HON. CHARLES HOWELL REEVE
History of Marshall County, Indiana 1836 to 1880 by Daniel McDonald, (printed in Chicago by Kingman Brothers, Lakeside Building 1881)
page number 116
||Among the older residents and prominent citizens of Marshall County is the subject of this sketch, Hon. Charles Howell Reeve CHARLES HOWELL REEVE . (photo taken by W. H. Potter - 1886 - Indianapolis.)|
He was born in Oneida County, New York, in 1822, and came to Indiana in 1838. The family is an ancient one on both sides; his male ancestors came from Wales and located on Long Island in 1640, and the first homestead remains to this day in possession of lineal descendants of the first owner. When the British took Long Island in the Revolution, his grandfather abandoned his property there and moved up the Hudson River, locating in the wilds, near Newburg, Orange County, where his father, ISAAC REEVE, was born. His mother was HARRIET HOWELL, daughter of Capt. HOWELL, a prominent citizen of Orange County, whose ancestors came from England. She died in 1829, when her son was only seven years old, and his father died in 1862.
From his parents he inherited some of his leading traits of character, all of which are clealy marked. His opportunities for scholastic education were quite limited, and he is self-educated, except in the slightest rudiments. His father placed him in the law office of Hon. JAMES H. BRADLEY, at LaPorte, Indiana, when he was eighteen years old; he read law under Mr. BRADLEY, Judge S.C. SAMPLE AND J.A. LISTON, and was admitted to the bar in 1842, just before he became of age; he disliked the law, and always practiced it under protest, but there seemed no other open channel, and having been placed in it, and with success; after his admission to practice, he went West and clerked for a while at Chicago, and afterward in New York city; finally, he located at Plymouth, Indiana, in 1846, and has remained here ever since, occupying one office and one residence nearly continously, and never having changed but once; he has now retired from practice.
Mr. REEVE is a person of whom it is difficult to present a correct view; he is called eccentric, but that is not the correct word to use; he only seems to be so; in fact, he is the reverse of eccentric, for he moves in a right line, with a distinctive individuality that is miscalled eccentric; he is of the positive temeraments, who seek to know what is right to do, and then act it, regardless of result to himself; his mind is a philosophical one, and he seeks to learn the exact facts in any given case, and then be governed by them; he seeks to deal with facts as he finds them, believing - to use one of his own quaint expressions - that "Romance gets her head broken every time she
comes in contact with reality;" he is a fluent and rapid speaker, has unusual command of language and unlimited faculty of comparison; has quick perceptions, is a great reader, a close reasoner, a careful thinker, takes original views, and uses many original expressions in speaking and writing; every thing he does is quick and rapid in its action - walking, talking, writing, adapting himself to sudden emergencies - all rapid, but he never loses his head; he is empathic in the declaration of a fact, and expresses a plausible opinion in terse language. These things, with his advanced and original views, cause people to call him eccentric, and but few know him as he really is. He has studied all his life to know himself, and believes he does so; he respects public opinion, but craves his own self-respect first of all men, believing that without it he would be unworthy of all respect; he is scrupulously honest, believes the aim of the law to be the accomplishment of justice, and has no patience with any efforts which tend to defeat that aim; he is tall, spare and angular in personal appearance, and often seems angular in his views and methods of expression to those who do not know him. He is singularly devoid of ambition for personal notoriety or political preferment, while taking an active part in most of the leading public movements, and being called upon for his views on all public occasions. He has written many articles for some of the leading journals of the country, on important public questions, which have attracted attention abroad, and the many letters to him from all sections attest that the subject matter was of public interest, and its treatment by him worthy of attention.
He is the father of the Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad, and to him is due its location through Marshall County. The Ohio & Indiana line
was seeking an outlet down the Wabash River, when, through Mr. REEVE'S personal efforts, a company was organized to build a road
form Fort Wayne to Chicago, which was afterward accomplished. For nearly two years he worked almost alone, but finally succeeded in
enlisting such interest as enabled him to call a meeting at Warsaw, over which he presided, and to which he carried over $26,000, in
subscriptions, from Marshall County (then poor and sparsley settled), enabling those present to organize a company, with what was there
subscribed. He has lived to see this road constructed, and to enjoy the prosperity and benefits arising from it.
