Richardson was born March 28, 1840 in Waterloo, Canada, the daughter of
George Herbert Richardson and Cecilia Wells Church Richardson. Her
parents were of English stock and her father's family were early settlers in
New England. In 1852, when Charlotte was twelve years old, she moved to
Forreston, Ogle County, Illinois with her family.
In an 1897 letter,
Charlotte was described as a tiny, frail woman, but she was anything but
frail in spirit. Her life was filled with triumph and disaster and she
met them both head on, with great strength. She took on adult
responsibilities at an early age when she married Silas
Jackson Blair on October 3, 1854 at age fourteen. Their first
child, Ida Laura, was born to them on June 25th, 1858 and there second child,
Harriet Cecilia, was born October 26, 1860.
twenty-one when the Civil War broke out and her husband marched off to fight
with the Union Army as a Sgt. in the 34th Illinois
Volunteer Infantry. It was fortunate that she had a large
supportive family because to everybody's sorrow, Silas never came home.
He was killed at Pittsburgh Landing during the battle of Shiloh on April 7th,
1862, just seven months after he entered the service. More sorrow
followed when their youngest daughter, Ida Laura passed away on November
With her husband on
the same Tennessee battlefield was a young man of only seventeen
years. His name was Andrew Alexander Robertson and he was a good
friend of Silas and Charlotte. Andrew was with the 15th Illinois
Volunteer Infantry, Co. H. under the command of Lt. Col. Ellis and was in the
very thickest of the battle on April 6th, 1862. Here young Robertson
displayed true heroism when Col. Ellis, Major Goddard and twenty-six men of Co.
H. were shot down, and during the carnage and confusion Andrew Robertson
remained calm and brave until he too succumbed to serious injury. His
wounds were so severe that he was released from service and sent home to
Forreston, Illinois, to recover. While Andrew was home recovering from
his wounds he continued to see his good friend Charlotte and eventually their
friendship grew into something deeper and they were married on June 5th,
1864. Unbelievable as it might sound, Andrew, still suffering from his
previous wounds, re-enlisted as a Lieutenant in the army and served until the
war's close in 1865. Andrew and Charlotte had one child, Katie Maude,
born to them on October 27, 1865, but sorrow visited them again when little
Katie died just 10 months later.
After the war, life
for the Robertson's started to prosper. Andrew taught school in
Forreston until going into the grain and lumber business with his
brother-in-law, George Richardson. The partners and their families
moved west in 1873 and engaged in the same business at Alden, Iowa and then
Iowa Falls, Iowa. In 1881 the business partnership was dissolved and
the Robertson's moved to Hampton, Iowa where Andrew continued to deal in
grain and stock. Hampton was an up and coming town in the State of Iowa
where many second generation Forreston families had moved, including the N.
W. Beebe Jr. family.
In 1884, while
Charlotte was away visiting her daughter who was attending school in Chicago,
tragedy struck the family again. Andrew was taken seriously ill and
Charlotte was telegraphed with a message to hurry to his bedside. She
arrived on a Thursday and over the next couple of days he quickly seemed to
improve. On Sunday evening, Charlotte left his bedside to go to dinner
and before leaving he called her to his bedside and kissed and embraced her
many times, but normally being an affectionate man she thought little of
it. Upon her return from dinner she noticed that his face had changed
and supposed he was about to faint. She raised his head and saw a wound
in his right temple and then noticed the pistol in his right hand. He
died in her arms a few moments later without uttering another word. It
was surmised that he took his life because he could no longer bear the
pain he had long suffered as a result of his war wounds.
Charlotte, alone again, went on to lead a very full and productive
life. She had been a life-long student and writer and following
her husband's death she moved to Chicago to be near her daughter and took up
a career of teaching and writing. She was elected a life member of the
Illinois Woman's Press Association of Chicago. She served as an
instructor of public speaking, dramatic art and physical culture in Chicago
and later in Los Angeles where she moved after a near fatal bout with typhoid
fever in 1901. Above is pictured one of Charlotte's original
business cards. She was greatly interested in religious work and
problems, and was an active member of the Plymouth church in Chicago.
She was also a member of the D.A.R. and The Fraternal Order of Eastern
Star. Her D. A. R. membership was made under the name of a Richardson
ancestor, Wyman Richardson, who served as a Minute Man during the American
in California until 1927, when her health compelled her back to Illinois to
live with her daughter, Harriet Blair Ward, in Champaign,
Illinois. She died on March 3, 1928 and according to her obituary she
was laid to rest in Chicago. However, there is a monument in her name next to
her husband Alexander in Union Cemetery, Iowa Falls, Hardin County, Iowa.
With them is a marker for a baby Robertson (Ward Robertson). There are no dates on the baby's marker.