Woman of the Century/Emily Thornton Charles
CHARLES, Mrs. Emily Thornton, poet and journalist, born in Lafayette, Ind., 21st March, 1845 She comes of English ancestors, the Thorntons and Parkers. On the paternal side the Thorntons were noted as original thinkers. Her great-grandfather, Elisha Thornton, carried a sword in the War of the Revolution. Her grandfather, also Elisha Thornton, resident of Sodus, Wayne county, N. Y., served in the War of 1812. Her father, James M. Thornton, gave his life to the cause of the Union in 1864, and of her two brothers, Charles lost his life in the Civil War. and Gardner served in Harrison's regiment. The Parkers, her maternal ancestors, were among the primitive Puritans. Deacon Edmund Parker settled in Reading, Mass, about 1719, the family removing thence to Peppered, Mass., which town they helped to found. For more than a century, from father to sou, the Parkers were deacons and leaders of the choir in the Congregational Church. When Emily's grand-father married, the young couple took a wedding journey in a sleigh to find a new home in Lyons, Wayne county, N. Y., taking with them their house- hold goods. Twenty years later their daughter, Harriet Parker, was married to James M. Thornton, a civil engineer, son of Elisha. The young couple moved to Lafayette, Ind., where Mr. Thornton established a large manufactory. Emily Thornton was educated in the free schools of Indianapolis, and at the age of sixteen she became a teacher. As a child in school she attracted attention by the excellence of her written exercises and her original manner of handling given subjects. She became the wife, while very young, of Daniel B. Charles, son of a business man long established in Indianapolis. At the age of twenty-four she was left a widow, in delicate health, with two little ones dependent upon her. Soon after the death of her husband, 1874, she began to write for a livelihood, doing reportorial and editorial work for Indianapolis papers and correspondence for outside publications. She succeeded well. Having chosen journalism as a profession, she perfected herself in all its branches. She published her first volume of verse under the title "Hawthorn Blossoms" (Philadelphia, 1876). This little book was received with great favor and proved a literary and financial success. From the Centennial year to 1880 she continued to do newspaper work and biographical writing. She was associate editor of "Eminent Men of Indiana." In 1881 she accepted a position as managing editor of the Washington "World." Afterwards she established "The National Veteran" in Washington, D. C, of which she was sole proprietor and editor. In 1883 Mrs. Charles was prostrated through overwork and was confined to her bed for an entire year. While recovering slowly, she spent a year in revising and preparing for publication her later poems. The work appeared in "Lyrical Poems" (Philadelphia, 1886), EMILY THORNTON CHARLES. a volume of three-hundred pages. That volume fully established her reputation as a national poet She has appeared upon the lecture platform with success. On the occasion of her departure from Indiana, when a complimentary farewell testimonial was tendered her by the leading citizens of Indianapolis, in 1880, she made a brilliant address. In 1882 she addressed an audience of 1,500 ex-prisoners of war in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her poetical address on "Woman's Sphere" was delivered before a National Woman's Suffrage Convention. She is a member of the executive committee of the National Woman's Press Association and chairman of the executive council of the Society of American Authors. She has been selected as one of the speakers at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. Mrs. Charles writes almost exclusively under the name of "Emily Thornton."