A Short History of Charles Henry Hackley, 1837-1905
Charles Henry Hackley was born January 3, 1837 in Michigan City, Indiana, the oldest of five children of Salina (Fuller) and Joseph Henry Hackley. In 1847 he moved with his family to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where his father was in the building trades. By age 14, Hackley had left school and was driving a horse for 15 cents a day. In 1856, at 19, he worked his way from Kenosha to Muskegon on the schooner Challenge to join his father, who had been commissioned to build a sawmill along Muskegon Lake. The day after his arrival in May of 1856, he went to work shoveling sawdust into a boiler in the lumber yard of Durkee, Truesdale and Co. at a monthly wage of $22, a figure soon raised to $26. When the mill closed that fall Truesdale sent him to the lumber camps to scale logs.
The previous summer, young Hackley had learned office procedure and the basics of the lumbering business in the company store in the evening after his day's work outside. When a slow time at the lumber mill occurred, Truesdale suggested that he return to Kenosha for a six-week bookkeeping course. Hackley finished it in four weeks and returned to Muskegon. Meanwhile, the Durkee Truesdale firm had been liquidated and Gideon Truesdale headed its successor. Charles Hackley assumed charge of the books, the supply store, and lumber shipments for $30 a month.
The city's sawmills formed, changed, closed, and reformed. Hackley's family followed him to Muskegon and founded the lumbering firm of Hackley and Sons. This later evolved into the lucrative partnership of Hackley and Hume. This firm was one of the largest operators in the country, cutting 30,000,000 feet of lumber a year at its peak in 1894. In 1864, Charles Hackley married Julia Ester Moore. They adopted one son, Charles Moore Hackley, in 1898, and raised a foster daughter, Erie Caughell (Hackley).
Hackley amassed a fortune of $18,000,000, one third of which he gave back to Muskegon. His first gift, given on May 25, 1888, was for the construction of Hackley Public Library. He served on the Board of Education of the Muskegon Public Schools for twenty years, was an alderman and a state delegate to two national Republican conventions.
Hackley died on February 10, 1905, of a ruptured aneurysm. He lay in state in what is now the Children's Room of the Library and more than 7,000 mourners passed the casket.
excerpted from Hackley Public Library, A Centennial History by Marilyn Anderson and The Centennial Walking Tour of the Hackley Public Library by Janie Lynn Panagopoulos.
Charles Henry Hackley, 1837-1905
Hackley Day Creed
by Elmore Leppert
I believe that a true community spirit can never die but lives forever in the works which that spirit has produced.
I believe that all about us are the results of the working of such a spirit, a spirit thinking not of self, but of others, not of personal gain, but of community gain, not of benefit to few, but benefit to many.
I believe that such a spirit should live not only in the cold stone of institutions, but also in the minds of the people whom those institutions have benefited.
I believe that such is the spirit of Charles H. Hackley.
THIS THING THAT MEN CALL DEATH
Written on the death of Chas. H. Hackley
by Douglas Mallach
These mortal signs make not the finished
The breath may cease, the beating heart be still.
But never one is dead on earth until
He passes from the memory of man.
And so would I not think on Hackley dead---
There is no Hackley who is dead to me;
His footprints in the city streets I see
And in her public places hear his tread
'Twas not his gifts alone made Hackley great---
The willing heart, the hand that never tired---
'Twas that within that Hackley's gifts inspired;
These were of greatest service to the state.
He taught the youth the need of industry;
He taught the public mind the need of art:
He taught the narrow soul the need of heart:
He taught the land the need of Loyalty.
A sampling of books in the Hackley Public Library collection
Materials available for checkout:
The Life of Charles Henry Hackley: Drawn from Old Public and Family Records , by Louis P. Haight. 1948. B H116h (Also available in the Local History Department)
Reference materials in the Local History Department (call numbers beginning with “LH”) or in storage as noted:
American Biographical History of Eminent and Self-made Men , Michigan Volume, p. 43. 1878. R 920 Am351 (Torrent House storage)
American Lumbermen: The Personal History and Public Business Achievements of One Hundred Eminent Lumbermen in the U.S., 1905. LH R 920 Am355, v.1 p. 223
Benefactions of C. H. Hackley. Hackley Memorial Association. 1928. LH R 977.457 H116gm
Biographical Sketches of Mr. Hackley. Library Scrapbook (Local History Department)
The Charles H. Hackley Scrapbook. (Newspaper clippings on Mr. Hackley and his gifts to the city of Muskegon). (Local History Department)
The Great Lakes, p. 268, C.H. Hackley best representative of the lumber barons, by Harlan Henthorne Hatcher. LH R 977 H282g
The Hackley House, by Bertha M. Freye and Mildred L. Johnson. 1961. LH R 977.457 H629hf
History of Michigan, v. 1, p. 605; v. 4, p. 1935, by Charles Moore. 1915. LH R 977.4 M781h
History of Muskegon and Ottawa counties, Michigan, p. 72-73. 1882. LH R 977.457 M974 D488
Lincoln, Grant, Sherman, Farragut: An Account of the Gift, the Erection and the Dedication of the Bronze Statues Given by Charles H. Hackley to the City of Muskegon, Michigan. 1900.LH R 977.457 H116gL
Lumber and Forest Industry of the Northwest, p.224 (sketch with photographs), by George W. Hotchkiss. 1898. LH R 977.4 H797h
Men of Progress, Embracing Biographical Sketches of Representative Michigan Men with an Outline History of the State, p. 437. 1990. LH R 977.4 M523
Michigan Historical Collections, v. 35, p.54. Memorial sketch by Mary E. Chamberlain. LH R 977.4 M582h
In addition to the materials on this list, numerous articles on Charles Henry Hackley have been published over the years in the Muskegon Chronicle. Many of these are indexed in the Local History Subject Index and are available for viewing on microfilm. The Local History Department is located in the Torrent House, directly accross the street from the main library.
Compiled by Marilyn Ryan, edited by Damien Rostar (2/9/09 & 8/23/13).