Charles Tourville died 16 July 1930

Charles Tourville was born 5 October, 1851, in Chateaugay, NY, the second of ten children of Charles Tourville and Julia Leclair. 

The 1860 census lists Charles with his parents and siblings in Chateaugay.  Unfortunately, the 1865 NY state census for Franklin county is not available.  The family is also in Chateaugay in 1870, where they engaged in farming.  The real estate value was $1080, and personal property was valued at $300.  According to this census the parents, and Charles, could not read or write. 

On 23 Jun 1873, Charles married Marie Angeline Langevin in Chateaugay.   Witnesses were Charles’ brother Louis Tourville and Helen Langevin, probably Marie’s sister.   

In 1880, Charles and Mary still lived in Chateaugay, with their first four sons:  Henry, Willie, John, and George.  Charles was a laborer.  The next year, Charles went to Leadville, Colorado, where the mining industry was developing.  Marie and the rest of the family followed in 1882.  Leadville is known as the town where the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” and her husband made their fortune. 

None of the old Leadville city directories list Charles (although son John is listed one year.)  A check of the grantor-grantee books in Leadville showed no property ownership.  It is possible that if he had property in the Tennessee Pass area, it might have been in a different county then (Eagle?).  Charles Tourville was listed as a principal owner of kilns (coke ovens) in the area in an article called “Leadville, A City of Contrast” published 2-23-1966.  He had 7 kilns with a producing capacity of 18,000 bushels per month. 

Charles and the family had settled in nearby Mitchell.  There he constructed some brick kilns, there was so much easy accessible timber, which he cut into logs and burned in the kilns to make coke which he sold to the gold smelter for fuel in Leadville, Colorado.  Remnants of these kilns were still partially standing as a part of history and are located near Camp Hale out of Leadville. 

The school’s student census for Red Cliff lists Albert (Charles’ brother) Charles and John (his sons), and May Tourville.  May might be Charles’ sister Marie Anna-Louisa, as she was in a later Colorado state census with her new husband Clayton Geroux.

In 1883, the student list included Charles siblings Albert and Jennie (Genevieve) and his sons Henry, John, and William. 

In  January 1884, Charles and his family went back to Chateaugay to visit family, then returned to Colorado.  Charles’ younger siblings, Albert and Jennie, stayed in the east and married and had families there.  Marie Anna-Louisa had two daughters born in Montana, but eventually her family also returned to NY. 

In 1884 through 1888, Charles’ sons Henry, Johnny and Willie were in the Panddo and Mitchell school district.  Pando was a train stop on the Denver & Rio Grande railroad. 

The 1885 census for Eagle County (no town listed) shows Charles, Mary, Charles Henry, William, John, Ella, and George.   The index also lists Charles’ father working as a charcoal hand.  He was not living with Charles and Mary.   

The 1887 Colorado State Directory lists Charles Tourville living in Cooper, in Eagle County.  George Tourville is also listed.  This is likely Charles’ brother.  George also returned to NY to marry and have a family. 

Charles was known as somewhat of a celebrated “character” in the history of Leadville.  Family lore, as provided by a granddaughter of Charles, Loretta, stated the following:  I guess he was raised a Catholic, as many French people were in those days–my father said that grandfather had a bitter quarrel with his father, the nature of which was never disclosed, and great-grandfather disowned my grandfather, this his reason for migrating to Colorado.  Grandfather was so bitter, he vowed he would never set foot in the Catholic church again and he never did, but whether it was his conscience or something else, when the Catholic church was built in Leadville, he gave practically all of the money to build the church, but he never stepped inside the door.  This church is still in use today.  Grandfather was very successful in his coke business and was considered wealthy in those days. [More of Loretta’s story continues below in the italicized text.]

Charles had two sons, George and Joseph Ernest, who were born in 1880 in NY, and died before the 1885 state census.  He also had a son George (again) who died in 1887 at age three.  George is in an unmarked grave in the Catholic section of Evergreen cemetery in Leadville.  [In 2003, the cemetery was overgrown with brush.  In 2006, the brush was cleared away, but still no markers were found.]

He was a hard man and complete ruler of his family, when my father was in the fourth grade and big enough to work, he was taken out of school and put to work at the kilns as were the other boys. However dad was an avid reader and pretty good at plain math and was never afraid to tackle a new venture.

Grandad Charlie was a pretty heavy drinker in his youth, a huge man, very strong, and was at the height of his glory when challenged.  He also had only one eye, having lost it when a piece of steel from blacksmith tool flew into it.  He wore a glass eye at times, but mostly a black eye patch.

