in Blair Cemetery

Veteran, Civil War, 142nd NY Inf., Co. E

Several newspaper articles

# 1 - - Published in The Pilot, November 14, 1901


Col. L. W. Osborn, Blair’s beloved, honored and distinguished citizen is dead. Word reached Blair Tuesday evening. Death is reported to have resulted October 17th, but no cause was given. He came to Blair in 1869 and was married in 1871 to Miss M. Rogers.

Col. Osborn sailed for Samoa October 14, 1897 and none realized then that he was gone forever. In his official capacity he has made a magnificent officer and won the entire confidence of not only the state department at Washington but also of England and Germany who were also interested in the Samoan Islands. Osborn was a magnificent man.

In speaking of Mr. Osborn a Washington correspondent has this to say: “The death of Luther W. Osborn of Nebraska, consul general at Apia, Samoa, announced today by the State department, came as a great shock to the officials. His communications to the department have been marked by thoroughness, clearness and value. When trouble between the contending factions of the natives arose, Judge Osborn, as acting Chief Justice of the Samoan Islands, decided every question with such extreme fairness that both sides to a controversy were bound to accept his decisions. When the excitement of islands was at white heat and actual warfare between contending native tribes had broken out, Consul General Osborn remained on the island, refusing to take refuge on a man-of-war, and by his coolness and courage prevented wholesale slaughter. The consular service of the United States contains not a chapter of coolness, intelligent judgment and successful diplomacy on the part of any consul surpassing this chapter of Judge Osborn’s record at Apia. For two years Judge Osborn’s health had not been reassuring. Last December he wrote Chief Clerk Michael of the State department a personal letter, in which he said, ‘Myself and family are not well. No one has been able to remain here as long as I have. The climate in many respects is beautiful, but for some reason one goes down just a little every day.’ In a subsequent letter he wrote Colonel Michael that he would be obliged to take a vacation, even if it required him to resign in order to recuperate.

“Colonel Michael, in speaking of Judge Osborn, whom he had known favorably for twenty years, said: ‘The State department feels that in the death of consul general at Apia the service has lost one its brightest and most valuable representatives.’”

# 2 - - Pilot, December 26, 1901

We do not expect to be able to attend the funeral of Col. Osborn, (late American Consul and Chief Justice of Samoa) at Blair today. But our sympathy goes out to his numerous friends and especially the wife and son who cannot attend owing to climatic changes. Col. Luther Osborn and us never had occasion to ask a personal favor of each other. Our friendship was a simple, honest friendly regard for each other. Our first real speaking acquaintance occurred some years since when side by side we marched from the Grand Army Hall in Blair to the park each trying to carry an old-fashioned army musket in the old-fashioned way and we feel especially proud of the last letter he wrote us a couple of weeks before he died in which he stated that he had answered ours immediately because we had not written as though we had an axe to grind and we cannot today recall any one of our acquaintances with a larger number of personal friends.

(The following five short newspaper articles are all from The Pilot, and of the same date.)

# 3 - - from The Pilot, December 23, 1901

The funeral of the late COL. L. W. OSBORN will be held at Germania Hall today (Monday) at 1:30 P.M. under the direction of Jordan Commandery No. 15, of the order of Knights Templar.

# 4 - - Pilot, December 23, 1901

The body of Colonel Osborn arrived last Saturday morning at 6:47 from Omaha and was taken charge of at once by the Knights Templar. The funeral will be held at Germania Hall Monday at 1:30 p.m. under the auspices of Jordan Commandery No. 15 Knights Templar. The Grand Army boys will act in the capacity of a guard of honor. The services will be public and all friends of the deceased are cordially invited to be present. The Knights Templar are requested to appear in full uniform and all visiting Knights are cordially invited to be present in full uniform if possible.

# 5 - - Pilot, December 23, 1901

The funeral of Col. Osborn, held at Germania Hall, Monday afternoon was largely attended and a number of business houses voluntarily closed up while the services were being held. The ceremony was in charge of the Jordan Commandery No. 15, Knights Templar and many from out of town were present. These sad rites were performed over a distinguished citizen, one who enjoyed not only a national but an international reputation. Col. Osborn was a man who was universally admired and was a perfect gentleman in all his manners. He had friends without number who regret that he could not have been spared to complete his work in Samoa and return to Blair where he might have spent the balance of a useful life. Mrs. Osborn and Stanley are in San Francisco. Owing to the condition of the weather here and coming as they did from a tropical climate they felt that the risk was too great to come to Nebraska at this time.

# 6 - - Pilot, December 23, 1901

The Blair business men should today blush with shame that they didn’t close their business houses for at least an hour or two during the Osborne service. No other town in Nebraska would have missed the opportunity to honor the memory of a departed distinguished citizen. Another town would have been properly decorated and the average business greed of the average business man would have been choked off for at least a little space of time.

