Prominent in Grand Army circles, Wilbur M. Root is now serving as commander of the local post at Sheboygan and was vice commander of the state in 1901. He is, furthermore, widely known through his commercial connections, having been engaged in the marble and monument business in Sheboygan since 1874. He was also at one time engaged in the grain and agricultural implement business and conducted a livery in connection. He has at different times filled the office of justice of the peace and in these various connections has ever stood as a man among men, honored by reason of the sterling worth of his character.
He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, December 27, 1844, a son of Augustus and Marcia (Hanchet) Root, who in 1849 came with their family to Sheboygan county, settling in Plymouth where the father conducted a cooperage business until after the outbreak of the Civil war, when he enlisted in Company E, Eighth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, as a musician. He died in the service at Jackson, near Vicksburg, Mississippi, in 1863.
W. M. Root was largely reared in Plymouth and attended the public schools there. He was but seventeen years of age when hostilities commenced between the north and south, but years are no criterion of patriotism and the same spirit of loyalty that actuated his father was manifest in the son who in April, 1861, offered his services to the Union and became a member of Company C, Fourth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, enlisting as a private. This regiment was afterward made a cavalry command, with which he served until honorably discharged at Morganza Bend, Louisiana, July 14, 1864. The regiment was connected with the Department of the Gulf and he participated in a number of important engagements chiefly in the lower Mississippi valley, but was never injured.
On the expiration of his term of service Mr. Root returned to Plymouth and purchased the cooperage business of his father, who had laid down his life on the altar of his country during the war. Subsequently he removed from Plymouth to Greenbush and was there elected justice of the peace. A year and a half later he resigned and in 1870 was elected sheriff of his county on the republican ticket, at which time he removed to Sheboygan. He filled the office for the regular term of two years and was then again called to that office by popular suffrage in 1882. In the meantime - in 1874 - he established the marble and monument business in which he has since continued. He has done much fine work of that character and is accorded a liberal patronage.
In 1865 he was married to Miss Amanda A. Gardner, of Plymouth, a daughter of Horace Gardner, who was a farmer but is now deceased. He was a native of Jefferson county, New York, and came to Wisconsin about 1855. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Root has been born a son, Ned M., who is now associated with the Daily Evening Press of Sheboygan.
W. M. Root was also at one time identified with journalistic interests, having in January, 1895, purchased the Sheboygan Daily Journal which he owned until 1904. He has long been recognized as a leader of public thought and action. He exerted much influence over public affairs during his newspaper career and has also done much to further public progress and improvement in other ways. His fellow townsmen, appreciative of his worth and his loyalty to the best interests of the community, elected him as their representative to the state legislature in which he served for four terms, leaving the impress of his individuality upon many acts which were passed during that period. He served for four years, or for two terms, as state insurance commissioner, nor has he been neglectful of local interests for he has filled the office of alderman and also was the first chief of police of Sheboygan. He has likewise taken active part in political management, having been chairman of both the city and county democratic committees. While he was first elected sheriff on the republican ticket at his second election he was the candidate of the democratic party. He has always been most fearless in defense of his honest convictions nor has he hesitated to announce his views on matters relative to the general welfare.
Information gathered and adapted from History of Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Past and Present
Carl Zillier, Editor
Pubished by The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912, Chicago, IL