Levi Baker Vilas

Levi Baker Vilas (February 25, 1811 – February 6, 1879) was an American lawyer and politician. He was the 4th Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin, and served three non-consecutive years in the Wisconsin State Assembly, representing Dane County. Before moving to Wisconsin, he served in the Vermont Senate and House of Representatives.[1]

Levi B. Vilas
The Honorable Levi Baker Vilas, 1911
4th Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin
In office
April 1861 – April 1862
Preceded byGeorge Baldwin Smith
Succeeded byWilliam T. Leitch
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the Dane 2nd district
In office
January 1, 1873 – January 1, 1874
Preceded byJohn D. Gurnee
Succeeded byPhilo Dunning
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the Dane 5th district
In office
January 1, 1868 – January 1, 1869
Preceded byEleazer Wakeley
Succeeded byGeorge Baldwin Smith
In office
January 1, 1855 – January 1, 1856
Preceded byHarlow S. Orton
Succeeded byAugustus A. Bird
Member of the Vermont Senate
In office
January 1, 1845 – January 1, 1847
Member of the Vermont House of Representatives
In office
January 1, 1840 – January 1, 1843
ConstituencyOrange County
In office
January 1, 1836 – January 1, 1838
ConstituencyLamoille County
Personal details
Levi Baker Vilas

(1811-02-25)February 25, 1811
Lamoille County, Vermont
DiedFebruary 6, 1879(1879-02-06) (aged 67)
Madison, Wisconsin
Cause of deathPneumonia
Resting placeForest Hill Cemetery
Madison, Wisconsin
Political partyDemocratic
  • Esther Green Smilie
  • (died 1892)
  • William Freeman Vilas
  • (b. 1840; died 1908)
  • Levi Madison Vilas
  • (b. 1844; died 1889)
  • Charles Harrison Vilas
  • (b. 1846; died 1920)
  • Edward P. Vilas
  • (b. 1852; died 1912)
  • Ira Hill Vilas
  • (b. 1863; died 1863)
  • Esther Vilas
  • (b. 1865; died 1885)
MotherMercy (Flint) Vilas
FatherMoses Vilas
Professionlawyer, politician


Vilas was born in Randolph, Vermont, the son of Mercy (Flint) and Moses Vilas.[2] Vilas was admitted to the Vermont bar in 1833, and practiced law. He was a member of the 1835 Vermont Constitutional Convention. In 1836, he served in the Vermont House of Representatives and in 1840 was elected to the Vermont State Senate. He was also elected probate judge.[3]

In 1851, Vilas and his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin. There, Vilas was elected Mayor of the city. He started a law practice in Wisconsin from which the present day law firm of Bell, Moore & Richter, S.C. draws its roots.[4] Vilas also served in the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1855, 1868, and 1873. During the American Civil War, Vilas was a draft commissioner. He was one of the regents of the University of Wisconsin system and the Wisconsin Historical Society.[5] His son was William Freeman Vilas, who served in the United States Senate.[6]

His former home in Madison is located in what is now the Langdon Street Historic District.


  1. ^ Kestenbaum, Lawrence. "The Political Graveyard: Index to Politicians: Vila to Vincell". politicalgraveyard.com. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  2. ^ "Levi Baker Vilas 1811-1879 - Ancestry". records.ancestry.com. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  3. ^ 'Norwich University, 1819-1911, her story, her graduates, her roll of honor,' edited by William Arba Ellis, 1911, vol. 2, pg.18-19
  4. ^ Bell, Moore & Richter, S.C. About Our Firm.
  5. ^ Wisconsin Historical Society, Levi Baker Vilas
  6. ^ Wisconsin Historical Society, William Freeman Vilas
Political offices
Preceded by
George Baldwin Smith
Mayor of Madison, Wisconsin
1861 – 1862
Succeeded by
William T. Leitch