Monday, May 9, 2016

Orvus Burke Wyman (1847-1900)

Portrait from the Proceedings of the State Bar Association of Wisconsin, 1902.

    There were few men more prominent in turn-of-the 19th century Vernon County, Wisconsin than Judge Orvus Burke Wyman. A former Vernon County District Attorney and County Judge, Wyman also served as Village President of Viroqua, Wisconsin (the Vernon County seat) and was the first mayor of that city following its classification as a city. Wyman's public career reached its apex in 1894 when he was elected to the first of two terms as Circuit Court Judge for Wisconsin's Sixth judicial circuit, dying in office in 1900.
   A native of Vermont, Orvus Burke Wyman was born on July 7, 1847 in Windsor County, being the son of Asahel Bundy and Roxanna Perkins Wyman. Wyman's unusual first name has a slight variation in spelling floating around online, being listed by some sources as "Orvis". However, both the State Bar Association of Wisconsin and Wyman's headstone spell it as "Orvus", and it is that spelling that is believed to be the correct one. 
   The Wyman family resided in Vermont until Orvus was seven years of age, whereafter they removed to Dane County, Wisconsin. Their stay in Dane County proved to be short, as they relocated to the neighboring county of Vernon in 1856. Settling in the village of Hillsborough, Orvus Wyman would attend local schools and was later a student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He began a career as a school teacher around this same time, teaching in several schools throughout the Vernon County area. 
   In 1874 Orvus Wyman was named as Vernon County Superintendent of Schools, an office he would continue to hold until 1880. He married on December 28, 1875 to Hillsborough native Emma Hammer (1855-1935), to whom he was wed for a nearly a quarter century. The couple would have two sons, Bernard (1880-1896) and Fantus (1885-1902). 
  Following his marriage, Orvus Wyman turned his attention to law in the late 1870s and after a period of study was admitted to the Wisconsin bar in 1878.  Establishing his law practice in the village of Viroqua, Wyman would form the firm of Rusk and Wyman in January 1880, taking as a partner one Lycurgus James Rusk, a future Wisconsin state assemblyman and the son of Jeremiah M. Rusk, noted Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Their firm would continue until 1883, being dissolved when Lycurgus Rusk removed to Wisconsin's state capitol. 
  In 1881 Orvus Wyman began the first of two terms as Vernon County District Attorney, holding that office until 1885. During his time as District Attorney Wyman also occupied the office of Viroqua Village President, being elected to that post in 1882. Notice is given as to Wyman being the "first mayor of the city of Viroqua" after it had been classified as a city, but no available source mentions his dates of service. 
  Wyman continued his rise in Vernon County politics in 1890 when he was elected as County Judge. He was returned to the bench for a second term in 1892 and continued to serve until his elevation to Wisconsin's Sixth Judicial Circuit Court. Elected for a six-year term in 1894, Wyman would win a second term just a few months prior to his death from cancer in Buffalo, New York on December 3, 1900. Newspaper reports denote that he had been ill and under treatment for some time prior to his passing, and following his death was returned to Wisconsin for burial at the Viroqua Cemetery in Viroqua, Wisconsin

From the Rock Island Argus, December 3, 1900.

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