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Alexander Mitchell

c. mid 19th century

Oil portrait on canvas. Man with white hair and beard standing in a black suit.

Born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland in 1817, Alexander Mitchell emigrated to the United States in 1839. He became secretary at the Wisconsin Marine and Fire Insurance Co., in Milwaukee. The company quickly became more interested in banking than insurance, and following a law, passed by state legislature in 1853, the company transformed into a formal bank. Mitchell became the first president of the Wisconsin Banking Association in 1858, and although his banking achievements seem grand, he is better known for his involvement as a railroad builder and owner. In 1865 Mitchell became involved with the Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Co. Initially operating only 270 miles of tracks, this new president of the company was able to grow the number of track to 5,000 miles by 1887, the year of his death. Although a savvy businessman, he was also interested in politics and served two terms in the state Congress, from 1870-75, proving to be quite an eclectic individual and a true leader in Wisconsin’s early history.