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Colonel and Judge Oscar E. Learnard, one of the founders of Burlington, for many years a resident of Lawrence, one of the organizers of the republican party in Kansas and prominent in numerous state institutions and enterprises, was born at Fairfax, Vermont, November 14, 1832. He was of English and Franch Huguenot stock.
In 1855, the year after his graduation from the Albany Law School, Mr. Learnard came to Kansas and located at Lawrence, and the next year he commanded a “mounted regiment” of the free-state forces in the border war. In the spring of 1857 he helped to locate and lay out the Town of Burlington, where he built the first mill, the first business house, and a building used for school and church purposes. He was a member of the Council in the first freestate Legislature (1857); was president of the convention which met at Osawatomie on May 18, 1859, and organized the republican party in Kansas; and after the state government was established became judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit. That position he resigned to enter the army as lieutenant-colonel of the First Kansas Infantry, and served on the staffs of Generals Hunter and Denver until 1863, when he resigned his commission. When Price undertook to enter Kansas, in the fall of 1864, Colonel Learnard again joined the forces for the defense of the state, and took part in the battle of the Blue and the engagement at Westport, Missouri. He served two terms in the State Senate; was superintendent of the Haskell Institute for one year; was for a quarter of a century special attorney and tax commissioner for the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Memphis Railroad Company; and in 1884 bought the Lawrence Daily Journal, which he published until it was succeeded by the present Journal Company. Mr. Learnard died at Lawrence on November 6, 1911.