Family Stories

Captain Charles C. Townsend Biography


CAPTAIN CHARLES C. TOWNSEND, is senior member of the well-known firm of C. C. & E. P. Townsend, manufacturers of wire, rivets, and wire nails. This is one of the oldest enterprises in Beaver County, and was established by the grandfather of Charles C, in 1828. The plant is located on the west side of the Beaver River in the village of Fallston, and it has been gradually enlarged from time to time until it is recognized as one of the largest enterprises of its kind west of the Alleghanies. Capt. Townsend is a son of William P., a grandson of Robert, and a great-grandson of Benjamin Townsend, and was born in Allegheny, Pa., although he has been a resident of New Brighton since he was ten years of age.  Robert Townsend was born on a farm near Brownsville, Washington County. Pa., April 9, 1790. He was engaged in the wire business at Baltimore, Md., until 1816, and then established a similar business on Market street, between First and Second Avenues, Pittsburg. In 1828, he started the first wire plant west of the Alleghanies, at Fallston, Pa., —it also being the first iron business in Beaver County. The machinery of this plant was run by water, though a large part of the work was done by hand. In his later years, he retired from active business, and erected a handsome residence on Third Avenue. New Brighton; this property is now owned by his grandson, Edward P. Townsend. Mr. Townsend was of Quaker stock,—a very liberal and charitable man,—and enjoyed the friendship of a host of acquaintances. He passed from this life at the age of seventy-seven years. His wife was Deborah Colman. who was born in England, and came to the United States when a girl of sixteen years ; she died aged eighty-five years. They were the parents of eight children: William P.; Mary; Sabina; Elizabeth; John M.; Caroline; Lydia, and George.  William Penn Townsend, the father of the subject hereof, received his education in the schools at Pittsburg, and at an early age entered the employ of his father,—beginning as a clerk. In 1840, he and his cousin were taken in as partners, the firm name becoming R. Townsend & Company; in 1864, he became sole proprietor. He enlarged the plant, gave employment to many more hands, and put in new and improved machinery. Mr. Townsend delighted in traveling and spent many years in journeying throughout the United States and Europe. He entered the haven of rest at the age of seventy-eight years.  He was joined in marriage with Sarah A. Champlin, a daughter of Matthew F. Champlin, of New York State; she still resides in New Brighton, has passed the eightieth year of her life, and is surrounded by many old friends and neighbors, who hold her in tender esteem.  She is the mother of five children:  Charles C.; Edward P.; Amelia; Elizabeth, and Helen. Although Mr. Townsend was reared a Quaker, he and his wife became members of the Presbyterian Church.  Charles C. Townsend attended Pittsburg University, and at the age of fifteen years became a clerk in his father’s office. When the War of the Rebellion broke out, he enlisted as a private in the Ninth Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers, but was shortly afterward transferred to the First Pennsylvania Cavalry, with the rank of adjutant. After serving two years in the Army of the Potomac, he was discharged on account of poor health. Returning home, he and his brother, Edward P., were taken in as partners with their father, and in 1894 the sons became sole proprietors of the establishment, the firm name being changed to C. C. & E. P. Townsend. They have enlarged the plant, have added the manufacture of wire nails of all sizes, and give employment to about one hundred hands.  This is one of the largest enterprises in Beaver County, as well as one of the first. Captain Charles C. Townsend’s sons, who now assist in running the plant, are the fourth generation of Townsends who have been interested in this factory. Mr. Townsend is very enterprising, gives his hearty support to those measures which tend to promote the general welfare and bring prosperity to the community, and is recognized by his many friends and acquaintances as a good neighbor and loyal citizen. He resides in the old Bradford residence in New Brighton. He has served as vice-president of the National Bank of New Brighton since 1896, and has also represented this district in the Fifty-First Congress, from 1889 to 1891.  Capt. C. C. Townsend was married to Miss Juliet Bradford, a daughter of Benjamin Rush Bradford, and they are the parents of the following children: Juliette; Gertrude, who died aged twenty-two years; William P., Jr., superintendent of the company warehouse; Vincent Bradford, clerk for the company; Charles C, Jr., of the mechanical department; Benjamin Rush, and John M., an assistant clerk in the company’s office. Religiously, Mr. Townsend is a member of the Presbyterian Church, in which he is ruling elder. Socially, he belongs to Edwin M. Stanton Post, No. 208, G. A. R., of which he is past commander.  In his political affiliations, he is a stanch Republican.

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