52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks: Bearded

Charles Boultinghouse
Charles Amos Boultinghouse

Okay, I agree…Uncle Charlie is not bearded. BUT I have few pictures of my long ago ancestors. He was the only one who sported facial hair so he won the spotlight for this week. Introducing Charles Amos Boultinghouse (1857-1930), my 2nd great uncle.

Uncle Charley lived through changing times from a childhood spent in the shadow of the Civil War…from adolescence spent in migrating from Illinois to the unknown plains of Kansas…from adulthood spent learning to be a fireman in a capital city. Add to that the magic of venturing with friends to the Yukon and the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898.

It has been less than a year since I met Uncle Charley face to face. Before that, he was just a name in the list of children of my 2nd great grandparents. When my cousin Nicky shared the contents of an old family album, Charles appeared. Who was he? Where could I start with knowing him as a person? The 1887 edition of the City Directory told me that he was a fireman in Topeka, Kansas. He was with Engine Company One and rented a room in the city hall. How did you become a firefighter…the rest of his family stayed either in DuPage County, Illinois, or Osborne County, Kansas, where they farmed and homesteaded? His death certificate listed him as “retired fireman”.

He was married for a time to a widow with three living children: Olivia Jones Lodge. According to the 1900 Census, Olive ran a boarding house in downtown Topeka; and Charley was one of her boarders. By 1910, they were married…Olivia lived in the boarding house while Charley lived in a room at the fire station. Another mystery about Uncle Charley and his life appears.

Just this past week, I searched the Kansas State Historical Society for records about Topeka’s fire department.  I hit pay dirt: personnel records for the firefighters are searchable. So…this is where Uncle Charley’s story is leading me now.

Sometimes, the smallest introduction becomes the beginning of another friendship. Here is to you, Uncle Charley.

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