BIOGRAPHY - Charles Bogardus

COL. CHARLES BOGARDUS. To applaud worthy achievements is an instinct of human nature, and when noble results have been accomplished by one's own efforts, thrice deserving is he of praise. All delight to pay tribute to a self-made man, one who, despite great disadvantages, has achieved distinction. Such a one is the well-known gentleman whose name heads this memoir.

The progenitor of the different branches of the Bogardus family in America was Everardus Bogardus, a Dutch Reform clergyman, who emigrated from Holland to New Amsterdam (now New York City) in 1633 and was the second minister in that city, residing on what is now Broad Street. In 1638, he married Annetje, widow of Roelof Jansen, who had obtained a grant of sixty-two acres of land in what is now the center of New York City. This farm, long known as "Dominie's Bowery," in time became vested in Trinity Church by unfair means and has caused continuous litigation since. He is the only one of the name that has come to this country.

Col. Bogardus is a lineal descendant of the above gentleman and is a son of James H. and Louisa Bogardus. He was born in Cayuga County, N.Y., March 28, 1841, and when only six years of age was left an orphan, both parents being taken away by an epidemic. He was taken by an uncle, W. H. Bogardus, who gave him common-school advantages until he was some twelve years of age, at which time young Charles entered a grocery store as clerk, at a salary of $1.50 per week, his kind uncle furnishing him both board and clothes. This position he held for four years, receiving increase in salary from time to time. His earnings were paid every Saturday night to the uncle, who, without the boy's knowledge, invested the same for him, and subsequently offered to turn all over to him, notwithstanding his uncle was a poor man. But the boy, although only eighteen years of age, declined the offer and the money with thanks.

Borrowing means, he went to Ridgeway, N. Y., to accept a clerkship in the store of another uncle at $8 per month. In this position, he served until 1862, getting a yearly increase of salary. On the 13th of August, 1862, Col. Bogardus, having just attained his majority, enlisted for the war in Company A, One Hundred and Fifty-first New York Infantry. But before going to the field, as was not uncommon with the boys who feared some others might woo and win their sweethearts during their absence, he married, August 17, 1862, Miss Hannah W., daughter of William H. Pells, whose sketch is found on another page of this work. It is difficult to comprehend just how much sacrifice and courage is necessary to leave a young wife and face an armed foe. On the organization of the company, Col. Bogardus was elected First Lieutenant; was promoted to be Captain of Company I, December 12, 1862; to Lieutenant-Colonel December 10, 1864; and was breveted Colonel by order of the President of the United States "'for gallant and meritorious services in the charge in front of Petersburg, Va., April 2, 1865." The letter from the Governor of New York accompanying the commission states the reason for granting the commission, and is here given:

"Colonel, I have the pleasure to transmit herewith a brevet commission conferred by the President, in recognition of your faithful and distinguished services in the war. I feel a just pride in this acknowledgment of the gallantry and devotion of an officer of this State, which serves to heighten the reputation won by the valor and constancy of the soldiers of New York.
"Very truly yours,
"R. E. Fenton."

The principal battles in which Col. Bogardus took part were the following: Mouocacy, Md., an engagement comparatively insignificant in itself, was important in its results. Three thousand Union troops, by the skillful management of Gen. Lew Wallace, held in check nearly six times their number for twenty-four hours, thus giving Gen. Grant barely time to bring up the First and Second Divisions of the Sixth Army Corps, as the Confederate Gen. Early appeared in front of the outer defenses of Washington. Had that heroic little band of boys in blue given way, the Capitol City must have fallen a prey to the enemy. In the battle of the Wilderness, the corps to which Col. Bogardus belonged was on the extreme right, and all well remember what a desperate effort Lee made to crush that part of Grant's army. The battle of Spottsylvania; Tolopotomoy; Cold Harbor, in which the One Hundred and Fifty-first lost five captains; Petersburg, Sailor Creek, and Lee's surrender will ever be remembered as experiences in our subject's army life. At the battle of Monocacy, July 9, 1864, Col. Bogardus was so severely wounded that he could not endure to be transferred by ambulance, hence was carried three miles on a stretcher to the Confederate hospital at Frederick City, Md. Had his injuries been less, he would have been sent to Richmond or to Libby Prison. Frederick City soon fell into the hands of the Union troops, and he was transferred, about three months after, when able to travel, to the officers' hospital at Annapolis, Md., where he regained his strength sufficiently to come home on crutches and cast his first Presidential vote for Lincoln. As soon as he could get about by the use of a cane, he returned to his command and served until he was mustered out, June 26, 1865.

