Term: Bashford, Coles 1816 - 1878
lawyer, politician, governor, b. Cold Spring, N.Y. By 1850, when he settled in Oshkosh, Bashford had been admitted to the bar and held a public office in New York. Elected on the Whig ticket, he served in the state senate (1853-1855); in 1854 he helped organize the Republican party, and in 1855 was a candidate for governor. When the Democratic incumbent, William A. Barstow (q.v.), won the election by only 157 votes, Bashford contested the results before the state supreme court. With the help of Barstow's enemies and fortified with evidence of fraudulent returns in two counties, he first forced the resignation of Barstow in favor of Lieutenant Governor Arthur McArthur (q.v.), and then, upon winning the court decision, took office himself. During his administration (1856-1857), the legislature distributed two huge grants of land awarded to Wisconsin by the U.S. government for building railroads. In 1858 an investigating committee uncovered a series of frauds in connection with the parceling out of the railroad lands. Members of the legislature of 1856 and other officials had received bribes proportionate to the importance of their positions, but the prime beneficiary was Governor Bashford. From the La Crosse road alone he had received $50,000 in bonds, which he later converted into $15,000 cash. In 1863, after several years in obscurity, he moved to Arizona Territory, where he eventually rose to be secretary. Dict. Amer. Biog.; T. E. Farish, Hist. of Ariz. (8 vols., Phoenix, 1915-1918); J. B. Win-slow, Story of a Great Court (Chicago, 1912); WPA MS.
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[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]