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Mayors of Green Bay
W.C.E. Thomas
Francis X. Desnoyers
H. E. Eastman
Burley Follett
E. H. Ellis
Henry S. Baird
Nathan Goodell
M. P. Lindsley
C. D. Robinson
James S. Marshall
Anton Klaus
Alonzo Kimball
Dr. C. E. Crane
F. S. Ellis
J. C. Neville
J. H. M. Wigman
W. J. Abrams
Charles Hartung
Arthur C. Neville
James H. Elmore
Frank B. Desnoyers
Simon J. Murphy, Jr.
J. H. Tayler
Dr. Robert E. Minahan
Winford Abrams
Elmer S. Hall
Wenzel Wiesner
James H. McGillan
John V. Diener
John S. Farrell
Alex Biemeret
Dominic Olejniczak
Otto Rachals
Roman Denissen
Donald Tilleman
Harris Burgoyne
Thomas Atkinson
Michael Monfils
Samuel J. Halloin
Paul F. Jadin
James J. Schmitt





W. J. Abrams

W.J. Abrams
Mayor W.J. Abrams
1881, 1883, 1884

William Abrams was born March 19, 1829, in Cambridge, Washington County, NY, the son of of Isaac T. and Ruth (Hall) Abrams, natives of New York. His father was a business man in West Troy, NY, and died in 1868; his mother died in 1870. Of the children in the family, only W.J. grew to maturity.

William received an academic education at Cambridge and Troy, NY, after which he entered the theological school at Williamstown, MA. He had to abandon his studies there due to impaired health.

He spent some years traveling, at the same time continuing his studies in history, arts, and general literature.

In 1856, he came to northern Wisconsin and was engaged for a considerable time in railroad surveys from Lake Michigan to Ontonagon, making his permanent home in Green Bay in 1861. He was prominent in the development of water transportation facilities, being associated with the Collingwood, Sarnia and Buffalo Line of steamers until 1870 when he directed his attention to railroad enterprise. He was one of the promoters of the Green Bay & Lake Pepin Railroad, having made the survey and obtained its charter, and for many years served as its secretary. This road was later merged into the Green Bay & Minnesota and still later into the Green Bay, Winona & St. Paul. He was also the leading promoter and president of the Green Bay & Western Railroad, built in 1891, which at that time was 35 miles in length.

Green Bay & Western RR

Green Bay and Western Railroad, 1891
Neville Public Museum of Brown County

In 1854, Mr. Abrams was married in Montgomery County, NY, to Miss Henrietta T. Alton. Together they had three children, two daughters, Kate and Ruth, and one son, Winford who later became mayor himself.

Abrams served in the State Assembly from 1864 to 1867 and in the Senate for two years, 1868 - 1869. He was Mayor of Green Bay in 1881, 1883, and 1884. He was Vice-President of the Soldiers Orphans Home at Madison WI. Vice-President of the Fair and Park Association, and a member of the Horticultural Society.

During the early 1880's, Abrams was active in land sales in the town of Pensaukee, Oconto Co. along with George De Lano and John Bovee. In 1882 the Milwaukee & Northern Railroad was built through the present day Abrams. A depot was buildt and the village sprang up around it. The village was named Abrams in honor of William J. Abrams and he visited there frequently.

Main Street in Abrams

Main Street in Abrams - 1910

Top: Main Street in Abrams in the early 1900s. The sign by the tracks reads "Look Out The Cars".

Bottom: Main Street in Abrams around 1910.

He frequently appeared as a public speaker, especially during political campaigns, with a style that commanded the respect and attention of his audience.

Mr. Abrams died September 12, 1900.

Read about
life in the 1880s