Pioneer Governors: Henry Markham, 1891- 1895

Henry Markham

Henry Harrison Markham was born and raised in Wilmington, a small upstate New York farming community. He attended school in Farmington, New York, and later at Webster’s Academy in Vermont. In 1862, he and his brothers moved to Wisconsin, where he taught school until enlisting in the Army in 1863, as a private, during the Civil War. The following year Markham participated in General Sherman’s march to the sea, but was severely wounded at the Battle of Whippy in 1865, and discharged in June of that year having been promoted to second lieutenant. He returned to Wisconsin to study law, and was admitted to the bar in 1867. Nine years later he married Mary Dana, also of Wisconsin, and started a family which grew to include five daughters. Through intermediaries, Markham purchased a 23-acre ranch in Pasadena, California, moving there in 1879 with his wife and their young daughter, where he continued to practice law. He served on the local school board and helped found the local public library. In addition, he was involved in a number of business ventures, including part ownership in the Calico Union Mining Company. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from California’s 1st District, serving from 1885 to 1887, but declined to be re-nominated for another term. He ran for governor of California on the Republican ticket, referred to during the campaign as “the dashing colonel (an honorary title) from Pasadena.”  During his one term as governor California suffered an economic depression. As a means to attract visitors and new residents to the state, Henry Markham pushed for a Mid-Winter Exposition in 1894, a hugely successful event held in San Francisco. Henry Markham, born in November 1840, died in Pasadena on October 9, 1923.


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