Prominent among the leading citizens and influential politicians of Antrim county is the gentleman whose name furnishes the caption of this sketch and who at the present time holds one of the most responsible and exacting* positions within the gift of the people. Charles S. Gabrion is a native of Lewis county, New York, where his birth occurred on the 18th of February, 1854, being the son of Gilbert G. and Sarah Gabrion, both of whom were born and reared in the Empire state. The father, who served in the great rebellion as a member of the Fourteenth New York Heavy Artillery, moved his family to Clinton county, Michigan, in about the year 1866 and after residing in that part of the state for five years changed his abode to the county of Gratiot where he made his home until removing to Antrim county in the fall of 1884. He lived for some time in the village of Elmira and from there went to Bellaire, where he spent the remainder of his life, dying on the 20th day of January, 1903, at the age of seventy years.
Charles S. Gabrion spent his childhood in the state of his birth and when a youth of twelve accompanied his parents to Michigan, of which state he has since been an honored resident. He enjoyed the advantages of a common school education and at the early age of fourteen took up the trade of carpentry, in which he soon acquired great efficiency and which he followed while living at home until his twenty-first year. On attaining his majority he left the family fireside and started out to make his own way, being well prepared for the struggle by reason of his skill as a carpenter and builder.
After working at his trade in various parts of the country until the fall of 1884, Mr. Gabrion located at Elmira, where he lived during the ensuing twelve years, dividing his attention the meanwhile between carpentry and agricultural pursuits, both of which he prosecuted with encouraging success. From an early age Mr. Gabrion manifested a lively interest in public and political questions and while still a young man he became quite an influential factor in the affairs of the town in which he lived. He served at different times in minor local affairs, such as the board of health and the board of review, etc., but it was not until 1902 that he permitted his name to go before the people as a candidate for a public position of any special importance. Meantime he continued more and more to become one of the influential Republican leaders in Antrim county and it was in recognition of his valuable services to the party as well as on account of his peculiar fitness for the position, that he was nominated in the above year for the office of sheriff. After being honored with the nomination, Mr. Gabrion entered with might and main into the canvass, during which he visited all parts of the county, making friends and winning votes wherever he went, the result being his triumphant election by a large majority over one of the strongest and most popular competitors the opposition could put into the field against him. Since taking charge of the office of sheriff Mr. Gabrion has fully justified the high expectations of his party friends and associates and the people of the county, irrespective of political ties, have unbounded confidence in his ability and integrity as a faithful and fearless public servant. Knowing neither fear nor favor in the discharge of his official functions and making every other consideration subordinate to duty, he has won the high esteem of all classes and conditions within his jurisdiction and today there are few as popular men as he in the county of Antrim, and none that enjoy in a more marked degree the good will of the public.
Fraternally Mr. Gabrion is identified with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Knights of the Maccabees brotherhoods, belonging to Elmira Lodge, No. 166, of the former, in which he has passed all the chairs, holding at this time the title of past grand. He is also an active worker in the Knights of the Maccabees and has been an active leader in Tent No. 680 ever since its organization. He is also a member of the Free and Accepted Masons.
The domestic chapter in the life of Mr. Gabrion bears date of 1883, on May nth of which year he was united in marriage with Mrs. Nina (Snyder) Smith, of Kendallville, Indiana, the union being blessed with three children, Grace, Verne and Terrence, who with their parents constitute a mutually happy and contented home circle.
Mr. Gabrion’s social standing, with that of his wife, is with the most intelligent and refined people of the place in which he resides, both being highly respected for their many amiable qualities, also for the interest they have ever manifested in promoting the welfare of those with whom they have been accustomed to mingle. They have many warm personal friends and since taking up their residence in the county seat their home has become a popular resort for the best society circles of the town.
Source: Biographical history of northern Michigan containing biographies of prominent citizens; Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, 1905.