CHARLES SUMNER PIER.
Among the large class of people who, even in this practical and materially purposive age, care deeply about the unseen things that are eternal, one hears frequent expressions of regret that there is nowadays little ''ministerial timber” of a sort that is virile in intellect and personality, and at the same time forcible in the more intangible affairs of the spirit. Such a complaint is refuted by one
example at least in the minds of those who know Charles S. Pier, who is the energetic pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Charleston, Illinois. Many of those to whom he is a personal friend, comforter or guide will be interested in a perusal of his family history and the record of his educational and professional career.
As both the Christian name and surname of Reverend Pier indicate, his family, in its paternal line, was originally French. The founder of the family in America, the great-great-grandfather of our subject, was a resident of New Jersey before and during the war of the Revolution, In which he probably participated. His son, Bernard Pier, of Paterson, New Jersey, was a sergeant of the United States army in the War of 1812. He married Jane Rut~an, the daughter of a Revolutionary soldier, who during his seven years service was wounded in the thigh, but nevertheless continued his patriotic activity as soon as the wound was healed. The marriage of his daughter with Bernard Pier brought into the latter family a strain of Holland blood. Rynier Pier, a son of Jane Rutan and Bernard Pier, married Ehiza Bailey. In 1850 the family left New York City, where Mr. Pier (grandfather of Charles S. Pier) was a wheel-wright and came to live in Perry eounty, Illinois, where at that time the country was wild and unbroken, covered with wild prairie grass and alive with abundant game. He found it convenient to combine his former vocation with farming in this sparsely settled region. His son, John Pier, had been born before the migration of the family from the eastern metropolis, being a small child at the time the life of Illinois began. He attended the country school, later pursuing a course 'in the high school of Sparta. For a time thereafter he enjoyed the intellectual satisfaction of teaching, but later relinquished that profession for the pursuit which seems ever most fascinating in a new land. After his marriage, in 1870, to Miss Sarah Jane Braden, a lady of Randolph county and a daughter of Irish parents—he settled upon a farm in Six Mile Prairie in Perry county. Here it was that he lived until the age when he retired to Sparta, where he died. He had lived an active, useful life. He was a Republican in polities and for twe4ve years had given public service as a highway commissioner without intermission. He was a member of the United Presbyterian church at Cutler, Illinois. His death occurred in 1910, although his father is still living in Sparta, at the age of ninety-two years.
On his father's farm in Six Mile Prairie Charles S. Pier was born in 1877. The only other member of the family in his generation was William R. Pier, who is a farmer in Perry county, Illinois. Charles Sumner Pier was fortunate in a childhood spent in the wholesome air of “God 's out-of-doors,” after which he passed to the Sparta high school and then to Knox College, at Galesburg, Illinois. In 1901 he was graduated from the latter institution with the degree of A. B. During his course he was notably active in college literary work and oratory, serving as an editor and business manager of the college weekly periodical published under student auspices and representing his alma mater in the inter-collegiate oratorical contest. His moral and religious enthusiasm found outlet in various ways, particularly through the college Y. M. C. A., of which he was elected president. His vigorous physical manliness is attested by the fact that for two years he played on the college football team.
After the completion of his literary education Mr. Pier entered McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, Illinois, where he studied for three years, being graduated with the class of 1904. His first pastorate was that of the First Presbyterian church of Union City, Indiana. Here he remained in ministerial service for five and a half years, when
he accepted a call to the First Presbyterian church of Charleston, Illinois, a congregation of 600 members and the leading church of its denomination in this part of the state. While presiding over his former charge Reverend Pier had so stimulated interest in churchly ideals that a new edifice had been erected and left without a debt to mar its record. A similar task has been accomplished in the larger city to which he has come. The church in Charleston is a beautiful structure, erected at a cost of $45,000.
It may be said without exaggeration that Rev. Pier is one of those clergymen who do not measure religious values by such externalities as mere material effect nor by impressive figures. To him the church is a symbol with the -inner truths .of religion which are synonyms with the great truths of ethics and morality. His dream is of a church universal—hence his activity in home mission affairs, in which he is particularly active in the presbytery of the Mattoon district. His dream is also of a church triumphant in the altruism which is such an inherently Christian characteristic—hence his influence in the church benevolences over which he also presides in the Mattoon presbytery.
A narrow cleaving of his existence from that of the men about him has never been characteristic of Charles Sumner Pier. He is of that age and class of live clergymen who know that the greatest life of service is not lived in the cloister and pulpit alone. While in college he was a member of the college fraternity of Phi Delta Theta and is also a member of the Masonic order. Although social prominence has ever been readily offered him, he is essentially democratic in spirit, as becomes a brother of men.
Mrs. Pier was formerly Miss Florence Hook, the daughter of William and Mary (St. John) Hook, the former of English ancestry. She IS a graduate of the Union City high school and is an accomplished musician. She and Reverend Pier were united in marriage on January 27, 1910. They have one child, a baby daughter named Ruth Constance. Both Mr. and Mrs. Pier have many friends in Charleston and its vlclnity, both in the Presbyterian church and without its membership or congregation.