Term: Holton, Edward Dwight 1815 - 1892
businessman, railroad promoter, politician, b. Lancaster, N.H. He moved to Milwaukee in 1840 where he operated a dry-goods store, engaged in land speculation, and promoted the early development of railroads. An avid abolitionist, Holton was an organizer of the Wisconsin Liberty party (1842) and of the Republican party (1854). He supplied arms and money to the Kansas Emigrant Aid Society during the contest for control of that area in the 1850's, and the free soilers named Holton, Kans., in his honor. In 1853 Holton was the unsuccessful Free Soil candidate for governor, and was Wisconsin state assemblyman in 1860. One of the early railroad promoters in the state, Holton, with Byron Kilbourn (q.v.) and others, was one of the original commissioners of the Milwaukee and Waukesha R.R. Co. (1847), which later became the Milwaukee and Mississippi R.R., and eventually the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul. He was one of the founders of the Milwaukee board of trade (1849), and from 1854 to 1863 was president of the Farmers' and Millers' Bank in Milwaukee. During the Civil War, Holton served as state allotment officer with Wisconsin soldiers in the field (1862-1863). After the war he devoted himself to managing his extensive real-estate holdings and also served for several years during the 1870's as vice-president and manager of the Northwestern National Insurance Co. The last years of his life were spent largely in travel. He died in Savannah, Ga. H. L. Conard, ed., Hist. of Milwaukee (3 vols., Chicago ); B. Still, Milwaukee (Madison, 1948); Proc. State Hist. Soc. Wis., 1892 (1893); WPA field notes.
The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the Edward Dwight Holton Papers for details.
View newspaper clippings at Wisconsin Local History and Biography Articles.
[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]