Robert Wilkinson Furnas

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Robert Wilkinson Furnas
Robert Wilkinson Furnace.jpg
2nd Governor of Nebraska
In office
January 13, 1873 – January 11, 1875
Preceded by William H. James
Acting Governor
Succeeded by Silas Garber
Personal details
Born May 5, 1824
Died June 1, 1905 (aged 81)
Political party Republican

Robert Wilkinson Furnas (May 5, 1824 – June 1, 1905) was the second Governor of Nebraska .

Furnas was born near Troy, Ohio, and attended public school. He worked as a farmer, printer, tinsmith, insurance salesman and postmaster. He married Mary Elizabeth McComas on October 29, 1845, who died in 1897; and his second was Susannah Emswiler Jameson. He had eight children.[1]


Furnas came to Nebraska in 1856 at the age of thirty-two. Two months later he published the Nebraska Advertiser, a publication advertising the agricultural opportunities found in Nebraska. He also published the Nebraska Farmer, the first agricultural publication out of Nebraska.

In 1856 and 1858, Furnas was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Nebraska Territory. He served as the public printer for the Nebraska Territory in 1857. In 1861, he was the chief clerk of the Territorial Council.

Civil War[edit]

During the Civil War, Furnas became a colonel in the territorial militia, which was loyal to the Union (American Civil War). In 1862 he commanded three Indian regiments aligned with the Union Army and captured the Cherokee Indian chief John Ross.

Postbellum Career[edit]

After the war, Furnas served as Indian agent for the Omaha, Winnebago, and Ponca tribes. He was a member of the University of Nebraska board of regents from 1869 to 1875,[2] first president of the Nebraska State Historical Society from 1878 to 1890, United States commissioner to the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, United States Commissioner to the New Orleans Cotton Centennial and United States commissioner to the Chicago Columbian Exposition.

Furnas served as President of the American Fair Association, President of the State Board of Agriculture, President of the State Horticultural Society, Fourth Grand Master of Masons of Nebraska AF&AM from 1865 to 1866, and First President of the Nebraska Teachers Association.

Furnas secured the Republican nomination, and was elected governor by popular vote. He served as Governor of Nebraska from 1873 to 1875.[3]


Furnas died in 1905 and is interred in Walnut Grove Cemetery in Brownville, Nebraska.[4]


Furnas helped to create Arbor Day when he was governor.

Furnas County, Nebraska, is named in his honor.[5][6]


  1. ^ "Robert Wilkinson Furnas". National Governors Association. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  2. ^ "Robert Wilkinson Furnas". The Political Graveyard. Retrieved 16 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "Robert Wilkinson Furnas". Find A Grave. Retrieved August 5, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Robert Wilkinson Furnas". Find A Grave. Retrieved July 28, 2012. 
  5. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 133. 
  6. ^ "Profile for Furnas County, Nebraska, NE". ePodunk. Retrieved August 5, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
William H. James
Acting Governor
Governor of Nebraska
Succeeded by
Silas Garber