CHARLES LEWIS ADOLPH HEWEL
The career of the subject of this sketch is an illustration of the declaration that faithfulness in a few things makes a man master over many and an exemplification of the value of character in the battle of life. Charles Lewis Adolph Hewel, one of the most prominent citizens of central California and one of the most public-spirited men of Modesto, Stanislaus County, was born in Hanover, Germany, May 9, 1835, a son of Ludwig and Conradine (Korosh) Hewel. His father was an officer in the German army and his mother was a daughter of a Prussian officer who fell at the Battle of Waterloo. His great-grandfather was an officer in the army of Frederick the Great, and through circumstances of which he had no control he was forced into a duel, as a result of which he was forced to leave Prussia and seek refuge in Hanover. From these facts, fragmentary as they are, it will be seen that Judge Hewel is descended in both the paternal and maternal lines from families in which military men were conspicuous. The Hewel’s were Lutherans and the Koroshes were Catholics. Ludwig Hewel was thrown from his horse and killed in the forty-fourth year of his age, in August, 1849. His wife, Conradine, died in her sixty-sixth year and was buried in Modesto, California, while her husband was buried in his native land. They had ten children, and of their four sons Judge Hewel is the oldest and the only survivor.
Judge Hewel was educated in his native city of Hanover and was fourteen years old when his father died. Not long after that event he went to sea and during the succeeding three years he visited many parts of the world. In 1851, when he was sixteen years old, he shipped at New York for California, and making the passage around the Horn, land at San Francisco July 5, 1852. From San Francisco he went direct to Mariposa and engaged in mining at Aqua Fria and at other camps in the southern part of Mariposa County, where he remained for about three years. In 1855 he came to Stanislaus County and mined at French Bar on the Tuolumne River, and during the forty-five years that have elapsed since he has been a resident of the county except during eighteen months when he was in Shasta County.
Judge Hewel has been a life-long supporter of the principles of the Democratic Party. In 1864 he was appointed deputy county clerk of Stanislaus County and virtually had charge of the office most of the time until 1866, when he was elected county clerk, in which capacity he served with much ability and to the entire satisfaction of the general public until 1868. He began the study of law in 1862, was admitted to the bar in 1864 and was soon after appointed court commissioner. After leaving the county clerk’s office he gave his attention to the practice of law at Knight’s Ferry, with Abraham Shell as a partner, and gained a large and lucrative patronage.
In 1872 he removed to Modesto, where in 1876 he formed a law partnership with W. E. Turner, which existed until 1889, when he was elected judge of the superior court and as such he served on the bench five years, with great distinction. He retired from legal practice because of an impairment of his sense of hearing, and in association with C. D. Lane became largely interested in quartz mining in Del Norte County, California, and in Arizona. Later he became a one-third owner of the Utica mine at Angel’s Camp, Calaveras County. From time to time he became the owner of tracts of land which aggregate about six thousand acres, and he is a stockholder and director of the three banks of Modesto: the Modesto Bank, the National Bank of Modesto and the Union Savings Bank; and he is the president of the Stanislaus Oil Company, which, operating in the hills fourteen miles south of Huron, in Fresno County, has drilled to a depth of fourteen hundred feet and has found abundant promise of success.
Judge Hewel is one of the most eminent Freemasons of the state of California. He was initiated as an Entered Apprentice, passed the Fellow Craft degree and was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason in 1874, and quickly became conversant with the work and teachings of the order, filled all the offices in the blue lodge and soon took the degrees of capitular Masonry and was exalted to the sublime degree of Royal Arch Mason and filled the several offices of his chapter. He took the degrees of chivalric Masonry and was constituted, created and dubbed a Knight Templar in 1876. After having acquired all the degrees of the York rite and all the degrees of the Scottish rite up to and including the thirty-second degree, when he was hailed a Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret, ineffable degrees of the Scottish rite, he has been greeted as a member of the Ancient Arabic order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. He has the honor of being a past grand high priest of the order in the state of California and is held in high esteem by Masons everywhere on the coast.
In 1872 Judge Hewel married Miss Maria Fisher, a daughter of Jacob Fisher, of Schoharie County, New York, who has borne him eight children, four of whom are living: Blanche, Arabella V., Catherine S. and Clarence. The family has a delightful home at Modesto; the upper portion of its residence being the house in which Mr. and Mrs. Hewel passed the earlier years of their married life and in which their children were born. When a more spacious residence became necessary Judge Hewel, wishing to retain the old house on account of its associations, elevated it and built under it the more modern portion of his present residence.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.