History of the County Attorney

Washington County had a prosecuting attorney even before we were a county and in fact even before it was a territory. As part of the Wisconsin Territory Alfred Brunson served as prosecuting attorney from 1840 to 1847. Brunson traveled from Prairie du Chien to Stillwater as needed to serve as prosecuting attorney. Such legal practice was not Mr. Brunson's only vocation. According to an article written about him in 1918, he also was a Methodist minister and missionary to native tribes in the St. Croix Valley area and western Wisconsin as well as a businessman.

John E. Jansen served as Washington County Attorney from 1969 to 1975. John was the first person to serve as county attorney on a full time basis. John started his legal career by being sworn into the Minnesota bar in 1958.

Washington County Attorneys


  • 1840 - 1847 Alfred Brunson
  • 1847 - 1850 Morton S. Wilkinson
  • 1850 - 1852 Frederick K. Bartlett
  • 1852 - 1860 Theodore E. Parker
  • 1860 - 1866 Lorenzo R. Cornman
  • 1866 - 1868 J. C. Castell
  • 1868 - 1870 William M. McCluer
  • 1870 - 1873 Isaac Van Vleck
  • 1873 - 1874 Fayette P. Marsh
  • 1874 - 1875 Terry B. Smith
  • 1875 - 1878 Fayette P. Marsh
  • 1878 - 1880 Levi E. Thompson
  • 1880 - 1882 Fayette P. Marsh
  • 1882 - 1889 Ira W. Castle
  • 1889 - 1891 Orris E. Lee
  • 1891 - 1893 George H. Sullivan
  • 1893 - 1901 Louis L. Manwaring
  • 1901 - 1913 John C. Nethaway
  • 1913 - 1923 Reuben G. Thoreen
  • 1923 - 1927 Chester S. Wilson
  • 1927 - 1943 R. Milton Lindbloom
  • 1943 - 1959 William T. Johnson
  • 1959 - 1969 John (Jack) F. Thoreen
  • 1969 - 1975 John E. Jansen
  • 1975 - 1987 Robert W. Kelly
  • 1987 - 1998 Richard M. Arney
  • 1999 - 2011 Douglas H. Johnson
  • 2011 - Peter J. Orput