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Duncan J McKenzie

Bibliography: Library of Congress. "Pioneering the Upper Midwest: Books from Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, ca. 1820-1910." Washington: Library of Congress, 1999. Aiken, Andrew J. "Men of Progress, Wisconsin." Milwaukee, WI: Evening Wisconsin Co., 1897. p. 353

McKENZIE, Duncan J., state railroad commissioner, is another conspicuous example of the possibilities which in this country are before every young man of ability and ambition, and who is not afraid of honest toil. In fact there is scarcely a limit, beyond physical endurance, to the heights to which such a young man may attain. Duncan J. McKenzie, as may be guessed from the name, is of Scotch descent, and was born in Glengarry county, Ontario, on the 4th of July, 1848. He received the ordinary education afforded by the common school, and then came to Wisconsin, in 1872, and first settled in Chippewa Falls. There be remained until 1875, when he removed to Buffalo county, where he has since resided. Here he began the ascent which landed him in a state office, and at the same time made him known throughout Wisconsin. He worked at lumbering, in all its departments from bottom to top, and thus became familiar with every branch of it, which twenty years ago was a very important part of a business education, and one which led to wealth in many cases, although Mr. McKenzie's is probably not one of these. But the business served to bring him into notice, and Gov. William E. Smith, who had the faculty of appointing good men, made him lumber inspector of the Ninth district in 1878; and, as an evidence that he made an efficient and trustworthy officer, he held the position eleven years, through the terms of Governors Smith and Rusk. At the same time he held local offices of importance--was trustee of the village of Alma, and one of its first board of aldermen after it was chartered, was supervisor in 1884; mayor of Alma in 1891; chairman of the Buffalo Republican county committee in 1888-9, and member of the assembly in 1892, from the counties of Buffalo and Pepin. In 1894 he was nominated by the Republican state convention for railroad commissioner, and elected that fall by a plurality of 60,032 over the Democratic candidate, and a majority over all opponents of 24.100. He was a candidate before that convention for state treasurer, and was thought at first to have the best chance for the nomination of any of the aspirants; but political exigencies carried the nomination in another direction. When, however, the convention realized that a popular and capable man was, to use a slang phrase, turned down, he was promptly taken up and nominated for railroad commissioner. In the discharge of the duties of the office he has demonstrated that the convention made no mistake in his nomination. He has shown the same executive ability which he has always shown in meeting the official duties that have fallen to him. He was nominated for re-election by the state convention of 1896, and it is remarkable that neither in his case, nor in that of any of the state officers nominated, was there any criticism of the administration of his office. He was re-elected by a large majority, and is now administering the office for the second term. He has always been an earnest and enthusiastic worker for his party, and is one of those in the northern part of the state who could be relied on to do the necessary party work to make success as near certain as possible. [p.81] This implies something more than is contained in the words--it means that the man of which it is said is one of thorough convictions, that he is willing to work for what he believes to be true, and that he has the influence which belongs to earnest men.

His parents, James McKenzie and Anna Bella (McLaren) McKenzie, were born near Glasgow, Scotland, and emigrated to Canada in 1828. They settled on a farm and engaged in manufacturing lumber on a small scale. They had eight children, four sons and four daughters.

The subject of this sketch was married at Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in 1875, to Catherine Elizabeth, daughter of David and Cornelia (Babcock) Horton. Her parents, descendants of New England ancestry, came from Binghamton, New York, to Wisconsin, and are now residents of chippewa county. To Mr. and Mrs. McKenzie six children have been born, the eldest of whom died in childhood.

Mr. Mckenzie is a member of Alma Blue Lodge, No. 184, A. F. & M.; Eau Claire Chapter, No. 36, R. A. M.; Chippewa Commandery, No. 8, and Wisconsin Consistory and Shrine. He is also a member of the La Crosse Lodge of United Commercial Travelers and La Crosse Lodge of Elks.


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