D. H. Pulcifer – Shawano`s First Mayor

Published October 31, 2023

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Daniel Haight Pulcifer
First Mayor of Shawano
Shawano, WI

Daniel was the eldest of the living children, and owing to an unfortunate infirmity, the father of this large family was unable to wholly support them and as a consequence much fell upon the shoulders of Daniel.  He soon became the entire support of the family, but he was equal to the task as the spirit of determination and resoluteness which so forcibly characterized his entire after life, was a dominant feature in his boyhood years.  Thus it can be readily understood that his education was so limited, that at the age of twenty he could read with great difficulty and write not at all.  Much of what he did know had been gained by practical experience in a country printing office which he entered as an apprentice at the age of fourteen years, at Whitehall, NY.

In 1855, at the age of twenty-one, Daniel migrated to Wisconsin locating In Oasis township, Waushare county, near Wautoma.  In the spring of 1858 he established the PIne River Argus which wag soon afterward merged into the Waushara Co. Argus, the plant being moved to Wautoma.  Later he sold out the Argus and became editor of the Plover Times, at Plover In Portage county and still later he became editor and proprietor of the Columbus Republican at Columbus, Wi, until 1863 when he became connected with the Commonwealth at Fond du Lac in the capacity of local editor.

In 1865 Daniel moved to Shawano and took charge of the Shawano County Journal for several years.  Later he engaged in the hotel business, and the old Wescott House under his management was one one of the most popular hosteleries in this section of the state.  In 1890 he became a member of the firm of Kuckuk & Pulcifer of Shawano.  Through the years Daniel filled various offices, among them those of clerk of court, sheriff, deputy U.S. marshal and he was Shawano’s first mayor. He served three terms. Gladys Pulcifer Brockman, his granddaughter, told the Shawano Evening Leader in an interview In 1974 that D.H, never wanted to become mayor of Shawano.  In addition toa speech problem he was opposed to all the saloons in Shawano and was bent on having that situation changed, he decided to work toward that goal.

In 1866 he was elected to the State Assembly in the district of which Shawano county was a part and was reelected in 1878.  He served as sergeant-at-arms of the Assembly in 1880. Daniel compiled the Blue Book for 1879, an official publication containing biographtes of the state officials end legislators and official statistical data. In 1882 he was appointed by Postmaster-general Howe to post office inspector. He was noted for his patient kindness in giving instruction and counsel to the inexperienced, and in meting out Justice fearlessly in cases of dishonesty or wilful negligence.  His duties in the capacity of post office inspector took him into thirty other states and territories.  These travels gave him a rare opportunity to acquaint himself with the customs and habits of the people of all parts of the country.

As sheriff he was known for his utter fearlessness in the discharge of his duty.  On several occasions he arrested parties who drew revolvers and knives on him, but was always was quick and strong enough to arrest his man without serious injury, although he was wounded on one occasion, necessitating a painful and dangerous surgical operation.  In politics, Daniel, a staunch Republican, was never beaten as a candidate for office.  Few men had done more effective work for their party, but in the performance of official duties he knew no party, no friend, no enemy–he simply did his duty and did it well.

Socially he was a Freemason and was instrumental in establishing a lodge of that fraternity at Shawano.  He was always a total abstainer.  For several years he was a prominent member of the Temple of Honor in WI, In which order he, in 1883-4, was Grand chief Templar of the state.  He took a special interest in  temperance work among the young, and some of his closing days were spent in organizing a Junior Section of the Temple of Honor and Temperance in Shawano.

As you can see, Daniel, a self-made man; a man of many interests was self-educated, well traveled, well read and very well liked.  He was interested in places, people and things.  In a special display case in his large parlor of his home he kept some of his collections.  In his travels Daniel collected many things of interest such as rocks, god drippings and petrified wood.  The display case and contents were given to the Shawano Public Schools.  He collected minerals, curios, etc. and presented many interesting specimens to the Wisconsin State Historical Society and to Lawrence University in Appleton.  The village of Pulcifer, in Green Valley township, Shawano county was named in his honor, after he helped them get a post office in their community.

His death came without warning, coming at 7:30 on Sunday night, March 22, 1896, while sitting with friends at home by the fireside.  “Death was due to heart failure and came to quickly that the distracted family were unable to realize that the kind husband and father was with them no more.”   He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Shawano, WI.

The Pulcifer home at 223 West Fifth St., Shawano, still stands.   It was built by D. H. in 1874.  The house was occupied for many years by his granddaughters, Miss Josie Pulcifer, and her sister Mrs. Gladys Brockman.  The Kuckuk family now lived in the big white house on the corner of W. 5th Street until approximately 1989.

D. H. Pulcifer married Anna Wright on July 6, 1856 at Oasis, WI.   Anna was a native of New York and was born on May 26, 1840.  As a girl she accompanied her parents to WI., their first new home being made in Kenosha.  She died on September 26, 1922.  She remarried after D. H. Pulcifer’s death to Captain James Allen.