Charles E. Storrs

Charles E. Storrs was born September 3, 1833 in Moriah, Essex County, New York. His parents were Elijah Storrs and Julia Holcomb, and he was the ninth child of ten and the youngest to survive to adulthood.

His parents moved from Essex County about six months after Charles' birth to Ohio where he was raised and educated.

Shortly after his 21st birthday, Charles married Maria Van Noate, the daughter of William and Artless (Wooley) Van Noate of Independence.

Charles brothers Carleton, Wales, and Clark had moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan and were engaged in the lumber business, so Maria and Charles moved north and spent the winter of 1854-1855 there. Shortly after that, they moved to Clinton County, Iowa where Charles engaged in farming. The lure of family and lumbering must have appealed more and by 1858, Charles, Maria, little Alice ("Allie") and baby Frank, moved back to Grand Rapids.

With tensions rising between North and South, Charles who temperamentally was inclined to action may have anticipated a conflict and simply wanted to move his family closer to the family group rather than leave the relatively fragile Maria to fend for her self with babies to care for. In any event, the 1860 census for Blendon, Ottawa County, shows the Charles Storrs family living close by his parents and sibs with their families.

Civil War Years

Charles enjoyed action and certainly must have enjoyed the military. He enlisted as a supernumerary lieutenant in 1862 and rose to the rank of major by the end of the war. As a cavalryman in the Michigan 6th, he was in his element. He was involved in more than 45 engagements including Gettysburg. Laid low for several months after being shot in the left shoulder by a minie-ball at Newby's Crossroads, he rejoined his unit and continued to march. His war experience, as well as civic participation, was celebrated on the front page of the Michigan Chronicle in 1902.

In April 1865, he was present when Lee offered the first flag of truce to Custer, who seemed inclined to fight anyway. Dissuaded from a "useless slaughter" by Lee's men, Custer finally halted and "word passed along the line that Lee wanted to surrender. Such cheering I never heard." (Full text of letter)

Though the war was ended, it was October before he was mustered out at Leavenworth, Kansas. The family tale was that he was ready to go West with Custer, as part of the newly formed 7th Cavalry, but caught typhoid and so was left behind.

Family Life

The marriage between Charles and Maria was a happy one. They had three children, Alice, Frank, and Margaret. Charles was resourceful and energetic and so was able to provide a comfortable home for his brood as well as engage in a range of professional and civic activities.

Maria was not a robust woman and seemed to be of a delicate constitution. She was passionately in love with Charles, which never changed until her death in 1882.

Charles and Frank purchased a vineyard and for many years produced raisins and other crops. In the 1890s they erected a number of greenhouses and grew lettuce and other tender vegetables.

An avid horseman, Charles shared his love of horses with his oldest daughter Allie.

After Maria's death, Charles remarried a widow named Rachel Farmer. Rachel was a lovely woman and accepted whole heartedly into the Storrs clan.

Life and Times

In 1893, his life and times were detailed in the Portraits and Biographical Record of Muskegon and Ottawa Counties.

He lived a full, productive life and died at 80 after suffering a stroke on a business trip. His obituary wraps up the high points in his life.

Updated January 17, 2006

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