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Emory Cobb | Inducted by 1915

A pioneer in communications, Cobb was a sought after leader that served on several boards including the American Shorthorn Association and the University of Illinois Experiment Station.

1831-1910 | Artist: Robert Wadsworth Grafton (1876-1936)

Impact & Accomplishments

Although Emory Cobb was honored by the Saddle & Sirloin for his work as a Shorthorn breeder and his leadership of the American Shorthorn Association and the University of Illinois Agricultural Experiment Station board, he is perhaps best known as a communications pioneer.

Born in Dryden, New York, Cobb learned telegraphy in Ithaca at age sixteen, finding employment as a telegraph operator. While still in his early twenties, he was appointed manager of a Chicago telegraph office, and there, he helped supervise the merging of three companies as Western Union. He remained an officer of the fast-growing company for years, and is often credited with inventing the money transfer service in 1871. Soon thereafter, wiring money became Western Union’s primary business.

Emory Cobb was a key investor and philanthropist in his community of Kankakee, Illinois, where he established the First National Bank, the opera house, and the electric railway company. Cobb was also a trustee of the University of Illinois (1867-1893) and president of the Bozeman (Montana) National Bank.

Did You Know?

Cobb and his wife built their home at Chicago Avenue and River Street in 1863 in Kankakee, Illinois. The man standing in the foreground with the black horse is believed to be Emory Cobb. Photo courtesy of the Kankakee County Museum Photo Archive.

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