Early Evansville Portraits And Biographies
From History of Vanderburgh County, Indiana
by Brant & Fuller

Charles Viele

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CHARLES VIELE is one of the pioneers of the city of Evansville, and one of its most prominent and best known business men. His history, therefore, is an essential part of the history of Evansville, though Mr. Viele very reluctantly yielded his consent to the appearance in this chapter of a personal mention of himself.

He was born in Pittstown, Rensselaer County, New York, November 22, 1818. His parents, Abraham and Hannah (Douglas) Viele were natives of the state of New York, the former of French and the latter of Scotch extraction. The elder Viele was a prominent and successful manufacturer of agricultural implements and machinery, and one of the influential citizens of Rensselaer County. He was largely identified with local politics, and for many years occupied various positions of trust.

Charles was the youngest son. His boyhood was passed in the village of Valley Falls, where he received an academical education. Early in life he evidenced the possession of that spirit of push, energy and enterprise which is characteristic of New York people. At the age of eighteen he resolved to avail himself of the advantages offered by settlement in what was then known as the "Far West."

In the spring of 1836, in company with Mr. A. B. Carpenter, he left the place of his nativity, and after a tedious journey, by rail to Columbia, Pa., then the terminus of all western railroads, thence by stage to Pittsburgh and by boat to Evansville; arrived in this city on the 26th day of March, 1836. Evansville had at this time reached the distinction of a village, and under his observation, and, to a certain extent, through his identification with its interests, it has become the second city in the state of Indiana.

His first employment was as clerk in the store of A. B. Carpenter, with whom he remained until 1840, when, in company with Mr. Asa B. Bement, they founded the house of Bement & Viele, which became one of the largest and most success- ful grocery houses in the state. The firm of Bement & Viele was dissolved in 1865, and was succeeded by that of Charles Viele & Co. In 1870 Mr. Viele retired, his son George B. being his successor, and the firm of Viele, Stockwell & Co. was established.

For more than one-half a century he has been largely identified with the financial interests of Evansville. In 1850 the Evansville Insurance Company was organized, with a capital stock of $250,000. The charter contained insurance and banking privileges of a liberal character, and was a financial success from its inception. Mr. Viele was a member of the first board of directors, and it is stated that it was largely through his influence and energy that the company was brought into existence. Mr. Viele has never dissolved his connection with this bank, of which he has been the financial head for many years, and its president since 1879.

To give a detailed history of his connection with the various enterprises with which he has been identified in the half century that he has been a resident of Evansville would require more space than is at the disposal of the writer. All enterprises, however, that have had for their object the advancement of the interests of the city of Evansville have always found in him a firm friend and patron.

Mr. Viele is now in the Seventieth year of his age, and in full possession of his mental and physical powers. Extended travel, years of practical experience and close observation in social, political and business matters have given him a position that is attained but by few. It can be said of him that, in the half century of his business life, his escutcheon has never been marred by one single act not conformable in every way to the strictest rule of right and justice, and his career is worthy of emulation by all classes and conditions of young men. His liberality is proverbial, and during financial depressions he has frequently gone to those whom he knew to be in distress and by his financial aid and advice carried them to a place of safety.

In his religious and political affiliations he is an Episcopalian and a republican. He has never aspired to political preferment, choosing to devote his energies to the cares of his business, rather than mingle in political life. He has done a great work in the advancement of the moral and religious interests of Evansville and to him as much as to anyone else the church of St. Paul's is indebted, not only for the beautiful building that bears its name but for the prominent position it holds among the sister churches of the state.

In 1845 Mr. Viele was married to Miss Mary J., daughter of Judge Edward Hopkins. Six children were the result of this union, of whom his sons George B., Walter S. and Edward N. are now living.