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George Flannery

By | Last Modified: January 24, 2018

George Perry Flannery was a local pioneer. He is best known as a lawyer and for his business investments, as well as his affiliation to Alexander McKenzie and subsequent role in moving the capital of Dakota Territory from Yankton to Bismarck.

Flannery was born on February 12, 1852 in Marquette, Wisconsin. His parents immigrated from Ireland to Connecticut in 1848 before relocating to Wisconsin in 1850. The family relocated again, to a farm near Faribault, Minnesota in 1855. He studied law at Bachelder & Buckham in Faribault and became admitted to the bar in 1873.

The following year, on May 1, 1874, Flannery arrived in Bismarck as a lawyer for the Northern Pacific Railway. Soon after, he partnered with Josiah Delemater until 1876. Two years later, in 1878, he partnered with John K. Wetherby. He later established a long-time partnership with Elbridge C. Cooke in 1885, which the pair relocated to Minneapolis about two years later. Their partnership dissolved in 1915.

Soon after arriving, Flannery became acquainted with Alexander McKenzie, even teaching the future political boss how to read and write. Both men were critical in securing Bismarck as capital of Dakota Territory in 1883. The two remained life-long friends.

He served in various legal capacities while in Bismarck, including District Attorney of the 6th District and City Attorney for the City of Bismarck. He was also on the Education Board and was vice president of Bismarck National Bank. He declined several prominent judgeships, including Justice of the Supreme Court of Dakota Territory.

Despite relocating to Minneapolis in June 1887, Flannery continued to maintain local business interests and investments. He found great success in Minnesota, where railroad tycoon James Hill appointed him president of Northwestern Trust Company in Saint Paul. He later escalated into Chairman of the company’s board of directors.

Personal Life

Flannery married Alice Greene in October 1876, with whom he had four children. Alice died on May 17, 1917. Flannery remarried to Emily Zdarsky in 1928.

He died on March 8, 1946 in St. Petersberg, Florida.


The former Flannery County in North Dakota was named for him. Bismarck’s Flannery and Wetherby Addition was also named for him, along with John Wetherby.

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