Bio: Nunn, Charles (1835 - 1890) 

Surnames: Nunn, Gibson, Constable, Wilson, Barnes

----Source: Historical and Biographical Album of the Chippewa Valley, Wisconsin (1891-1892) Pages 402-404, Contributed by Sandra Wright

Nunn, Charles (22 Apr 1835 – 1 Feb 1890)

Charles Nunn, deceased. The history of the Chippewa Valley, Rice Lake and the eventful career of Charles Nunn, have been so closely interwoven that it would be next to impossible to write the history of the former without giving more then a passing notice to the latter. One of the pioneers, not only of the Chippewa Valley, but of the upper Mississippi river, he was a prominent character amongst the many strong men who were foremost in pushing the peaceful but laborious conquest of civilization in new and untried directions, and to whom we who behold this vast territory now, (so short a time since a wilderness that we can scarcely realize its shortness) dotted with villages and busy cities and princely homes, and threaded with railroads, are too apt to forget our indebtedness, In the early days of the upper Mississippi navigation, when St. Paul was much smaller then Rice Lake is at the present day, a few men on the whole extent of the river were better known than Charles Nunn. A man of untiring energy and recognized integrity, of strong and determined mind, quick and decisive manner, and of the most versatile resourses, he was always remarkable of the courteous address and unstudied kindliness which he carried into the most commonplace business transactions. An English gentleman of education and refinement, brought into contact with people of all classes and nationalities, he had the same refreshing courtliness for all and at all times. His memory was most retentive, and with the bright and active judgment which he brought to bear upon all questions, he combined an inexhaustible fund of anecdote and reminiscence, which, with his polished address and kindly presence, impressed his personality indelibly upon all who were fortunate enough to come in contact with him, for however short a time.

Mr. Nunn was born April 22, 1835, at Aldborough, in Suffolk, a quiet seaside town on the east coast of England, chiefly known as the birthplace and early home of the poet Crabbe. After his school days he studied chemistry, a profession of which he was always fond. And which he practiced both in England and in this country. The last years of his life in England were spent in London, where, through the influence of his friend, the late eminent Milner Gibson, he was offered a position in one of the large shipping houses in Soho Square. He came to this country in 1857, and entered the employ of Arnold Constable and Co., at New York. The following year he moved to Read’s Landing, Minn., where he remained until 1874, part of the time in the employ of T.B. Wilson and Co., and afterward engaged in various businesses, sometimes very extensive, under the style of Charles Nunn & Co. During this period he was postmaster for a term of six years, and for many years agent for a line of Mississippi steamers, and for several marine and fire insurance companies. October 29, 1861, he united in marriage with Miss Abbie L. Barnes, who, with two children, Miss Emily and Mr. Charles F., survive him. Of the latter, Charles Francis, it may be said he is a graduate of Bryant and Stratton’s Commercial college at Chicago, and of Minnesota Institute of Pharmacy.

Mr. Nunn was one of the earliest settlers in Rice Lake, having removed there from Read’s Landing in 1874, and has been more then any other one man identified with the growth and prosperity of the place. He was for many years cashier and local agent for the Knapp, Stout and Co. Company, and resigned his position only a few months before his death, to take part in the reorganization and incorporation of the bank at Rice Lake. From the time of his first residence in Rice Lake, he was always one of her most loyal citizens, having an abiding faith in her future that never faltered, and he lived long enough to see many of his hopes realized. He was always ready and willing to lend a helping hand to any measure tending to advance the best interests of his town, or to help the unfortunate. He not only transacted an immense amount of business for his employers, and himself, but for parties who came to him for advice and assistance, and the memory of his many kind deeds will long be kept green in the hearts of his fellow-citizens. He was for a number of years, before the incorporation of the city, treasurer of the school district, and of Grace Episcopal church which he was chiefly instrumental in building. At the time of his death he held the office of city treasurer. One of the victims of “la grippe,” the terrible malady, which at that time swept across the globe, Mr. Nunn was stricken down only a very short time after the organization of the bank, of which he was a charter member, and when upon the very threshold of new and diversified undertakings. His death occurred February 1, 1890, after an illness of little more than a week. The funeral took place two days later, at Grace church, and was the larges ever held in the county, numbers being unable to obtain an entrance into the edifice, and the remains being followed to Meadow Creek cemetery, where they were laid to rest, by a long procession of mourners. The public schools and most places of business were closed during the day, flags were at half mast, and a temporary arch, erected opposite the council chamber, across the line of march, was draped in black. At a meeting of the city council the same evening, the following resolutions were passed:

“Whereas, Death has taken from our midst one of our oldest and most public spirited citizens, Charles Nunn,

“Therefore, be it resolved, that we, the common council of the city of Rice Lake, in behalf of its members and the citizens of our city, do express our sense of the great loss thus sustained, and our sympathy for the bereaved family.

“Further resolved, that these resolutions be spread upon the records of this meeting, and that the city clerk be instructed to forward an engrossed copy of the same to the surviving family of the deceased citizen, friend, father and husband, Charles Nunn.”

Adopted by the rising vote.

Resolutions of sympathy were also adopted by the employees of the Knapp, Stout & Co. Company, with whom he had so long been associated, the Bank of Rice Lake and other bodies.

In politics, Mr. Nunn was a republican.



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