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Charles L. Poole


Posted By: S. Ferrall - IAGenWeb volunteer
Date: 11/6/2023 at 09:42:57

He is 107 Years Old
Charles L. Poole is Iowa's Oldest Citizen
Neighbors and Friends Celebrated His Natal Day With Him Yesterday - He Took up a Dakota Tree Claim when He Was More Than Ninety Years of Age

(The following article relating to Iowa's centenarian, Mr. Poole, we copy from the 'Chicago Journal' of March 16th. While there is much in the article which has previously been published in our paper, yet there are facts presented herewith which will be anxiously perused by an interested public. And then the likeness of this aged man will add no interest to the article, which was mainly prepared for the JOURNAL by our New Albin Correspondent, Mr. H.H. Larson. - Ed. Mirror}

New Albin, Iowa, March 16 - This town is proud in the possession among its inhabitants of a centenarian, whose interesting life and more interesting personal characteristics have made him a famous person in these parts. Such is the high regard in which he is held here, that yesterday, when Charles L. Poole, passed the 107th mile-stone in his road from the cradle to the grave, the town turned out in a grand celebration of the event, and a reception was tendered him.

It was more than a formal affair, in which perfunctory calls were to be paid some grandee, for every man, woman and child felt that they possessed some right to pay him honor on account of his lovely personality. This is, indeed, true with the mothers of the town, who point to the centenarian as an example to be followed by their children.

Charles L. Poole is best known, of course, on account of his extreme age, and next best known by his correct habits of life. He is very temperate, allowing himself only an occasional glass of beer. He was never known to "treat" nor to accept a glass from any one. To this fact is due the little knowledge the fond mothers have of the occasional glass of beer the old gentleman imbibes.

Whether to his exemplary conduct or to the fact that he feels himself growing younger each year is due the gradual darkening of his hair, none but a scientist can tell; yet his locks which once fell white and straggling over his ears and collar, have taken on a dark hue and grown thicker until they incline to mat and tangle.

He spends his leisure reading the newspapers and studying public affairs, just as it is the duty of men of 30 or 40 years to do and which they very often do as a matter of duty rather than choice; and he often speaks of his intention to visit the World' Fair.

Until the last two or three years he never indulged in the use of a walking-stick, and even now he does it with an apology, as though one were necessary when slippery weather compels him to take that precaution. His general health is good.

It was prior to the great French revolution, before Napoleon Bonaparte had reached the zinth of his fame, when Wellington had only a mediocre reputation in England, that our centenarian was born, as the church records of Congrasbury, Somersetshire, England, will attest, for in them it is shown that Charles L. Poole was born March 15, 1786.

Married once in England and left a widower, Mr. Poole emigrated to the United States and made his home in Kane county, Ill. There he suffered the loss of another, his second wife, leaving by the two, ten children motherless. A third wife was taken into his home, but she died in 1850, when he was 64 years of age.

For the last forty-three years he has been a widower, with his family scattered, which now numbers seven children and sixty-three grandchildren and great grandchildren.

His children are: Charles Poole, oldest son, residing in England; Edw. Poole, whose home is at Devil's Lake, N.D.; Mrs. H.C. Bellows and Mrs. H.H. May of this city, with the latter of whom he resides; Mrs. William Bishop, of San Francisco; Mrs. George N. Milks, of Nebraska, whose address is not known; and Mrs. Frank Burton, of Elgin, Ill., all of whom are quite advanced in years.

After the death of his third wife, Mr. Poole removed to Allamakee county, Ia. and settled on a farm about eight miles out of Lansing, known as May's Prairie, where he entered a tract of land. This was in 1851, when Iowa was a wast of untilled land, and in Iowa, as in Illinois, he must be counted a pioneer of early date.

He has since owned several farms in this county, the last being near this town. And as Mr. Poole was very old even then, the care of the place was left to his son Edward, who being unsuccessful sold in in 1882. The son started for North Dakota, and was soon heard from as having taken up a claim at Fort Totten. Notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Poole was about to turn the century mile stone, he packed up his grip and made his way alone to Dakota. He was well impressed with the region about Devil's Lake and soon settled there, when he entered a timber claim of a quarter section. He erected the necessary buildings, and for a year or more resided there in solitude. In 1883 he made a visit to New Albin, traveling alone.

About this time his right to the timer claim was questioned on account of his absence, and a big law suit ensued. His citizenship was questioned, and this nonogenarian fought the case until his years had reached the century mark, making many trips of 400 to 500 miles alone, searching court records and getting depositions of citizens, hunting others, who, at the age of 70 or 80 years, had passed over to the great majority at what was currently spoken of as "a very ripe age," until victory crowned his efforts.

When the verdict was given in his favor it was the proudest day of the centarian, as he saw in retrospect the really gigantic task he had accomplished over the many risks he had taken. To make more difficult his defense, county records that would have shown his citizenship had been destroyed, and Mr. Poole found himself facing the task of hunting witnesses of a legal fact that dated back nearly half a century. At last, however, his naturalization was established, and with it the right to his timber claim.

To his son Edward was entrusted the sale of this claim, which had become quite valuable, but the centarian was destined to be rendered penniless by his progeny, for Edward Poole did not comply with the requirements of the Federal laws and the estate was lost to him. Since then he has been cared for by his daughter, Mrs. H.H. May, of this town.

For seven years he has taken his familiar chair at the fireside and to a wondering younger generation, not all of whom partake of his blood, for youthful visitors are frequent there, he relates incidents of his childhood and tells very graphically what took place at the beginning of this century. It sounds queer to listeners to hear him refer to some incident in his life as having taken place "just ninety years ago coming June," and have him tell of some sparking exploit or midnight escapade.

Not longer than ten years ago Mr. Poole walked thirty miles in one day, which was probably the longest distance undertaken in his later years. He is however, still a good walker and takes pride in it. With the promise of several years yet, Mr. Poole intends they shall be brightened by a visit to the World's Fair during the coming summer.

~Lansing Mirror, Friday, April 28, 1893, page 1 (included the pen & ink drawing of Mr. Poole)


The death certificate of his daughter Louisa May (born 1839 in England) records her parents as Charles L. Poole and Sarah Edwards. The 1925 Iowa State Census records the parents of Hannah Bellows as Charles Poole & Sarah Edwards. The names of his other 2 wives are unknown.

Charles Poole was originally thought to have been a soldier in the War of 1812, due to a statement in the 1885 obituary of Sophia Crawford Barnes Wood, widow of Isaiah Wood:
"And up to a few months ago another 1812 pensioner, C. L. Poole resided for some years in Iowa township. But he got the Dakota fever, and though over 100 years old it took him off to Creel City, near Devils Lake, where he located a fine and valuable homestead and means to grow up with the country with the rest of the boys." ~FamilySearch.org in the family photos/stories section

A list of (Iowa) pensioners, January 1, 1883 does not include Mr. Poole, although it does list other survivors of the War of 1812. Poole's service in the War of 1812 is doubtful. The compiler of this database can find no service record, bounty land or pension for the War of 1812, however it is possible that he served with the British army.

Charles L. Poole died December 10, 1893 and is buried in the New Albin cemetery.


Allamakee Biographies maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
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