Bio: Silverthorn, Hon. Willis Chislom (1834 –  1878)


Contact: Dolores Mohr Kenyon



Surnames: Silverthorn, Schofield, Bardeen, Plumer, Meyers, Hadley, Single, Hermione,


---Source: History of Marathon County Wisconsin and Representative Citizens, by Louis Marchetti, 1913.


---Silverthorn, Hon. Willis C. (1834 – 29 January 1878)



Hon. Willis C. Silverthorn has been frequently referred to in these pages as one who has acted an important part in his life in Marathon County and in this state. He came to Wausau in 1864 a young man and opened a lawyer's office. His ability was soon recognized, and he was elected district attorney in the same year and twice reelected. From this time on he was a strong and growing figure in the councils of the Democratic party of the state. He was member of the Assembly in 1868 and 1874, and was nominated and elected in the fall of 1874 for senator of the Twenty-first Senatorial District, and was the first Democrat to overcome the big Republican majority, this district being composed of the counties of Waupaca, Shawano and Marathon. His successful opposition to the issuing of $250,000 bonds bearing 10 per cent interest to the Wisconsin Central Railroad Company has been related and his manful stand almost solitary and alone on this issue in his home city, and how his vindication came in the course of time, and his connection with the law firm of Silverthorn & Hurley.


Several times he was called upon to lead the forlorn hopes of his party in congressional district and state, as when he was nominated for member of Congress in 1880 for the Eighth Congressional District, which was overwhelmingly Republican, and which at that time included nearly one third of the whole state in territory. In 1884 he was nominated for attorney general and made a canvass of the whole state. In the memorable campaign of 1896 he led the Bryan forces as the Democratic candidate for governor, speaking in nearly every hamlet, and while defeated, had the satisfaction of running nearly 5,000 votes ahead of the presidential candidate. His high character and standing at the bar in the sixteenth judicial circuit of the state induced Gov. Ed. Scofield to appoint him circuit judge in place of Hon. C. V. Bardeen who had been appointed justice of the Supreme Court. In the ensuing election he was elected for the full term as circuit judge and reelected in 1904.  


Meanwhile his private business had assumed large proportions and he resigned in 1908 to devote his time to the affairs of the Northern Chief Iron Company, in which corporation he had a large interest, and in which he is secretary, occasionally seeking recreation in travel.  


With D. L. Plumer and his brother, George Silverthorn, he organized the banking firm of Silverthorn & Plumer in 1869, which later merged into the First National Bank of Wausau.  


Hon. W. C. Silverthorn was born in 1834, in Toronto, Canada, and came with his father, George Silverthorn, to Jefferson county, Wisconsin, where the father engaged in farming, and died at Oakland in 1872, having become a man of means and acquired a farm of 640 acres. W. C. Silverthorn's early youth was spent on his father's farm, and after passing through the common school, he attended Albion Academy and the state university at Madison. Following his college training, he studied law in the law office of Braley & Smith at Madison, and was admitted to the bar in 1863; first practicing his profession at St. Louis, Missouri, but coming to Wausau early in 1864, which has been his home ever since. He was married in Madison to Miss Maggie Virginia Meyers, who was born at Bowling Green, Kentucky, and who died January 29, 1878, leaving three children: Willis V., now of Sawyer county; Margaret Grace, now Mrs. H. H. Hadley, and Nellie C. who resides at home.


On June 23, 1879, he married Miss Ida M. Single, his present wife, and they have three children: James C, Ida Hermione, and George P. Mrs. Ida M. Silverthorn is a daughter of James Single, one of the honored pioneers of Marathon county, the youngest of the three brothers, Benj. T., Charles A., and James Single, frequently mentioned in former chapters. The family is among the founders of the St. John's Episcopal Church of Wausau, and Mrs. Silverthorn is a member of the Ladies' Literary Club and other societies.  


Miss Nellie C. Silverthorn has been the first librarian of the Wausau Library, interesting herself with her father in the work since its inception, he having been the founder of the "Pine Knot Library," which became the nucleus of the present public library. At the time of her resignation she received the thanks of the Library Board for faithful and proficient services rendered.


Wisconsin Marriage  Record


Groom's Name: Willis Chislom Silverthorn
Groom's Birth Date:
Groom's Birthplace:
Groom's Age:
Bride's Name: Ida May Single
Bride's Birth Date:
Bride's Birthplace:
Bride's Age:
Marriage Date: 23 Jun 1879
Marriage Place: Marathon, Wisconsin
Groom's Father's Name: George Silverthorn
Groom's Mother's Name: Sarah Silverthorn
Bride's Father's Name: James Single
Bride's Mother's Name: Lydia M. Single


1905 Wisconsin State Census, Wausau Ward 1, Marathon, Wisconsin


Name: Willis C Silverthorn
Birthplace: Canada
Relationship to Head of Household: Self 
Marital Status: Married
Race : White
Gender: Male
Immigration Year: 1844
Father's Birthplace: Holland
Mother's Birthplace: Holland
Family Number: 92
Page Number: 5
Household Gender Age
Willis C Silverthorn M 71y
Spouse Ida M Silverthorn F 51y
Child Nellie C Silverthorn F 27y
Child Heromine I Silverthorn F 24y
Child George P Silverthorn M 22y




Obit: Silverthorn, Willis Chislom (1830 - 1916)

Contact: Ken Wood


Surnames: Silverthorn


----Source: Marshfield News, Thursday 12 Oct. 1916  P. 1  C. 6


----Silverthorn, Willis Chislom (1830 - 1916)

Judge Silverthorn Dead—78 Years Old

Hon. W. C. Silverthorn, who retired from the judgeship of the 16th judicial circuit of Wisconsin in 1908, died at his home in Wausau Saturday at the age of 78 years.  He had been a resident of Wausau 52 years, was born in Canada and was a life-long Democrat.

Judge Silverthorn was appointed to the circuit bench by Governor Schofield in 1893, two years after the latter defeated him for the election to the governorship. 

For six years he was district attorney of Marathon county, and in 1868 and 1874 was elected to the lower house of the legislature.  In 1875 her was elected to the state senate.


----Source: Marshfield Herald  Saturday 14 Oct. 1916  P. 4  C. 3

Wausau Judge Dies

Judge Willis C. Silverthorn, a resident of Wausau the past fifty-two years, died at his home in that city Monday.  He was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1830.  He served Marathon County as district attorney two terms.  He was elected to the assembly from his district and once elected to the state senate.  In 1903 he was appointed circuit Judge and at the close of his appointed term he served two terms by election.