He served this county as Prosecuting Attorney, and afterward as State Senator. In both of these positions he discharged the duties with zeal, industry, and his best judgment.
He was married in 1850, and has three children, all living near him.
In his many speeches, lectures and published articles, Mr. REEVE has always inculcated the highest and best principles, looking to the practical, to permanency and stability, to healthy porgress and the best order; and Marshall County will reap substantial benefits from his residence within her boundries for many years after his body shall have become a part of its own earth. Good to the poor, generous to the young, struggling for a position, true to his friends, present or absent, just to his enemies, liberal in the toleration of opinion on all subjects, industrous, zealous in every good for the public, hating cruelty and all meaness, "CHARLIE REEVE," as his friend call him, will be missed when he dies. The world he moves in will be the better for his having lived in it; quaint tales will be told among the older people who know him, while they live, of his sayings and doings, his stories, music, fun and queer experessions. Many will profit from the sound, practical ideas he had given to the public, and uttered in private conversations, which will live in practical life for those who will never have heard of him, long after he, and all who knew him now, shall be forgotten.
South Bend Tribune
South Bend, Indiana September 14 & 15, 2005
By IDA CHIPMAN
||Plymouth's oddest character? Probably Charley |
A PEEK INTO HISTORY
What about Charley?
Anecdotes of the life of Charles H. Reeve have been compiled from newspaper stories from the Gary Post-Tribune, the Plymouth Republican, the Plymouth Democrat, the Bremen Enquirer, the Michigan City News Dispatch and the Culver Citizen.
Also used were letters from his family doctor and notes made by the late Arthur O'Keefe, a friend and historian. Many thanks to Judy McCollough of the Marshall County Historical Society.
The first of two parts
PLYMOUTH -- One newspaper reporter called Charles H. Reeve "the Most Brilliant Screwball in Plymouth's History." And he probably was, so far.
Charley was an outstanding lawyer, writer and orator. He was a state senator from 1876 to 1880, a violinist, composer and prosecuting attorney..
A professed agnostic, he was known to be eccentric, a raging hypochondriac, domestic tyrant and mayor of Plymouth, elected in 1885. He was tall, 6-foot-4, and very thin with a small head, scraggy sideburns and a wild and woolly mustache. .
Bushy eyebrows hooded his dark, penetrating eyes. He always wore a long, black split-tailed coat.
By the age of 40, he had a fine home and a farm or two -- one of which is now the Oakhill Cemetery.
He also had $50,000 in the bank, a colossal ego and a hair-trigger temper. His vocabulary was vitriolic and colorful, and his hypochondria led to a peculiar propensity for dying, on the average, of once or twice a week.
Charley had a passel of imagined fatal ailments. Periodically, he'd pay all of his bills, draw up a new will, take to his bed and moan, "I'm a goner."
One time, Dr. George Reynolds, the family doctor, made an emergency house call to Charley, who lived on the northeast corner of Michigan and Jefferson streets, where the Subway Sandwiches shop is now.
When he got there, Charley was gasping for breath. He had hot bricks at his feet and a blanket wrapped around his body.
"Doc, I'm a goner this time," he wheezed.
The doctor, weary of Charley's deathbed dramatics, drew a chair near his pillow and said, "Well, if I've got to watch anyone die, I'd rather it be you than anyone else I know. I'll sit here awhile. You go ahead and die."
The senator reared up out of bed, roaring and cussin' like a mule skinner. He ran the doctor right out of the house, forgetting entirely about being sick, much less ready to kick the bucket.
He was back at his law office desk the next morning.
Truly, Charley Reeve was a piece of work.
He was born Jan. 15, 1822, in Oneida County, N.Y. His family moved to LaPorte when he was 16 years old. He studied law and was admitted to the bar before he was 21 years old.
He worked for a short time as a law clerk in Chicago and New York. He never did like the practice of law. He did it under protest but with a great deal of success.
Charley came to Plymouth in 1846, 24 years old and a very eligible bachelor. Skilled in social graces, he loved music and was a wonderful dancer.
He went to all the dances and in later years, until his arthritis got too bad, he called the square dances.
In 1850, Charley married Abbie (Abby) Jane Howe, the daughter of the Marshall County clerk.
He and the feisty Abby carried on a lifelong love affair and shootin'match. She loved him, but she would put up with just so much and some pretty fair contests resulted.
They were evenly matched. Both had fiery tempers and iron-clad wills. One rumor that made the rounds was of the time Charley brought a prestigious LaPorte attorney home for supper.
They mounted the porch and found Abby, down on her hands and knees with her skirts and petticoats pinned up disclosing bare legs --and who knows what else -- scrubbing the porch.
It was said around town that Charley gave Abby a licking later with a rope for being so "unladylike."
Sometime later, Abby asked Charley sweetly why didn't he invite his stag club over to dinner. Perhaps surprised by her hospitality, he did. When dinner was served, Abby brought in a big meat pie, but Charley, as hard as he tried, couldn't cut it. The knife just wouldn't dent the thing.
Getting madder by the second, he broke through the crust and pulled out -- inch by inch -- an 8-foot rope.
"Woman," he blustered, "what does this mean?"
"Why, you know, Charley," Abby said, "that's the rope you used to beat me with!"
Another time, Abby exposed his stinginess during a highfaluting social gathering at their home with some state senators and other dignitaries as guests.
"She came in dressed in rags, although she owned fine, fashionable clothing," historian Arthur O'Keefe wrote.
"She was dirty, her hair was witchy looking, down around her face and she had a hatchet in her hand."
Abby shuffled to an antique bookcase, pulled out some volumes and began to chop them into pieces.
Charley jumped up, startled, "Woman what are you doing?"
Abby cooed, "If a man won't furnish his wife with kindling, she just has to get it herself."
After that, Charley loosened the purse strings.
Abby, two: Charley, zero.
Charley was a self-ordained expert on everything and curious about anything.
There was the time when some men were moving a house.
A large drum, wound with rope, was rolled under the house. Two poles stuck out from the drum and a horse was hitched by a strap to one end of the pole and his halter to the other end.
A young boy was in charge of the horse. He'd say "whoa" and "giddap" when necessary.
The senator came out to watch.
When the horse stopped, Charley climbed over the pole to see how the outfit worked.
The boy gave the horse the "go" signal and the senator, who was straddling the pole, tried to get off, but it was too high off the ground and too late to jump.
He clutched the pole with both hands and rode with his long legs dangling and his coattails flopping. Trying to keep his balance with that pole rolling between his legs was said to be quite a sight. He was obviously in danger of losing more than his dignity
The boy was scared speechless, unable to give the "stop" command. One of the men running alongside yelled "whoa," and the horse stopped. The senator got off the pole gingerly, straightened his clothing and stalked off as best one could stalk being, no doubt, embarrassed and in pain.
Without a word, he went back into his house.
Charley Reeve, interesting to the very end
Charley Reeve, in addition to everything else, was a voluminous and talented author.
He penned a book on prison reform, "The Prison Question," that was so well received by the Czar of Russia that he had a gold medal struck for the Reeve family.
That's the honest truth.
|Charley wrote for many leading magazines and newspapers, and he carried on a lengthy debate on a variety of subjects with Clarence Darrow through the columns of the Chicago Times.
(Money What It Is Its Only Function By Hon. H.
C. Reeve From the January 1898 Number
of the Pen Magazine, Indianapolis)
One time Charley did a piece for the local newspaper. He said emphatically that since Plymouth was in the Yellow River valley, people need not worry about wind storms.
"Any wind will blow over high enough to miss us," he wrote. Before the next weekly edition came out, a wind storm came along and -- as Charley had written -- did absolutely no damage in Marshall County -- with one exception.
The little yellow barn on Charley's farm was moved off its foundation and turned half-way around.
To an avowed agnostic, that had to be a little scary.
A friend of Charley's, a man named Ebell, died.
Ebell greatly admired Charley and he had stipulated in his will that he wanted:
1. A brass band to play at his funeral.
2. Charley Reeve to preach the sermon at the funeral which
3. was to be held in the Opera House (now a parking lot, on LaPorte Street, across from the Java Trail).
The Opera House was on the second floor.
The pall bearers had a little trouble getting the coffin up those narrow steep steps.
Actually, they had a whole lot of trouble.
