Charles W. Netherwood

CHARLES W. NETHERWOOD, Postmaster of Oregon; born in the town of Watervliet, Albany Co., N.Y., Jan. 14, 1843; three years of his early life were spent in a woolen factory; he came to Wisconsin in 1856, with his parents, Joseph and Emma Netherwood, who settled on a farm in the south part of the town of Oregon, where he took his early lessons in Western life at driving cattle.

Charles NetherwoodEnlisted in the 23rd W. V. I. Co. E, in August, 1862; did good service in Kentucky; at Memphis, Arkansas Post, and the first attack on Vicksburg, and later in the desperate battles preceding the first investment; at the battle of Baker’s Creek, Mr. N. was knocked senseless by a piece of iron thrown from an exploding shell, and was thought dead by his comrades; was at the extreme front at the battle of Black River Bridge, though a non-combatant; he did recover in time to participate in the bloody assault of May 22, 1863, on the works defending Vicksburg, receiving a rebel ball though the lower part of his face rendering necessary the removal at different times of all the lower jaw-bone on that side; his torment was extreme, as eating was out of the question, his experience as a Dr. Tanner lasting a week after the final operation.

He was honorably discharged in December, 1863; returned to Wisconsin; attended school for a time; tried farming, clerking, making and peddling brooms in company with M. W. Green, but was foiled in all by ill health; he is on the list of permanent pensioners, receiving $18 per month; his first wife, Eva Bedford, died in 1867.

In the fall of 1868, he married Mrs. Lucy H. Gilbert, a native of New York; her former husband Thomas Gilbert, a Sergeant in the 8th W. V. I was killed on almost the last battle of the war at Mobile, after serving through the war; he left a daughter, Addie. Mr. and Mrs. Netherwood have four children-Harry, Eva, Lucy and Pearl, all born in Oregon. Mr. N. is now Secretary of Oregon Lodge A., F. & A. M., of which he was Master four years.

Ref. 1880 History of Dane County, Wisconsin, p. 1245-46.


Another Grand Old Man of Oregon whose early years were years of service in and through our Church, is Charles W. Netherwood. For many years following his discharge from the Civil war, the records of our Church contain his name as serving in many capacities. Then his sojourn to Washington, D.C. interrupted his regular duties here. In later years his affliction of deafness further removed him from church and public life, though his heart is still warmed by his past happy associations. At the present writing, Mr. Netherwood has passed his 94th birthday anniversary, (January 14), and is the oldest living Mason in Wisconsin, having joined the fraternity immediately upon reaching his 21st birthday, which gives him 73 years of outstanding Masonic life.

Ref Methodist Church History notes


Mr. Netherwood was born in Waterveliet Center, New York on January 14, 1843.  He was the son of Joseph and Emma Netherwood who were born in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England.  The family moved to Wisconsin and settled in Oregon in 1856.
He was educated in an Episcopal Church private school in Troy, New York, and at a district school in Oregon and in the old Evansville Seminary.

Mr. Netherwood held many responsible town and county positions.  He was clerk in the United States Senate, chairman of the board of supervisors of Dane county, village president for a number of years, town treasurer for several years, member of the Oregon Board of Education, and postmaster of the village.  He was also an active booster for Robert M. LaFollette, Sr. and helped campaign for him when he ran for district attorney and governor.

Netherwood gained the most fame as a Civil war veteran.  He enrolled as a private in Co. E 23rd Infantry, Wisconsin, in August of 1862.  In January of 1863 he was made a corporal.  He was severely injured at Champions Hill on May 16, 1863, and later was totally disabled in the assault on Vicksburg, May 22, 1863.

His neatly dressed figure and white bead was a familiar sight to every man, woman and child in this village.  The children going home from school would stop and talk to this kindly man.

Well Known Men of the Community. In Souvenir of Oregon Centennial, Supplement to the OREGON OBSERVER, June 26, 1941, p. 33.


CHARLES WILLIAM NETHERWOOD of Wisconsin, USA, (not the same Charles William who appears on the home page) was a well-known Civil War veteran, pioneer political progressive and a prohibitionist. He was also known locally as a hiker, celebrating his 90th birthday by walking 14 miles from his home in Dane Co. to the capital city of Madison.