The wonderful transforming power of ideas on the lives and actions of men is strikingly illustrated in the case of Col. Bogardus and his paternal grandfather. The latter owned and worked slaves in New York State before they were manumitted — the former risked his own life for their freedom, and to-day the negro accounts the Colonel one of his warmest friends.

Unlike some old soldiers, when the war was over Col. Bogardus laid aside his trusted blade to rust under the gently distilled dews of peace. Returning to Ridgeway, N. Y., he became a partner of his old employer in the mercantile business, continuing until failing health, the effect of his wound, compelled him to retire from trade. In March, 1872, he became a resident of Paxton, and with its best interests, as well as those of the surrounding country, has been prominently identified since. The varied and extensive business interests he successfully conducts prove him to be a man of broad comprehension and of fine executive ability. Besides doing a large real-estate and loan business, he is extensively interested in stock-raising and farming, owning several thousand acres of line farming land in Illinois. Of the Ninth Congressional District Farmers' Institute, he has been President since its organization, it having grown to be one of the largest in the State. To home industries, he also gives his time and encouragement. He was one of the organizers of the Paxton Brick and Tile Company, of which he is a director and part owner; is a partner in the Paxton Canning Company, one of the most substantial concerns of the kind in the State; one of the incorporators of the Paxton Building, Loan and Savings Association, of which he has been President since its inception, or for a period of ten years.

In political affairs. Col. Bogardus has taken no inconsiderable part. He has served two terms, 1884 to 1888, in the Lower House of the State Legislature, and at the close of his second term as Representative, he was elected, in 1888, State Senator from the Eighteenth Senatorial District, making eight consecutive years that he has been a member of the Legislature, and has been unanimously endorsed by the counties of his District for renomination by the Republican party as their candidate for the State Senate. Among the important bills lie was instrumental in passing, two should be mentioned: one compelling instruction, in the public schools, in physiology and hygiene, with reference to the effects of alcoholic beverages, stimulants and narcotics on the human system; and the other regulating the weight of flour and corn meal, compelling full weights under severe penalties. In the Thirty-fourth General Assembly, he was one of the Republican members who in that memorable Senatorial contest, which lasted four months, succeeded in electing Gen. John A. Logan to the Senate of the United States. Subsequently, the one hundred and three Republicans who stood so firmly by the General organized themselves into a society called the "Logan 103," of which Col. Bogardus was Secretary and Treasurer from its organization until the last meeting, when he declined to serve longer. In the Thirty-fifth General Assembly, he was unanimously chosen Chairman of the Republican House caucus for the session. At each session, he was appointed on some of the most important committees, and held several important chairmanships.

For years, Col. Bogardus has taken an active interest in the State militia with a desire to put the four thousand Illinois troops in the highest state of efficiency. For four years, be held the position of Colonel and A. D. C, on the staff of Gov. Oglesby, and is now holding the same position under Gov. Fifer.

To the affairs of Paxton he has given attention, having been six years a member of the Council, and eight years a member of the School Board, of which he was President a part of that time, and a Trustee of Paxton Collegiate Institute since its organization.

Socially, he is a Knight Templar Mason and Past Commander of Paxton Post No. 387, G. A. R.

Col. Bogardus has but one living child, Mariah, wife of Oscar R. Zip, an attorney of Salt Lake City.

In the support of church and charities, Col. Bogardus is liberal, giving where it is most needed, rather than where it would bring popularity.

Mrs. Bogardus, who also owns extensive real estate interests, is a woman of broad charity and is a zealous church worker, as is also the daughter, who is gratefully remembered by the people of Paxton for her devout life and for her exceptional business ability.

Col. Bogardus is thoroughly American and has always been in sympathetic touch with the laboring man. It is difficult to estimate the true worth of a man like Col. Bogardus to any community. Possessed of superior mental powers, trained to think and act with coolness in the heat of battle and in the perplexities of business affairs, able and willing to assist in every public benefaction or private charity, just and honorable in his dealings with his fellow-men, he stands without a peer in this part of the State.

Extracted 28 Mar 2020 by Norma Hass from Portrait and Biographical Record of Ford County, Illinois, published in 1892, pages 271-273.

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