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Willis L. Osborne

OSBORNE, DENISON, COLMAN, AUSTIN

Posted By: Sharyl Ferrall
Date: 4/16/2007 at 21:25:31

WILLIS L. OSBORNE, of 422 West avenue, South La Crosse, is a
journalist, familiarly known not only in that city, but throughout
the state and the neighboring states where his professional work has
been done. His grandfather, Jonathan Osborne, was a native of
Connecticut and a descendant of an English family who settled in
that part of the country in colonial times. About 1810 he moved to
New York state, then a part of the frontier, and located at Nelson,
Madison county, where his death occurred in 1843, at the age of
seventy-six. Jonathan Willis Osborne, his son, born about 1814,
was one of the younger members of a large family, most of whom
grew to maturity. He married Miss Alma R. Denison, a native of
New York state, and died suddenly, while absent from home on business
at Groton, N. Y., leaving a widow, three sons and one daughter.
The family came west in 1858, and located in La Crosse, where several
members of it still reside. Willis L. Osborne was the second son,
and was a young man at the beginning of the Civil war, and enlisted
as a private in Company G, of the Fortieth Wisconsin infantry,
which his brother Rockwell, a member of Company D of the Fourteenth
Wisconsin infantry, assisted in organizing. Mr. Osborne
received his education in the public schools, and early turned his
attention to journalism, being the owner and editor of a Rushford,
Minn., paper in 1870-71, and occupying a similar position in McGregor,
Iowa, from 1872 to 1877. From that time until 1900 he
was connected with the La Crosse Press, being for a long time the
moving spirit of the Chronicle, one of the leading papers of that
city. In 1900 Mr. Osborne gave up active journalistic work and in
company with his family spent some time abroad, and since then
has contented himself with the more leisurely pursuits of life, feeling
that in thirty-five years of incessant newspaper work he has done
one man's work in the world. His work was not only done, but well
done, being of a quality to win commendation from even his political
opponents. He had a high appreciation of the dignity of his profession,
and never descended to the practices that have brought a
portion of the newspaper world into some disrepute. Wisconsin's
list of eminent journalists - men who have taken no small part in
the fashioning of this great commonwealth - is a long one, and no
city of its size has furnished as many representatives as La Crosse,
and among the best of these Mr. Osborne's name should be ranked.
On Dec. 18, 1871, occurred the marriage of Mr. Osborne to Miss Julia
Colman, daughter of Charles Lane and Laura Place Colman, of La
Crosse. Mrs. Osborne's father was one of the pioneer lumbermen of
the city, a man who occupied a large place in the development of
the city in all lines, and one of the most popular, esteemed and generous of her citizens. He died in 1901, and his widow still maintains
her home in the city. To Mr. and Mrs. Osborne three children have
been born. Rockwell Colman, born at McGregor, Iowa, Feb. 3,
1874, is now a resident of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Laura Alma, born
at McGregor, Iowa, Aug. 10, 1875, is the wife of Prof. Louis Winslow
Austin, of Washington. Edward Lucius was born in La Crosse,
Sept. 20, 1881. Mr. Osborne belongs to no secret organizations
except the Wilson Colwell Post, No. 38, Grand Army of the Republic,
of La Crosse, of which he is the present commander, having served
as adjutant general of the Department of Wisconsin, G. A. R., in
1905-06. To such as have acquired a competence, the going down
of the sun may be the best part of life - not to be spent in luxurious
idleness, or frivolous dissipation, but in elegant leisure, with the
companions and ministers of taste and refinement. Travel at home
and abroad, a summer in Wisconsin, or in England or Switzerland,
a winter in Italy, or among the palms and orange groves of Florida,
with books and delightful companions - how much better than trying
to make a show of one's wealth in New York or Washington, or
grasping at the empty bauble of office. Mr. Osborne has learned by
many years of hard work as a journalist how to round out his life
without rusting or getting cynical, or looking for Dead Sea apples.
A halo surrounds the afternoon sun for those who will look for it.

~MEMOIRS OF LA CROSSE COUNTY
BENJAMIN F. BRYANT
EDITOR
MADISON, WISCONSIN WESTERN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION
1907
page 367-368
______________________________
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