SUVCW Dept. of Wisconsin Commanders:
Charles C. Townsend

In 1897, our nation was just emerging from a depression that had lasted four years. The Wisconsin Dept. Encampment in Eau Claire continued to lament the considerable loss of membership. Only 38 delegates were present; representing 700 members in 37 Camps. In 1890, there had been 1560 members in 68 Camps. After a year’s hiatus, this Encampment was again held in conjunction with the GAR and its Allied Orders.

The two leading candidates for Dept. Commander were Captain J.W.T. Ames of New Richmond and Captain Tase of Oshkosh. In an upset, 28-year old Charles C. Townsend of Benton was elected. Townsend had served on a couple of Encampment committees in 1895, and was elected a delegate-at-large to the National Encampment and appointed Dept. Inspector in 1896.

Charles C. Townsend was born in Jan 1869, the middle child and only son of Addison and Marian (Trewhela) Townsend, in Shullsburg, Lafayette County, Wis.

Addison A. Townsend enlisted in June 1861 in Co. I, 3rd Wis. Inf. and took part in the Battle of Winchester and others. He was discharged due to sickness on April 23, 1863 and later served in law enforcement and as an insurance agent.

The younger Townsend graduated from UW’s Law School in 1893. Two years later, he helped organize Union Camp #7 in Benton and got married. He and wife Winifred had one daughter, Beryl, born in 1897.

During DC Charles Townsend’s term, Berlin’s John H. Williams Camp 40, East Troy’s Harold H. Rogers Camp 41, Plymouth’s Wolf Camp 47, and River Falls’ Richard Lovell Camp 48 were chartered.

That year, Wis. members served on two important National committees: one outlining plans for a closer union between the GAR and the Sons, and one on legislation, affecting the Order as a U.S. Army reserve.

Boscobel’s John Stahel Camp #34 held an entertainment in January 1898, after which DC Townsend installed the Camp’s officers. Br. Townsend’s mother died in February and he was absent from the Dept. Encampment in Appleton that year. However, he returned to serve as Dept. Judge Advocate in 1900.

On April 12, 1898, Baraboo tried again to organize a Sons Camp, but this news was overshadowed by the announcement of U.S. intervention in Cuba. The Wisconsin Dept. supplied 19 members who served.

The Townsends moved to the young city of Greeley, Colorado in 1901. Sadly, Union Camp #7 disbanded shortly afterwards.

Greeley was established in 1874 as a planned community of temperate and educated citizens.

In 1905, Charles constructed a classic Queen Anne style home at 1103 10th Avenue, which is now on the city’s historic register of homes. In addition to a law practice, he published the Weld County Republican and the Greeley Pioneer. He was elected mayor and later, to the state senate on the Republican ticket.

He made several trips back to Wisconsin, where he visited his father and his alma mater, the last time in 1913.

In 1920, Addison Townsend was admitted to the Soldiers Home in Leavenworth, Kansas, to be closer to his son. He suffered from arterial sclerosis and circulation problems. He died four years later at age 86.

Daughter Beryl married dentist Harry R. Faulkner in 1921. Their son, Douglas, became a pilot for Pacific Southwest airlines and had three daughters.

Br. Charles Townsend died in June 1949 at the age of 80 and was buried in Greeley’s Linn Grove Cemetery. Winifred moved to San Diego in January 1950, where she lived with her daughter and son-in-law. She died there on September 3, 1959 at the age of 88 and was brought back to Greeley to be buried with her husband.

Researched and written by PCinC Steve Michaels.

Information Sources:
Greeley Daily Tribune, 13 Jan 1950, 9 Sep 1959.
Greeley Historic Register, 1996-2010
UW Alumni Directory 1849-1919

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Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Department of Wisconsin


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