Sunday, April 10, 2011

Charles Lawrence Tobey 1867-1935

Charles Lawrence Tobey, my great grandfather, was born to Christopher & Mary Seyter Tobey in Caton, New York. He worked on his father’s farm until he got married.  He wanted to go into business instead of farming, but according to his daughter, Helen, his father would not pay for him to go to college. Charles paid for his own tuition and graduated from Meeker’s Business Institute, after which he decided to open his own business, a retail footwear store. Once he and Theresa Haselbauer got married he returned to Caton to help on his father’s farm. He absolutely loved his horses. He put a lot of skill and energy into his horses’ stables, even to the point that he put in tongue and groove paneling.

Charles moved to Elmira by 1920, where he was listed in the census as a machinist in an auto factory. The directories of Elmira, show he only lived there for 2 or 3 years before he moved to Interlaken, New York to pick up farming again.  He and Theresa had nine children, seven girls and two boys.  The girls helped on the farm as much as possible, but the heavy work fell to Charles and the boys.
During the depression, Charles became despondent when he lost 5000 baby chicks. His grandson, Bruce, who was living with him during that time recounted, “My Grandfather built a new chicken house and put in 5000 little chickens. Just as they began to get feathers on their wing tips, a deadly intestinal disease called coccidiosus struck. The only less-than-effective treatment was a high nicotine material called Black Flag. My brother and I had to gather dead chickens in 5 gallon pails morning and night until the flock was pretty much gone. It was a morning not long afterward as my brother and I were dressing, we heard my Uncle Ed come crying into the house, running to our Grandmother [Theresa], “Mother , Dad shot himself!” My aunt Theresa had heard the thump of the shotgun during the night but thought it was the downstairs stove.” The destruction of the chickens had been the final straw. He felt he had been ruined and probably didn’t feel as though he could start over yet again.
Charles left a wonderful legacy to his children because he encouraged them to excel in their schoolwork. Helen, his daughter said, “he was a strong advocate for education. He expressed his certainty that the women in our family should be educated to support themselves in case of catastrophe or some untoward happening made it necessary for us to be self-supporting.  He was "before his time", in a manner of speaking!  He was proud of our accomplishments and our scholarship.”  He took in his two grandsons, Gerald and Bruce Hildreth, when their mother was divorced, adding two more mouths to feed.
His wife, Theresa, my great grandmother moved her family to a smaller place after he died and she died just three years later at the age of 63

Front: Marjorie, Helen, Theresa, Catherine
Back: Charles "Tom", Jane, Charles Coon, Jane's Husband, Theresa Rosalia, Charles Lawrence Tobey

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