William Carr Lane (1789-1863)

William  Carr Lane (1789-1863)

William Carr Lane was born on a farm in Fayette County, Pennsylvania on December 1, 1789. He attended Jefferson College and then went on to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania as a member of the class of 1812. He left to study medicine in Kentucky, at Louisville.

He served in the War of 1812 as a surgeon's mate and then went to the University of Pennsylvania for further studies in medicine. He served again in the army, as post surgeon at Fort Harrison, under General Zachary Taylor, and then in a similar post at Fort Bellefontaine in Missouri in 1818. He resigned the following year to take up a medical partnership in St. Louis. On April 5, 1823, Lane was elected as the first mayor of the newly incorporated city of 4000 people. He handled the laying out of the city's infrastructure particularly well, and the citizenry re-elected him seven times in two tenures, 1823-1829 and 1837-1840. He served as a Democrat for a session in the state legislature in 1826, although he failed in his bid to represent Missouri in the U.S. Congress.

Having joined the Whig party, in 1852 he was appointed as governor of the New Mexico Territory under President Fillmore. It took all of his skills and energy to maintain order during a chaotic time in New Mexico history, largely without support from the federal powers. In 1853, Lane ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from the Territory but was narrowly defeated, and he returned to St. Louis. Though he gathered a growing number of enemies due to his increasingly southern sympathies, he continued to serve his city, concentrating on the development of a municipal water works and operating a private medical practice.

In 1818 Lane married Mary Ewing of Vincennes, Indiana and the couple had two daughters. He died on January 6, 1863 in St. Louis. He was buried in the Bellefontaine Cemetery. He was seventy-three years old.

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Dickinson College Archives
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