Charles H. Low

Charles H. Low, deceased, oldest son and second child of William R. and Lydia (Christy) Low, was born in Mariposa, Victoria Co., Ont., Oct. 4, 1855. He died at Sandwich, Jan. 19, 1884. Although the record of his brief career must be wholly memorial, it must also be typical, and pre-eminently valuable from the traits which characterized him and from what he achieved. From the beginning of his conscious existence he was an extraordinary child. His love for learning commenced with his understanding of the existence of knowledge, and even in his earliest school days his intellect flashed like a gem in a less brilliant setting. All branches of study delighted him, and while he attained wonderful progress in science and Latin, he reveled in the field of mathematics, which was the element of his nature, in the curriculum of instruction. His mind was inherently systematic, and its development was self constructed step by step, advancing like a mathematical series. He was the possessor of uncommon powers of demonstration, and the rapidity with which he reached his conclusions proved alike the clearness of his perceptions and the accurate methods of his mental operations. The testimonials of his teachers express a uniform estimate of the quality of his intellect and his remarkable precocity. Without exception he impressed his instructors, not only with his superior abilities but also with the sterling worth of his character, event in his earliest boyhood. His parents, brothers, sisters, and other family relatives were regarded by him with the tenderest consideration, and no instance is remembered by them in which he wavered or was recreant to the deep and abiding home love which was the predominating excellence of his character.

He came to Illinois with his parents in 1856, and was then less than a year old. He lived with them at Shabbona Grove until the age of 11 years, and from 1866 until 1869 lived at Plano. Previous to the date when his father became a resident of Sandwich, he had only the advantages of the public schools; but he waited not on opportunity. He utilized every privilege that presented itself, and while his waking hours were crowded with effort he paid grateful homage to all to whom he believed himself indebted for assistance in his march of progress. There was, in his composition, no room for the exercise of evil proclivities toward any one. He loved, trusted, and believed in all with whom he was brought in contact, and he received from others measure running over of that which he gave. He was the object of unqualified affection and unrestricted confidence, and was believed in implicitly by all who came to know him intimately.

When he entered the school taught at Sandwich by A.J. Sawyer, now an attorney at Lincoln, Neb., he was less than 12 years of age, a frail lad with locks yet in their boyish fairness; he was found to possess a comprehensive understanding of Robinson’s Higher Arithmetic and Algebra, Green’s English Grammar, of Philosophy and History and the commoner English branches, in which he passed a satisfactory examination and was placed in the High School department. Mr. Sawyer says of him: "For four years he was rarely, if ever, absent from his seat. He was not only brilliant in scholarship, mastering the most difficult studies with the greatest ease, but he was exemplary in deportment, manly in conduct, generous in impulse and kind and accommodating to all his classmates." These were the traits that characterize his whole life.

Mentally, he was equipped for a business life at 16, and in 1872, he became an office boy in the employment of the Sandwich Manufacturing Company and rose by virtue of merit in six years to the position of confidential clerk. The route by which he attained his preferment need not be outlined. The fact of the achievement is its own explanation. Through one year he was the assistant of J. Phelps Adams, Secretary of the Company; and let it be remarked in passing, that while the natural traits of "Charlie" were so unusual, it must still be remembered that the associations and influences in which his business qualities developed were of rare type and contributed largely to his advancement. The opportunities he enjoyed through the years of his personal relations with the gentleman named were of incalculable advantage in shaping his career. He went early in 1883 to Kansas City as manager of the southwestern department of the company’s interest. In August, 1883, having been offered a responsible position by William Deering of Chicago, which he thought would eventually afford him greater scope for work and achievement, with reluctance and regret on the part of the company – his employer from childhood-and himself, he resigned his position at Kansas City and entered the services of Mr. Deering in a responsible place in his great agricultural works at Chicago. Mr. Deering had the highest appreciation of his character and abilities. Some weeks later, he started for Oregon, California and the far West in behalf of his employer. He took leave of his home and friends with reluctance. The way seemed long and the burdens onerous. It was afterward remembered that the face, always worn with intense mental straits was unusually sharpened, and that the hitherto tireless, indomitable spirit faltered in views of its impending labors and fatigues. But no one guessed that he stood, even then, within the mystic shadow of the unseen world. He was seized with malarial illness at Salt Lake City, and though he received every care and attention from friends to whom he was as dear as their own, his instincts drew him resistlessly back to the home at Sandwich. Following are the last words he traced with the hand that had inscribed countless loving messages to the loved ones under the home roof tree:

Salt Lake City, Utah, Dec. 28, 1883

Dear Folks:

I am getting better, but do not get an appetite as I should, and I am going to wait here for it. The doctor says I can go home easy enough now, but I think it is too long a ride to take on an empty stomach, and so shall wait until I eat better. Will then go to Sandwich and try your cooking. Am better this A.M. than any time yet, and it will only be a few days before I start,

Yours, etc., C.H. Low

And he came, even though he knew that to come would in all likelihood be at the risk of his sole chance for recovery. But he took it, and he kept the holiday of the opening year in the home he had craved to see once more with an irresistible longing. Hope never faltered or grew dim while consciousness lasted; but the remorseless fever sapped his life forces, and though the encroachments of the grim guest were contested inch by inch with every device of science and love, the splendid intellect fell at last in ruin, and the brave heart became still. He was borne away to that house "whose curtain never outward swings" with decorous ceremonial; but neither the fragrance nor the beauty of the wealth of flowers, nor the sympathy of the friendly throng, could soften the pang of irreparable loss.

The manhood of Charles H. Low began where his boyhood ended. After that he was no more a child. He answered to the claims of society, morality and the customs which govern the business world with an alacrity that finds few parallels in a generation. He was a member of Meteor Lodge, No. 283, at Sandwich, of Sandwich Chapter, No. 107, R.A.M., and of Aurora Commandery, No. 22, Knights Templars. Each of the Masonic organizations to which he belonged passed the usual resolutions when he died, and the funeral exercises were conducted by the Knights of Aurora Commandery and the Masonic societies of which he was a member. They were held in the Congregational Church, where he had rented a pew from 1877, about the time he became of age.

He died when a little more than 28 years old, as we note the succession of years, but

If lives be long which answer life’s great ends,

Where shall we fix the sum that numbered thine?

The portrait of the subject of this sketch, which appears on another page, is inserted in this volume by his parents as a perpetual monument to the memory of their beloved son.

Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of DeKalb Co.

Back