William O. Head

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
William O. Head
Born(1859-07-29)July 29, 1859
DiedApril 19, 1931(1931-04-19) (aged 71)
Residence1414 S. Second Street in Old Louisville
OccupationTobacco warehouse manager, businessman
TitleMayor of Louisville
PredecessorJames F. Grinstead
SuccessorJohn H. Buschemeyer
Political partyDemocratic Party

William O. Head (July 29, 1859 – April 19, 1931) was mayor of Louisville, Kentucky from 1909 to 1913.

Life and politics[edit]

He was born on July 29, 1859 in Providence, Kentucky to John Wilson Head and Mary A. Headly. His father was a captain in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He was raised on a farm near Providence, Kentucky and came to Louisville at age 21 to take a job in a tobacco warehouse. He worked his way up through the tobacco industry for the rest of his professional career.

In 1894 he was elected to the Kentucky General Assembly as a Democrat. With the support of the John Henry Whallen's Democratic machine, he defeated James F. Grinstead to be elected mayor of Louisville in 1909. Local newspapers ran stories intended to scare white voters into voting for Head, exploiting fears of the growing black community in Louisville.

Head oversaw efforts to reform the city's tenement housing, adding code to the city's charter forbidding various unacceptable practices by landlords. The city also began appropriating funding for the University of Louisville during his administration.

After his term as mayor, he served as a delegate to the Democratic National Committee and as president of the Louisville Water Company.


He died on April 19, 1931 in Clearwater, Florida and was buried in Cave Hill Cemetery.


  • "Head, William O.". The Encyclopedia of Louisville. 2001.
  • Yater, George H. (1987). Two Hundred Years at the Fall of the Ohio: A History of Louisville and Jefferson County (2nd ed.). Louisville, KY: Filson Club, Incorporated. ISBN 978-0-9601072-3-0.