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
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
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.