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  Washburn, Cadwallader Colden
NameCadwallader Colden Washburn
La Crosse, Wisconsin , United States
Born April 22, 1818
DiedMay 15, 1882 (64 years)
ContributorThomas Walker
Last ModifedRBH
Aug 02, 2015 03:55am
InfoCadwallader Colden Washburn (April 22, 1818–May 15, 1882) was an American businessman, politician, and soldier noted for founding what would later become General Mills and working in government for Wisconsin. He was born in Livermore, Maine one of seven brothers that included Israel Washburn, Jr., Elihu B. Washburne, and William D. Washburn. Shortly after his birth he was diagnosed with epilepsy.

He attended school in Wiscasset, Maine, and later taught there in 1838–1839 when he moved to Davenport, Iowa. He helped in the geological survey of the state before moving to Rock Island, Illinois to study law. He was elected surveyor of Rock Island County in 1840. Two years later, he was admitted to the bar association and moved to Mineral Point, Wisconsin where he began a practice. In 1852, he founded the Mineral Point Bank. In 1854 he ran as a Republican to represent Wisconsin in the United States Congress, later serving three term from March 4, 1855 to March 3, 1861. Washburn served as chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Private Land Claims in his last term. He declined to run again in 1860.

Washburn moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1861 but returned to Washington, D.C. later that year as a delegate in the peace convention that was held in an attempt to prevent the American Civil War. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War, becoming colonel of the Second Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry, on February 6, 1862; brigadier general of Volunteers July 16, 1862; major general November 29, 1862. In 1864, his capture was one of the goals of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest's raid on Memphis. He escaped capture by fleeing to Fort Pickering in his nightshirt. He resigned May 25, 1865 and returned to La Crosse.

He returned to Congress for two more terms from March 4, 1867 to March 3, 1871, and acted as chairman of the U.S. Committee on Expenditures on Public Buildings in the first term. He declined to run in 1870, but ran for Governor of Wisconsin and served from 1872 to 1874. He ran unsuccessfully for reelection in 1873.

In his lifetime, he also worked in the lumber industry and established mills in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He began in that city in 1856 by leasing power rights to the water flowing over St. Anthony Falls through the Minneapolis Milling Company. In 1866, he built his own Washburn "B" Mill, which was thought at the time to be too large to ever turn a profit. However, he succeeded and in 1874 built an even larger Washburn "A" Mill. The original "A" mill complex was destroyed (along with several nearby buildings) in a flour explosion in 1878, but was later rebuilt. In 1877, Washburn had teamed with John Crosby to form the Washburn-Crosby Company, which eventually became known as General Mills.

Washburn died in Eureka Springs, Arkansas while on a visit at the springs for his health. His body is interred in La Crosse's Oak Grove Cemetery.


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Importance? 8.00000 Average

Father Israel Washburn 1784-1876
Brother Israel Washburn 1813-1883
Brother Elihu B. Washburne 1816-1887
Nephew Hempstead Washburne 1852-1918
Brother Charles A. Washburn 1822-1889
Brother William Drew Washburn, Sr. 1831-1912
Nephew William D. Washburn, Jr. 1863-1929
Nephew Stanley Washburn 1878-1950

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