William Henry McBride – 1997 Inductee

One of the few Osborne County citizens to achieve state office in Kansas was William Henry McBride.  A son of the Reverend Henry and Christina (Thrushy) McBride, William was born May 22, 1842, in Summit County, Ohio.  He was educated at the Greensburg (Ohio) Seminary and with the beginning of the Civil War he enlisted in October 1861 in Company I of the 76th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.  He served in the Army of the Tennessee and was wounded in the assault on Arkansas Post, Arkansas, on January 11, 1863, and received his discharge July 21, 1865, at Columbus, Ohio.  On August 29, 1865, he married Aurelia L. Fisher at Georgetown, Ohio.  They had two children, Frank and Minnie.

After the wedding the McBrides moved to Iowa. They first lived in Ottumwa, Iowa, and then after six years they settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa. During these years in Iowa William engaged in the mercantile business and spent much of his spare time studying law. On October 1, 1871, the family arrived in Kirwin, Phillips County, Kansas. William worked for two years as editor of the Kirwin Chief newspaper and continued in the mercantile business. In October 1877 he was admitted to the Phillips County bar and entered into the law firm of May and McBride in Kirwin. Six years later he gained the Republican nomination for the Phillips County Representative to the Kansas legislature. The ensuing campaign proved a lively and spirited contest.

“Last Thursday evening at the courthouse was the joint discussion upon the political issues of the day, between W. H. McBride, the Republican candidate, and G. M. Finch, the Greenback candidate, for Representative. A large audience was present. Mr. Finch no doubt did the best he could  .  .  .  he frothed a little as he pranced upon the bit for a few moments, and then settling back upon his haunches, he snorted forth the words f-r-a-u-d a-n-d c-o-r-r-u-p-t-i-o-n and then collapsed. Mr. McBride is a merciful man, and did not wish to chew him entirely up into mincemeat, yet, when he quit, his opponent was terribly mangled. It was easy for the audience to see who would best serve them in the legislature.

“McBride is well posted, is a fine speaker and has a strong vigorous nature. He will be heard, and don’t you forget it, in the legislature, while Finch, to say the least, is a weak sister, and his——-but as he will soon demise politically, we will draw the veil of charity.” — Phillipsburg Herald, November 1, 1883.

McBride was duly elected and served a two-year term in the Kansas House of Representatives. Afterwards he moved to Osborne, Kansas, and practiced law there. He also served as one of the directors of the state penitentiary and in January 1891 he was appointed Superintendent of Insurance of Kansas by Kansas Governor Lyman Humphrey. In January 1893 he left this office and returned to his law practice in Osborne. Seven years later the McBrides moved to Fergus Falls, Minnesota, where he engaged in a land and farm loan business. William was a longtime member of both the Masonic Lodge and the Grand Army of the Republic and was elected mayor of Fergus Falls.

In his later years William and his wife partitioned their time between their home in Fergus Falls and visiting their daughter in Sterling, Kansas. After Aurelia McBride’s death in 1920 William made his home in Sterling and died there on November 17, 1922. He was buried beside his wife in Sterling’s Cottonwood Cemetery.

The McBride tombstone at Sterling, Kansas.

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