Charles Ellet

Charles Ellet was born May 24, 1818 in Dublin, Ireland, the son of James.

Charles’ parents were both born in Dublin and presumably died there. At the age of 13 Charles immigrated to North America by himself.

He was living in Canada in 1838 when he married Canadian-born Irene Reed (1821-1905), and they had at least five children: Lovina (b. 1842), James (b. 1846) and Lemuel (1850-1882), Fannie E. (1852-1920) and Alvina or Elzina (b. 1853).

Charles moved his family from Canada to Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1848 (or possibly as early as 1846) and operated one of the first meat markets in the city.

According to Grand Rapids historian Albert Baxter, in “1842 Wm. R. Barnard opened a meat market in the pioneer building at the western angle of Prospect Hill, near the junction of Monroe and Pearl Streets. This was the first market for the regular supply of cut meats of which there is any published record. Robert M. Barr and Consider Guild, in 1848, were operating a meat market at the same place.” Ellet “was among those temporarily in the [meat] business about that time.”’

By 1850 Charles was living and working as a grocer in Grand Rapids, and eventually left the meat cutting trade working at a variety of jobs until the war broke out. (Charles may have joined the Grand Rapids Artillery in 1859. Under the command of Captain Baker borden, the GRA would serve as the nucleus for Company B, also under the command of Borden, of the Third Michigan infantry.) In 1859-60 Charles was working as a laborer and living on the east side of Broadway between Bridge and First Streets on the west side of the Grand River, and he was apparently employed as a lumberman in 1860 living in the Fourth Ward.

Charles was 43 years old and living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company B on May 13, 1861. By September of 1862 he was employed as a wagoner, probably in the Brigade wagon trains, and was reported as a wagoner with the Brigade trains from April of 1863 through July, in October was with the supply train, probably serving as a teamster. In November he was a First Division wagoner and was back with the Brigade supply train from December of 1863 until he was mustered out of service on June 20, 1864.

After his discharge Charles returned to Grand Rapids where he lived out the remainder of his life, working as a bridge tender for some years as well as a laborer and lumberman. In 1865-69 he was working as a laborer and living at 8 Broadway Street on the west side, living with his wife in Grand Rapids’ Seventh Ward on Broadway and working as a laborer in 1880, in Grand Rapids in 1888 and in the Seventh Ward in 1890 and 1894. He was living at 16 Broadway when he testified in the pension application of Ellen Brown, Henry Brown’s dependent mother in 1894. (it is quite likely that Charles lived at his home on Broadway all his life.)

He was a member of Grand Army of the Republic Champlin Post No. 29 in Grand Rapids and possibly the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association as well. In 1887 he applied for and received a pension (no. 386884).

He was known as the “city cannoneer”. According to his obituary, “the old cannon now owned by the city was in Mr. Ellet's care and on 4ths of July and similar occasions it was invariably he who fired the gun.”

Charles died of old age and “La Grippe” (influenza) on February 3, 1900, at his home at 16 Broadway Street in Grand Rapids, and the funeral was held at the house at 2:00 Monday afternoon and was conducted by Rev. I. Davis of the First Presbyterian Church. He was buried in Greenwood cemetery: section F lot no. 57.

His widow applied for and received a pension (no. 497809).