Person:Charles Stilson (3)

m. 20 Mar 1838
  1. Thomas Hart Benton Stilson1839 - 1864
  2. Charles L. Stilson1844 - 1922
  3. James McCord StilsonEst 1846 - 1933
  • HCharles L. Stilson1844 - 1922
  • W.  Emma Dolliver (add)
m. ca 1871
  1. Lois Winifred Stilson
  2. Eleanor F. Stilson
Facts and Events
Name Charles L. Stilson
Gender Male
Birth? 10 Aug 1844 Goshen, Elkhart, Indiana, United States
Marriage ca 1871 San Jose, Santa Clara, California, United Statesto Emma Dolliver (add)
Will[1] 17 Feb 1922 Chico, Butte, California, United States
Death? 12 Apr 1922 Chico, Butte, California, United States

The History of Butte County (page 497)
A student of the history of early days in California, who himself has a number of interesting collections pertaining to the Indians and to the early coinage and the mineralogical resources of the state, Charles L. Stilson is an entertaining conversationalist and a well-known attorney at law, who came to Butte County in 1863. His grandfather, Abner Stilson, was born in Stonington, Conn., and settled near Rochester, NY where he had a farm. Then he moved to Butler County, Ohio, and in 1835 went to Elkhart county, Indiana, where he died. His fahter, also named Abner, was born at Rochester; and he likewise went to Elkhart County, where he followed the jeweler's trade. He was known to everyone as a patriot, and raised a company for the Mexican War, although it was never called into active service. He died in Goshen, Ind.

Charles L. Stilson's mother was Melissa Denman before her marriage and her bithplace was in Connecticut. On both sides of her family she came from Scotch descent, and she died in the same month as her husband. She was the mother of three children, all boys, who accompanied their uncle and aunt to Wisconsin and settled in Walworth County, near Lake Geneva.

Thomas H. Benton Stilson was in the Civil War, a member of Company A. of the Seventh Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. He was killed in the battle of Petersburg on July 31, 1864. James McCord Stilson enlisted in the union service. He was familiarly known as Mac Stilson. He was a member of Company A, of the First Wisconsin Cavalry, and came to have some knowledge of the incidents connected with the attempt {p.162} by Jefferson Davis to escape the Union forces. He says that Jeff Davis did not try to escape in a woman's dress, as was stated, but simply had on a dressing gown worn in those days. Mr. Stilson participated in the capture of the famous Confederate chief near Irwinsville, GA., and received his proportion of the reward offered by Congress, July 27, 1868. Mr. Davis was in full rebel uniform, and Mr. Stilson carried the news of his capture to Macon, GA., and was the first to report his apprehension to General Wilson at the point. James McCord Stilson came, in 1868, to Chico where he still resides. For years he has been a statistical correspondent for the Judd Farmer, and also sends the accredited crop reports of Butte County to the authorities in Washington. He has a large collection of Indian relics of which he has a good knowledge.

Charles L. Stilson was born at Goshen, Ind., August 10, 1844. He was three years old when his parents died, in 1847; and he was then taken to Lake Geneva, Wis., and later removed to Genoa, that state. He attended first the public school, and the Peet's Academy, under the direction of the well-known educator, Emerson W. Peet. Having completed his studies there on attaining his fifteenth year he joined a surveyor's corps and carried the chain in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. He resided in Genoa for several years, and then went to Shelby County, Missouri where he was employed as a clerk in the L.B. Parmalee store in Shelbyville. While in that district he saw many stirring incidents of the Civil War- the frequent encounters of Northern and Southern troops or sympathizers and the irresponsible bush-whackers. He also traveled a good deal, going over most of the states and seing such places as Kansas City, Denver and Omaha, when they were mere hamlets. In 1860 he made his first trip to this state. At Shelbyvill, Mo., he had met Dr. H. J. Glenn, who had come East to gather mules, and on his return accompanied him and Mr. Wilson across the plains with a drove of mules, returning East via Panama in 1861. In 1862 Mr. Stilson went to Cerro Gordo, Iowa, where he taught school.

From the latter place Mr. Stilson returned to Genoa, Wis., but soon afterwards he came out to California, traveling by way of New York, and on the steamer Moses Taylor to Panama, and then up the coast on the steamer John L. Stevens, from which he landed in San Francisco in May, 1863. He had a letter of introduction from a Mr. Bliss, a merchant in New York, and secured a school in Stockton; but finding he had to wait until September before the school could be opened, he struck off for Feather River, Butte County, to try his luck at mining, but like many another tenderfoot, he found that "all that glitters is not gold" and his dreams of a bushel of the yellow dust in a very short period and triumphant return home were shattered. He worked for a short itme in a store owned by Senator George C. Perkins, at Oroville, and from there, on July 3, 1863, came to Chico. He began clerking in the store of Major John Bidwell, commencing at a wage of one hundred fifty dollars a month and his board. He had learned telegraphy and so he attended the telegraph nd express work. While operating there a dispatch came through one day stating that Mac Stilson had captured Jefferson Davis in Georgia, and of course this was highly gratifying news to Charles. Some friction had arisen as to the location fo the first public school building in Chico. The citizens decided upon Mr. Stilson as being the teacher most satisfactory to the two factions and he taught in the new building for eight months. This was in 1864. He continued with Bidwell for three years. During his early residence in Chico, Mr. Stilson, like many emigrants, felt it his duty to write the eastern press. He wrote a letter to the Chicago Tribune in which he stated that the Bidwell Ranch, consisting of twenty-five thousand acres, in character, richness of soil and productiveness, was superior to any farming section of the United States, the famous Dalrymple and Alexander Farms in Illinois not excepted.

