Biography - Charles E. Woodward

CHARLES E. WOODWARD, proprietor of the C. E. Woodward Roller Flour Mill, is a well-known and honored citizen of Shelbyville, Shelby County, with whose manufacturing interests he has been connected several years, and he has also been prominent in its public and social life. He was born June 12, 1815, on a farm eight miles from Bordentown, Monmouth County, N. J. His father, whose name was Nimrod Woodward, was a native of the same State, and was a son of Benjamin Woodward, who is also supposed to have been born in New Jersey, and to have been a descendant of one of the early English families of that Commonwealth. He was a merchant and a miller at Imlaystown, Monmouth County, and his last years were spent there.

The father of our subject was a farmer by occupation, and he had a choice farm located on Cream Ridge, Monmouth County, and there he tranquilly passed a long and useful life, dying in 1870, at the venerable age of eighty-two years. The maiden name of his wife was Catherine Emley, and she was a native of Burlington County. N. J. She died in the home of her son, Clarkson, at Hightstown, N. J. She was the mother of nine children, — Ferdinand, Charles E., Clarkson, Elizabeth, Mary A., Reading and Emily (twins), Benjamin and Nimrod. The parents were pious and respected members of the Society of Friends, and reared their children in the same faith.

He of whom we write laid the foundation of a solid education in the public schools of his native county, and subsequently attended the Quaker Academy in Philadelphia, where he pursued an excellent course of study, whereby he was fitted for the profession of teaching, and at the age of twenty he entered upon its duties in his native State, New Jersey. In 1837 he accepted a position as teacher at College Hill, near Cincinnati. Ohio, which he resigned a year later to become assistant teacher at Cary's Academy, and two of President Harrison's cousins were among his pupils. He taught in that school a year, and at Vincennes, Ind., a like length of time, and in the winter of 1840-41 he came to Shelby County, making the journey with an ox-team, bringing with him his wife and household goods, he located eight miles from the village of Shelbyville on a tract of land which he had purchased, a few acres of which were broken, taking up his abode in the log cabin that stood on the place. In the spring he entered upon the pioneer task of developing his farm, but he did not wholly abandon his profession, as the two succeeding winters he taught in Shelbyville in a log building that had been used as a residence, there being at that time no schoolhouse in the village.

After his two terms' experience as a pioneer teacher in this county, Mr. Woodward devoted his time exclusively to the improvement of his farm until 1848, when he came to Shelbyville, and succeeded John Tachett as proprietor of the only hotel of which the village then boasted. The following year he bought a building, converted it into a hotel, which he managed one year, he then disposed of his farm and established himself in the dry-goods business at which he was engaged until he sold out at a good profit in 1859.

In 1861 Mr. Woodward was appointed Postmaster by President Lincoln and had charge of the postoffice at Shelbyville until August 1862, when Gov. Yates appointed him Quartermaster of the Seventy-ninth Illinois Regiment. He served in that capacity very efficiently until the close of the war and was mustered out with his regiment June 12, 1865. Returning home he resumed his duties as Postmaster which office he retained until relieved by President Johnson. After that he was employed as bookkeeper in a dry-goods house until 1868 when he accepted a similar position in the flour mill of C. C. Scovil. That gentleman dying a year later, our subject was appointed executor of his estate, and with J. P. Davis and J. W. Ward bought the mill now known as the C. E. Woodward Roller Mill of which he has been sole proprietor since 1862. He carries on an extensive business, manufacturing an unexcelled brand of flour. The mill occupies two commodious brick buildings, each three stories in height, with a basement, and furnished entirely with first-class modern machinery, the capacity of the mill being one hundred and twenty-five barrels of flour a day and two hundred barrels of corn-meal.

That our subject has been successful in life is no doubt partly due to the fact that he possesses one of man's choicest blessings, a good wife, whom he secured in the person of Elizabeth Armstrong, a native of Knox County, Ind., to whom he was united in marriage in 1838. Thus for more than half a century they have shared the joys and sorrows common to mortals, and children have been born to them of whom they have six living, as follows, — Charles S., Belle, Nimrod, Emily, Letton and Clarence L.

During these many years that our subject has been a resident of Shelbyville his citizenship has been invaluable to the community, as through his position as one of its enterprising business men he has aided in promoting its growth and prosperity, his public spirit and liberality have helped to forward all schemes to the advancement of its best interests, and he has rendered good service in the important civic positions that he has held. He has been President of the City Council, and for twelve years he was President of the Board of Education, and to his zeal and interest in educational matters while occupying that office Shelbyville is greatly indebted to-day for the efficiency of its schools. Mr. Woodward is prominent in the social life of the city as a member of the following organizations: Jackson Lodge, No. 53, A. F. & A. M.; Jackson Chapter. No. 55, R. A. M.; and of Cyrus Hall Post, No. 138, G. A. R., of which he is Past Commander. As a true citizen should, he has always taken an interest in politics, and in early life was a Whig, but since the formation of the Republican party, he has been one of its stanchest supporters both in times of war and in times of peace.

Extracted 09 Apr 2018 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 473-475.

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