Ogden, William B.
Born: 1805-06-15 Delaware County, New York
Died: 1877-08-03 New York, New York
Flourished: Chicago, Illinois
William B. Ogden was a businessman, postmaster, state legislator, real estate investor, and the first mayor of Chicago, Illinois. Born in Walton, New York, Ogden began preparatory studies for a career in law when his father's ill health forced William, at the age of sixteen, to assume management of the family's vast land holdings and his father's lumber and mercantile interests. In 1828, Ogden received appointment as postmaster of Walton, a post he held until he moved to Chicago. In 1834, Ogden won election, as a Jacksonian Democrat, to the New York State Assembly on a platform to construct the New York & Erie Railroad. Around this time, he began investing in Chicago real estate and moved there in June 1835. He opened a real estate house and continued investing in land in Illinois and New York for the rest of his life. In 1837, Ogden became the town's first mayor. He also became heavily involved in railroad development, serving as president or board member for a large number of railroad companies. Ogden took an interest in a number of other issues and businesses. He was a proponent of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, organized a Wisconsin lumber company in 1854, served as the first president of the Rush Medical College and of the Chicago branch of the State Bank of Illinois, and organized the Brady's Bend Iron Company in Pennsylvania in 1860. In 1850, Ogden was living in Chicago's Seventh Ward and owned real property valued at $1 million. The Democratic Party nominated him for Congress in 1852, but he refused the nomination. In 1860, Ogden was living in Chicago's Ninth Ward and owned real property valued at $1.5 million and had a personal estate of $1 million. He won election to the Illinois Senate as a Republican in 1860, remaining in that body from January 1861 to December 1864.
Obituary, The Chicago Tribune (IL), 4 August 1877, 5:5-6; The Biographical Encyclopaedia of Illinois of the Nineteenth Century (Philadelphia: Galaxy, 1875), 113-14; Biographical Sketches of the Leading Men of Chicago (Chicago: Wilson & St. Clair, 1868), 14; Jack Harpster, A Biography of William B. Ogden (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2009), 7, 14-16; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Ward 7, Chicago, Cook County, IL, 368; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Ward 9, Chicago, Cook County, IL, 54; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 223, 225; Gravestone, Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY.