Supreme Court

Former justices

Charles V. Bardeen (1850-1903)

Charles V. Bardeen

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice (1898-1903)

"In his early youth he attended a session of this court, and upon his return home from Madison expressed to his parents his determination and ambition to become a member of the supreme court." - Marvin B. Rosenberry, Bardeen's memorial service (1903)

Charles Valdo Bardeen was born September 23, 1850, in Brookfield, New York. In 1854, his family moved to a farm in Wisconsin.

Bardeen graduated from high school in 1870. He worked in a law firm and taught school in Edgerton for a year until he received an urgent invitation from the governor of Colorado (a former schoolmate) to pursue a business venture in Colorado Springs. Bardeen found a substitute teacher and left immediately.

Two years later, he returned to Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1875. He was in private law practice and served as city attorney in Wausau for the next 17 years. Active in public affairs, Bardeen was superintendent of public schools in Wausau and occasionally wrote for local newspapers.

In 1891, he was elected judge for the newly created 16th Judicial Circuit and served until his appointment to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1898. At his memorial service, it was said that Bardeen was not considered a genius but had common sense and a capacity and willingness for hard work.

"His words, whether written or spoken always rang true. He had not the graces of the orator or the poet, yet what he said or wrote was effective because it was sound and true," said Marvin B. Rosenberry, a Wausau attorney who later became a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice. Bardeen and his wife Frances Miller had three children: Eleanor, Charles and Florence. He died March 20, 1903, shortly before the end of his term on the Supreme Court.

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