William Bishop (politician)

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William Bishop
William Bishop Missouri.JPG
William Bishop
State Treasurer of Missouri
In office
Personal details
Born 1817
Martinsburg, Virginia, USA
Died May 2, 1879[1]
Kahoka, Missouri
Nationality USA
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Mary Ann (Lapsley) Bishop
Children Six
Residence Clark County, Missouri
Alexandria, Missouri
Occupation Real Estate seculator
Commodities broker
Profession Army officer

William Bishop (1817 – May 2, 1879) was an American businessman, military officer and politician in the 19th century. He served as the State Treasurer of Missouri from 1865 to 1869.[2]


William H. Bishop was born in Martinsburg, Virginia,[3] but moved with his family to McLean County, Illinois as a child. His father, also named William, was a veteran of the War of 1812.[4] William H. moved to Missouri as an adult and by 1846 was living in Clark County, Missouri[3] where he became a wealthy land and commodities speculator.[5] By the time of the 1860 United States Census, Bishop had real estate holdings valued at $20,000, a substantial sum in that era.[2] In March, 1861 he attended the first inauguration of Abraham Lincoln in hopes of receiving a political appointment.[3]

At the outbreak of the American Civil War he was living in the Mississippi river port of Alexandria, Missouri. In June, 1861 Union General Nathaniel Lyon asked him to help organize several units of Missouri Home Guards to protect the state from pro-Confederate Missouri State Guards and rebel guerrilla activity.[6] Bishop challenged his friend David Moore for command of the newly formed 1st Northeast Missouri Home Guards, but lost the election. Undeterred, in July, 1861 he began organizing a Cavalry battalion of Missouri Home Guard known as "Black Hawk Cavalry" at a training camp in Warsaw, Illinois.[3] Following completion of training the unit was garrisoned at Martinsburg, Audrain County, Missouri to protect the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad from attack by Confederate bushwhackers.[3] The unit was involved in several skirmishes against Confederate Bushwhackers across the state including at Milford, Spring Hill,[7] and Crabapple Grove (near present-day Sturgeon, Missouri).[3] Colonel Bishop's time in command of the Black Hawk Cavalry was plagued by political infighting,[6] supply difficulties, and conflict with his superiors. As a result, in February, 1862 William Bishop was court-martialed on serious charges such as conduct unbecoming an officer, falsifying a muster roll, neglect of duty, and incompetence.[3] He would be acquitted of all charges but removed from command of his unit, the Black Hawks being combined with other Union forces to create the 7th Missouri Cavalry Regiment.[8]

Hoping to repair the damage to his reputation and career, in the spring of 1862 Bishop gathered letters of support and documentation pertaining to his acquittal and traveled to Washington D.C.. In a series of meetings he sought out a new military command or appointment to a political position. Unsuccessful, he returned to Alexandria, Missouri and resumed private business.[3] Some time later he would appointed Provost Marshal and port supervisor, positions held until being elected Missouri's 9th State Treasurer in November, 1864 as a member of the Radical Union Party.[2] His term in office was unremarkable in any specific achievement, save for securing salary increases for his assistants and managing the funds for Missouri's post-Bellum recovery. After leaving office in 1869 he lived mostly a retired life before suffering a stroke and dying on May 2, 1879.[1] Despite his earlier great wealth, Bishop died with an estate valued at around $515.[1] William and Mary Ann (Lapsley) Bishop—who had married in 1849—were the parents of six children.[2] She survived him by an additional 40 years, dying on March 8, 1920.[1] William Bishop is buried in Kahoka, Missouri.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d Lowry, Thomas Power (2003). Curmudgeons, Drunkards and Outright Fools:Courts Martial of Civil War Union Colonels. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. pp. 77, 78, 79. 
  2. ^ a b c d "William Bishop". Clint Zweifel. Retrieved 2010-12-10. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "William Bishop bio and personal papers" (PDF). State Historical Society of Missouri. 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2013. 
  4. ^ Duis, E. (1874). The Good Old Times in McLean County, Illinois. McClean County, Illinois: Leader Publishing and Printing. pp. 484, 486. 
  5. ^ "The 21st Missouri Volunteer Infantry". Primedia Enthusiast Publications. 1996. Retrieved 17 July 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Cooper-Wiele, Jonathan K. (2007). Skim Milk Yankees Fighting. Iowa City, Iowa: Camp Pope Bookshop Press. pp. 42, 43,. 
  7. ^ "Regimental Details - 7th Regiment, Missouri Cavalry". National Park Service. 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  8. ^ Weant, Kenneth E. (2007). Civil War Record of Union Troops:Missouri Volunteer Cavalry Vol.4. Arlington, Texas. pp. 31–46. 
Political offices
Preceded by
George Caleb Bingham
State Treasurer of Missouri
Succeeded by
William Q. Dallmeyer