William D. Connor

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William D. Connor
20th Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
In office
January 7, 1907 – January 4, 1909
Governor James O. Davidson
Preceded by James O. Davidson
Succeeded by John Strange
Personal details
Born William Duncan Connor
(1864-03-24)March 24, 1864
Stratford, Ontario, Canada
Died November 20, 1944(1944-11-20) (aged 80)
Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Huldah Marybelle Witter Connor
Relations Melvin R. Laird
Children 6
Alma mater Wisconsin State Normal School
(now the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh)
Profession Farmer

William Duncan Connor (March 24, 1864 – November 20, 1944) was a Canadian-born American politician and the 20th Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin from 1907–1909.

Early life

Born near Stratford, Ontario, in Canada, Connor moved with his parents from Canada to a farm in Auburndale, Wisconsin in 1872. He attended the State Normal School (now the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh) in Oshkosh, Wisconsin for two years.


Connor moved to Marshfield, Wisconsin in 1895, and became a successful lumberman and real estate investor in the Pacific Northwest. He established the towns of Laona, Wisconsin, Stratford, Wisconsin, and Connorville, Michigan (originally company towns) in the course of growing his lumber business. Very involved in politics and public service, he served for twenty years as a member of the Wood County Board of Supervisors, and was twice elected chairman.

In 1892, 1894, 1896, 1902 and 1904 he was elected a delegate to the Republican State Convention and in 1904 he was also elected one of the four (progressive) delegates-at-large to the National Republican Convention, by the regular Republican State Convention. This was the controversial 'gymnasium convention' that looms large in the history of the progressive movement in Wisconsin.

According to the Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography:

He was at first identified with the Robert M. La Follette wing of the party. In the 1904 progressive-stalwart split, Connor was chosen by the "gymnasium convention" as one of the progressive delegates to the Republican national convention. Although the national convention refused to accept the credentials of the Progressive delegation, the La Follette forces were recognized as the legal Republican ticket by the state supreme court (1904) and Connor became chairman of the Republican state central committee. (1904-1908).

Connor was elected as a Republican to the office of Lieutenant Governor in 1906; receiving 174,750 votes against 104,398 for Michael F. Blenski (Democratic), 25,036 for William Kaufmann (Social Democrats), 8,724 for August F. Fehlandt (Progressive) and 510 for John Veirthaler (Socialist Labor). He served as twentieth Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin from January 7, 1907 - January 4, 1909,[1] but had a significant falling-out with the Governor Robert La Follette.

Connor, along with Marinette lumberman Isaac Stephenson, were La Follette's main political backers from the business community. "Fighting Bob" La Follette's strong stand against the railroads, which then had monopolies on industrial transportation, appealed to the two men; and each of these millionaire lumbermen expected help to become United States Senator when La Follette became governor. Instead, and to their chagrin, at the first opportunity (January 1905) La Follette famously nominated himself to the U.S. Senate and arranged State Senate confirmation.

La Follette kept serving as governor and left Wisconsin's U.S. Senate seat unfilled until January 1, 1906, when he resigned to join the U.S. Senate. He publicly proclaimed this unusual action was done to ensure that his 1904 platform was enacted in Wisconsin.

After serving as lieutenant governor, Connor withdrew from statewide elective politics, although he remained active at the local and county level. He was to serve for twenty years on the Wood County Board, was president of the Marshfield library board from its organization in 1901 until his death, and was also a trustee of Carroll College (Wisconsin).


Connor died in Phoenix, Arizona and his place of interrment is presumed to be somewhere in Marshfield, Wisconsin.

Family life

Connor's father, Robert Connor, was a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly. Connor married Huldah Marybelle Witter on August 12, 1888,[2] and they had six children, Mabel Frances Connor (1887-1887), Helen Melissa Connor, Donald Witter Connor, Marion Elizabeth Connor, William Duncan Connor, and Richard Malcolm Connor.[3] He was the grandfather of Melvin R. Laird and the great-grandfather of Jessica Laird Doyle, wife of Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin.


  1. ^ Wisconsin. Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics, Industrial Commission of Wisconsin, Wisconsin. State Printing Board, Wisconsin. Legislature. Legislative Reference Library, Wisconsin. Legislature. Legislative Reference Bureau. Wisconsin Blue Book, 1917. Legislative Reference Bureau, 1917. p. 326. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  2. ^ American Lumbermen - the Personal History and Public and Business Achievements of One Hundred Eminent Lumbermen of the United States. Chicago: The American Lumberman 1906. pp. 153–156. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  3. ^ "Huldah Marybelle Witter". 1997-2014 Ancestry.com. Retrieved 23 June 2014.

External links

  • Wisconsin Blue Book, 1907, biographical sketch of Lieutenant Governor William D. Connor.
  • Laird, Helen L, A Mind of Her Own Helen Connor Laird and Family 1888 - 1982, The University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.
  • A History of Wood County, George O. Jones, etc., Minneapolis: 1923 Information about William D. Connor and the lumber industry in Wood County, Wisconsin.
  • "State of Wisconsin: Office of the Lt. Governor"
  • "Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography (at the Wisconsin Historical Society)"

Political offices
Preceded by
James O. Davidson
Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
John Strange
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