REV. JOSEPH E. IRISH


From History of Dane County, Wisconsin, publ. by Western Historical Company, Chicago, 1880, page 1002-1003

REV. JOSEPH E. IRISH, Presiding Elder of the Madison District of the West Wisconsin Conference, was born Aug. 7, 1833, in Paris, Oneida Co., N.Y.; his ancestors on both sides were among the early pioneers of New England; his boyhood was passed in Perryville, Madison Co., N.Y.; in 1849-50, he was a student at Oneida Conference Seminary at Cazenovia, N.Y.; spent two seasons teaching in the public schools of New York and of Connecticut; he early developed unusual mathematical ability; in May 1851, he settled in Sextonville, Richland Co., Wis.; in this new country; his knowledge of surveying was appreciated, and soon after becoming of age, he was elected County Surveyor, at same time being Town Clerk where he had settled; many of the roads and villages in that part of the State were surveyed by him, and he was connected with the survey of the railroad between Madison and Prairie du Chien. He was married July 12, 1855, to Miss Lucy E. BRITTON, who died Feb. 16, 1873, leaving six children, all of whom are now living; Jessie May, who married Will H. LITTLE, of Baraboo; Charles A., who is clerking in La Crosse; Ralph O., student in high school at Madison; Lillie K., Fred D. and Frank W., at home. In the summer of 1858, Mr. IRISH was converted and embraced with ardor, the faith of the Gospel, and soon afterward joined the Methodist Episcopal Church; in the fall of 1859, at the session of the West Wisconsin Conference at Platteville, he was received on trial and appointed to Viroqua, in Vernon Co., as his first circuit; he returned to this charge the following year; then served one year at De Soto, and then two years at Linden, and two years at Baraboo, followed by two years at Madison, where he was appointed Presiding Elder of the St. Croix District, and removed to Hudson, and Madison, where he was appointed Presiding Elder of the St. Croix District, and removed to Hudson, and afterward to New Richmond, serving three years in the presiding eldership. In the fall of 1871, he consented, because of the urgency of influential friends and the conviction of duty, to accept the nomination of Senator for the Twenty-fourth District of the State; he was on the Republican ticket by the unprecedented majority of nearly 2,000 votes; it was the first instance of a clergyman ever being elected to the Senate of Wisconsin; and Mr. IRISH entered upon the discharge of his duties with a strong desire to advance the interests of the State by a faithful and judicious Christian course; during both years of his service in the Senate, he served as its Chaplain by request of that body; and was active in securing temperance legislation. In 1872, he was appointed by Gov. WASHBURN, Chairman of the State Visiting Committee, and, as such, visited all the charitable and penal institutions of the State; the report of that committee was comprehensive, liberal and unsectarian. In the celebrated legislative struggle over the St. Croix land grant, he was the champion of the North Wisconsin Company, and the result has fully justified his course, although at the time it evoked much partisan opposition; the La Crosse Bridge bill, which was vetoed by the Governor, and which veto was sustained by the vote of Mr. IRISH and others, gave opportunity to test the mettle of honest men; while rumors of bribery and corruption were rife during that stormy period, no faintest breath fell upon Mr. IRISH; he returned to his constituents with the satisfaction of having done his duty. In June 1873, he was appointed Register of the United States Land Office at Eau Claire, which position he filled until April 1875, when he resigned the office because of its interfering with his chosen profession of minister of the Gospel. In January 1874, he was married to Miss Isabelia H. COBBAN, of Eau Claire, daughter of Rev. Robert COBBAN, a member of the West Wisconsin Conference; while Senator, he was appointed to New Richmond, and afterward to Hudson, and while Register to Augusta, each of which he served one year; he was there three years, the full Conference limit, Pastor at Baraboo, a charge which in his earlier ministry, he had served two years; he was Pastor in charge for two years at Monroe and then in September 1879, was appointed President Elder of the Madison District of the West Wisconsin Conference; whether in official position or in private life, Mr. IRISH is an active, consistent temperance man; he is a Trustee of Lawrence University; is the Grand Chaplain of the Temple of Honor; he is a Past Grand of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and is a master Mason. The appointments which have been held by Mr. IRISH, both in church and state, indicate the esteem in which he is held, and the estimate placed upon his talent. He is eminently practical in his views of men and measures; and always loyal to his convictions of right and duty; personally of commanding appearance, modest and dignified, socially, genial and affable, he combines the elements of a popular official and a useful citizen.


Transcribed and contributed to this site by Carol

 

 

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