James B. Cross

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James B. Cross
James B. Cross.jpg
9th Mayor of Milwaukee
In office
March 23, 1855 – April 1858
Preceded byByron Kilbourn
Succeeded byWilliam A. Prentiss
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the Milwaukee 1st district
In office
January 10, 1855 – January 9, 1856
Preceded byJohn Crawford
Succeeded byJoshua Stark
In office
January 10, 1849 – January 8, 1851
Preceded byEdward Wunderly
Succeeded byWilliam K. Wilson
Personal details
James B. Cross

(1819-12-17)December 17, 1819
Phelps, New York, U.S.
DiedFebruary 3, 1876(1876-02-03) (aged 56)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Cause of deathStroke
Resting placeForest Home Cemetery
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Political partyDemocratic
  • Catherine L. Fuller
    (m. 1856; died 1857)
  • Eunice G. Osborn
    (m. 1859)
  • James B. Cross Jr.
  • (died age 8)
  • at least 2 others
Professionlawyer, politician

James B. Cross (December 17, 1819 – February 3, 1876) was an American lawyer and politician who served as the 9th mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1855–1858). A Democrat, Cross also represented Milwaukee for three terms in the Wisconsin State Assembly, and was the Party's nominee for Governor of Wisconsin in the 1857 election.[1]

Background and public office[edit]

Cross was born in Phelps, New York, in 1819. In 1841, he moved to Milwaukee to practice law.[2] Cross served as probate judge in 1848. He then served three terms as a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1849, 1850, and 1855, representing Milwaukee County's First Assembly district.[3]

Cross served for three terms as mayor of Milwaukee from April 1855 to April 1858. The Milwaukee Police Department came into being while Cross was mayor. Before this time, the Milwaukee County Sheriff and his deputy maintained law and order.[4] He was a Wisconsin delegate at the Democratic National Convention in Cincinnati, Ohio on June 2, 1856.[5]

Run for governor[edit]

Cross ran as the Democratic nominee for Governor of Wisconsin in 1857, but he was accused of financial maladministration during his terms as mayor; and his political association with former Governor (and fellow Democrat) William A. Barstow hindered his gubernatorial campaign. He lost to Republican Alexander Randall in a close vote, 44,239 to 44,693.[6]

Life outside public office[edit]

Cross was said to be deeply disappointed by the outcome of the gubernatorial election—though he came within 500 votes of victory—and mostly retired from political life afterwards.[7]:161 In his later years, Cross ran the Juneau National Bank from 1857 to 1862 and then worked in the liquor business from 1867 to 1876. Cross also worked at the post office, rising to head clerk by the time of his death.[7]:161

He died of a stroke at his home on the morning of February 3, 1876.[8]

Personal life and family[edit]

Cross was married twice. He was married to Catherine Fuller in 1856, but she died less than a year later. He subsequently married Eunice G. Osborn and had at least three children. One of his children, James Jr., died in a drowning accident at age 8. He was survived by his second wife and two living children.[8]

Electoral history[edit]

Wisconsin Gubernatorial Election, 1857[6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
General Election, November 3, 1857
Republican Alexander Randall 44,693 49.63% -0.23%
Democratic James B. Cross 44,239 49.12% -0.95%
Scattering 1,126 1.25%
Plurality 454 0.50% +0.29%
Total votes 90,058 100.0% +24.05%
Republican hold


  1. ^ State Bar of Wisconsin (1905). "Biographical Sketches: James B. Cross". Report of the Proceedings of the Meeting of the State Bar Association of Wisconsin for the years 1878, 1881, and 1885. Madison, Wisconsin: Taylor and Gleason, Book and Job Printer. p. 223. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  2. ^ "Cross, James B. 1819 - 1876". Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  3. ^ Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (2007). "Feature Article: Those Who Served: Wisconsin Legislators 1848–2007" (PDF). In Barish, Lawrence S.; Lemanski, Lynn (eds.). State of Wisconsin 2007-2008 Blue Book (Report). Madison, Wisconsin: State of Wisconsin. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-9752820-2-1. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  4. ^ "History of The Milwaukee Police Department". City of Milwaukee. Archived from the original on June 23, 2006. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  5. ^ Official Proceedings of the National Democratic Convention held in Cincinnati, June 2–6, 1856 (Report). Cincinnati, Ohio: Enquirer Company Steam Printing Establishment. 1856. p. 9. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (2015). "Statistics: History" (PDF). In Pohlman, Julie (ed.). State of Wisconsin 2015-2016 Blue Book (Report). Madison, Wisconsin: State of Wisconsin. p. 699. ISBN 978-0-9752820-7-6. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  7. ^ a b Watrous, Jerome A., ed. (1909). Memoirs of Milwaukee County. vol. 1. Madison, Wisconsin: Western Historical Association. pp. 161, 563. Retrieved August 14, 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Death of Hon. James B. Cross". Wisconsin State Journal. Madison, Wisconsin. February 4, 1876. p. 1. Retrieved August 14, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.

Further reading[edit]

This article incorporates text from the 1909 edition of Memoirs of Milwaukee County, by Jerome Anthony Watrous which is in the public domain in the United States.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
William A. Barstow
Democratic nominee for Governor of Wisconsin
Succeeded by
Harrison Carroll Hobart
Wisconsin State Assembly
Preceded by
Edward Wunderly
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly for the Milwaukee 1st district
January 10, 1849 – January 8, 1851
Succeeded by
William K. Wilson
Preceded by
John Crawford
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly for the Milwaukee 1st district
January 10, 1855 – January 9, 1856
Succeeded by
Joshua Stark
Political offices
Preceded by
Byron Kilbourn
Mayor of Milwaukee
1855 – 1858
Succeeded by
William A. Prentiss