Biography of Charles Henry Tower

Famous in the annals of American history is the long-established family of Charles Henry Tower, for its representatives helped establish and build up the New England colonies, were always ready to fight for freedom and justice, and participated in the early French, the Revolutionary, and the Civil Wars. Moreover, these men of fine old stock, sturdy and hardworking, were in the habit of using their hands in some trade or occupation of immediate benefit to the community. These traits came down from his forebears to Charles Henry Tower, who in his eighty-nine years and until retirement, was in some way connected with the tinning and plubing trade. The Tower family in America was established by John Tower, born in Hingham, England, in 1609, who came to this country in 1637, and settled in Hingham, Massachusetts, where he died February 13, 1701-02, at the age of ninety-two years and nine months. He married Margaret Brook, February 13, 1638-39, in Charlestown, Massachusetts. The great-grandfather of Charles Henry Tower, Cornelius Tower, was born February 5, 1701-02. He served in the old French war in the regiment of Colonel Thomas Clapp, and in Captain Josiah Thatcher’s company. In 1759 he was in Halifa1. Cornelius Tower married Hannah Higgins, publishing his intentions April 1, 1732.

Their son, Isaac Tower, grandfather of the subject of this record, was born in Cohasset. Massachusetts, May 20, 1744, and died in Chesterfield, Massachusetts, March 7, 1826. He served in the American Revolution as sergeant in Captain Obadiah Beal’s Company, at Dorchester, on March 4, 1776, and previously served in the company of Captain Job Cushing, in Colonel Greaton’s regiment. In times of peace he was a substantial farmer. Isaac Tower married, January 9, 1770, Mary Sprague, who was born in Hingham, June 14, 1752, and died in Chesterfield, April 27, 1826. To them were born sixteen children, among them was Elijah Tower, whose birth occurred in Chesterfield, May 22, 1787. He was a farmer and was also trained to the trade of masonry, which he followed in combination with farming. He married. February 14, 1827, in Chesterfield, Elvira Russell, born November 30, 1792, daughter of Solomon and Sarah (Brown) Russell. Children: Lucy Sprague, born November 8, 1827; Charles Henry, born August 23, 1829; Harvey Russell, born October 1g, 1831; and Lucy Elvira, born December 21, 1833.

Charles Henry Tower, son of Elijah and Elvira (Russell) Tower, was born in Chesterfield, Massachusetts, August 23, 1829, as above noted. He was educated in the district schools of Chesterfield and learned the trade of tinsmith and copper worker in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, when he was some twenty years of age, being thus occupied from 1848 to 1851. The next two years found him working at his trade in Richmond, Virginia, to which he returned, after a four year interval. in 1856, to continue until 1861. Meantime he had joined the Richmond Light Infantry Blues in August, 1859. When the Civil War began, he enlisted in Company A, 46th Virginia Infantry, Confederate Army, and fought throughout the war. Wounded in the head at Hatcher’s Run, March 29, 1865, he was in a Richmond hospital until he obtained his parole, May 10, 1865.

These varied experiences might be said to have brought Mr. Tower to the actual beginning of his business career. He entered the plumbing and tinning business in Holyoke in 1865 as head of the firm of Tower Brothers, operating thus until 1876, and alone from 1876 to 1880. For the next twelve years he was associated with the firm of Phelps and Tower, and from 1892 to 1900 again ran his business alone. From goo until his retirement in May, 1909, Mr. Tower was associated with C. F. Sullivan and Company. Although greatly interested in politics, Mr. Tower was a staunch Democrat and held no public offices. He was very popular, however, as evidenced by his long Masonic association. He joined the Mystic Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in 1854. In Holyoke he was a life member of the Mt. Tom Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons; the Mt. Holyoke Chapter. Royal Arch Masons; Holyoke Council, Royal and Select Masters; Connecticut Valley Lodge, No. 28, Knights of Pythias; and Massasoit Commandery, No. 273, Knights of Malta. Remaining loyal to his interest in the Southern cause, Mr. Tower was a member of the R. E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans, Richmond, Virginia. His club was the Bay State of Holyoke. He attended the Congregational Church. Mr. Tower died in Holyoke, November 18, 1918, and was interred in Forestdale Cemetery.

Charles Henry Tower married, in Holyoke, December 29, 1868, Sarah Young, born May 11, 1844, in Huntington, Massachusetts, daughter of James and Agnes (Allen) Young. Her father studied for the ministry in Scotland, but abandoned that pursuit and migrated to America about 1836, and was here employed in railroad work. Mrs. Tower survives her husband and is still active and alert at the age of eighty-two. To Mr. and Mrs. Tower was born a son, James Wallace Tower, October 4, 1871, in Holyoke, Massachusetts. He was educated in the public schools and adopted the profession of a civil engineer. Mr. Tower practices his profession in New York City, and is also president of the Tower Genealogical Society. He is a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Boston Society of Civil Engineers. He has never married.

Charles Henry Tower was a virile type of man, independent, vigorous in thought and action, and in the habit of making his own decisions. With a genial and kindly nature, he made hosts of friends, and his home life was happy and hospitable.


Lockwood, John H. (John Hoyt); Bagg, Ernest Newton; Carson, Walter S. (Walter Scott); Riley, Herbert E. (Herbert Elihu); Boltwood, Edward; Clark, Will L. (Will Leach); Western Massachusetts A History 1636-1925; New York and Chicago: Lewis historical publishing company, inc., 1926

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