Bruce Charles, an enterprising citizen of Thompson Township, who is doing a prosperous grist and sawmill business, and also runs a ciderpress, was born in Harrison Township, Licking County, Ohio, August 17. 1854, son of Simon and Amanda (Channel) Charles. His paternal grandfather was one of the first settlers in Licking County, there being but five others there when he arrived. Aboul the same time there arrived in Harrison Township Solomon Channel, the maternal grandfather of Mr. Cbarles.
Simon Charles, father of Bruce, was born in the State of New Jersey, and came to Ohio with his parents. In 1859 he purchased the mill now owned by the subject of this sketch. It had been built in 1834 by Roswell Fields, from whom it passed into the possession of his son. Samuel Fields, who sold it to Mr. Charles, and it is still known as the Simon Charles Mill. The millwright was Henry Waits, who became of unbalanced mind and one of whose peculiarities it was to imagine that all the mills he had built were his own personal property. He used frequently to visit Mr. Charles, always carrying with his his boot-jack, and also a pole with a hook on the end for pulling people out of the water. The sash, saw upright, and gearing that are still in the mill were put in by Henry Waits 74 years ago. The framework, hewed sills and braces, and the siding of black walnut, is all his work, also the machinery, except two wooden cog-wheels. During the Civil War, Simon built the residence in which his son Bruce now lives, the entire building, including 24 doors, being all of black walnut. He was well qualified for such an undertaking, as he was a cabinet-maker bv trade and also a maker of caskets for burial purposes. He manufactured the casket in which Waits was buried. In the prosperous days of the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal he spent 11 years at Warren, Ohio, engaged in building canal boats. He was a member of the Grange and in politics a Democrat. His death took place about 30 years ago. By his wife Amanda, daughter of Solomon Channel, he had 11 children, nine of whom were born in Licking County. Two were born in this (Thompson) Township, namely: Stephen Charles, who died about fifteen years ago and who was a partner of the subject of this sketch, and Almeda, who married O. D. Browning, and died March 13. 1908. Of the others, Caroline was accidentally burned to death at the age of 17 years; Griffith died from diphtheria in 1867; Bruce is a miller of Thompson Township and the direct subject of this article; Frank died from diphtheria at the same time as Griffith—1867; James, the only living full brother of Bruce Charles, resides in Gallion, Ohio, and is a freight conductor in the employ of the Erie Railroad.
The mother of the above mentioned children died in March, 1867, and Simon Charles subsequently married for his second wife Mrs. Armentrout of Licking County. Of this union there is one child, William Simon Charles, who is a printer residing in Spokane, Washington.
Bruce Charles was five years old when he accompanied his parents to Thompson Township, and he has ever since resided here. He distinctly remembers helping to drive the cows from the old home when the family made the journey here in wagons. He was early initiated into the milling business, and for many years was a useful assistant to his father. On the latter's death he came into possession of the mill property, which he has since conducted and greatly improved, having installed modern machinery, including a 25-horsepower steam engine and a 14-horsepower gasoline engine. He owns in all about 90 acres of land, including the mill property which covers 11 acres. In addition to the original milling plant he has installed a powerful hydraulic cider-press. These enterprises are all in flourishing condition, due to Mr. Charles's capable business management. In politics he is a Democrat and he belongs to the Modern Woodmen, having first joined the order at Warrensburg but being now a member of the
Camp at Prospect.
Mr. Charles was married. December 9, 1881, to Miss Mary Love, a daughter of Leonard Love. Mrs. Charles's father died when she was four years old. Her mother was in maidenhood a Miss McVeigh. The household of Mr. and Mrs. Charles has been enlarged by the birth of four children and one daughter, namely: Blanche, who married six years ago William Hansome, of Magnetic Springs, a conductor on the Magnetic Spring Electric Road, and has a daughter—Lucille; Carl, residing at home; Earl, residing at home, who is assisting his father in the mill; and Melvin, who is attending school.
Mrs. Charles died in March. 1908, at the age of 49 years, five months and 21 days. Few women in the community were more highly esteemed. She was a faithful member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, which she joined in Fulton Creek Chapel, subsequently becoming a member of Thompson Chapel. In the winter of 1907-08 she spent four months in Tryon, North Carolina, with the view of benefitting her health, which had become impaired, and when she started on her journey 40 or more of her friends and neighbors accompanied her to the train to bid her farewell. While in Tryon. her active, helpful disposition prompted her to organize the Aid Society, the first of its kind organized in that place. She always took an active part in church and missionary work, and for two years was superintendent of the Sunday school. Her loss was deeply felt, not only by her husband and children, but also throughout the community at large, the members of which realized that a true Christian woman and a kind and hospitable neighbor had passed from among them. Her memory will long he kept green in the hearts of her many friends.
From 20th Century History of Delaware County, Ohio, and Representative Citizens by James R. Lytle