CHARLES HENRY EDMANDS. - Charles Henry Edmands is the oldest merchant in Springfield in years of continuous connection with commercial interests in this city. He is conducting a hardware enterprise that he founded many years ago, and which has grown in extent with the development of the city until he now owns and controls a store in which he carries a very large line of goods. He was born in Charleston, Massachusetts, January 10, 1832. His father, Charles Edmands, was also a native of that city and in early life learned the carpenter's trade. He afterward conducted a store in the east and was married in Massachusetts to Miss Barker. In 1838 he removed to Illinois in company with Captain Caleb Hopkins, Jr., whose wife was a half sister of Mr. Edmands. The two families made their way westward from Massachusetts, traveling by wagon, and eventually reached Quincy, Illinois, where they remained for about two weeks. From there they went to Griggsville, Pike county, where Mr. Edmands and Captain Hopkins erected a windmill on a rise of land in that town. They also conducted a wagon-making and carpenter shop, and they had at that time an incline on the side of the buildings in order that they might pull the wagons up by hand to the repository on the second floor. They remained in Griggsville until 1841, when both removed to Sangamon county, settling in the city of Springfield. While they were living in Griggsville J. S. Barker, an uncle of Mr. Edmands, drove with his wife from Detroit, Michigan, to Pike county, Illinois, making the trip in a covered wagon drawn by one horse. Mr. Barker became captain of a company of militia, in which Caleb Hopkins served as first lieutenant during the Mormon war, their commissions being received from Governor Thomas Ford.
Charles H. Edmands received limited educational privileges as far as attendance at school was concerned, but his mother, who was a very intellectual lady and at one time a leading soprano singer of Boston, instructed him at home. In his boyhood days he was fond of hunting, and because of the pioneer conditions of the state had ample opportunity to indulge his love of this sport. When still but a youth he began learning the gunsmith's and jeweler's trades and became quite proficient along those lines, but the close confinement of the work impaired his health and he abandoned it. Later he was apprenticed to learn the tinner's trade and served for a full term. He afterward worked as a journeyman at the trade for about four years. In 1857 he began business on his own account with a capital of only one hundred and fifty dollars, establishing a small job shop on Fifth street in Springfield, between Adams and Monroe streets. There he remained until 1865, when he removed to a location on Monroe street, between Fifth and Sixth streets. There he at first occupied a dwelling. His friends laughed at him, saying that he could never establish a successful business there, regarding his location as too far from what was then the business center of town, but the investment proved a wise and profitable one, as he today has one of the most valuable blocks in the city of Springfield. There is no merchant here whose connection with the business life of the city antedates his. He at first built a one-story building and afterward erected the back part of his store, while in 1890 he tore down the front part and erected upon the site a three-story pressed brick building. He carries a large stock of stoves, ranges, tinware, hardware, house furnishings and sheet iron and metal specialties and he does all kinds of job work. His patronage ha steadily grown as the city has developed and his business has long since reached profitable proportions. In addition to his store he owns a splendid residence at the southwest corner of Monroe street and Glenwood avenue and other property near the state capitol.
On the 24th of September, 1862, in Springfield, Mr. Edmands was united in marriage to Miss Mary Ellen Cook, who was born and reared in this city, and is a daughter of Captain Eli and Sarah (Jones) Cook, the former a native of Ohio, and the latter of Tennessee. Eight children have been born of this union, but four are now deceased. Those still living are Frederick Eli; George Arthur; C. H., who married Elsie Burgett and is now living in Springfield; and Ethelinda Cutta, who is now the wife of Clifford L. Tipton, of Los Angeles, California.
Mr. Edmands votes with the Republican party when questions of national importance are involved, but locally casts an independent ballot. For five years he was connected with the National Guard of Illinois as commander of the battery under Captain Caleb Hopkins. During a long residence in this city, covering more than sixty years, he has become very widely known and his honorable and upright career has made him one of the most respected and valued residents of Illinois' capital.