Among other things, he stated that as he wrote there was a hot north wind blowing and the thermometer stood at one hundred fourteen degrees. In later years when the Colfax-Richardson party went through Chico on their overland trip to Oregon they stopped for dinner at the old Chico Hotel. Jennie Bross, the { p.163} daughter of the editor of the chicago Tribune was a member of the party. She said to Mr. Stilson, "You should have written another letter because father made no change in yours, other than changing your hot north wind to a hot south wind." Mr. Stilson made no reply, but when they arived in Portland, Miss Bross wrote him that, from their experience with the north wind in August, her father stated that after this if Mr. Stilson wrote "hot north wind" he would not change it.

Mr. Stilson's next step was the formation of a partnership with Charles L. Pond, the two starting a store in 1868, on Main Street, in a building they had erected for that purpose. They carried a stock of hardware and implements, including header-wagons, and other modern machinery; and since both were enterprising, they made a success of the business.

In June, 1886, Mr. Stilson was appointed county clerk, to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Frank Peachy; and thereafter he was elected to the office for four successive terms, serving nine years in all, in that official capacity. During this time he maintained his residence in Chico. On the completion of his last term as county clerk, in January, 1895, Mr. Stilson started his law office here. During his terms in office he had studied law, and on November 24, 1894, he was admitted to practice in the California courts and since then has carried on a general law practice.

Mr. Stilson also has extensive ranch interests. He owns a farm of two hundred twenty acres in Stilson Canyon, three miles east of Chico, of which he has devoted eighty acres to the cultivation of fruit and there he raises peaches, prunes, pears, olives, oranges, lemons, pomelos, commonly known as grape fruit, and almonds. The balance of the acreage is devoted to stockraising. For the past fifteen years he has maintained his own packing-house for handling his fruit.

As one of the results of Mr. Stilson's public spiritedness, he obtained the franchise for a street-car line here, the undertaking to be financed by San Jose capital; but at the last moment such opposition developed to foreign capital that he gave up the effort. He was the principal organizer of the Chico Gas and Water Company, in the year 1874. The works were built and the town was piped for both gas and water under his supervision; his associates were A. Bullard, George F. Nourse and J.W.Gilkyson. For many years, also, from its organization, Mr. Stilson was secretary of the Butte County Agricultural Society. This society built the fairgrounds on which were held the successive county fairs which did so much to advertise the resources of this section of the state. The society maintained a race track, which proved to be one of the fastest in the world and it was on this track that Goldsmith Maide, drived by Budd Doble, made her record time. The Diamond Match Company now have their holdings on the same site.

Charles L. Stilson was married in San Jose, California to Miss Emma Dolliver, a native of Ohio. She resided in Iowa for a time, and bout 1865 or 1866 came to California with her mother, crossing the great plains in wagons drawn by ox-teams. Her father died at Fremont, Ohio. Mrs. Stilson is related to the Dolliver family of Iowa. Mr. and Mrs. Stilson are the parents of two children: Eleanor F. is a graduate of the Chico State Normal and of the University of California. She taught school for six years in Los Angeles and is now a successful business woman in Chico, where she has a well appointed art store and floral establishment in the same building with her father, also acting as his stenographer. Lois W. is a graduate of the Chico State Normal. She is a well-known musician and the wife of J. Paul Miller, a well-known attorney in Sacramento.

During the troubous times of the Civil War, Mr. Stilson served four years in the Chico Light Infantry in which he was commissioned first Lieutenant; and out of the full company only five members survive at this writing. Decidedly a sponsor of popular and higher education, Mr. Stilson worked hard to secure the State Normal School for Chico; and for ten years served as a trustee of the local schools. In all such work he was able assisted by his good wife. Always an ardent Republican and a Unionist, he has long served on the Republican County Central Committee.

In November, 1863, Mr. Stilson was made a Mason in Chico Lodge, No. 111, F. and A.M. and the following year was made Master of the Lodge, at that time being the youngest Master of a lodge in California.

  1. California, United States. California, Wills and Probate Records, 1850-1953. ( [database online])