Leadville was a rip-roaring gold town.  It was wide open as the saying goes.  There was one solid block of saloons called State Street (some of them are still in operation) this street is where all the ladies of the night also lived.  I was there in the late 30’s and it was still the same even to the girls.  Now the girls are gone but the saloons remain much the same.  Anyway, Grandad acquired the name of “State Street Charlie.”    This was told to me by an old timer many years ago and verified by my father.  The name came about because he was well liked and very generous when he was on one of his sprees.  He would drive his team to Leadville, leaving grandma and the kids “home alone” and raise “hell” all night and return in the wee hours.  Dad always had to be ready to unharness and take care of the team.  He was so small he had to stand on a box to reach the harness.  Then Grandma would put grand dad to bed to sleep it off.  This was a usual Saturday night ritual.  This old timer told me he saw Grand dad many times in a fight.  He never started them but when challenged would not hit a man with his clenched fist but merely slap with an open hand and this usually would knock the challenger out.  With all this he was also a respected man because of his fair dealings in business and he was quite charitable except where his family was concerned.  He loved his family but allowed no extravagance as he called anything that might make for a little comfort or pleasure except where he himself was concerned.

On 4 August 1891, Charles got a 160-acre land grant in Eagle County.   In the 1900 census, Charles and Marie were listed at Lakes Precinct, in Eagle County, with children John and Carrie.

When the gold strike cooled, Grand dad decided to homestead a farm.  This is when he moved to Edwards, Colorado with his family and took up a homestead on Lake Creek.  He built a two story house there of logs.  As soon as the boys got old enough they all left home. 

When relying on family lore to tell a story, we need to remember that there are probably more viewpoints than just the one.  Since Charles and Mary had five children to lived to marry and have families, there are probably at least seven points of view. 

In May of 1907, Charles traveled back to Chateaugay for the illness of his father.  The elder Charles died later that year.  In 1910, the census shows Charles and Mary living in Eagle County, Lakes Precinct, Colorado, with his extended family – sons Henry (Charles H) and John and families.

Charles’ son William did return to the Edwards area and homesteaded near Charles, but felt that Charles was still trying to run his life, so they sold out and moved on.  With no one to help him, Charles sold the homestead and bought an 80-acre fruit farm two miles west of Glenwood Springs, in about 1914.  . 

On Sep 14 1918, Charles Tourville purchased 80 acres of land, described as the east half of the south-east quarter in Section 33, of Township 5 South, Range 89 West of the 6th Principal Meridian.  The purchase included all ditch and water rights.  The property was purchased from Ernest Wickman (deceased) and his wife Mary Wickman (executrix).  This property is in lower Mitchell Creek on the east side of Glenwood Springs.  Mary Tourville later sold the property to son John for “one dollar and other good and valuable considerations”.   As of May 2006, the property is part of Storm King Ranch.  Part was burned in fires in 1994 and 2002.  Fruit trees still grow on the lower side hill.  The price was $3000. 

1920 census shows him (age 68) living with wife (age 65), and grandson Thomas Pallister (age 15), North Glenwood Springs, as a fruit farmer. Charles owned his house free (not mortgaged) and he likely used the proceeds from the sale of his homestead in Edwards to pay off the fruit farm. Several of Charles neighbors also had fruit farms.

In 1921, Charles purchased a small parcel of land, described as 2 acres in the NW 1/4 of the NE 1/4 of Sec. 16, Twp. 6 S, Range 89 W.  It appears that the land ran in a narrow strip from Grand Avenue and the Denver & Rio Grande Western Rail Road, at about what is now 14th and Grand.  Later documentation indicates this property was sold to the school district by son John’s wife Mary A.  (Mary Alice) Tourville, and the Glenwood Springs High School appears to include this property now. In 1924, Charles and Marie moved into town.

Charles was listed as living in North Glenwood, in the 1930 census.  He died 16 July 1930 in Glenwood Springs, and his obituary was published in the Glenwood Post:  CHARLES TOURVILLE DIES  Charles Tourville, a rancher on Mitchell Creek for the past eleven years, passed away at his home Wednesday morning after many years of suffering from Bright’s disease.  He was born in Chateauguay, New York, in 1851 and came west in 1880, settling in Leadville for a number of years.  He has lived with his family in Glenwood Springs since 1918.  He is survived by his wife, two daughters, Mrs. Ella Pallister of Edwards Colo, Mrs. Carrie Dorsey of Findley, Ohio, and two sons, John of Glenwood springs and William of Salida.  Funeral services will be held at the Burdge Funeral home Friday afternoon at 2:30.  Father Carrigan will officiate. [Bright’s disease is an older term for some kidney diseases.]