It was a real tight squeeze and the men had to do more pushin' and pullin' than bearing the casket in the usual way.
It was two steps up and one step back with old Ebell slipping and sliding and bumping around inside.
The brass band, having a limited repertoire, played tunes that brass bands play ad nauseam, like "A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight" and "Hail, Hail the Gang's All Here."
Which they were.
Everybody in town knew Charley's religion -- or rather, his lack of it -- and they came to see what in the world kind of a send-off he was going to give old Ebell.
When they finally got the corpse upstairs, Charley fooled them all. He preached, they said, as fine a sermon as anyone every heard in Plymouth -- then, and maybe even now -- using as his text, "Let he among you without sin cast the first stone."
Reeve slept with a large revolver under his pillow.
Emma Meegans, a strapping Irish housemaid, refused every morning to make the bed until the gun was removed.
Charley told Emma repeatedly that she was silly.
"This gun won't go off. See!" He picked it up, pulled the trigger and blew a huge hole in the bedroom wall.
Emma said in an interview, "Neither one of us said a word. Mr. Reeve went downtown and I cleaned up the mess."
Abby and Charley got along well enough -- long enough -- to have four children: Anna Louise (Brown) in 1850: Ella Amelia, a daughter born in 1852, who died in 1854: Charles Albert (nicknamed Bert) in 1855; and Mabel Clare (Dolly) in 1866.
Bert was the most abused. He could do nothing right in his father's eyes. One time after being criticized unmercifully while haying, Bert slammed the pitch fork down, neatly pinning his father's foot to the ground.
The boy wisely ran away. For a week Abby hid and fed him in a haymow until his pop's terrible temper and injured foot had cooled off. Charley was not in favor of the Civil War. Never reluctant to give his opinion, he made strong speeches against "killing our Southern brethren."
His life was made so miserable by Union supporters that he was forced to go to Canada for an extended visit.
He was called, in some circles, a traitor. It is ironic that 13 years after his death, his 24-year-old namesake grandson, Lt. Charles B. Reeve, gave his life on Flanders Field in France on October 7, 1918. The young man was awarded posthumously, the Distinguished Service Cross. The Plymouth American Legion Post No. 27 is named in his honor.
Charley was an independent thinker. In politics, he voted for the man, but leaned to the more liberal way of thinking.
In 1864, he was a keynote speaker at the Democratic Convention. As he got older, instead of mellowing, the senator became even more eccentric. One local writer said Charley was "a horse's behind." He had a heart ailment. Dr. Charles Holkendorff prescribed nitroglycerin. Charley marched into the parlor of his home where Abby was entertaining some of Plymouth's grandest ladies for tea.
"Damn it," he said. "The damned doctor gave me nitroglycerin and I'm afraid to sit down or lean up against anything for fear of blowing up!" Both he and Abby were heavy smokers.
Abby made headlines in the March 1900 South Bend Times when, after she was taken ill, it was declared that she was a victim of nicotine poisoning.
The sensational report --some said leaked by Charley himself -- made the rounds of the press. It was even hinted that her cigarette's tobacco had been tampered with.
The senator vigorously denied the poisoning story (Bremen Enquirer, March 30, 1900).
He claimed that Abby'd had a stroke a year before and "enfeebled by old age, had fallen off her chair."
Abby died five months later. She was 74.
They had enjoyed a stormy and exciting marriage for over 50 years. Charley fell from grace as an agnostic when Abby passed.
He "unconverted" from his non-believer stance -- as best he could -- being the kind of man he was.
It must have been hard for him to admit he was fallible.
He said to his friend, Leopold M. Lauer (patriarch of the Lauer clothing store, now the Marshall County Historical Museum), "I wonder, could I, in all of these years, be mistaken and oh, what I would give if I could only believe."
He wiped the tears that ran down his streaming cheeks and blew his nose in a large silk handkerchief.
"It was Charley's hope," Lauer wrote, "that he and his Abby would meet again on the distant shore."
A shore that Charley believed never existed until then.
A few days after the funeral, the former housemaid, Emma, called on the senator and not really knowing what to say, said, "Mr. Reeve, no doubt you miss Mrs. Reeve very much."
