Charles H. Larrabee

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Charles H. Larrabee
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 3rd district
In office
March 4, 1859 – March 3, 1861
Preceded by Charles Billinghurst
Succeeded by A. Scott Sloan
Personal details
Born (1820-11-09)November 9, 1820
Rome, New York
Died January 20, 1883(1883-01-20) (aged 62)
Tehachapi, California
Political party Democratic
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Union Army
Years of service 1861-1863
Rank Colonel
Battles/wars American Civil War

Charles Hathaway Larrabee (November 9, 1820 – January 20, 1883) was a U.S. Representative from Wisconsin. He was also a lawyer and U.S. Army officer.


Larrabee was born in Rome, New York, on November 9, 1820, the son of Charles Larrabee of Connecticut. His family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where young Charles attended Springfield Academy and then Granville College from 1834 to 1836. At Granville he specialized in English studies, mathematics and ancient languages.[1]:4[2] Later, he read law with Samson Mason and W.A. Rogers in Springfield, Ohio.[1]:4

He resided in New York, Ohio, Mississippi, Illinois, Wisconsin, California, Oregon and Washington Territory.[1]

In 1846, he married Minerva Norton, and they moved to Horicon, Wisconsin.[1]:4 Minerva died in San Francisco in 1873 at age 50.[2][3]

Larrabee was killed in a train accident at the Tehachapi Loop near Tehachapi, California, on January 20, 1883.[4][5] He was survived by a son and daughter.[1]:23 Interment was in the Masonic Cemetery, San Francisco.[6]

An attempt was made in the settlement of his estate to show that the claim by his second wife was not legitimate, but she produced a marriage certificate and letters to show that it was, and the marriage was therefore allowed in San Bernardino Superior Court.[7] In June 1884, John Anderson, executor of Larrabee's estate, filed a court action in San Bernardino against the Central Pacific Railroad, asking $100,000 in damages.[8]



Before becoming a lawyer, Larrabee worked as an engineer and helped survey the Little Miami Railroad.[2] He was admitted to the bar in September 1841 and in the same year ran unsuccessfully for the Mississippi State Legislature; then, moving to Chicago, he edited the Democratic Advocate and became city attorney there.[1]:4

After moving to Wisconsin in 1847, Dodge County, Wisconsin voters chose him as one of their three representatives to the state's second constitutional convention that same year. His chief preoccupation there was establishing a homestead exemption that would aid poor people. In 1848 he was elected a circuit court judge, which position made him a member of the state supreme court, the youngest person ever to serve on that court; he stayed ten years.[1]:4–6[2]

In 1852 he was nominated as the Democratic candidate for chief justice, but failed in the election against "the older and more experienced" Edward V. Whiton. He was, however, elected to Congress in 1858, representing the district with the largest population in the country, 350,000 people.[1]:6[2]


After the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War, Larrabee enlisted as a private in the Horicon Guard militia, where he was elected to be a second lieutenant. As a regular, he was commissioned as a major by Governor Randall with the 5th Wisconsin, and later he was promoted to colonel and given command of the 24th Wisconsin. Disease, however, forced him to resign his commission in August 1863.[1]:9–17, 21[2]


His illnesses were diarrhea and erysipelas in the head, and he sought relief in the climates of California, Nevada and Oregon, and then, with Beriah Brown, to Washington Territory, where he became a member of a state constitutional convention. In Washington also he helped to organize a state university in Seattle.[1]:23

In 1868 he was in Los Angeles, California, where he and William A. Winder, the former commander of the U.S. prison on Alcatraz Island, opened an agency "for the purchase and sale of lands in the southern part of the state."[9][10] In April 1868 he was elected city attorney. None of the officials elected at that time served, however, and the election "seems to have been wholly ignored."[11] Larrabee eventually settled in San Bernardino, California, where he resumed his law practice.[1]:23

References and notes[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • [2] Testament to Larrabee after his death, San Bernardino Times, quoted in "Col. C.H. Larrabee," Los Angeles Herald, January 26, 1883

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Charles Billinghurst
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Wisconsin's 3rd congressional district

March 4, 1859 - March 3, 1861
Succeeded by
A. Scott Sloan