LIMA — Thirteen-year-old Charles Henry Crockett arrived in Lima with his mother on the evening of May 16, 1866, after a 36-hour rail trip from Lowell, Massachusetts.
Fifty years later Crockett recalled “his first view of Lima from the roof of a school house and his decision to abide awhile in the little city of mud and 3,000 souls,” the Lima Daily News wrote May 17, 1916, as Crockett marked the 50th anniversary of his arrival.
After abiding a while in Lima, Crockett journeyed to Chicago where, the News noted, he stayed “long enough to acquire some experience and a case of small pox.” Returning to Lima, Crockett took a job with the Cincinnati, Hamilton and Dayton Railroad but, after two serious accidents, went to work at the Lima Machine Works.
He also immersed himself in the musical life of the town he would see grow “from a little hamlet of orchards and nondescript buildings to a modern city.” Crockett’s son and grandson, both also named Charles, would found local businesses and help spur that growth while also contributing to the city’s cultural life.
Charles Crockett was born July 7, 1852, in Lowell, Massachusetts. His father, Henry G. Crockett, who had moved from Lowell to Lima in 1865, the year before his wife and son, was a machinist for the Dayton and Michigan Railroad. The family first lived where the Allen County Courthouse now stands. Henry Crockett then built the second brick house in Lima at 653 N. Jackson St. His mother, Sabrina Hershey Fuller Crockett, helped organize Lima’s choral society and sang in various church choirs.
On July 5, 1894, Charles Crockett married Carrie Miller, who gave birth to a son, George, in July 1895. The couple divorced in September 1896 and their son died in August of 1897. Shortly after his divorce from Carrie Miller, Crockett married Emmaline Maud Stines, a native of Greenville, who was Lima’s first practicing nurse. Charles and Emmaline welcomed a son, Charles Hillis Crockett, on Dec. 4, 1897.
Charles Crockett, in a December 1917 paper he wrote for the Allen County Historical Society, recalled his early love of music. “My first music job, which I performed faithfully for about two years, was pumping the pipe organ in the church we attended. I loved the grand old tones of the pipe organ, and missed them very much when I came to Lima and found the little reed organs.”
However, in 1867, his father bought him a violin and, after he’d learned a few chords, he “went serenading” with some other boys, Charles Crockett wrote. “We went over to Bluebird Hill, which was far out of town. This Bluebird Hill was not named after the bluebirds, but for two fine young ladies … . These young ladies wore blue shirt-waists, so the boys dubbed the place Bluebird Hill.”
Eventually, Charles Crockett wrote, he gave up the violin “for my hand became a little too heavy for a violin, and I broke so many strings I had to quit.”
Charles Crockett may have quit the violin, but he was just getting started with nearly everything else. And, on Aug. 20, 1889, the Lima Daily Times took notice. “Chas. Crockett devotes considerable time to music, and is a performer of no mean ability on most of the stringed instruments, and is one of our finest flute and piccolo players, besides being a splendid vocalist, in all of which roles he has been seen and heard in church entertainments, exhibitions and at private rehearsals,” the newspaper wrote.
Charles Crockett was a member of Lima’s first dance orchestra and first choral society. He played bass in the Faurot Opera House orchestra for 28 years and cello, flute and piccolo for weddings, dances and concerts. He was a member of the city band from 1873 to 1919, playing tuba, alto or saxophone. In his spare time he lent his bass voice to church choirs and public events.
“But the one that he measures above all is his connection with the ‘Four C’s Quartet,’ a musical combination that was formed about 1884 and gained honor and distinction all over Ohio,” the News wrote in 1916. “They never sang for pay, but just for pure love of music. They gave selections for churches, schools, weddings, funerals and many a citizen has felt it a signal honor to be the recipient of one of the nocturnal serenades of this quartet.”
When Charles Crockett died Sept. 1, 1934, he was the last member of the Four C’s, which also included William N. Cunningham, Thomas Calvert and John Chapin. Charles Crockett, who was 82 years old when he died, was a charter member of the Lima Federation of Musicians.
Like his father, Charles Crockett Jr. enjoyed music — he played flute, piccolo and piano — and, like his father, played in the city band. In 1910, barely a teenager, he was the youngest member of the band. Charles Crockett Jr. married three times, first to Bessie Saunders, then to Evelyn Coon Bowen and, finally, to Donna Hall Walther. Charles Crockett Jr. had two sons, Charles Hazen Crockett, born in 1935, and Richard H. Crockett, born in 1944.
With help from his father, Charles Crockett Jr. on Jan. 22, 1923, started the Oriental Rug Co. in a plant on West Wayne Street. “The process was for the purchaser to send to Oriental Rug Co. any old rags and carpets,” the News explained in a May 17, 1959, article. “Oriental’s workers would then reprocess the material and weave a striking rug or carpet for the customer.” By 1959, rug manufacture had been discontinued and the company had become a supplier of rug making equipment and supplies.
Charles Crockett Jr. still was tending to the rug business in December 1987. “That, however, is only part of what he does with his time,” the News wrote on Dec. 4, 1987. “For 62 years he has been playing piano at the weekly meeting of the Kiwanis Club. Sometimes he plays with a band, other times he solos.”
At the age of 8, he told the News, he’d played with the Grandsons of Veterans. “We went up to a parade in Toledo. I played the fife.” Charles Crockett Jr. died Feb. 14, 1988, at the age of 90.
Charles Crockett III graduated from Ohio Northern University in 1957 and married Shirley Jean Nutter the same month. The couple had four sons, Charles Crockett IV, Christopher Crockett, Timothy Crockett and Joseph Crockett.
In 1954 Charles Crockett Jr., much as his father had done three decades earlier, helped his son into business by opening a division of Oriental Rugs Co. known as the House of Gifts, which was located in the 200 block of South Union Street. Charles Crockett III managed the business.
In 1963 Charles Crockett III founded Artex Hobby Products at 711 W. Vine St. “Artex produces a ‘roll-on’ method of decorating through tubes of paint containing a nylon ballpoint tip,” the News wrote July 7, 1965. “Colors can be easily applied to fabric, paper, wood, ceramic, plastic, metal, glass or most any other material. “Artex supplies are not sold through stores, only through a network of direct sales people, mostly women, referred to as painting instructors.”
Nevertheless, Artex employed between 200 and 300 people in Lima, including at a warehouse opened on Hanthorn Road in 1969. Charles Crockett III sold Artex in 1973 and the business left Lima in 1978. Charles Crockett III died March 17, 2010.
Reach Greg Hoersten at firstname.lastname@example.org.