Biography of Charles McHugh

Among those prominent in business, social and club life in the City of Rock Island, is Charles McHugh, a man who through persistent industry and commercial acumen has wrought for himself a successful career.

His parents were Thomas Edwin and Ellen (House) McHugh. His mother was born in Syracuse, New York; his father was a native of Inniskillin, Ireland, but removed to this country, where the subject of this sketch was born September 3, 1863, at Syracuse, New York. Four years later his parents came west and located at Tiskilwa, in this State, where his mother is still living. Here their son received a common school education.

Mr. McHugh remained in Tiskilwa until 1881, when he came to Rock Island. Seeking employment, he obtained a position as bell-boy at the Harper House, the hotel of which he is today manager and associate proprietor, but which was then owned and managed by the late Benjamin Harper. As a bell-boy Mr. McHugh received the princely salary of ten dollars a month, but with a firm determination to deserve and to attain a higher position he paid diligent attention to his duties. This determination upon his part was rewarded by a promotion to a position as clerk in the hotel, which position he held until 1894 when he, together with J. E. Montrose, purchased the management of the hotel from the Harper estate. This required an investment on their part of $35,000.

The investment was a financial success, and in 1898, desiring to enlarge the scope of their business, these gentlemen took over the National House, of Peoria, Illinois, the leading hotel of that city, at an expense of $40,000. Again in 1903 they assumed control of the Rock Island House, expending $22,000 in the remodeling and improvement of this hotel.

Success and prosperity attended each successive expansion of their business, and in 1906 they leased the Hotel Montrose at Cedar Rapids, Iowa-the furnishing of this hotel costing over $45,000-and in turn this hotel was brought up to that standard of excellence that has characterized each of the other hostelries, and is considered by hotel experts the leading hotel west of Chicago. From 1895 until 1900 Mr. McHugh was lessee of the Black Hawk’s Watch Tower, and it was during this time that the present spacious and popular Watch Tower Inn was built, and made the popular resort of the three cities.

But Mr. McHugh’s business talents are not wholly confined to the control and management of hotels. He owns a large ranch near Aberdeen, South Dakota, and a six hundred and forty-acre farm near Olney, Illinois, and to these he gives some share of his personal attention. He is also one of the directors of the Peoples National Bank of Rock Island.

Whatever pertains to the progress and advancement of the City of Rock Island finds a hearty supporter and sincere cooperator in Mr. McHugh. During the year 1904 he was president of the Rock Island Club, an institution devoted to the fostering of the commercial interests of the city. In politics Mr. McHugh is a Democrat, and takes an active part in the council’s of his party.

His religious connection is with the Catholic Church.

On September 1, 1888, he was married to Mary Elizabeth Crubaugh, daughter of John and Sarah A. Crubaugh of Rock Island, and to the couple one daughter, Sarah Elizabeth, has been born.

Mr. McHugh owns a beautiful rural home on Aiken Street in South Rock Island, and here he and his family spend the summer months, interspersed with numerous cruises upon the Mississippi River and its tributaries upon his house boat, “The Rambler,” and steamer, the ” Mary Mc.”

Coming to Rock Island a poor boy without friends or influence here to aid him, he has forged his way to the front and in a few brief years has become one of the substantial and influential men of the city. Foresight and industry have been the keys that have unlocked for him the door of success.



Biographical Publishing Company. Portrait and Biographical Album of Rock Island County. Illinois; Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co.

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