Born in Watervliet, New York, 14 January 1843, he was the first child of Joseph and Emma (Barraclough) Netherwood of Fixby, West Riding of Yorkshire, England, who came to America after their marriage in March 1842. Joseph, a woollen spinner, readily found employment in the expanding textile industry of New Charles William NetherwoodYork State but eventually took his family “out West” to Wisconsin. There he bought land from which he created one of Dane County’s finest farms. “Charley” attended school at intervals from work on the farm.

In August 1862 Charley enlisted in the 23rd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, serving in several states including Mississippi where he took part in the Vicksburg campaign. There at Champion’s Hill on May 16, 1863, he was wounded by cannon shot which paralyzed him completely. Able to hear perfectly but unable to feel anything, he lay helpless while his companions and commander expressed their regrets and crossed his arms over his chest in anticipation of the burial squad. “I was frantic,” he later said. “I could not even move an eyelid to show them I was alive…for an hour and a half I lay there expecting to be buried alive. Then suddenly I felt one finger. The rest of my body was completely numb. I began wiggling this finger and one of my comrades who had come to take another farewell look at me saw it move. ‘Migod,’ he yelled, ‘Charley’s alive.'”

Charley remained with his Company although unable to fight. Within a few weeks he was wounded in the shoulder and jaw by gunfire and taken to a Memphis hospital. Part of his lower jaw was amputated and he was eventually sent home.

As a civilian he attended a commercial college and attempted several professions, including broom-making, but his disabled arm and poor health interfered. Then in 1869 he received a commission as postmaster for the town of Oregon and kept that position until 1893. He became president of Oregon Manufacturing Company and builder and owner of the main business block, which included a prominent structure called Netherwood’s Hall.

He also served many terms as town treasurer and president and represented the town on the county board of supervisors. A teetotaller even in his younger days, he was instrumental in getting early legislation passed curtailing the sale of liquor. He was credited with starting Wisconsin Senator Robert LaFollette on his distinguished career by urging him to run for Dane Co. district attorney. Many years later, in recognition of his early adherence to progressive principles, he was given the honor of escorting Phillip LaFollette, the senator’s son and governor-elect of Wisconsin, to his 1935 inaugural.

In 1937, at age 94, he was initiated into the Shriners, having been a Mason 73 years. That same year he was made custodian of the Grand Army of the Republic’s Memorial Hall at the state capitol. He died a year later, 4 Jul 1938, and is buried in Prairie Mound Cemetery, Oregon, Wisconsin. Charles Netherwood was a member of the Methodist church. He married three times, in 1866 to Eva Bedford who died only a year later, second to Lucy H. Gilbert nee Sayles, a widow with daughter Ada, and in 1922 to Mary Clementine Willoughby Breylinger, also a widow. He and Lucy had six children: Harry, Eva, Lucy, Pearl, Bertha and Perry.

Ref. Netherwood One-Name Study
http://www.netherwood.name/biographies.htm


Charles W. Netherwood, who has been president of the village of Oregon continuously since 1885, excepting three years, and who has also filled the position of postmaster at that place, is a prominent Republican and a highly respected citizen of Dane county, and was born at Watervliet, N.Y., on January 14, 1843. He is the son of Joseph Netherwood, who was born at Huddersfield, England, in February, 1817, where he grew up to the trade of a woolen manufacturer, becoming proficient in all its branches.

He married Emma Barraclough, who was born in the place of his nativity and who was his traveling companion when he crossed the ocean in 1842, and settled near Albany, N.Y. Employment was found by him in various mills along the Hudson, but chiefly at Troy. His skill was frequently called into action to get new mills into operation, there being but few of them when he first arrived. The great west attracted him and taking his family he proceeded by way of the lakes to Detroit, thence by rail to Chicago and to Footville, Wis., and to Dane county by team.

