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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Upham, William Henry 1841 - 1924


businessman, soldier, politician, governor, b. Westminster, Mass. He moved with his parents to Niles, Mich., in 1852, and in 1853 to Wisconsin, settling in Racine. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, was wounded at the first battle of Bull Run, held a Confederate prisoner, and, on being exchanged was granted a cadetship at the U.S. Military Academy. He graduated from West Point in 1866, and, after being promoted to 1st lieutenant, resigned his commission in 1869 and returned to Wisconsin. From 1869 to 1879 he engaged in lumbering activities in northeastern Wisconsin, and in 1879 settled in Marshfield, at a time when the city was just being platted. There he built a saw and shingle mill, a furniture factory, general store, machine shop, and flour mill, and also helped to organize the First National Bank of Marshfield and became its president. Although Upham suffered heavy losses in the Marshfield fire of 1887, he was a leader in rebuilding the city's industries. A Republican, he was elected governor of Wisconsin in 1894, defeating incumbent Democrat George W. Peck (q.v.), and served one term (Jan. 1895-Jan. 1897). Upham was not a candidate for renomination in 1896, but returned to his business enterprises in Marshfield, where he resumed the presidency of the Water, Electric Light and Power Co. and the Upham Manufacturing Co. He continued to be a prominent Marshfield business leader until his death. Wis. Blue Book (1927); Natl. Cyclopaedia Amer. Biog., 12 (1904); Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, July 3, 1924.

The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the W. H. Upham Papers for details.

[Source: Blue book]
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