Charley, once again his cantankerous old self, replied, "Hell, yes. You'd miss even an old cat if you'd had her around that long."
During his last years, Charley lived the life of a recluse, reading from his extensive library and writing manuscript after manuscript.
His mind was sharp and vigorous up to the end.
The man who was sure he was going to die at least once a week for over 50 years finally did reach his deathbed in 1905, 19 days before his 83rd birthday.
His son, Bert, who owned the telephone company in Plymouth, hovered by his bedside, wondering, "Will Pops die without saying I did one single thing right in my whole life?"
"I'm thirsty," Charley croaked.
Bert helped the nurse raise his father up to sip some water.
Something slipped and Charley's head banged against the headboard of the bed.
"Blast it!" he snapped at Bert. "Can't a man even die without you fumbling his head?"
Those were the last words Charley Reeve ever spoke.
So who was the Honorable Charles H. Reeve?
He was an incredible character who will forever be a part of Plymouth history.
His portrait is hanging in the City Council Chambers.
||He is buried and his monument -- the tallest one around (what did you expect?) -- is in the Stringer Cemetery next to Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center on State Road 17. |
||Charles Howell 'Charley' Reeve born 15 Jan 1822 in Sangersfield, Oneida, New York died Dec. 28, 1905 Plymouth, Marshall , Indiana buried Stringer Cemetery Plymouth, Marshall, Indiana son of Isaac Reeve and Harriet Howell.|
|married 29 Jan 1850 Marshall county, Indiana Abigail Jane 'Abbie (Abby)' Howe [How] born 25 Dec 1825 (Abt 29 Jul 1826 ) in Charlton, Saratoga, New York and died 26 Aug 1900 Plymouth, Marshall , Indiana daughte of Isaac Howe and Freelove (Sally) Conde |
Ella Amelia Reeve born 24 Sep 1852 in Marshall Co., Indiana and died 27 Dec 1854 in Marshall Co., Indiana
||Anna Louisa Reeve born 25 Apr 1851 in Plymouth, Marshall Co., Indiana and died 16 Sep 1916 in Plymouth, MarshallCo., Indiana m Apr 1870 Marshall county Indiana Hugh A. Brown born Abt 1847 in Indiana and died Bef 16 Jul 1888 in Marshall Co., Indiana|
Charles Albertus "bert' Reeve born 25 Dec 1855 in Marshall Co., Indiana and died 29 Jul 1922 in Pretty Lake, Indiana, married 16 Nov. 1887 Marshall county Indiana Mary F. Burroughs born 11 Apr 1863 in Indiana and died 14 Feb 1928
||Mabel Clare "Dolly" Reeve born 22 Mar 1866 in Marshall Co., Indiana and died 18 Sep 1904 |
Year: 1850; Census Place: My Division, Marshall, Indiana; Roll: M432_160; Page: 505A;
Household Members: Name Age
Chas H Renn [Reeve] 29
Abby Jane Renn [Reeve] 24
Year: 1860; Census Place: Plymouth, Marshall, Indiana; Roll: M653_278; Page: 585;
Household Members: Name Age
Charles H Reeve 38
Abby J Reeve 34
Anne A Reeve 9
Charles A Reeve 4
Margaret Whitty 25
Year: 1870; Census Place: Center, Marshall, Indiana; Roll: M593_342; Page: 48A;
Household Members: Name Age
Josephine Redd 15
Charles Reese [Reeve] 48
Abby Reese [Reeve] 44
Charles Reese [Reeve] 14
Mabel Reese [Reeve] 4
Mary Franklin 25
Anna Blackwell 18
Year: 1880; Census Place: Plymouth, Marshall, Indiana; Roll: 297; Family History Film: 1254297; Page: 144D; Enumeration District: 105;
Household Members: Name Age
Chas. H. Rune [Reeve] 58
Abigal Rune [Reeve] 54
Charles A. Rune [Reeve] 23
Mable Rune [Reeve]14
Emma Juis 20 Servant
Mary Megar 17 Servant
Year: 1900; Census Place: Plymouth, Marshall, Indiana; Roll: 391; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0072
Household Members: Name Age
Charles H Reeve 78
Abbie J Reeve 75
Mabel Reeve 39
Annie Rhmehat 31 Servant