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First Name: Winfield

Last Name: Durbin

Birthplace: Lawrenceburg, IN, ISA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Taylor

Date of Birth: 04 May 1847

Date of Death: 18 December 1928

Rank: Colonel

Years Served:
Winfield Taylor Durbin

•  Spanish-American War (1898)


Winfield Taylor Durbin

Colonel, Indiana Volunteer Infantry

Winfield Taylor Durbin was born on 4 May 1847 in Lawrenceburg, IN, the son of William S. and Eliza Ann Sparks, the youngest of seven sons. While still a young boy, his family moved to New Philadelphia, IN, where he attended public school and worked in his father's tannery producing leather.

At the outbreak of the American Civil War, he and his brothers enlisted in the Union army. His brothers were accepted, but he was turned away because of a recent arm injury. After it healed he attempted to enlist again, and helped raise a company of the 139th Regiment Indiana Infantry, serving from April 1864 until the conclusion of the war. He mustered in at Camp Morton and his regiment was first dispatched to the Siege of Vicksburg, and was then in the expedition to Arkansas Post.

He left the Army after the war and studied briefly in a community college in St. Louis, MO, before moving to Indianapolis, IN, where he worked in a dry-goods store as a bookkeeper. In 1879 he left Indianapolis and moved to Anderson, IN, where he met Bertha McCullough. The two were married on 6 October 1875 and had two children. During the Indiana Gas Boom, Durbin worked with his father-in-law to found a number of manufacturing businesses and became moderately wealthy.

Durbin became active in local politics and was elected as a member of the State Republican Central Committee and was appointed to the Executive Committee in Charge of Western Headquarters. He played a prominent role nationally in the Grand Army of the Republic, and was involved in lobbying. At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, he enlisted in the Army and was promoted to Colonel by Governor James Mount and given command of the 161st Regiment Indiana Infantry in July 1898. His Regiment was deployed in the occupation of Havana, Cuba for three months, after which he returned home.

Durbin was nominated to run for governor in 1900, and easily won the convention vote. Opinion was strongly against Democrats, and the leading members of the party refused to run for governor that year. The party fielded John Kern to opposed Durbin, but Durbin became the first governor to win by majority in twenty-five years. Durbin's primary goal as governor was to bring efficiency to the state, and reform the government to function more economically, and to enact progressive legislation. Durbin took office on 14 January 1901 and served until 9 January 1905.

Death and Burial

Winfield Taylor Durbin died on 18 December 1928. He is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, IN.

Honoree ID: 2447   Created by: MHOH




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