Charles Bostwick Ran Away From Home

My Great Grandfather Charles Jabez Bostwick, was born 30 October 1878 in Soquel, CA. His parents were John Day and Ida (Shelby) Bostwick. As I wrote in my last post, his mom died after giving birth to another child (who didn’t survive) when Charles was just 11 months old. The story my family passed down is that on her deathbed, Ida asked John to marry the housekeeper Delphina Valencia. She felt that Delphina would be a good mother to Charles. One year later, John did marry Delphina and they had 8 more children. The family story may have some truth to it because when I saw the 1880 census, Delphina was listed in the household as a housekeeper and John was still a widow and Charles was 2 years old. That documentation wasn’t available to my grandma and mom who told me the story.


Charles grew up without much family from his father’s side around because his dad moved to California from New York most likely to meet his Uncle John Day Chase who was already living here in 1870. His mother’s side of the family was in the area but his Great Grandfather Roger Hinckley died in 1881. His maternal Grandparents John Lafayette Shelby and Jeanette Ann Hinckley divorced in 1875 but continued to live in the area. Of interest and something I had never heard was an article I found about him. It was long so I am just sharing the headline and the part that Charles is in. It appears that Charles witnessed a murder when he was 12 years old when he was in his grandfather’s yard. I verified that this was his Grandfather’s house as in the article it revealed that the murder occurred on Doyle street which is the street JL Shelby lived on according to the city directory that year.



Santa Cruz Sentinel 1891

According to my mom, Charles ran away from home as a teenager and ended up in Chicago, IL. I found he was in the high school in Soquel so I wonder if he left after he graduated. My mom didn’t have anymore details, didn’t know why he ran away and didn’t know why he chose Chicago. I found him in the 1900 census in Chicago as an inmate at Mercy Hospital and worked as an orderly. Looking down the list there were nurses and laundresses and cooks living there also so there must have been a dorm type situation for employees there.

On 2 June 1901, Charles married Alpha J Wilkins in Chicago. Alpha is the daughter of Thomas and Christine (Pearson) Wilkins. They had 8 children: Florence 1902, Raymond 1904, Marion 1906, Delphine 1911, Virginia 1915, Dorothy 1917, Margaret 1919 and Lucille 1922.

The 1905 NY census shows the family with the oldest 2 children were living in Yonkers. They were living with Alpha’s younger sister and her niece, the child of Alpha’s older sister. While there, they had their 3rd child. Charles was working as a Packer. He wasn’t living far from his grandmother, Sarah Jane (Chase) Bostwick that lived in New York state. I wonder if they saw each other while he lived there. The 1910 US census reveals that Charles is back in Chicago working as a janitor living with the children but not with Alpha. She is in Massachusetts with her older sister. My mom told me that Charles loved to dance and would go out on the town. Alpha, however, did not like this and left him a few times. This may be one of those times. The family is all together and are also found on the 1920 US census living in Chicago and this time he is a Chauffeur.

In August 1929, Alpha caught pneumonia and died leaving Charles with 4 daughters to raise as the rest of the family had already moved out. The 1930 census shows he is living with his oldest daughter (my grandma), Florence’s family.  She had 4 children under the age of 9, the oldest being my mom. It was a crowded house as it only had 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. There was an attic and that is where Charles and his daughters stayed. This time Charles is working as a store clerk.

My mom remembers there were a lot of different women but only remembers one that he married. I came across a marriage certificate from 6 July 1931 of a Charles J Bostwick and a Della Plasterer who were married in Chicago. My mom didn’t remember her but wasn’t surprised either. I don’t know what happened to Della, but by 15 June 1935 Charles was married for the third time to Edna Barnhart in Indiana. This is who my mom remembers. The 1940 US census reveals Charles and Edna living in Chicago and he was working as a truck driver.


Charles registered for the draft in both WWI and WWII. The registration for WWI provided more information. He was considered medium build and height, brown eyes and black hair. He had a disqualification because he had a speech impediment. My grandmother did also and some of her children did. That makes me wonder if stuttering was genetically passed down from earlier ancestors and if so, which ones.