Records from the funeral home show that he was buried on July 18th.  Expenses were charged to Mary A. Tourville, secured by his estate. She paid most of this bill with loads of wood, berries, apples, and even some rabbits – paid in full June 16, 1934, almost four years later. 

The cemetery was called Linwood, then Old Glenwood, and now Pioneer Cemetery.  Mary died in 1939 and is there also.  They are listed in Find-A-Grave.  The graves are not marked with names, but have two metal posts. 


Charles and Mary have two celebrity neighbors.  Harvey Alexander Logan (western outlaw and one-time member of Butch Cassidy’s gang known as Kid Curry) and John Henry (Doc) Holliday are both in the same cemetery. 





  1. Deborah L. Webster said,

    July 18, 2011 at 11:47


    I now own some of the land that Charles Tourville owned in the 1890s in Edwards, Colorado. Our irrigation ditches are the Tourville 1 and Tourville 2. Thanks so much for posting this. I’m trying to find out more about the history of the property. I did a Google search for Charles Tourville and up it came.

    Deborah Webster
    Vail and Edwards, Colorado

  2. Al Jewall said,

    January 24, 2012 at 23:09

    I have a gold pocket watch given to me by my grandfather (Horace Northover Camp, late of Vancouver, B.C.) which has the name Chas H. Tourville’s Special engraved on the face. The watch was produced by Hamilton Watch Company, Lancaster, PA in 1898 and is supposedly a one-of-a kind model made especially for Mr. Tourville. I don’t know how my grandfather came to be in possession of this watch but I am curious if Charles H. Tourville of Chateaugay, NY is one and the same person.

    Al Jewall

    Port Alberni, B.C. Canada

  3. sooze471 said,

    January 25, 2012 at 08:22

    Hello Al,

    The Charles Tourville who died in 1930 in Colorado was born in Chateaugay, and his father Charles H lived, had ten children, and died in Chateaugay.

    This is confusing but it looks like original Charles H who went from Quebec to NY but who had died by 1855, had 1 son Charles H born 1828, and three grandsons named Charles H.

    I’m betting that if the watch is dated 1898, it was a 70th birthday present for the Charles H who was born 17 June 1828. (He’s the father of the Charles in the story who died in 1930 in Colorado.)

    I will send you photos of Charles born 1828, and of his sons, I’m guessing perhaps taken when they all gathered in NY for his funeral? Charles was my 3rd great grandfather.

    I’d love to see a photo of the watch and the inscription. Is that possible?

    Would you like a more formal bio about Charles – family members, etc?

    Thanks for contacting me about this.


    • sooze471 said,

      February 14, 2012 at 22:12

      For anyone following the comments, I ordered the probate for records. The inventory for Charles Tourville (born 1828) did not include the watch. It might still be his, but given away before he died.

  4. Shawn Day said,

    August 15, 2012 at 12:34

    Hi Susan,

    Loved this blog! Were you ever able to get a picture of the watch? I would love to see it as well.



  5. sooze471 said,

    August 15, 2012 at 13:15

    Hi Shawn,
    I have added a photo to a separate blog about the watch, at

    We have not determined that this watch belonged to Charles of Colorado, or his father Charles of Chateaugay. Seems like most Tourville families of the era had a Charles or Charles H in them.

    • Shawn Day said,

      August 17, 2012 at 12:45

      Thanks for the info and the picture.

      I am enclosing some information my sister imparted to me regarding what she has found in relation to Colorado Charles. She lives in Glenwood Springs. I had sent her your blog story on him and asked her if his was one of the graves which got washed away in a flood there at one time. Supposedly it is now beneath some avenue or street. Below is her response – FYI…

      “I do know I found his first entry in the assessor records in 1919. He had one horse, one milch(?) cow, 30 fowl, 17 acres and about 30 acres of grazing land. One automobile and one road vehicle (?). All valued at about $1,350.00

      Yes, his was one of the graves washed away- his wife also. Their son John & Alice are both buried in the Glenwood cemetery. “

  6. Geo Finn said,

    June 30, 2013 at 10:28

    i was up on Mitchell Creek yesterday fishing the beaver ponds next to the coke ovens there. cool to come across this blog…

    • sooze471 said,

      July 2, 2013 at 21:18

      I have seen photos, but have not been up close to them. Sounds like Charles was quite a character.


      • Geo said,

        July 2, 2013 at 22:38

        i have a comprehensive history book set on Leadville that has Charles Tourville owning seven kilns on Tennessee Pass producing 18,000 bushels of charcoal a month. the kilns produced coke that was manufactured into charcoal. that , in turn, was used in the smelters here in Leadville.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: