Transcribed by Teresa Kesterke from: Biographical Review of Des Moines County, Iowa: Containing Biographical and Genealogical Sketches of Many of the Prominent Citizens of To-day and Also of the Past, Hobart Publishing Company, Chicago, 1905.


Given to the prosecution of active measures in business life, and possessing the earnest purpose of reaching an exalted standard of accomplishment, William Carson has become one of the foremost men of Burlington, a recognized leader in banking circles, and at the same time a representative of that class of American citizens who in the promotion of varied enterprises add not alone to their individual prosperity, but also advance the general welfare and prosperity of the cities in which they make their homes.

William Carson was born in Eau Galle, Wis., Nov. 9, 1850, a son of William and Mary (Smith) Carson. His paternal grandfather, William Carson, was born near Glasgow, Scotland, and following his marriage to a Miss Robertson he crossed the Atlantic, establishing his home in Inverness, Canada. His remaining days were spent there and at Quebec.

William Carson was born at Inverness, Canada, in 1819, and completed his education in the schools of Quebec, but early put aside his text-books in order to become a factor in business life. In his youth he crossed the border into the United States, and made his way southward to St. Louis, Mo. Later he retraced his steps until he had reached the timber districts of Wisconsin, becoming one of the pioneers in the lumber business of that State. He was interested in mills at various places, including Eau Galle. Eau Claire, and Chippewa Falls, and was associated for some time in the lumber industry at Burlington with the late E. D. Rand. They were among the first to engage in the lumber trade and to promote lumber manufacturing interests in this city. Mr. Carson continued with Mr. Rand until the latter's death, and afterward conducted the business alone until his own demise in Eau Claire, Wis. He was at that time seventy-nine years of age. He died full of years and honors, his life crowned by successful accomplishment, the resultant factors in his career being keen business discernment, the utilization of opportunity, and inflexible integrity in all business transactions. In connection with the lumber industry he became identified with the banking business at Eau Claire. His political views were in harmony with the principles of Democracy. He became known as a philanthropist in Wisconsin, because of his generous donations to various benevolent movements as well as to individuals. He stood in his old age, when crowned with wealth and honors, where he did in his youth, the champion of individual rights and an admirer of strong and stalwart character. He was ever ready to assist those less fortunate than himself in the business world, and his name is therefore held in reverence by many who knew him in the years of his activity. He wedded Miss Mary Smith at Prairie du Chien, and they became the parents of five daughters and one son, all of whom are yet living. The mother passed away in Eau Claire, Wis., nine years prior to her husband's death.

William Carson acquired his preliminary education in Eau Galle, and after studying for a time in Burlington, and later in St. Paul, Minn., completed a high-school course by graduation. He then entered Cornell University at Ithaca, N. Y., where he remained as a student for three years. Following the completion of his college course he entered upon his business career in connection with the lumber trade at Burlington as an employee of the firm in which his father was a partner. Demonstrating his business ability and enterprise, he was made secretary of the company, and afterward vice-president, which position he yet fills. The company has been incorporated, and as the years have passed by, the scope of its activity has been increased until now the annual output reaches twenty-five million feet of lumber, while the plant covers an area of fifteen acres. Mr. Carson is also a director of the Rand Lumber Company, one of the extensive enterprises of this character on the river. He is likewise vice-president of the Rice Lake Company at Rice Lake, Wis.; vice-president of the Barber Lumber Company, of Boise, Idaho; vice-president of the Cascade Lumber Company, of North Yakima. Wash.; and also a director in other lumber companies.

His prominence as a representative of the lumber trade, and his business ability as demonstrated in his successful control of important industries of this character, led to his selection for the presidency of the First National Bank of Burlington. This bank was organized forty-one years ago. It is capitalized for one hundred thousand dollars, there is a surplus of seventy-six thousand dollars, and deposits amounting to from eight hundred and fifty thousand to one million dollars.

Mr. Carson was married, March 4, 1885, to Miss Louise Cook, a daughter of Lyman Cook, of Burlington, and they have two children, Dorothy and Louise. They attend and support the Congregational church, of which Mrs. Carson is a member. Politically Mr. Carson is a Democrat. His ambition, however, has never been along political lines, for his constantly expanding business interests have claimed all his time and attention. He has steadily advanced in those walks of life demanding intellectuality, business ability, and fidelity. He stands today as a prominent representative of the lumber trade of the country, and although he entered upon a business already established, in enlarging and developing this he has shown marked capacity for management and ready discernment in mastering the problems of an intricate business situation.


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