At some point Charles moved back to California and according to an article where he attended a picnic of Soquel Pioneers in 1946, he spoke and revealed they were going back to Chicago to sell the house and coming back to Soquel to live.  The article went on to name other Bostwicks that attended, some of which were his half siblings. This was probably a close estimate of when he did move back as his death certificate indicates that he had been living there for 10 years. He did move back to California but not to Soquel, instead he moved to Hawthorne which is located in Los Angeles county and is about 5 miles from the airport. Important because he worked for American Airlines as an Airplane mechanic until he retired. Also, 3 of his daughters and their families lived in the area. My grandma took my sister and a cousin to visit him shortly before he died and the one thing she remembers is that there was a model train set up in the garage.

Charles Jabez Bostwick died August 20, 1957 at his home in Hawthorne, CA. There was no cause of death listed on the certificate but his obituary indicated that he had a heart attack.  He was 78 years old. Although mom told me that he wasn’t religious and can’t associate him with any denomination, his funeral was officiated by a Methodist minister. Charles was cremated and was interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery.

photo courtesy BJ Waters August 2015




United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 14 July 2016), Charlie Bostwick in household of John Bostwick, Soquel, Santa Cruz, California, United States; citing enumeration district ED 90, sheet 491C, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0082; FHL microfilm 1,254,082.

Santa Cruz Sentinel June 9, 1891, p3. Santa Cruz, California.

United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 February 2017), Chas J Bostwick in household of Henry Mitchell, Precinct 20 South Town Chicago city Ward 2, Cook, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 51, sheet 10A, family 1, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,246. Cook County, Illinois Marriages Index, 1871-1920 [database online], Provo, UT USA operations

New York State Census, 1905, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 26 November 2014), Charles J Bostwick in household of Anna Peterson, Yonkers, Ward 05, E.D. 02, Westchester, New York; citing p. 36, line 42, county offices, New York.; FHL microfilm 589,664.

United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 February 2017), Chas J Bostwick, Chicago Ward 6, Cook, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 320, sheet 7A, family 142, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 245; FHL microfilm 1,374,258.

United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 February 2017), Chas Bostwick, Chicago Ward 3, Cook (Chicago), Illinois, United States; citing ED 161, sheet 7B, line 79, family 148, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 313; FHL microfilm 1,820,313.

United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 February 2017), Chas J Bostwick in household of Henry Mangen, Chicago (Districts 0251-0500), Cook, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 359, sheet 2A, line 29, family 35, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 428; FHL microfilm 2,340,163.

Certificate of Marriage 1931 of Charles J Bostwick and Della Plasterer

Indiana Marriages, 1811-2007,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 21 January 2016), Charles J Bostwick and Edna Barnhart, 15 Jun 1935; citing Lake, Indiana, United States, various county clerk offices, Indiana; FHL microfilm 2,416,331.

United States Census, 1940,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 16 February 2017), Charles Bostwick, Ward 5, Chicago, Chicago City, Cook, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 103-324, sheet 7A, line 32, family 120, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 931.

United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 December 2014), Charles Jabez Bostwick, 1917-1918; citing Chicago City no 8, Illinois, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,439,698.

“United States World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 7 April 2016), Charles Jabez Bostwick, 1942; citing NARA microfilm publication M1936, M1937, M1939, M1951, M1962, M1964, M1986, M2090, and M2097 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 30, 1946,p 3, Santa Cruz, CA.

Death certificate Los Angeles County

Inglewood Daily News, August 22, 1957 p 22, Inglewood, CA

Find A Grave photo by BJ Waters August 2015, Memorial #150030723


One thought on “Charles Bostwick Ran Away From Home

  1. Charles had such a challenging life—losing his mother, witnessing a murder, running away, and all those marriages. It is hard to imagine what impact that all had on him.


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