Charman, Thomas

Oregon City Enterprise, Friday, March 1, 1907

Society493Major Thomas Charman, oldest Mason in Oregon City and past worshipful master of first Masonic lodge organized west of the Mississippi river, pioneer of 1852, for many years pioneer merchant of Oregon City, several times mayor, first president of Bank of Oregon City, active promoter of electric power at the falls of the Willamette, member of first Republican convention held in state and prominently with growth and progress of his home town, died at his home at 6 o’clock Wednesday morning, aged 77 years.

Major Charman was born in England, parish of Walking county of Surrey, September 8, 1829, his father being the owner of a large farm in that country. He was one of 15 children, and his father lived to be 85 years old. All his ancestors belonged to the upper class and were church of England people. The Major was educated in England but came to New York in 1848, where he began his career as a clerk in a store. He was in Buffalo, N. Y. for a time and from there went to Waynesville, Ind., where he had charge of a large store. He came to Oregon City in 1852, and in 1853 the firm of Charman & Warner purchased the stock of general merchandise belonging to the Hudson’s Bay company, then in charge of Dr. John McLoughlin and the first mercantile store established in Oregon City. A large business was built up, but in 1865 Mr. Warner sold his interest in the establishment to Major Charman, and later Frederick Ross Charman was admitted as a partner in the concern and business was carried on under name of Charman and Son.

Mr. Charman was an active promoter in securing the establishment of the woolen mills here, and an active factor in the development of the Willamette Falls Electric company, the first concern that turned the power of the falls to account by generating electricity. He also was a heavy stockholder in the Willamette Falls Locks company that at one time owned the locks. Later the Portland General Electric company absorbed the stock of these two companies, and Major Thomas was the holder of several blocks of stock in the P.G.E. Co.

In 1862 he was one of the organizers of the Bank of Oregon City, and for many years was its president.

On September 27, 1854 he was married to Miss Sophia Diller, who survives him. Besides the widow three children survive him, Frederick Ross Charman of Ritzville, Wash.; Nellie Vanner, wife of J. H. Walker, Oregon City; and Mary Jane, wife of J. P. Lovett, Oregon City.

The Major was past master of Multnomah Lodge No. 1 F.M. & A.M. and a prominent member of the local Odd Fellows lodge. In the earlier days he was prominent in politics and filled the positions of county and city treasurer. Governor Gibbs appointed him on the staff of Major-General Palmer of enrolled and volunteer militia with a commission as major.

Although the details of the funeral have not been completed, it will probably be held next Sunday under the auspices of the Masons.

Oregon City Courier, Friday, March 1, 1907
Thomas Charman Passes Out Wednesday
Did Much for This City
Life of Public Service Brought to a Close – Was the Oldest Mason in County.

Major Thomas Charman, one of the pioneers of Oregon, and a founder of Oregon City, died at his home on Washington street Wednesday morning at 6 o’clock.

Major Charman has been a sufferer from rheumatism for the past six years and during the last two years had seldom left his home. He had been failing rapidly for the past few days, and a lapse into unconsciousness Tuesday told the family that the end was near. About 9 o’clock in the evening he rallied and recognized the members of the family who were with him. His passing was characterized by a strenuous fight for life, and he was loath to give up. His mind remained clear and during his confinement to the house he often composed little verses.

Major Charman was the oldest Mason in Clackamas county, and the funeral will be held Sunday under the auspices of that body. The interment will be made in the family lot in the Mountain View Cemetery.

He leaves a wife, Sophia Diller Charman, two daughters, Mrs. J. H. Walker and Mrs. James P. Lovett, both of this city, and one son, Fred R. Charman, who is in business in Ritzville, Wash. The son was sent for and arrived Thursday. Both of the other children were at the bedisde. One other son and daughter were born to Major and Mrs. Charman, but both died. A brother, James Charman, of Muncie, Ind., and a sister, Mrs. James Brooks, of Sedgwich, Kan., also survive him.

Thomas Charman was born in Surrey county, England, in 1829. He was the son of an English farmer and received his education in that country, coming to New York in 1848. In the fall of 1852 he came to Oregon and settled in Oregon City, purchasing along with Dr. John McLoughlin, the founder of Oregon City, the business of the Hudson Bay Company. This business of general merchandising was carried under the firm name of Charman & Warner uninterruptedly up to recent years.

Major Charman has been actively connected with all of the city’s interests since he came, and was one of the promoters of the woolen mills. He was president of the first bank established in this city and was especially prominent in the development of the water power of the Willamette river. Largely through his efforts the generation of the electric power that has proved such a factor in the city’s growth was made possible.

In politics the Major was a Republican, and attended the first Republican convention held in Oregon as a delegate. He served several terms as Mayor of the City, and has held other city and county offices. He was a Past Master of Multnomah Lodge, No 1, A. F. & A. M., and always took an active part in the life of the order. He was also prominent among the Odd Fellows.

Republican League Register, A record of the Republican Party in the State of Oregon, 1896

Charman, Hon. Thomas – He has been Mayor of Oregon City several times and was on the staff of Governor A. C. Gibbs, with rank of major.



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