Isaac Charnley

This biography appears on pages 686-689 in "Soldiers' and Citizens' Album of Biographical Record containing personal sketches of Army Men and Citizens Prominent in loyalty to the Union" Published in 1890

Isaac Charnley, Racine, Wis., member of G. A. R. Post No. 17, was born Aug. 23, 1834, at Oldham, Lancashire, England, and is the son of James and Rachel (Mitchell) Charnley. His father was a stone mason by trade and emigrated to America with his family in 1842. They came to New York on a sailing vessel and finished their journey to Wisconsin on the Erie canal and on the lakes. A farm was purchased in the township of Caledonia, on which the son remained until it was sold and received the education and training common to farmer's sons of that period. When the farm was sold the parents went to Milwaukee, where they resided with a son named Francis until their respective deaths; that of the mother occurring in 1868 and the father's demise taking place in June, 1872. They had 11 children of whom three are living -- Charles, William and Isaac.

After the sale of the farm, Mr. Charnley fitted himself for the business of a carpenter and builder at Racine, in which vocation he operated until he entered the service of the Government during the war. In the fall of 1863 he engaged as a bridge builder in Tennessee along the line of operations of the Union troops there stationed. After his contract was completed he returned to Racine and, in the fall, enlisted in Comapny K, 1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery and went with his command to the defenses of Washington, passing his time in acquiring a knowledge of all varieties of military duty and service excepting that of cavalry, as the contingencies of the position at the National Capital presented the possibility of the troups garrisoning the several forts, being called at any moment to fight a heavy or light artillery and also as infantry. Added to these was the heavy labor on the forts, to which service Mr. Charnley was often detailed, as he was fitted for it by his profession. The period was one of the greatest interest and one of the incidents burned into his recollection is that of the assassination of the President. He was on his way to Fort Lyon when the intelligence reached his ears and he states that if the South had belief of any possible outcome to their frantic operations against the general Government, its representatives should have been in Washington on the morning after the dastardly murder of Lincoln. He believes that every man in arms would willingly have begun and fought the whole war over again. It had been brought to an end by the Spririt of the North, which clearly saw to the end all the cost to all sections if the South conquered; and that Spirit burned never so brightly as when the murdered Chief lay on his bloody bier in the Capital of the Nation. Mr. Charnley was mustered out June 26, 1865.

He returned to Wisconsin and engaged in the business of the contractor and builder at Racine and, at a later date, added the sale of hardware and builders' materials and opened a store on Main street where he has since continued to transact a propserous and popular business. In 1875 he associated his son George with himself in business, the style of the firm being Charnley & Son.

In 1858, Mr. Charnley was married at Racine, to Mary, daughter of John and May McClennan and their surviving children are named Ida M., George and Forrest. Francis L. and Harriet M. are deceased. Mr. Charnley is a member of the Order of Odd Fellows, Sons of Temperance, Royal Arcanum, Royal League, Good Templars, Royal Adelphia, Royal Temple of Temperance and Temple of Honor. He is earnestly interested in temperence work and never loses an opportunity in a quiet way to promote the progress of the cause.