Robert Wilkinson Furnas, Governor

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Robert Wilkinson Furnas

Birthplace: Troy, Miami, Ohio, United States
Death: June 01, 1905 (81)
Brownville, Nemaha, Nebraska, United States
Place of Burial: Brownville, Nebraska
Immediate Family:

Son of William Furnas and Martha Jenkins
Husband of Mary Elizabeth McComas and Susanna E. Jamison
Father of William Edward Furnas; Filmore Taylor Furnas; Arthur Wilkinson Furnas; George Gilbert Furnas; John Somerville Inskip Furnas and 3 others
Brother of Rachel Furnas

Managed by: Meg Briskin
Last Updated:

About Robert Wilkinson Furnas, Governor

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.


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

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

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, 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.


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


Furnas helped to create Arbor Day when he was governor.

Furnas County, Nebraska, is named in his honor.

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Robert Wilkinson Furnas, Governor's Timeline

May 5, 1824
Troy, Miami, Ohio, United States
October 13, 1846
Cincinnati, Ohio
October 29, 1848
Troy, Miami, Ohio
June 30, 1850
Troy, Miami, Ohio
May 25, 1852
Troy, Miami, Ohio
February 6, 1855
Troy, Miami, Ohio
June 25, 1857
Brownville, Nebraska
June 29, 1860
Brownville, Nebraska
August 29, 1862
Brownville, Nebraska