1857 - 1897 1897 - 1965

by Gary R. Rosenberg, © Douglas County Historical Society, 2008-2010

The mayors of Omaha have come from all walks of life: twenty of the city’s chief executives were businessmen, including a grocer, a beer brewer, three bankers and five in real estate. Eleven lawyers filled the ranks, joined by a surveyor, a teacher and two engineers. Most of those who served as mayor have hailed from the eastern half of the country. Glenn Cunningham became the first native son elected mayor in 1948. Eight Omahans have followed him. Four have come from New York, with three each from Illinois and Ohio. Two sets of brothers filled the role — Canadians Ezra and Joseph Millard and Omahans Glenn and Robert Cunningham.
   Several have aspired to higher office, though relatively few have made it to the state or national stage. James Boyd is the only former Omaha mayor to serve as Governor of Nebraska. Joseph Millard and Edward Zorinsky served as Nebraska Senators, while Glenn Cunningham and Hal Daub each served several terms as Second District representative to Congress. Terms of those elected to the mayor’s office have ranged from Andrew Poppleton’s seven months — he was one of five who resigned — to nearly 21 years by James Dahlman.
   While some were beloved and others beset with problems, it seems the men who aspired to the office of Mayor of Omaha have shared an affection for the city and a real desire to improve the lives of its people.

Click on the photograph to read a short biography

Jesse Lowe
March 5, 1857-March 2, 1858

Andrew J. Poppleton
March 2, 1858-Sept. 14, 1858

George R. Armstrong
Sept. 14, 1858-March 10, 1859
March 5, 1861-Nov. 5, 1862

David D. Belden
March 10, 1859-March 6, 1860

Clinton Briggs
March 6, 1860-March 5, 1861

Benjamin E. Kennedy
Nov. 5, 1862-March 15, 1864

Addison R. Gilmore
March 15, 1864-March 9, 1865

Lorin Miller
March 9, 1865-March 6, 1867

Charles H. Brown
March 6, 1867-March 4, 1868

George M. Roberts
March 4, 1868-June 7, 1869

Ezra Millard
June 7, 1869-April 10, 1871

Smith S. Caldwell
April 10, 1871-April 9, 1872

Joseph H. Millard
April 9, 1872-April 7, 1873

William M. Brewer
April 7, 1873-February 3, 1874

Champion S. Chase
April 13, 1874-April 9, 1877
April 7, 1879-April 12, 1881
April 10, 1883-June 30, 1884

Reuben H. Wilbur
April 9, 1877-April 7, 1879

James E. Boyd
April 12, 1881-April 10, 1883
April 14, 1885-May 10, 1887

William J. Broatch
May 10, 1887-January 7, 1890
January 7, 1896-May 10, 1897

Richard C. Cushing
January 7, 1890-January 5, 1892

George P. Bemis
January 5, 1892-January 7, 1896

Vertical Files, Douglas County Historical Society Library Archives Center
Omaha Daily Bee, Omaha Daily Herald, The True Voice
Omaha City Directories
“History of the City of Omaha and South Omaha” by James W. Savage and John T. Bell
“Omaha:The Gate City and Douglas County Nebraska, A Record of Settlement, Progress and Achievement” by Arthur C. Wakely
“Omaha Memories” by Ed F. Morearty
“History of Omaha: From the Pioneer Days to the Present Time” by Alfred Sorenson

Photos courtesy of the Douglas County Historical Society and the City of Omaha Mayor's Office

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