Biography of Halvor L. Shirley of Breckenridge Minnesota

Halvor L. Shirley, a prominent banker and businessman from Breckenridge, Minnesota, was born in Norway in 1862 and immigrated to the United States with his family. After serving as a grain buyer and holding public office, he became involved in the Merchants’ State Bank, later becoming president of the First National Bank of Breckenridge. In addition to his business success, he made valuable contributions to the city, serving as its first mayor and implementing various reforms. Active in politics and community affairs, Mr. Shirley is known for his dedication to public service and involvement in fraternal societies. He is happily married and has six children.

H L Shirley
H L Shirley

Halvor L. Shirley, a leading banker and business man from Breckenridge, Wilkin County, Minnesota, was born in 1862 in Solor, Norway. His parents emigrated to America in 1869, settling in Winnesheik County, Iowa. Ten years later, the family moved to Minnesota, locating near the present village of Rothsay in Wilkin County.

Our subject acquired his education in the district schools and grew up on his father’s farm. In 1888, he moved to the village of Rothsay and served as a grain buyer for an elevator company. In the fall of 1890, he was elected register of deeds of Wilkin County and subsequently moved to Breckenridge, the county seat. He was re-elected to this office five times, serving as register of deeds for a total of twelve years. In 1902, he became interested in the Merchants’ State Bank of Breckenridge and was made its cashier. Later, he became the president of this bank. In 1907, the business of this bank was absorbed and taken over by the First National Bank of Breckenridge. Mr. Shirley was chosen as vice-president and placed in active charge of this bank, with Mr. F. E. Kenaston of Minneapolis, an old resident of Breckenridge, being its president. The First National Bank of Breckenridge is the oldest and largest bank in the county, with a surplus and capital of $70,000. It is a thoroughly substantial institution in its line, doing a large and profitable business.

Mr. Shirley is also heavily interested in farm lands and city property. In 1907, when the city of Breckenridge was incorporated, he was elected its first mayor without opposition, and he is now serving his third term. Many valuable reforms have been inaugurated under his administration, among which have been the raising of the liquor license fee from $500 to $1,000 and strict enforcement of the laws regulating its traffic. The number of saloons has been reduced, and the business is being conducted along legitimate lines. The city’s credit has been built up, and all floating debt funded, with approximately $20,000 paid off on the indebtedness in three years. The city is now preparing to install a modern filtration system for its water supply, and great progress is the achievement along many other lines in the city.

Mr. Shirley has served as a member of the board of education of his city for more than ten years and is currently its treasurer.

A Democrat in politics, he has been active in the council of his party in many conventions and is presently a member of the executive committee of his party in Minnesota. In 1902, he was the candidate of his party for state treasurer. He was one of the delegates of the state in 1908 to the National Democratic Convention in Denver. He is also actively identified with the Masonic and other fraternal societies.

Mr. Shirley was married in 1886 to Miss Bertha Kaupang of Nicollet County, Minnesota. This union has been a happy one and has been blessed with six children, named in order of their birth: Louis, John, Clara, Alma, Halbert, and Earl. They own a beautiful home in the city of Breckenridge, where the hosts of friends of the family are always hospitably received.


C.F. Cooper & Company, History of the Red River Valley, Past And Present: Including an Account of the Counties, Cities, Towns And Villages of the Valley From the Time of Their First Settlement And Formation, volumes 1-2; Grand Forks: Herald printing company, 1909.

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