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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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Francis R. Townsend

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 716 - 717

Francis R. Townsend, deceased, was for over thirty years identified with the business interests of Sheboygan. His father, Henry Townsend, was one of the pioneer commission merchants of Troy, N. Y. The progenitors of the Townsend family in America are said to have come from England, and to have settled in the vicinity of Boston, subsequently removing to New Jersey. The branch of the family from which Francis R. Townsend was descended moved to New York, and in Troy, that State, he was born, August 29, 1813. He was educated for a business man, and when only nineteen years of age, he, in company with two partners, went into the commission trade in Troy, doing an extensive business. Mr. Townsend often went to New York City to transact business for the firm, and thus became acquainted with the leading business men of the country.

In the former city he was united in marriage with Miss Caroline M., daughter of Hon. John and R. M. (Brown) Gale, early settlers of Troy. Mr. Gale was a native of Connecticut, and his wife of Vermont. He was a man of considerable prominence, having for several terms served in the State Legislature. Mrs. Townsend was born at Galesville, thirty miles north of Troy, September 17, 1818. She was reared on a farm and subsequently went to Troy, and on the 18th of October, 1837, her marriage to Mr. Townsend was celebrated.

In 1844 Mr. Townsend, disposing of his interests in Troy, went to Racine, Wis., which he made his home for seven years. The year 1851 marks the date of his arrival in Sheboygan. For years he engaged in the grain business, and soon after coming here he helped to organize the Bank of Sheboygan, of which he was the first Cashier. He afterward became its President, continuing his connection therewith until a few years before his death. He assisted in the construction of the Sheboygan & Fond du Lac Railroad, of which he was Secretary and Treasurer in its early existence. For a number of years he was Treasurer of the Sheboygan Manufacturing Company, holding that position at the time of his death. He was recognized as a man of good business qualifications, shrewd and far-sighted.

In politics, he adhered to the principles of the Democratic party, and by his fellow-townsmen was elected to a number of official positions. He has the distinction of having been the first Mayor of Sheboygan after the city was incorporated. For several terms he served as School Commissioner, ever taking a warm interest in educational affairs. He was also a member of the City Council for a time.

The death of Mr. Townsend occurred on the 10th of April, 1882, and he was laid to rest in Wildwood Cemetery, at Sheboygan. He left but one child, who became the wife of Harry A. Barrett. She died December 19, 1886{sic} leaving two little girls, Lucia T. and Julia G. The former was fourteen months, and the latter was four days old at the time of their mother's death. Mrs. Townsend has cared for these children since they were left motherless, taking great pride in the trust left to her.

Notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Townsend met with reverses, his business career, taken as a whole, was a successful one. His name is inseparably connected with the history of Sheboygan, in the growth of which he ever took great interest.


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