Watson S. Coburn was born on June 4, 1838, in Decatur, Massachusetts.
After living in the New England states about twenty-one years, he decided to go west. He made Chicago, then a town of a hundred and nine inhabitants, his first stop, where he remained six months, before going to Springfield, Illinois. While in Springfield the civil war broke out and he went to join the army. Failing to get in on account of the quorum being filled, each time he applied, he was given a position as a sutler to sell goods to the soldiers.
He was in the siege at Vicksburg, which lasted forty-seven days and nights, and when Pemberton was forced to surrender to Grant and the town was opened, Coburn was the first citizen to enter Vicksburg. He went in with the first regiment of soldiers on July 4, 1863.
About this time he quit the army and went into the commission business at Omaha, Nebraska. Six months afterwards his partner died, so he sold out and came to Colorado, since which time he has been all over the western states. He lived on his ranch, which was called the Chicago ranch and situated on the Platte River, during the years of 1865, 1866 and 1867.
When the Union Pacific Railroad was built from Julesburg on west in 1868, this put a stop to the overland freight and travel and consequently put the feed stations out of business. Mr. Coburn then went to work for the railroad, contracting for the fuel. He was the first man to build a house and dig a well in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Later he took a supply of goods and moved along ahead of the railroad and sold goods to the graders. When the track reached Promontory Point west of Ogden, Utah, on May 10, 1869, his store business was stopped. He went to the then new state of Kansas and began dealing in Texas cattle, which proved unsuccessful, so he returned to Colorado. Mr. Coburn’s next venture was freighting and mining, and when the Ute Reservation was thrown open in 1882, he took up a ranch on the western slope, between the present towns of Paonia and Hotchkiss, Colorado. He started a commercial orchard on his ranch, and has since made his home there.
Some of the Pioneers of Colorado
Source: True History of some of the Pioneers of Colorado, by Miss Luella Shaw, Press of Carson Harper Co, Denver, Colorado, 1909