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Washburn Township was originally a part of what is today Sherwood Township.  In the spring of 1873, its first independent meeting was held.  It was named for Cadwallader Colden Washburn (April 22, 1818–May 15, 1882) who was often called C. C. Washburn.  He was the presiding governor of Wisconsin with his term beginning in 1872 and ending in 1874.  One of seven sons of an illustrious family, he was born in Livermore, Androscoggin County, Maine.  He attended school in Wiscasset, Maine and then taught there from 1838-1839 before moving west to Davenport, Iowa.  He was involved in the Iowa geological surveying and then studied law in Rock Island, Illinois where he was elected as that county's surveyor in 1840.  He began to practice law after being admitted to the bar association and moving to Mineral Point, Wisconsin.  There, he founded the Mineral Point Bank and in 1854 he entered the political contest for State Representative of the great Badger State as a republican.  He served three consecutive terms from March 4, 1855 through March 3, 1861, declining to run again in 1860.  In 1861, he moved north to LaCrosse, Wisconsin but returned to Washington, D.C. before year's end as a delegate in the peace convention which sought to ward off the pending Civil War.  When that initiative failed, he served as a brigadier general for the Union Army and was later promoted to colonel of the Second Regiment of the Wisconsin Volunteer Cavalry, February 6, 1862.  July 16th of that year, he became a brigadier general of Volunteers and by November 29th, he was a major general.  He returned to LaCrosse after resigning from service May 25, 1865.


Cadwallader then returned to Congress for two additional terms from March 4, 1867 to March 3, 1871.  He was chairman of the Committee on Expenditures on Public Buildings during his first term.  He declined to run in the 1870 congressional race, but ran for the governorship of Wisconsin and won.  In 1873, his bid for another term met with defeat.


Cadwallader Washburn was not only a successful politician and soldier, but he was an accomplished American businessman as well.  He owned extensive timberlands in Clark County, Wisconsin and established mills in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  He began his mills by leasing the power rights to the water flowing over St. Anthony Falls through the Minneapolis Milling Company in 1856.  In 1866, he erected his own "B" Mill, which was considered risky because it was thought to be too large to be profitable.  It was a huge success and in 1874, Cadwallader built an even larger Washburn "A" Mill which exploded in 1878 and was never rebuilt.  Eventually, Washburn formed a partnership with John Crosby to establish the milling company which is today known as "General Mills".  Not a miller by trade and never a resident of Minneapolis, he is nevertheless celebrated there as a major force in making that city a "Flour-Milling Capital of the World".


Cadwallader Colden Washburn died in Eureka Springs, Arkansas during a visit to improve his health.  His body was returned to his beloved LaCrosse, Wisconsin for burial in the Oak Grove Cemetery.






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