Biography of Col. William H. Stevenson
Connecticut Biographies





COL. WILLIAM H. STEVENSON, BRIDGEPORT: Vice President and General Manager of the Housatonic Railway System.

Colonel Stevenson was born in Bridgeport in 1847, and, after receiving a thorough literary training and education, graduated early in life from Eastman's National Business College with the degree of Master of Accounts. In 1864 he entered the offices of the Housatonic railways in Bridgeport and remained there for several years. In 1872 he was appointed special agent of the New York & News Haven railroad, an office which he filled for two years, when he was appointed paymaster of the New York Central & Hudson River railroad, and in the same year was made superintendent of the Shore Line road. This line he brought to a high state of efficiency, placing it in a better position and condition than it had ever before attained, and as a consequence he became in demand by several lines, and in 1882 accepted the office of superintendent of the New York division of the New York, New Haven & Hartford railroad. In this position, as in all the offices he had filled, he displayed so much energy, ability and capacity for managing and controlling large interests, that he became one of the acknowledged railway experts of the east, and in 1885 was elected president of the association of American railroad superintendents, in 1887 was brought back to the railroad in which he received his first lessons in railroading and was made vice president and general manager of the Housatonic railway. It would scarcely be expected that a man who gave so much attention to so vast a subject as railroading, and who had by great application and ability risen rapidly to the head of a prominent system in so short a time, could have given much thought to anything else; yet Col. Stevenson has found time to do a great many other things and to rise to prominence in other ways as well as in the great business of his life In 1875 he was elected councilman in Bridgeport and served on the finance committee, and in 1876 he was returned as alderman, and in 1877 was reelected, and served on the most important committees of the board. During this year he was honored with the democratic nomination for the legislature, against Hon. P. T. Barnum. In 1878 he was again elected alderman and was chairman of the finance committee and also the committee on ways and means. In this year he passed the required examination as a lawyer and was admitted to the bar of Fairfield county. In 1881 he was nominated by the democratic party for mayor, and in 1884 was elected president of the young men's democratic Cleveland and Hendricks club and took an active part in the campaign which resulted so favorably for his party. He served on the democratic state committee during the campaign of 1888. But he gave attention to and attained prominence in yet another field, and was appointed aid de camp with the rank of captain on the staff of Brigadier General S. R. Smith of the Connecticut National Guard in 1879. He served as captain until 1884, when he was promoted to the office of brigade commissary, with the rank of major, on the staff of General Smith. In the same year he was again promoted, acting as aid de camp with the rank of colonel on the staff of Governor Thomas M. Waller. He was the third president of the old Eclectic Club cif Bridgeport, which was for ten years one of the most popular social institutions in the city. In 1884 he was elected grand master of the grand lodge of Independent Order of Odd Fellows for the state of Connecticut, and in the following year was sent as representative to the sovereign grand lodge I. O. O. F. by the grand lodge of Connecticut, at which time he was elected grand marshal of the sovereign grand lodge. In 1886 he was appointed general aid, with the rank of colonel, on the staff of Lieut. General Underwood of the military branch of patriarchs militant of the order of Odd Fellows. He is also a member of the Masonic order, and in 1885 was chosen exalted ruler of the Bridgeport order of Elks. In 1887 he was elected director and president of the New York, Rutland & Montreal railroad and also a director in the New York & New England railroad. In the following year he was made president of the New Haven & Derby railroad He is also a director in the Danbury & Norwalk railroad and a director in the West Stockbridge railroad. One of his projects, which has been successfully carried through, was the extension of the New Haven & Derby railroad to the Housatonic railroad, the latter road building a branch to meet it, which was completed in November, 1888, and opened with great enthusiasm on the part of the general public, because of its making a new and independent route from New Haven to the west. Under the able management of Col. Stevenson the Housatonic railroad is fast becoming one of the leading railway systems of New England. Recently Col. Stevenson was elected one of the directors and vice president of the Shepang, Litchfield & Northern railroad. In 1890 he was a leading figure in the political campaign and was the choice of a large portion of the democratic party for governor, but he declined to be considered a candidate, his business interests demanding all his attention.

From:
Illustrated Popular Biography
Of Connecticut
Compiled and Published by J. A. Spalding
Press of the Case, Lockwood & Brainard Co.
Hartford, Conn. 1891


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