Biography of Charles Starkwether Kimberly

Charles Starkweather Kimberly, born on December 23, 1826, in Warsaw, New York, played a notable role in Michigan’s early timber and land businesses. His father, Ebenezer C. Kimberly, settled in Shiawassee County after investing in timber land. Charles joined his father in Michigan before he turned twenty and took over his father’s responsibilities after his passing in 1856. Charles was influential in timber land transactions and development in Saginaw County, founding the village of St. Charles. He also ran a general store to serve local settlers, shipping goods by boat and later by rail. Charles married Susan Elise Naglee in 1870, had two children, and passed away on December 18, 1875. His widow, Susan, later married Benton Hanchett and died in 1915.

Charles Starkwether Kimberly was born at Warsaw, New York, December 23, 1826. His parents were Ebenezer Cary Kimberly, who was born October 9, 1797, at Mansfield, Connecticut, and Corintha Smith Kimberly, born November 12, 1803, at Caledonia, New York. The father came to Michigan as early as 1835, and invested in timber land on the then far western frontier. Four years later he removed permanently from Batavia, New York, and settled in Shiawassee County.

His father, Ebenezer C. Kimberly, “was inseparably linked with the land and timber investments in the county and elsewhere,” and was the personal representative in Michigan of Trumbull Cary of Buffalo, New York, managing his extensive timber possessions in which he himself owned a part interest. The duties of this office in the forest wilderness during that formative period were ably performed, and after his death at Corunna July 8, 1856, the responsibilities were assumed in like manner by the son, Charles S. Kimberly. He had come to Michigan before he was twenty years of age, and settled first in Caledonia, Shiawassee County, on the present site of Corunna, where he lived with his parents. An examination of the records of Shiawassee and Saginaw counties show that the interests of both father and son were active and extensive in timber and land transactions.

As early as 1852 Charles S. Kimberly became largely interested in timber land in St. Charles, Brant, Marion and surrounding townships in Saginaw County, although he did not change his residence from Corunna to St. Charles until 1863. The original proprietors of the plat of St. Charles were Charles H. Carroll, William L. P. Little and Charles S. Kimberly; and in 1857, when the survey of the village was made, a meeting was held and the Christian name of Mr. Kimberly was adopted as the name of the village, and it was called St. Charles. The first frame building at this site was erected by Mr. Kimberly, and a few years later he erected a sawmill on the Bad River at St. Charles.

In connection with his timber and lumbering activities, Mr. Kimberly carried on a general mercantile business to supply the needs of the settlers in the new country. The merchandise was purchased, in part, from New York, Buffalo and Saginaw merchants, and had to be shipped from Saginaw in boats until the opening of the Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Railroad, in 1866. As St. Charles was at the head of navigation of the Bad River, the goods and supplies were then delivered by teams to Corunna, Owosso and neighboring settlements and camps.

In 1868 Mr. Kimberly removed with his mother to Saginaw City, and built a residence at the corner of Court and Granger Streets, of the famous “Michigan Cork Pine,” and it is still occupied. His mother died at Saginaw July 13, 1879, in her seventy-sixth year.

On November 1, 1870, he was married at Greenwood, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, to Miss Susan Elise Naglee whom he had met at the home in Saginaw of her sister, Mrs. Benjamin Geer, who came to Michigan from Pennsylvania in 1863. Two children were born to them, Meta Delphine, who was married November 7, 1898, to Harrison Musgrave of Chicago, where they have since lived, and Samuel C. N. Kimberly of this city.

Mr. Charles S. Kimberly died in the prime of life in his forty-ninth year, on December 18, 1875, and in the midst of an industrious and successful career. From his youth his business associates and friends were those of the prominent men of the time, and of his personal friends in Saginaw who are still living may be mentioned Benton Planchett, Fred H. Potter, Edward W. Morley and John Moore. Educated in the schools of New York State before coming West, Mr. Kimberly started with the earliest pioneers in the section which he located, and imbued with an earnest desire to progress he developed a large and successful business by industry and integrity of character.

On June 21, 1881, Mrs. Kimberly was married to Benton Hanchett, to whom was born one daughter, now Mrs. Richard F. Grant, of Cleveland. Mrs. Hanchett died July 27, 1915.


Mills, James Cooke, History of Saginaw County, Michigan; historical, commercial, biographical, Saginaw, Michigan : Seemann & Peters, 1918.

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