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Charles H. Edwards

Among the more prominent of the earliest pioneers of Wyoming is Mr. Charles H. Edwards of Iron Mountain, a native of the old commonwealth of Massachusetts, his very eventful career commencing at the city of Marblehead on June 26, 1838 the son of Charles and Mary E. (Orne) Edwards, natives of the same state. He comes of an ancestry distinguished in the history of America for its services to its state and country and especially so for its devotion and loyalty to the cause of liberty and independence during the Colonial period. According to family tradition the maternal ancestry is traced through all its American generations to the Old World through emigrants landing here in the Mayflower and the spirit which inspired them has ever characterized their descendants. His maternal grandfather, Azor Orne was a colonel in the American army of the War of the Revolution making a distinguished record for gallantry and earning for himself a permanent place in the history of his country. He also took a leading part in the exciting and dangerous times immediately preceding the Declaration of Independence and was instrumental in a large measure in shaping the policy of the colonist in Massachusetts at that time having been chairman of the general committee appointed by the people to consider the infamous Stamp Act of Great Britain. The house in which he resided still stands on Orne Street, Marblehead and is pointed out to sightseers as one of the interesting spots in that old town so rich in historic places. Colonel Orne’s brother, Joshua, also took a prominent part in Massachusetts during early Colonial times, His paternal ancestors were little less conspicuous in the service they rendered to their country during those trying times. The father of Mr. Edwards was one of the leading educators of New England having charge of institutions of learning at Marblehead and elsewhere for many years and many of the leading men of Massachusetts and other states have been at times under his instruction. In 1847, on account of failing health he came to St. Louis, in the hope that the change would be beneficial to him. He remained there until 1851 following his profession in the latter years removed to Belleville, Illinois where he accepted an important position in the public schools. His health rapidly failed, however and he died in 1852 and lies buried in Belleville, Illinois. The mother of Mr. Edwards died at Marblehead in 1847 and she was buried there. Losing his parents at this tender age his Uncle Col. Adoniram Orne was early appointed as his guardian. Always of a self-reliant nature, Charles disliked being dependent upon his relatives and resolved to make his own way in the world. Having this desire and being full of the spirit of adventure he took service at the age of seventeen years on a whaling vessel bound on a three year cruise on the Atlantic and Indian oceans for he was determined to see the world as well as to establish himself in an independent position. At the end of the three years he returned to Marblehead having had many and varied experiences in some of the remotest sections of the globe. Three months after his return in November 1858 he sailed on a whaling vessel bound for the Indian Ocean. The ship arrived there in due time but not meeting with success and having a captain whose treatment of the sailors was such as to make life intolerable to men of spirit, Mr. Edwards and another sailor deserted the vessel and swam in the nighttime over two miles to the Isle of France. This was a most dangerous feat for the waters about the ship were filled with sharks but the two adventurous youngsters reached land in safety. Here he remained for thirteen months employed in various occupations and shipped on a vessel for Liverpool, England by the way of Bombay, Madagascar and Zanzibar. In 1861 he came again to the United States and in October enlisted as a seaman in the U. S. Navy and was assigned to the gunboat New London and during the entire time of his service until his discharge on account of illness in 1863 he was under the command of Admiral Farragut. Returning to Marblehead to recuperate his health, which had been badly undermined during his service in the navy, he remained there for some time and then went to St. Louis, to visit a sister. In 1886 he opened a boot and shoe store in St. Joseph, continuing in that business there until July 1867, when selling his mercantile interests he went to Julesburg, Colorado then one of the most active towns of the West. Not finding the opportunities, 1867 he located in the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming. This was during the earliest history of that town, and Mr. Edwards was one of the first merchants to engage in business there. He opened a general boot and shoe store in Cheyenne in a small frame building made of very rough lumber which was freighted 150 miles by bull teams and cost $150 per thousand. He still has pictures of the old store one of the firsts erected in Cheyenne, which he values very highly. Here he continued in merchandising until 1870 when in the great fire of that year which destroyed so large a portion of the city he lost his entire stock of goods. Having now to commence again at the bottom of the financial ladder, Mr. Edward’s took a position on the Union Pacific Railroad where he remained for three years but in 1875 he took up a ranch seven miles west of Cheyenne and engaged in dairy farming which he followed with great prosperity for ten years then disposed of this property purchased his present ranch on Chugwater about forty miles from Cheyenne and engaged in Cattle raising. He has since devoted himself to this business and has met with great success at this writing (1902_ having a ranch of over 2000 acres patented and well fenced and improved besides several thousand acres which he controls under lease from the state. He is counted as among the solid and substantial stockman of Wyoming. On November 17m 1867 Mr. Edwards was united in marriage with Miss Anna Thurston at St. Joseph, Missouri who died on October 25m 1878. She was a native of Missouri and a daughter of Doctor and Mrs. Lucy A. Thurston the former a native of North Carolina and the Latter of Missouri. The parents of Mrs. Edwards were of old Southern stock and among the earliest of the pioneers of Missouri. To this union four children were born, Anna, Bessie, Charles H. Jr. and William C. All are now living. The daughters are both married and Mrs. Anna (Edwards) Davidson enjoys the distinction of being the first living white girl born in the city of Cheyenne, the date being January 30, 1868. The son, Charles H. Edwards Jr. resides at the home ranch and assists his father in the management of their extensive stock interests. On November 7, 1879, Mr. Edwards married at Marblehead, Mass. With Miss Mary Rodgers a native of that place and a daughter of William and Elizabeth (Martin) Rodgers, both natives of Massachusetts and representatives of old Colonial families. Mr. Edwards is affiliated with the benevolent protective Order of Elks and also is a member of the Grand Army of the republic also of the Union Veterans’ Union. It is well known that no one can become a member of the latter organization who was not under fire in the great Civil War. Politically he is a stanch Republican and during all his life he has taken an active and prominent interest in public affairs. For a number of years being the popular postmaster at Iron Mountain. His career from earliest boyhood to the present has been crowded with unusual experiences and he has seen life in many phases and in all quarters of the world. His extensive travels and adventures by land and sea have given him a great fund from which to draw interesting reminiscences and it is a delightful pleasure to listen to them. He is a man of sterling charter loyal to his friends industrious persevering and unfaltering in his devotion to principle. His fine traits of character inherited from the puritan ancestry and cultivated during the long life of struggle and endeavor have won for him the respect and veneration of all who know him and made him deservedly popular among a very wide circle of warm personal friends. Charles Edwards and family were living 1800 census: Spring Branch, Crow Creek, Laramie, Wyoming. Charles Edwards picture is in the book Progressive Men.

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