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John Eugene Osborne

In office
1893 – 1895
Preceded by Amos W. Barber
Succeeded by William A. Richards

In office
April 21, 1913 – December 14, 1916
Preceded by Huntington Wilson
Succeeded by William Phillips

Born June 19, 1858(1858-06-19)
Westport, New York, U.S.
Died April 24, 1943 (aged 84)
Rawlins, Wyoming, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Selina Smith Osborne
Profession Physician, Politician, Banker, Farmer

John Eugene Osborne (June 19, 1858 – April 24, 1943) was an American physician, farmer, banker and Democratic politician. He was the third Governor of Wyoming after the Wyoming Territory attained statehood in 1890.

Osborne was born in Westport, New York, the son of John C. Osborne and Mary E. Rail. He studied medicine at the University of Vermont and graduated in 1880. Soon after graduation he found employment as a surgeon for the Union Pacific Railroad, and moved to Rawlins, Carbon County, Wyoming.

In 1883, Osborne was elected to Wyoming's House of the Territorial Assembly, but resigned in 1885, when he left the Territory for a brief period. In 1888, Osborne was appointed chairman of the Penitentiary Building Commission and elected mayor of the town of Rawlins. During the 1880s, Osborne set up as a physician and chemist in Rawlins, and opened a farm, at one point being known as the largest individual sheep owner in Wyoming. In his capacity as a local physician, he was involved in the execution of Big Nose George Parrott: he helped conduct the autopsy, and later had Parrot's skin tanned and made into a pair of shoes he wore at his inauguration.

In 1892, amidst unconfirmed claims of election irregularities, Osborne defeated Acting Governor Amos W. Barber in Wyoming's second gubernatorial elections since achieving statehood. Many incidents surrounded the election, including an almost-certainly incorrect allegation that Osborne had crawled along a ledge outside the Senate House and entered the Governor's Office through a window, in order to prevent Barber from occupying the office in his stead. Osborne was one of only a handful of Democrats to win Governorship of the state of Wyoming, and his term was stormy and rife with bitter fighting between his party and the Republicans. He finished his term on January 7, 1895, and declined renomination. From March 4, 1897 until March 3, 1899 he served in the 55th United States Congress as U.S. Representative from Wyoming, but again declined renomination when his term expired.

Osborne was Assistant Secretary of State, serving the Wilson Administration from 1913 until December 14, 1915. He was also chairman of the board of the Rawlins National Bank. He was married on November 2, 1907 to Selina Smith.

He was a member of the Freemasons, and one of the groups that claim lineage with the Knights Templar. He died in Rawlins in 1943, aged 84, and is interred at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Princeton, Kentucky.


Further Reading

Ridenour, Hugh (2008), "John E. Osborne: A Real "Character" from the Old West", Annals of Wyoming:The Wyoming History Journal (Wyoming State Historical Society) 80 (3): 2–16  

Political offices
Preceded by
Amos W. Barber
Governor of Wyoming
1893 – 1895
Succeeded by
William A. Richards
Preceded by
Huntington Wilson
United States Assistant Secretary of State
April 21, 1913 – December 14, 1915
Succeeded by
William Phillips
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Franklin Wheeler Mondell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wyoming's 1st congressional district

March 4, 1897 – March 3, 1899
Succeeded by
Franklin Wheeler Mondell


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