Sunday, October 2, 2011

Charles Henry Dudley - A Life in Pictures




A few years ago I was looking through a collection of family photographs and mementos.  I was struck by the number of photos of my grand-uncle, Charles Henry Dudley and his family.
 
Uncle Charlie was the eldest son of Jesse and Mary Shaper Dudley and brother of my grandmother Mary Dudley Donaldson.  He was born October 18, 1878 in Clark Township, Clinton County, Ohio.  Below is the earliest photo I have of Charlie. 
 
Charlie grew up in Clark Township with his brothers Lew, Frank, Ab, Tom, and Clarence.  By the time my grandma was born in 1898, Charlie was already a young man.  Just a little over a year later, Charlie married the pretty Anna Dora Meyer and they made their home in Clark Township near his aunt Marietta Dudley Himes and her family.  Charlie worked as a day laborer.

Charles & Anna Dudley 
On August 14, 1900, Anna gave birth to the couple’s first child, Walter Sherman Dudley.  Sadly, the child died on September 17, 1900.    After Walter’s death, Charlie and Anna had three more sons.  James Logan was born January 25, 1902, Wilmer Matthew was born August 11, 1904, and Charles Henry was born August 19, 1906.  My grandmother was closer in age to her nephews than she was to her brother Charlie.  I love this photograph of my grandma and Charlie’s and Anna’s boys.
Henry, James, Mary, and Wilmer Dudley
In 1910, Charlie and Anna were living in Lynchburg, Ohio.  Charlie was working as a grocery salesman and Anna was a hotel landlady.  They lived in the hotel with their three sons.  Among their boarders at the time of the 1910 census was Charlie’s cousin, Carl Himes.  The photo below is labeled “Dudley Hotel.”  I recognize Charlie in the back wearing a bow tie and his mother Mary Shaper Dudley standing next to him.  I’m not sure, but the lady standing in the doorway between Charlie and his mother may be Anna.  I wonder what occasioned the taking of this photograph; there are some distinguished-looking gentlemen in this picture. 
In the early 1910s, Charlie also did home repair work in Lynchburg.  This was his letterhead:


Some time during the early to middle 1910s, Charlie and Anna divorced.  Their sons continued to live with Anna.  My mom believes that Charlie then moved to Cincinnati and where he found a job.  At work, he met a teenager named Eddie Earl Donaldson.  Charlie introduced Edd to his sister Mary and they were married on December 7, 1915. 

Charlie and his sister Mary, around the time of her wedding.
I’m not sure exactly when and where Charlie met Ida May Boice Ostrander.  Ida was a widow with two children, Helen and Arthur.  I believe she was living in the same area of Cincinnati at the same time as Charlie, so I assume that they met in Cincinnati.  However, they were married in Detroit, Michigan on December 11, 1916.  I don't have any photos of Ida or Helen, but do have this photo of Charlie and his step-son Arthur during World War I.
At the time of his second wedding, Charlie was working as a machinist.  I’m not sure where he was working at that time, but by 1920 he was employed by the Packard Motor Car Company and lived walking distance from the factory.  The 1930 census listed his occupation as an inspector at an auto factory, but said that he had not worked the previous work day.  I’m not sure whether he was still employed by Packard; he was then living a few miles from the Packard factory.   
Charlie (right) and unknown man at the entrance to the Packard factory
Charlie also seems to have had an appreciation for family history.  He compiled the Dudley album, a collection of family information and photographs that is truly a family treasure.  On December 9, 1922, Charlie copied the Dudley family record “through the advice of Jessey Dudley,” his father.  He supplemented the album with additional material through the years.  This album has provided me with so much information that I never would have known otherwise and which is most likely not documented elsewhere. 
Charlie had the opportunity to visit his family in Ohio, though I'm not sure how often.  He made a trip to Lynchburg around 1939, when he was able to visit with his mother Mary Shaper Dudley, his aunts and uncles, and his brothers and sister.
Mary Shaper Dudley and her sons, Charlie, Ab, Tom, and Clarence around 1939
My mom first remembers meeting her Uncle Charlie in 1957, when she travelled by Greyhound bus to Houghton Lake, Michigan with her mom, sister Helen, nephew Eddie, and niece Ruth Ann.   They had a layover in Detroit and Charlie came to the bus station to spend time with them until the connecting bus arrived.  However, she had previously met him when she was a small child at the time of his visit around 1939, as is displayed in the photo below.
Dottie Lea Donaldson, Charlie, Rosemary Donaldson, Mary Shaper Dudley, my mom, and Mary Dudley Donaldson
Charlie visited his sister Mary in the early 1960s.  By that time, Ida had died.  My mom shared this memory of that visit:
I found him to be a gentle, soft spoken man.  He had suffered from colon cancer but was still going strong.  In fact, he climbed a ladder to paint the trim on our house, in spite of his advanced age and physical condition.  He seemed to enjoy his visit and complimented me on the love and care I gave to my Mom.
Charlie and his sister Mary, early 1960s
I believe the last photo I have of Charlie is the Christmas card shown below.  I find it one of the most interesting photos of Charlie.  I like that he is wearing his overalls and posed with his two little dogs.  I wonder if he did the landscaping and planted and tended the garden.  It looks like there was a bird bath nestled in the shrubbery.  Since he used this photo for his Christmas card, I think his dogs and his beautiful yard must have made him very happy.
Charles Henry Dudley died on May 11, 1965 in Detroit.  He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Detroit.

 

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