Charles Durkee

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Charles Durkee
Charles Durkee.jpg
6th 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 P. Walker
Succeeded byTimothy O. 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
Resting placeGreen Ridge Cemetery
Kenosha, Wisconsin
Political party
  • Catherine Putnam Dana
    (m. 1836; died 1838)
  • Caroline Lake
    (m. 1840)
  • Harvey Durkee
  • (died 1858)
  • Charles Durkee Jr.
  • (b. 1843; died 1847)

Charles H. Durkee (December 10, 1805 – January 14, 1870) was an American pioneer, Congressman, and United States Senator from Wisconsin. He was one of the founders of Kenosha, Wisconsin, and was a Governor of the Utah Territory in the last five years of his life.

Early life[edit]

Durkee was born in Royalton, Vermont. He became a merchant and moved to the Wisconsin Territory 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]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Durkee, Charles 1805 - 1870". Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  4. ^ "The Last Spike is Driven" pg. 34.
  5. ^

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
William Pitt 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
March 4, 1855 – March 3, 1861
Served alongside: Henry Dodge, James R. Doolittle
Succeeded by
Timothy O. Howe
Political offices
Preceded by
James Duane Doty
Governor of Utah Territory
September 30, 1865 – January 9, 1869
Succeeded by
John Shaffer