CHARLES DREW TUFTS,
or as he is familiarly called, Drew Tufts, is an interesting son of an interesting father. The father is now dead, but the son is in the prime of life, and each day sees new triumphs added to his career. Samuel P. Tufts, the father, was born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, on the 28th of January, 1827. When he was a child of seven his parents went to Missouri to live, and there his childhood days were passed. When he was twelve years old they moved to Collinsville, Illinois, and here he received the greater part of his education. His elementary education was obtained in the near-by city of St. Louis, where he attended both private and public schools. He afterward attended the high school in Collinsville, where he completed his education. His father, believing that every man should have a trade or a profession, sent the lad to Racine, Wisconsin, to learn the carpenter trade, but before he was ready to make use of the knowledge thus acquired the Mexican war broke out. He lost no time in enlisting, and was enrolled in Company F, Fifteenth United States Infantry. This regiment was enlisted for five years or until the close of the war. They first spent a month drilling and geting into shape for the real work later on, at Camp Washington, near Cincinnati, Ohio, and then marched southward to the Gulf of Mexico and embarked on board a ship that landed in Vera Cruz. They then proceeded to Pueblo and joined the command of General Winfield Scott. From this time until General Scott entered Mexico City the regiment was with him in all of the engagements, among these being Cerro Gordo, where a narrow pass was the scene of action; Churubusco, where the American army numbered eight thousand, and the Mexicans, twenty to twenty-five thousand; Chapultepec, in which a strong castle, well fortified and garrisoned, was the center of the fighting, which was perhaps the fiercest of the war. To the regiment of which Mr. Tufts was a member was given the honor of holding this castle of Chapultepec. The city of Mexico was entered on the 14th of September, 1847, and the war was ended. Mr. Tufts was mustered out of service at Covington. Kentucky, and immediately returned to his home in Collinsville, Illinois. He remained here for a short time, but the scenes of excitement through which he had passed made the quiet life of the little town seem unbearable. He was essentially a man of action, and if there were a
dearth of activity in the world around him he set to work and manufactured it, as we shall see later.
He now decided to.go west and seek his fortune in the gold fields of California, so with an ox-team and a party of six set out on a long and dangerous journey in 1850. The first part of the way, across the great plains, was accomplished without great difficulty, but when the arid lands were reached their troubles began. They lost all of their stock and suffered tortures through lack of food and water, and finally, when they reached their goal, their friends would not have known them, so thin and emaciated, sun-burnt and ragged did they appear. Samuel Tufts at once bought an outfit and started mining. He kept industriously at it for two years, and achieved a fair success. The longing for home at last came over him, and like so many others who had found at least a little of the gold which they sought he decided to return home. He came back by way of the Isthmus of Panama, and reached Illinois in 1853. The following winter he was perfectly content to spend in Belleville, quietly pursuing his trade as a carpenter. In 1854 he came to Centralia and engaged in the carpenter trade until the outbreak of the Civil war. When this occurred he hastened to enlist in the First Illinois Cavalry, Company H. He assisted in raising this company and was elected first lieutenant. It was under the command of Colonel Oglesby, who was afterwards governor of Illinois. Lieutenant Tufts took part in the battles of New Madrid and of Island Number Ten. He had the unique duty of carrying the first flag of truce known to the Union. He was mustered out of the service at St. Louis, Missouri, in July, 1862, and was appointed deputy collector of internal revenues. He held this office for two years, and shortly after his term had expired, in 1864, he was appointed as delegate to the National Republican Convention in Baltimore that had the honor of nominating Abraham Lincoln for his second presidential term.
In 1866 Mr. Tufts was appointed mail agent between Cairo and Centralia, and until 1869 he performed the duties of this office. The year before, 1868, he had been very active in establishing the first Democratic paper in the city, the Democrat. He served as secretary and manager of this publication and in 1871, so interested had he become in its success, that he acquired complete control of it. For twelve years, or until his son was old enough to take charge, he managed the affairs of the paper, in addition to all the other activities in which he was concerned. In 1870 he was given the contract for building a railroad through Christian county, Illinois. This task had been abandoned by two contractors before him, for the road bed had to be cut through solid rock in some places. At about this time he was also granted the contract for building the Cairo Short Line between Pinckneyville and DuQuoin. He held numerous political offices, both under appointment and by election. He was postmaster of the house of representatives in 1883-4 and was postmaster of Centralia during Cleveland's administrations. He served one term as alderman and three terms as city clerk.
Mr. Tufts was a prominent Odd Fellow and was elected to represent his lodge at the Grand Encampment of the state. He was also president of the National and the State Association of Veterans of the Mexican war. He was married on the 4th of October, 1857, to Zerelda Goodwin, who was born and reared in Clark county, Indiana. She was a welleducated woman, having done her advanced work in Bloomfield Seminary, Bloomfield, Kentucky. Her father, John Goodwin, was a native Kentuckian, having been born in Nicholsville. When he moved to Indiana he went into the farming industry on a large scale and was very successful. He had been a soldier in the War of 1812, and had taken
part in the battle of Tippecanoe. He died in Clark county, Indiana, in 1859. Samuel Tufts passed through some of the most exciting years in the history of our country and was a participant in some of the events that were to mould the future life of the nation. His death on the 4th of October, 1903, was a severe loss not only to his family, but to the whole community.
Charles Drew Tufts was born in Centralia, Illinois, on the 27th of January, 1864. He was educated in his home town, and was graduated from the high school in 1882. He immediately went into newspaper work, beginning to edit the Democrat in 1883. Since this time the paper has been recognized as a power in newspaperdom. The editorials are eagerly read, for Mr. Tufts has a clear insight into modern affairs and has no hesitation about expressing himself. His writing is keen, clever and goes straight to the heart of the matter. It is singularly free from the faults of modern newspaper writing, while it possesses all the virtues, of being clear, concise and vivid. Mr. Tufts is the author of a book which has been published by the McClurg Publishing Company, of Chicago. This is in the form of a political novel, entitled Hiram Blair, and has met with a cordial welcome by the public.
Drew Tufts has been honored with several positions of public trust. He was president of the board of education for one term, and during the administration of Governor Altgeld, was private secretary to the lieutenant-governor. He was a member of the Democratic state committee, and has been master in chancery for Marion county. Needless to say, he is an active supporter of the Democratic party, and in the coming struggle he will be relied on as one of the strongest Democrats in the state. In his own profession he is a member of the Illinois Press Association and has served as president of this body. He is deeply interested in the fraternal orders and is a member of several. He is a Mason, belonging to Centralia Lodge, No. 201. He is also a member of Centralia Chapter, No. 93, Royal Arch Masons, Centralia Council, No. 28, Royal and Select Masters, and of Cyrene Commandery, No. 23, Knights Templar. He is a Knight of Pythias and also an Elk. He belongs to the Eastern Star in addition to all of the others. His activities in these various orders take no small share of his time. In the business world he is known as one of the organizers of the Centralia Water Supply Company and as its president. This company furnishes the city with water and they own the largest artificial body of water in the state of Illinois. The people of the state will do well to keep their eye on Drew Tufts, for he has shown of what stuff he is made in his past activities in the field of politics, and now that the crisis in political affairs is approaching, it is quite evident that he will be called into action as one of the leaders.