Byron Kilbourn (Milwaukee Public Library)

Byron Kilbourn is considered to be one of the founders of the city of Milwaukee. At one point, he also wanted to build a railroad through a parcel of land known as the St. Croix grant after having been thrown out of the management of the Milwaukee and Mississippi Rail Road. Trying to build his new La Crosse and Milwaukee Railroad, in 1856, Mr. Kilbourn handed out $900,000 in railroad securities to literally sell the deal to a number of Wisconsin state legislators and the Governor himself. According to Robert Nesbit’s book, Wisconsin: A History, the Governor cashed $15,000 of the $50,000 he received for signing the bill and moved to Arizona to avoid an investigation. One State Senator, Amasa Cobb, exposed the scandal when Byron Kilbourn attempted to give him a bribe on the Senate floor. Cobb was the only Senator that refused the bribe.

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