# 7 - - Pilot, December 23, 1901

Among those from up the road who were in Blair Monday to attend the funeral of Col. Osborn were b. R. Latta and wife; Warren Conklin; M. R. Hopewell; S. S. Skinner; E. I. Ellis; E. C. Houston; C. E. Hopewell; Tom Roberts; R. A. Smith of Tekamah and Messrs. Stanfield, Craig; and Driscoll of Craig.

#8-14 Nov., 1901 - Blair Courier - Luther W. OsborN


Blair’s Distinguished Citizen Passes Away While at His Post in Samoa

The Omaha Evening Bee brought the news on Tuesday that Consul General L. W. Osborn died at Apia, Samoa on October 17. The sad news spread like wild fire over the city, and expressions of the keenest sorrow were heard on every hand. The news came by cablegram to the state department in Washington from Auckland, New Zealand, that being the nearest cable point. The date is probably wrong and should be October 27, as two letters were received here Monday from him, one to Mayor Haller dated October 18, and one to Fred Taylor in San Francisco and sent on to his father, A. J. Taylor, dated October 19.

The news of his death was received at Washington with many sincere expressions of regret, for during the rebellion in these islands a year or so ago, his conduct was such as to gain for him a worldwide reputation. He alone of the three governments’ representatives remained after the trouble was over, for as chief justice he had decided every question with such eminent fairness that both sides to the controversy were bound to accept his decisions.

When the excitement of the islands was at white heat, and actual warfare between contending native tribes had broken out, Consul General Osborn remained on the island, refusing to take refuge on a man of war, and by his coolness and courage prevented wholesale slaughter. A staff correspondent to the Omaha Bee says: “The consular service of the United States contains not a chapter of coolness, intelligent judgment and successful diplomacy on the part of any consul surpassing this chapter of Judge Osborn’s record at Apia.”

Colonel Osborn, as he was familiarly known here, was born in Ithaca, N.Y. in 1842 and served in a New York regiment during the Civil war. At the chose of the war he took a law course at Ithaca and came to this city to practice law in 1869. For some years he was alone, but afterwards formed a partnership with the late John Carrigan, Judge Lee Estelle, now of Omaha, Atty. W. H. Farnsworth, now of Sioux City, and Attorneys Clark O’Hanlon and Herman Aye of this city.

He was a delegate to the national republican convention in ’76 and a member of the national committee from ’76 to ’80. In 1897 he received his appointment to Samoa and a monster reception was held in his honor before his departure. He was past commander of the local Blue Lodge A.F. & A.M., Past Eminent Commander of Jordan Commandery K.T. and also Past Commander Garfield Post, G.A.R.

Our people had taken great pride in Col. Osborn and had followed his career very closely, only to have their esteem heightened by the years. We had even looked forward to the time when we could welcome him home in a way befitting his high position. But now this hope is gone for he has been called to another home, and received another welcome. He leaves a wife and an only son, Stanley, for whom their many friends here extend heartfelt sympathy.

26 Dec., 1901 - Blair Courier - Luther W. Osborn

The body of the late Consul General L. W. Osborn arrived in this city last Saturday morning, and was taken to Pierce’s morgue where it lay until Monday morning when it was taken to Germania Hall to lie in state until the hour set for the funeral, 1:30 in the afternoon. At that hour the hall was well filled with the old friends of the Colonel, as he was familiarly called here. The casket lay in the central aisle near the front of the hall and was decorated with the same flags and flowers that were on it when it arrived, also a handsome floral tribute by the local G.A.R. post. Jordan Commandery No. 15 Knights Templar, of which the deceased was past commander, had immediate charge of the service and about twenty five members of that order sat on either side of the casket, with a large delegation from John A. Dix Post, G.A.R., immediately back of them. E. C. Jackson, as commander, and H. W. McBride, as prelate, read the solemn and impressive service, and often the beautiful words were scarcely audible for an inexpressible sorrow was in their hearts. The choir was composed of Mrs. J. F. Rutter and Misses Mary Cook, Alice Pound, Eva Phelps and Gertrude Mead and Messrs. Frank Castetter, Curtis Edwards and F. W. Arndt. As was his wish, the body was laid in the last resting place in the Blair cemetery by the hands of his friends, after having once been interred in far off Samoa, exhumed and completed a journey of thousands of miles by sea and land. That his body should come back to us unattended seemed sad indeed, but Mrs. Osborn and Stanley did not believe it best to come into this rigorous climate direct from the tropics.

(A puzzle: The time line of publication of some of the above newspaper articles does not seem to correspond with the subject of the article. Also, a search in the Blair Cemetery records online show L. W. Osborn’s death date as 1/1/1901.)

~~~Obituaries courtesy of the Nebraska Washington County Genealogical Society. Newspaper clippings on file in the Blair, Nebraska Public Library~~~

FindaGrave # 57412163

Printed in the Blair Pilot on 11/14/1901