Charles E. Estabrook

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Charles Edward Estabrook (October 31, 1847 – December 3, 1918)[1] was an American schoolteacher, lawyer and Republican politician from Wisconsin.


Estabrook was born near Platteville in Grant County, Wisconsin on October 31, 1847. He attended the rural public schools of his district school during the winter months. In August, 1864 he enlisted in the Forty-third Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry and served until the end of the Civil War.

After returning from the Army he attended Platteville Academy and the Platteville Normal School (graduating in 1870), then taught school in Platteville and Belmont. He moved from Platteville to Manitowoc in 1871, and taught school there for a year; he was in charge of the First Ward public school. He studied law, was admitted to the bar and practiced law in Manitowoc until 1887.

Public office[edit]

Estabrook was city attorney of Manitowoc from April 1874 until December 1880. He resigned on having been elected a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly from the Third Manitowoc County assembly district (the City of Manitowoc and the Towns of Centerville, Manitowoc, Manitowoc Rapids and Newton) with 1410 votes to 930 for Democrat Adolph Piening. He was assigned to the standing committees on the judiciary and on education.[2] He was re-elected in 1882, with 851 votes to 732 for Democrat George Paukratz; he became chairman of the Committee on Education.[3]

He did not run for re-election in 1883, and was succeeded by Democrat Wilhelm Albers. Estabrook was a delegate to the 1884 Republican National Convention in Chicago, and in the same year was narrowly re-elected to his old seat, with 1219 votes to 1215 for Democrat George Franz. He returned to the judiciary committee, and became chairman of the committee on assessment and collection of taxes.[4]

He was elected as Wisconsin Attorney General in 1886, with 131,358 votes to 115,949 for Democrat George W. Bird, 21,740 for Populist John E. Thomas, and 17,247 for Prohibitionist E. W. Chafin (his old Assembly seat fell to Democrat Reinhardt Rahr[5]); and re-elected in 1888, with 176,351 votes to 154,943 for Democrat Timothy E. Ryan, 14,582 for Prohibitionist Charles E. Pike, and 8,709 votes for Union Labor Party candidate Kerellio Shawvan.[6] He was not a candidate for re-election in 1890, and Democrat James L. O'Connor took over as Attorney-General.

Estabrook moved to Milwaukee in 1893 to practice law there. He was elected to the Assembly from the 13th Milwaukee County district (the 13th Ward of the City of Milwaukee) in 1906 to succeed fellow Republican Henry Holle, with 1224 votes to 905 for Socialist Henry Leetzen and 593 for Democrat Frank Gerski; he was assigned to the committee on cities (of which he was made chairman) and the joint committee on forestry.[7] He was narrowly re-elected in 1908, with 1280 votes to 1253 for Democrat Charles Wall and 1029 for Socialist Charles Vogel.[8] He did not run in 1910, and the seat was taken by Socialist George Klenzendorff.

He was elected to the Assembly for the last time in 1912 to succeed Klenzendorff (who did not run for re-election), running as a fusion anti-Socialist candidate on the Democratic ticket, even though there was also a Republican nominee. Estabrook received 1338 votes, to 924 for Socialist Fred Leviash, 602 for Republican former Assemblyman Christoph Paulus (who had won the Republican primary election), and 41 for Prohibitionist George H. Schultz. He resumed his old post as chairman of what was now called the Committee on Municipalities.[9] He did not run for re-election in 1914, and was succeeded by Christoph Paulus.

Legislative legacy[edit]

In the Assembly, Estabrook assisted in drafting one of the first bills to pass the assembly providing for a bank examiner. He was an early advocates of the idea to abolish special charters for cities, and was a member of the commission which drafted a "general charter" for use by new cities. He wrote or was instrumental in enacting laws providing for farmers' institutes, social centers, a Milwaukee County park commission, and a state park board; the law requiring examinations for admission to the bar; an anti-sweat shop law, and a law regulating tenement houses.[10]