Charles Straws

Charles Straws


Photo by G. D. Trowbridge, Fowlerville, courtesy of Fowlerville Archives.

Charles Straws is not one of the more well-known people from Fowlerville's past, but in his time he was very well-known, respected, and popular.

Straws was born a slave in Boone County, Kentucky on April 27, 1845. At the age of 19 he came to Michigan, where he settled in Marion Township near Howell. He worked on a farm and went to school during the winter so that he would have an education. Later he moved into Howell, where he apprenticed as a barber with a Mr. Pritchard.

Around 1873 Charles moved to Fowlerville, where he set up shop as a barber. He married Lula Brown of Howell on September 1, 1878 in Williamston. In the summer of 1899 he went into partnership with Morgan Vaughn.

Because of his past as a slave, and their experiences in the war, many of the Civil War veterans of Fowlerville befriended Charles. He was also a friend with many of the local businessmen. At least one photo of a group of those up-and-coming young men includes Straws. He was a member of the Fowlerville Lodge, K.O.T.M. (Knights of the Maccabees, a fraternal organization that specialized in selling life insurance to its members).

Straws died unexpectedly at his home on July 31, 1899 at the age of 54. He was survived by his wife, Lulu, and a sister, a Mrs. Calvert of Howell. The funeral was held at the Baptist Church, which proved to be too small for all of the attendees, which included a large contingent of the members of Gilluly Post, G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic, sort of a VFW or American Legion for Civil War veterans). Straws was so respected that all of the businesses in town closed during the services.

Charles and Lulu Straws are both buried in Greenwood Cemetery, not far from where the cannon is and services are held for Memorial Day. Lulu apparently remarried, to a Mr. Hall, as the name on her gravestone is Lulu Straws Hall. She was born in 1846 and died in 1930.

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