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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History

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Charles Fremont Smalley

Source: This is a bio. sketch from "History of Manitowoc County Wisconsin", by Dr. L. Falge, 1911-1912, v.2, p.589-590.

Prominent among the enterprising, energetic and progressive business men of Manitowoc was Charles Fremont Smalley, who for many years occupied a foremost position in manufacturing circles. It is true that he entered upon a business already established but in controlling and enlarging this-and it grew year by year-he gave proof of the fact that success is not the outcome of genius or fortunate circumstances, as held by some, but the result of sound judgment, unfaltering enterprise and keen discernment. It was the possession of these qualities that made Charles Fremont Smalley honored and respected wherever known and most of all where he was best known. He was born December 19, 1856, on what is known as the old Hiram Smith farm in Sheboygan county, his parents being Edmund Jewett and Fanny (Frick) Smalley. The father was born in Riga, New York, July 6, 1817, and was a son of Daniel and Betsey (Frost) Smalley. The birth of the former occurred in Connecticut, April 3, 1782, and of the latter in Springdale, Massachusetts, June 15, 1791. They were married December 9, 1813, and their family included Edmund Jewett Smalley, who on the 8th of October, 1840, wedded Fanny Frick, after which he came to the west and settled in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where he conducted a small foundry. In 1857 he removed to Manitowoc and started in business on the present site of the Smalley Manufacturing Company, having there a foundry and blacksmith shop. He was indeed one of the pioneer settlers of this city and it is said that when his patronage was smaller he at one time taught school at Four Corners. He was much interested in the spelling "bees" which were a feature of the schools in those days. As the years passed on, however, his time and attention were necessarilv more and more largely concentrated on his business affairs, which grew in volume and importance. He remained in business continually and was later joined by his five sons, who were associated with him for a number of years. All later sold their interests, however, with the exception of Charles Fremont Smalley, who succeeded his father in the presidency upon the latter's death on the 6th of August,1898. Mrs. Edmund Smalley has also passed away. They were the parents of five sons. Paleman J., a prominent editor of St. Paul, enlisted from Manitowoc county as a soldier in the Civil war. Herschel D., who was also a soldier from Manitowoc county and spent eighteen months in Libby, Andersonville and other prisons, now represents the Smalley Manufacturing Company as traveling salesman in the northwest. Clarence C., who was at one time associated with the firm as an expert machinist and designer of machinery, is deceased. Edmund H. is an attorney of Chicago.

The other son, Charles Fremont Smalley, was less than a year old when his parents removed to Manitowoc, so that his education was acquired in the schools of this city and his youthful days were here passed. After his school days were over he became bookkeeper for J. E. Platt, with whom he remained for two years and in the spring of 1874 he went to Buffalo, New York, where he entered the employ of Bennett & Wade, commission merchants.

At the urgent request of his father, however, he returned to Manitowoc in 1876 to become actively interested in the Smalley works, which at that time, however, were little known. He then bent every energy toward developing the business, to extending its trade relations and to produce an output that would insure a continued patronage. When the Smalley Manufacturing Company was incorporated in 1887 he became its secretary and treasurer and upon the death of his father was elected to the presidency.

Under his direction the factory took on new life and it was through his activities that the plant was placed in the front rank of leading manufactories of the state. The company increased the scope of their output to include all kinds of silo fillers, corn snappers, hand feed cutters, alfalfa cutters, root cutters, drag and circular saws, feed mills, ear corn grinders and Champion plows.

On the 15th of June, 1880, Mr. Smalley was united in marriage to Miss Carrie Barnes, of Manitowoc. They had three children, of whom Chester Fremont is the only survivor. The death of Charles Fremont Smalley occurred October 21, 1901. On the 26th of December, 1886, he suffered from a stroke of paralysis from which he never fully recovered but during all the years he never made complaint, remaining the same jovial, good natured man.

As a citizen his activities extended into many fields and he was especially helpful as a factor in promoting those projects and measures which are most valuable as factors in public progress. He was ever willing to give his aid and his influence to movements for the general good. He was loyal, too, to the teachings and spirit of the Masonic fraternity and the Ancient Order of United Workmen, in both of which he held membership..

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