David G. Cobb

DAVID G. COBB, who is president and active head of the Fort Scott Wholesale Grocer Company, one of the largest and oldest institutions of its kind in Southeastern Kansas, represents a family that became identified with Bourbon County when the first settlements were being planted there.

His father was long a distinctive figure in both business and public affairs in the county. The old home, where David G. Cobb was born, was at Marmaton, which was one of the first points of settlement and business in the county and which from 1858 until 1863 was the county seat. David Ransom Cobb, father of David G., was born at Bellows Falls, Vermont, in 1823, was reared and educated in his native town, attended school there, and started life comparatively poor, rising in the scale of success as a result of his honest endeavors. He was one of the earliest settlers of Kansas Territory. Arriving in 1858, he settled at old Marmaton in Bourbon County, and soon afterward formed a partnership with Edward Jones under the name Cobb & Jones, general merchants. For a number of years, and especially as long as Marmaton held its prestige as one of the leading settlements of the county, they were prominent and prosperous merchants and conducted their establishment successfully from 1858 until shortly after the breaking out of the Civil war. Then in the turbulent conditions which followed a band of bushwhackers one day came into Marmaton and looted their store and burned the building. There was no insurance, and the partners lost all the prosperity they had gained. Somewhat later David R. Cobb bought a farm near the county seat, and after that he applied his energies to farming during the rest of his life.

He was one of the group of men who carried the chief responsibilities of citizenship during the early days of Bourbon County. At the first regular county election he was elected register of deeds, and after that filled the offices of county clerk, district clerk and county commissioner. He also represented his district in the state legislature one term. He was an active republican from the time of the organization of the party, and during the Civil war he was a member of the Kansas Militia and the Home Guard. He was one of the early Baptists of Bourbon County, though there were few churches during the early years of his residence there. David R. Cobb died in 1891, at the age of sixty-eight. He married Frances A. Barrett, who survived him until 1901, passing away at the age of sixty-seven. They both now rest in the cemetery at Marmaton, in which community they had spent the greater part of their lives. Of their four children two, Elfie and Frances, died when young women. The only surviving daughter is Mary E. Cobb, now a resident of Pasadena, California, and well known as an artist, musician and a woman of pronounced literary ability.

The early environments and family associations were such as to encourage every good trait and ambition in David G. Cobb. He was graduated from Kansas Normal School at Fort Scott in 1889, and soon afterward entered upon his duties as deputy district clerk of Bourbon County, an office he filled four years. He then became bookkeeper for the Missouri Pacific Railway Company at Fort Scott, and after three years resigned that position to become bookkeeper for the Fort Scott Grocer Company.

Mr. Cobb has been continuously identified with this grocery house for over fifteen years. The business was founded in 1886 by J. T. Beatty, C. A. Lakin and J. H. Richards. At the beginning it had a limited capital, and its trade territory was the country within a few miles radius of Fort Scott. The company has prospered not as a result of abnormal and temporary methods, but by the steady and consistent growth which is the characteristic of every prominent enterprise. The annual sales now aggregate more than half a million dollars, six traveling salesmen carry the goods over the states of Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, and more than twenty people find employment in the establishment. The main building in Fort Scott furnishes 26,400 square feet of floor space, while there are several other warehouses. It is a splendid business, a personnel of the firm have always represented the highest integrity of commercial life and it is a distinctive honor to occupy the position in the company which Mr. Cobb now holds, as a result of increasing responsibility and promotion through all the grades of service.

From bookkeeper he was promoted to secretary and treasurer after three years, also became a partner and since 1911 has been president. He devotes his entire time and attention to the upbuilding and direction of this concern, and though a man of moderate demeanor he is characterized by that quiet resourcefulness which is the mark of real business ability.

Mr. Cobb is a member and elder in the Presbyterian Church, is a republican in politics and belongs to the Modern Woodmen of America. On December 23, 1898, he was married to Miss Mary Emma Quick, who was born in Fort Scott. Her parents were James and Elizabeth Quick, who for many years lived at Redfield in Bourbon County, where Mr. Quick was a substantial farmer and stock raiser. James Quick was a native of Ireland, came to America in early youth and his wife was a native of Pennsylvania. Mr. and Mrs. Cobb have two children: David Glenn Cobb, born at Fort Scott June 17, 1900, and Helen Elizabeth, born at Fort Scott July 9, 1902. Mrs. Cobb takes an active part in the Presbyterian Church, is a member of the Ladies' Aid Society, and also belongs to the Current Literature Club of Fort Scott.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed October, 1997.
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