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Charles H. Durkee (December 10, 1805 – January 14, 1870) was an American politician, Congressman and Senator from Wisconsin.

Charles Durkee
Charles Durkee.jpg
Governor of Utah Territory
In office
September 30, 1865 – January 9, 1869
Preceded byJames Duane Doty
Succeeded byJohn Shaffer
United States Senator
from Wisconsin
In office
March 4, 1855 – March 3, 1861
Preceded byIsaac Walker
Succeeded byTimothy Howe
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 1st district
In office
March 4, 1849 – March 3, 1853
Preceded byWilliam P. Lynde
Succeeded byDaniel Wells, Jr.
Personal details
Born(1805-12-10)December 10, 1805
Royalton, Vermont
DiedJanuary 14, 1870(1870-01-14) (aged 64)
Omaha, Nebraska
Political partyFree-soiler, later Republican


Early lifeEdit

Durkee was born in Royalton, Vermont. He became a merchant and moved to Wisconsin in 1836. There he became involved in agriculture and lumbering, and was a founder of the town of Southport (later Kenosha, Wisconsin). Land he once owned in Kenosha is now part of the Library Park Historic District.[1]


He entered politics, serving two terms in the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature. He became a member of the Free Soil Party and was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1848 as part of Wisconsin's first full congressional delegation. He served in the House for two terms as part of the 31st and the 32nd Congresses from March 4, 1849 till March 3, 1853 representing Wisconsin's 1st congressional district. In 1854, he switched to the newly formed Republican Party and was elected to the United States Senate by the Wisconsin State Legislature. He served for one term, from 1855 to 1861. In 1865 he became governor of the Utah Territory, and served in that position until 1869 when he resigned because of ill health.[2] He died in Omaha, Nebraska while returning home.[3]


A street in the city of Appleton, Wisconsin is named for him.

An elementary school in Kenosha, Wisconsin bore his name for many years. It was demolished in 2008.

He gave a speech at the hammering of the Golden Spike in Promontory, Utah on May 10, 1869, connecting the Union Pacific tracks to the Central Pacific Railroad.[4]

His former home, which later became an Episcopal school for girls and is now known as Kemper Hall, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[5]


External linksEdit

  • United States Congress. "Charles Durkee (id: D000573)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
William P. Lynde
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 1st congressional district

March 4, 1849 – March 3, 1853
Succeeded by
Daniel Wells, Jr.
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Isaac P. Walker
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Wisconsin
1855 – 1861
Served alongside: Henry Dodge, James R. Doolittle
Succeeded by
Timothy O. Howe
Political offices
Preceded by
James Duane Doty
Governor of Utah Territory
1865 – 1869
Succeeded by
John Shaffer