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NOTE: This page has been adapted for the Website from Donald Coburn’s My Line. Use of the first person is in relation to Donald and not the webmaster/author of the site. Subscript index numbers (ex. Moses4) refer to generations after the family’s arrival in North America. Edward Colborne being generation 1.


JAMES TYLER8 COBURN (Tyler7, David6, David5, Moses4, Moses3, Joseph2, Edward1) b. 16 Jan. 1872 d. 1963 son of A. Tyler7 Coburn and Elizabeth (Smith) Coburn m. 1909 Vera Baldwin b. 1878 d. 1977.

Tyler was born in the new Coburn house built 1869 and went to school across the road in the Keswick Ridge Superior School which taught all the grades from one to eleven. Tyler attended the Provincial Normal School in Fredericton. He also took a bookkeeping course from Belleville Business College in Belleville, Ontario. He taught school in Peel, Carleton County and also Cross Creek, York County.

Here is a portion of an autobiography, by Winifred I. Gilmore starting January 1892. It relates her memories of Tyler Coburn.

That January we had a new teacher as Fred White, our former teacher, needed a rest. He was a young man about twenty, T. J. Coburn from Keswick Ridge. We had never known anyone so kind and winning in manner as he was and we all fell in love with him. He was good looking, had very fair hair which he combed in a pompador. The school boys all came to Uncle Johnny to have their hair cut and they all began to demand to have their hair cut pompador. Since he did not know how to do it he compromised by leaving a bunch of hair on top of their heads. The young girls were also smitten, chasing after him and Allan Ward said to father, If the girls don’t stop chasing that poor boy they will have the pompador pulled right off him. He took it all in his stride going around with them in a group, happy and gay and showing no favoritism. I do not remember that we ever disobeyed him yet he never used the rod. Only once did he whip a pupil (as we thought). My cousin Eldon misbehaved and he sent him out to cut two or three switches. After Eldon came back with the switches, Mr. Coburn sent us all outside closing the door behind us, but keeping Eldon in. After some time had passed he rang the bell and as we came in, we saw broken pieces of switches strewn on the fl oor, and a subdued Eldon sitting in his seat. We tip-toed to our seats and were as quiet as mice the rest of the day. Years later Eldon told us Mr. Coburn only talked to him, then made him promise never to tell anyone what transpired behind that closed door. Then he broke the switches, strewed them over the fl oor and rang the bell. He was so different from any grown-up we had ever known. He would join in our snowball battles, he against the whole school and he would win. We always played ball as soon as the snow was gone. Our balls were homemade. We took a large cork and wound ravelled yarn around it, winding it very tight and hard until the ball was the right size. The cork made the ball bounce and a soft ball was no good. When we began to play that spring our teacher p layed with us, rushing back to the school grounds as soon as he finished dinner. He with one helper would play against the whole school. He let us take the bat first and would have us all out in jig time. Then he took the bat and held it for the rest of the playtime. He could drive the ball in any direction, straight ahead, right, left, or behind him. When we were worn oat retrieving balls, he would gather us around him, six with balls ready to pass to him, he would take them one by one and drive them straight up in the air, the sixth ball being in the air before the first one came down. We thought he was wonderful. He was with us that one term and was liked by all except the young men, who were quite cool to him which was evidently due to the green-eyed monster. He never taught again but went to the United States and studied for the ministry. He preached many years in California and is still living there. He is a brother of Fred Coburn of Keswick Ridge.

After his teaching experience, Tyler, along with his brother Wilfred, worked for Cobb, Bates and Yerxa, a grocery wholesaler, in Boston. The original Yerxa a partner of that firm was from Keswick. The story goes that Yerxa drove his cattle to Boston, sold them there and stayed. The Albright boys Leigh and Charles of Keswick Ridge also worked for that firm.

The telegraph wires brought some electrifying news from San Francisco. Some prospectors had struck it rich on Bonanza Creek, which is a tributary of the Klondike River, which in turn is a tributary of the Yukon River in North Western Canada. The arrival of these prospectors in California with many hundred weight of nuggets started the greatest gold rush of them all.

In 1896 the Coburns, along with the Albrights and thousands of others, caught Klondike Fever. (See description under Charles Wilfred Coburn)

Seventeen partners bought a schooner the Stowell Sherman to sail to Alaska byway of Cape Horn. That was before the Panama Canal. After many adverse adventures they put in at Montevideo, Uruguay and Tyler was left to sell the schooner. Here is amemo of that sale and division of proceeds:

William Walker, an Englishman, who heads that list was the only partner to make it to the North. His frozen body was found on the beach at Nome, Alaska.

Tyler Coburn got to California on an American troop ship. The passage was very rough, going through the Straits of Magellan. From that time onward Tyler’s life was dedicated to the Christian Ministry. He laboured for a time with the Salvation Army. He was with that mission on Skid Row in Chicago and the water front in San Francisco.

Tyler Vera Baldwin and Family
Tyler8 and Vera (Baldwin) Coburn
their children Tyler9, and Lois9
Whittier, California

In 1909 he and co-worker missionary Vera Baldwin were married. Tyler had been preaching a country circuit and getting around by horse and saddle. Another young preacher had been doing the same but got a horse and new carriage and boasted he was going to marry Vera Baldwin. Tyler immediately made haste and got to Vera first with a proposal of marriage which was accepted. This interesting story is from my sister, Grace Fraser. It is her recollection of what Tom Coburn told her of his Coburn grandparents’ courtship and marriage.

The following is directly from Tom to me in the 1991 Christmas mail. It tells how his grandfather Tyler proposed to his grandmother Vera. Here is Tom:

I remember hearing about how he proposed to my grandmother. It seems he was preaching on a circuit from town to town in the Sierra foothills. He met another itinerant preacher who with collections in hand was on his way to San Francisco to ask Vera Baldwin to marry him.

Grandpa always claimed that he had lighter pockets but a a faster horse. I think when told to me there was a lesson there about materialism or some such.

Lois (Coburn) Helm recounts a few special memories of "Papa" Tyler James Coburn

Vera’s belonged to the Society of Friends, commonly called Quaker. She was related to the Nixons who had settled in Whittier, California. Ex-president Richard Nixon is of that family. Vera’s most distant forbear, she had heard of was a mercenary soldier (a Hessian) from the Fortress of New Jersey who deserted, prior to Washington’s attack, and went to raise cabbages in Pennsylvania.

Rev. Tyler8 Coburn had congregations of the Society of Friends around the Los Angeles area, finally settling in Whittier, California.

Tyler died in 1963 and Vera died in 1977.

Their graves are in Rose Hill Cemetery, Whittier.