Albert Felker’s impact on the local economy and political landscape
By Kris Leonhardt
As Albert G. (A.G.) Felker stood before a throng of individuals he had come to know just four years earlier, he realized he had a tough battle before him. Facing the incumbent, a well-known businessman in a prosperous industry, would not be easy. However, he was sure that he too was worthy of the position that Mayor Robert Connor held.
Born in southern Wisconsin, A.G. Felker and his brother Louis began a sheet metal shop in Kendall, Wis., in 1903. The brothers would move the shop to Sparta before heading to central Wisconsin and a new city that was growing rapidly.
By the time the pair reached the city named Marshfield, they were well-read, well-traveled, self-made men. As president of the Felker Brothers Manufacturing Company, A.G. headed the business that now owned several patents and was delving into galvanized well casings, stock tanks, culverts, and an ever expanding variety of steel products.
Standing on the platform of “progress and advancement,” the well-known city advocate and mayoral candidate knew he had the support of those standing before him that day in 1912 as well as much of the city. By encouraging industry to come to the city and aiding those already there, he had proved that he could do much for Marshfield’s industrial progress.
As the weeks passed by, Felker did much to encourage and win over voters, and as the April 2 election drew near, he and his supporters felt they could take the race. However, when the votes were tallied, Connor had won a tight contest, 613-540.
Felker resumed his daily life as father and company president but not for long. The following year discrepancies in the books of Marshfield’s light and water department were discovered. As chairman of the department, Mayor Connor was responsible for the proper procedure and implementation of the department, and once again residents of the city looked to unseat him.
Petitions quickly began to circulate around the city, and soon there were enough signatures to order a recall election for the mayor’s seat. Again Connor and Felker would face off in the resulting election.
That November Felker would win by a 16-vote margin to become the city’s new mayor. During his four-month stint to finish the term in progress, Felker was responsible for placing city funds in the hands of bonded officials and obtaining a new set of account books. In addition, he would work for a much needed water supply to attract railroads and businesses to the city.
As his four-month term ended, Felker came up for reelection. Against whom would he run? For a third time, it was Connor. This election Felker would win by a 409-vote margin and begin a full two-year term as mayor.
One of Felker’s most notable accomplishments as mayor was the 1914 paving of Central Avenue.