Charley W. Oswald. Few cities of its size anywhere have a livelier commercial organization than Hutchinson, and for a number of years the Hutchinson Commercial Club had spelled power and influence and had had much to do with the substantial prosperity and well being of the community. It indicates the general esteem in which he is held in Hutchinson that the president of this organization is Mr. Charles W. Oswald, who had had a business record identified with the city for more than a quarter of a century.
Mr. Oswald was born in Wayne county, Ohio, November 3, 1867, son of Anthony and Maria (Ewing) Oswald. His grandfather, William Oswald, was a native of Pennsylvania and an early settler in Wayne County, Ohio, where for more than sixty years he engaged in the manufacture of boots and shoes. Anthony Oswald, a native of Wayne County, moved with his family in 1877 to Kansas, settling in Reno County. Here he bought eighty acres of railroad land in Center Township, and subsequently acquired 480 acres in Salt Creek Township, where he was a practical farmer four years. In 1881 he retired from the farm and moved to Hutchinson, where he engaged in the real estate business. His wife died in that city in March, 1885. In 1890 he left Hutchinson and for ten years was connected with the mining operations and industries of Joplin, Missouri, and Galena, Kansas. Since 1900 Anthony Oswald had been a real estate man in Beaumont, Texas, having entered the field there soon after the discovery of oil.
Charley W. Oswald was ten years old when he came to Kansas with his parents in 1877, and he finished his education in the schools of Salt Creek Township and at Hutchinson. He graduated from the Hutchinson High School in 1885 and then for two years taught. When the Hutchinson postoffice attained the dignity of having free city delivery service Mr. Oswald was appointed the first letter carrier. He took his first letter bag out of the postoffice on October 1, 1887, and he continued distributing mail in the city until September 1, 1890.
On April 20, 1891, Mr. Oswald became associated with Emmett Hutton in the ownership of the American Steam Laundry. This is one of the largest and best equipped laundries in the State of Kansas. Hutton & Oswald have long been recognized as among the most enterprising and progressive forces in the commercial and industrial life of the city. After ten other firms had unsuccessfully attempted to establish steam laundries, Mr. Oswald and Mr. Hutton took hold of the situation, adopted businesslike methods, inaugurated a strictly up to date system in the operation of their plant and succeeded from the very start. They began in a comparatively small way, but soon had to enlarge their facilities owing to the demands of a growing business. The American Steam Laundry now occupies more than ten times the floor space it occupied when its present proprietors took hold twenty-six years ago. It does a general laundry business and also had a complete equipment for dry cleaning. About a hundred and twenty-five persons are on its payroll and agencies are maintained in more than a hundred and fifty towns throughout Kansas and Oklahoma. Since 1895 Hutton & Oswald have been members of the National Laundrymen’s Association and since July, 1913, members of the National Association of Dry Cleaners. For years they have taken a prominent part in the affairs of the Kansas State Laundrymen’s Association, of which Mr. Oswald had served as president. These business partners are also partners in the ownership of a large amount of land in Reno County, having a half section in Grant Township and a half section in Medora Township. As farmers they raise alfalfa, fruit and cattle.
Mr. Oswald grew up in the atmosphere of the democratic party and had for a number of years exercised more than an ordinary influence in the politics of his section of the state. For four years he was a member of the Hutchinson City Council. When Hutchinson adopted the commission form of government he was elected one of the first commission of three in April, 1909, serving until May, 1911, as commissioner of public utilities and streets. Mr. Oswald attended the Democratic National Convention of 1904 as a delegate from this district. He is a Knight Templar and thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, having affiliations with the Lodge, Chapter, Council and Commandery at Hutchinson and Wichita Consistory. He is also a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. It was in appreciation of his business standing and success that the Hutchinson Commercial Club honored him and honored itself by choosing him as its president.
May 24, 1896, in Troy Township of Reno County, Mr. Oswald married Miss Myrtle Lewis, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S. C. Lewis. They have two bright and enterprising young sons, Anthony L., born December 9, 1898, and C. Wallace, born April 11, 1900. Both the sons have received a high school training. The Oswald family occupy a handsome home at 301 Ninth Avenue, West, and have lived in that portion of the city for many years.