Biography

Of

James B. Charters


James B. Charters, ex-Postmaster at Dixon, is one of its foremost citizens, who for many years has been thoroughly identified with the best interests of city and county, contributing to the success of various enterprises that have materially heightened their prosperity, and taking a prominent part in the administration of public affairs as an encumbent of various important civic offices.

Our subject was born in the city of Belfast, Ireland, July 11, 1831. HIs father, Alexander Charters, was also a native of that city, and wsa born July 7, 1800. His father who bore the same names as himself, was a native of Ireland, and came of one of the old Scotch families that colonized the northern part of that country. He was a merchant and was engaged in business at Belfast for many years, spending his entire life on his native isle.

The father of our subject came to America at the age of 17, and entered upon a successful business career as a clerk in New York City, and later as a member of the firm of J. & A. Charters, manufacturers and importers of linen. He made several trips across the ocean to Ireland in the interests of business, and one such occasion was made memorable by his marriage in his native city to Miss Ellen Boomer, who was a daughter of one of the old families of that city, which was also her birthplace. Her fahter, James Boomer, was likewise a native of Belfast, and he started the first manufactory in that place, which he at first devoted to the manufacture of cotton cloth, but subsequently changed into a linen factory. He continued a resident of Belfast until death closed his life, and deprived his city of a citizen who had rendered valuable service in promoting its industrial growth.

Mr. Charters continued in business in New York until the panic of 1837 threatened to ruin all the manufacturing and mercantile interests of the country, and he found it advisable to wind up his affairs in that city if he would preserve his money and his business integrity, and in the spring of 1838 he came to the Rock River country to begin life anew in "fresh fields and pastures new," far from the rush and turmoil of the great metropolis.

He entered a tract of Government land, finely located three miles from the present site of Dixon, and in the course of time built up one of the most beautiful homes in Illinois, which was known far and wide as "Hazelwood," and was famous for its unbounded hospitality. Its genial host, familiarly known as the "Governor," was a typical Irish gentleman, frank, generous-hearted and open-handed, always courteous and considerate in his treatment of others, and he understood the art of entertaining to perfection. He had an extensive acquaintance and held a warm place in the hearts of all about him.

James B. Charters, of this review, was but an infant when his mother died, and he was reared by his maternal grandparents, who cared for him tenderly. He received his early education in the schools of Belfast, and at the age of 17 entered Trinity College in Dublin, one of the most noted institutions of learning in Great Britain, from which he was graduated in the Class of '53. Ambitious to fit himself for the legal profession, he then went to London and studied law in the Inner Temple. Immediately after completing his studied, he came to America to join his father at Hazelwood, and at once commenced the practice of law. From that time to this he has made his home in this county, and has won a high place among the men of decisive character, learning and business acument who have played so important a part in the rise and progress of this section of the State. He has been interested in various enterprises, and has given much time to affairs of public moment, as his fellow-citizens have frequently induced him to accept some responsible office. He has served as Mayor of Dixon, and in 1877 was elected County Judge. In 1887 he was appointed Postmaster at Dixon, and the fact that he has retained the position three years since the change of administration attests not only his popularity, but is sufficient evidence that the office is managed in a systematic, business-like manner, everything connected with it being kept in good order, and it is a source of gratulation to the people of this city that one so able and trustworthy should have charge of this important Federal office. In politics, Mr. Charters has always been a stanch champion of the Democratic party. Socially, he belongs to the Friendship Lodge, No. 7, A.F. & A.M.; Nachusa Chapter No. 56, R.A.M.; and Dixon Commandery, No. 21, K.T.

Mr. Charters has been twice married. He was married the first time in 1853 to Miss Fanny J. Charters, a daughter of Samuel and Jane (Cregier) Charters. Their wedded life of thirty years was brought to a close by her death in 1883. Our subject was united in marriage to his present wife, formerly Miss Blanche Soule, July9, 1885.

Lee Co. Portraits and Biographical 1892 Pg 563

Mayor of Dixon for the 1862 term was James B. Charters, son of Alexander Charters. Born in Belfast, Ireland, in 1831, he was graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1852, and studied in The Inner Temple, London, England. He came to Dixon immediately afterward band began practicing law in 1856.

He was elected county judge in 1877.

In 1858 he married Miss Fanny J. Charters, daughter of Samuel M. Charters, who died in 1883, and in 1885, he married Miss Blanche Soule, daughter of Dr. James Kent Soule.

Judge Charters was a director of the the public library from its founding and a member os St. Luke's Episcopal church, where he served as vestryman for 30 years. He died Feb. 4, 1902.

Dixon Evening Telegraph May 1, 1951

Lee Co Bios Home


Illinois - "Our Way"