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Charles Cheney
Charles Cheney
American, 1803 - 1874
Biography: Charles Cheney was the third of eight sons born to George Cheney (1771-1829) and Electa Woodbridge (1781-1853) of South Manchester, Connecticut. He took an important part in organizing the silk manufacturing company now known as Cheney Bros. which he and his brothers founded at South Manchester, Connecticut in 1836. In 1829 Charles married Waitstill Dexter Shaw (1809-1841) and set up a business in Providence, Rhode Island with his brother Ward. The business failed, and in 1835 Charles went to Mt. Pleasant, Ohio (now a part of Cincinnati and listed as Mount Healthy by some sources) to start a mulberry farm. His two daughters, Mary Howell Cheney (1834-1836) and Sarah Shaw Cheney (1835-1836) both died of whooping cough. A second son, Knight Dexter Cheney (1837-1907), was born, but Waitstill died of tuberculosis on April 6, 1841, followed by a 14-month old daughter, Anna, on August 10. In Ohio, Charles became a friend of Salmon P. Chase, later a member of Lincoln's cabinet, They were both engaged in the building of a new turnpike road and they were both Abolitionists. Charles' house was the first 'underground railroad' station beyond Cincinnati. In 1842 Charles returned home to Manchester with his two small sons, and in 1847 he married Harriet Bowen of Providence (1811-1870). In 1855 there was an acute shortage of labor in Manchester due to the rapid expansion of the business. The brothers decided to move a portion of the business to Hartford, and put Charles in charge. He and his family moved to a house on Prospect Street. Between 1855 and 1862, two mills were built on the north side of Morgan Street by the river. The old Cheney mill, where G. Fox & Co. built their warehouses, stood until about 1945. Charles retired to Manchester in 1868 aged 65, and died there in 1874.