Here he bought eighty acres in the north half of the northwest quarter of section 34, in the town of Oregon, adding forty acres adjoining, later. By industry he improved it into one of the finest farms in the county and sold it at a good price in 1883, when he removed to the village of Oregon, at which place he died April 16, 1894. His worthy and beloved helpmate died in 1885, aged sixty-nine years. Coming to the United States a very poor man, by hard work he amassed a competency. He was made a citizen at Troy, N.Y., and at once allied himself with the Whig party, being loyal to it as long as that party had had an existence, transferring his allegiance to the Republican party at the birth of the latter. In no sense a seeker after public office, he had, none the less, an active interest in the party’s success, doing all in his power to achieve that end.

Just as earnest was he in his Christian life and work, being a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal church. Six children came to bless his home, viz.: Edwin, a resident of Denver, Col.; Eliza, wife of J.H. Martin, of Chicago; Emma, a long-time teacher in Dane county; Ada, wife of J.H. Richards, of Brooklyn; Charles W., who is the subject of this review, and two others who died in infancy. Our subject attended such parish schools as the country afforded in his youth, until he was ten years old, and then went into a factory, subsequently attending one term in a parish school; and this is all the education he received in the state of New York.

After coming west he managed to go to school in the intervals of farm work. He was moved by patriotism and enlisted as a private in Company E, Twenty-third Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, the date of his enlistment being August 5, 1862. His regiment went from Camp Randall to Cincinnati, to protect that city from the threatened attack of Kirby Smith; saw service in Kentucky; joined Sherman at Memphis and was attached to Gen. A.J. Smith’s division of the Thirteenth Army Corps and made a great march on Christmas day, 1862. His regiment wintered at Young’s Point, where disease made great ravages, only two hundred and fifty of the entire regiment being able to carry muskets, the remainder being ill or wounded. Breaking camp in the spring of 1863 the regiment went to Vicksburg, taking part in that memorable campaign and participating in all the battles, including Champion’s Hill. In that fight Mr. Netherwood was picked up for dead after being struck by a piece of iron fired from a cannon. The commander of the battery informed him after the war that he had loaded his guns with bits of locomotive, broken up for the purpose. He did not, however, go to the hospital, and was present at the battle of Black River Bridge, although not able to fight. Misfortunes do not come singly.

On May 22 he was twice wounded with gunshots, one in the lower jaw and the other in the shoulder; was taken to the field hospital, and on June 4 was sent to Memphis, where a portion of the lower jaw was removed, and he was sent home on a furlough in September. A surgeon at Memphis told him he could never do service again; but after reaching home a surgeon from Camp Randall ordered him to the front. He was not permitted to remain long, however, the surgeons in active work soon procuring his discharge, and he was mustered out with the rank of corporal on November 21, 1863.

After the war he attended a commercial college at Madison; then was clerk in a store at Edgerton one year; later tried farming unsuccessfully, not having the necessary physical strength, and he returned to clerking, at Oregon. An attempt at broom-making was a failure, his poor health and disabled arm preventing his success, after which he went south and obtained a position as second clerk on a steamer; but being unable to perform the duties of that position, on account of physical disability, he was compelled to resign and return home, when he was commissioned postmaster at Oregon, a position he held continuously from 1869 to 1894, with the exception of about nine months in the later part of the first administration of Cleveland.

Our subject has been twice married; first to Eva Bedford, in 1866, she being the daughter of William and Edna E. Bedford, and was born December 25, 1846, dying at Oregon Wis., October 28, 1867, childless. His second wife was Mrs. Lucy H. Gilbert, daughter of Mordecai and Lucy P. Sayles, born January 29, 1841, and the name of her first husband was Thomas Gilbert. To her and Mr. Netherwood have been born six children, namely: Harry, born October 18, 1870, a bookkeeper in the Madison Democrat office; Eva, Lucy, Pearl, Bertha and Perry. Mrs. Netherwood has by her first marriage one child, Ada, the wife of A.U. Marvin, of Nekoosa, Wis.

The political faith of our subject is strongly Republican, and he has been prominent in public affairs for forty years; was town treasurer four terms; and was supervisor of the village on the county board for over twenty years. In the Masonic order he belongs to the Blue Lodge, the Royal Arch Chapter, and the Madison Commandery, having been master of the first for a long time; and the G.A.R., being present commander of O.E. Rice post, No. 121.

1906 History of Dane County Wisconsin, pp. 657 – 659

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