Early Evansville Portraits And Biographies
From History of Vanderburgh County, Indiana
by Brant & Fuller
1889

Charles L. Wedding

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CHARLES L. WEDDING, one of the prominent and most successful lawyers in southern Indiana, was born in Ohio County, Ky., October 17, 1845, on his father's farm, where his infancy and boyhood were spent in the usual monotony of farm life. His father, Mark Wedding, a carpenter, was a man of strong common sense, high honor, and belonged to a family noted for their good sense and force of character. His mother was Nancy J. Hale, a most excellent woman, and a member of an old and highly respected family, one which has given to the world several useful and distinguished men. The father survives, at the age of sixty-eight; the mother died in 1874.

Mr. Wedding's parents were poor, and he was afforded only the facilities of a country school taught by very incompetent men. At the age of sixteen, when he began the study of law, he had but a very imperfect knowledge of the most elementary branches of common English education. To be a lawyer in the high sense that implies character, love of country, culture, learning, and usefulness to the community, was the early hope and settled determination of the boy. Though surrounded with apparently insurmountable difficulties and of a fragile constitution - always rather delicate - he had moral courage, energy, and a firm resolve, which never weakened. He pressed on with a manliness which knows "no such word as fail."

At the age of sixteen, his father bought him the elementary text books, and for the next year and a half he studied diligently about sixteen hours a day. This entire time was spent upon the same farm, and much of it in the beautiful forests - God's first temples - as they existed in Kentucky thirty years ago. In studying law, general literature, and oratorical exercises, the inspiring and healthful influence of such a life, largely compensated for the lack of other training and advantages, regarded now as quite indispensable. At the age of eighteen he applied for admission to the bar, and passed a successful examination before those two distinguished judges, James Stuart, then of Brandenburg, and P. B. Muir, of Louisville, and was by them duly admitted to practice in all the courts of Kentucky. After his admission to the bar, he located at Cloverport, Ky., where he remained but eight months, having been engaged in several cases of local importance during the time.

Owing to the disturbed condition of things in Kentucky at this time, Mr. Wedding moved in January, 1865, to Rockport, Ind. When he arrived at Rockport he was not only an inexperienced country boy, but among strangers, and without money, knowledge of the world, or a single friend to encourage him. The Rockport bar at that time was among the ablest in the state. There were Judges DeBruler, Laird and Barkwell, Gen. J. C. Veatch, Hon. Thomas F. DeBruler, all lawyers and politicians of great worth and eminent abilities, to say nothing of the young men of promise.

Here, notwithstanding the established reputation and high character of his competitors at the bar, Mr. Wedding made rapid strides, and by the time he had attained his majority had a leading business. On the 4th of July 1865, when he was but nineteen years of age, he delivered an oration at Rockport to a great audience, which at once gave him a reputation throughout the country as a speaker. The war had just closed, the soldiers at home, and Lincoln recently dead. There was a golden opportunity for a great effort, and Mr. Wedding proved to be equal to it. From this time on until he moved to Evansville, he had a large and lucrative practice at Rockport, and in the Federal and Supreme Courts of Indiana.

After establishing and maintaining a most enviable reputation at Rockport for years, he moved to Evansville as stated, in 1880. Previous to moving he had bought a beautiful home on First street, where he has ever since resided. At Evansville he has been equally successful. It is probably true, that no man of his age in southern Indiana has been employed in more important trials or made more money than Mr. Wedding. While not penurious, he has been frugal in his habits, intelligent and prudent in his management of his earnings and in the result of his twenty-three years of practice at the bar in Indiana he has accumulated such a competency as all prudent men desire. This has all been done in the legitimate practice of his profession, for he never goes outside of it, except when force of circumstances, such as are inevitable in the management of all business, has obliged him to do so. He believes in, and often reminds his friends of the truthfulness of the maxim "Let the shoemaker stick to his last."

Attracted to him by his success, Mr Wedding has had many young men under his charge as law students, some of whom have made their mark, while others, acting upon his advice, have gone into other business to which they are better adapted. One of Mr. Wedding's traits is his perfect sincerity and frankness in his friendship, and also made manifest in the expression of his dislikes and prejudices. You always know where to find him; concealment has no place in his character.

At Rockport, December the 1st, 1866, he was married to Mary C. English, a woman of great worth, good sense and Christian character. They have two boys, aged respectively eleven and nineteen.

In politics Mr. Wedding was an original Republican, but went with the liberal republicans in 1872, and actively supported Greeley. In 1876 he supported Tilden, making speeches in Indiana and other states, which will rank among the best arguments made in that famous campaign for the democracy. In 1880 he supported Hancock, and took an active part in the campaign. He voted for Cleveland in 1884, but took no part or interest in the contest. He has never claimed to be a party man, but always asserted his perfect independence of party lines, and has rarely voted a straight ticket. He never took any part in ward or local politics, except to help his friends who have been candidates for nomination or election.

As a lawyer, Mr. Wedding is an able advocate, speaking with energy, sincerity, and often eloquently. He tries his cases before the courts and juries with skill and ability. He advises with candor and accuracy, having at his command one of the finest private law libraries in the state, kept with scrupulous care. In the supreme court the records show he has been nearly always victorious, demonstrating his good judgment as to the result of legal controversies.

With all this, he has excellent practical judgment of men, business and business problems, and he has, therefore, always had the confidence of the best business men wherever he is known. In all transactions involving money, character or integrity, his reputation is unquestionable and without reproach.

Outside of his professional practice, upon literary society and other public occasions, his services as a speaker are much sought after, and few merely private citizens have made more public addresses than Mr. Wedding. Some of them have been published, and highly commended, notably that at the funeral services of Gen. Grant in this city.

It is proper we should state, that for much of the material in this sketch we are indebted to Mr. E. M. Swan, a prominent lawyer of Rockport, and Vol. I, page 56, of the Biographical History of the Eminent and Self-Made Men of Indiana.