Charles Bender, Sr., biography c. 1895
[from A History of Texas and Texans]
  Source: History of Texas, together with a biographical history of the cities of Houston and Galveston. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1895, pp. 563-564.

There is much to be respected in the life and character of the gentleman whose name heads this sketch. The United States has given to men of courage, honesty of purpose, integrity and energy, rare opportunities to achieve success. The majority of the men who have legitimately achieved fortune have been men with the above characteristics, and Charles Bender is one of that stamp. He was born November 26, 1829, on the Rhine river, in Germany, in which country his parents, Peter and Lucinda Bender, lived and died, the father dying at the age of sixty-seven, and the mother at the age of forty-two. They reared a family of four children: Charles, Fred, Conrad, and Kate. Like the majority of German youths, Charles Bender was apprenticed in his youth to learn a trade, and became a practical baker. He was always of an ambitious and enterprising disposition, and at the early age of fifteen years he conceived the idea of seeking his fortune in America, and in March, 1844, he landed at New York city, after a stormy voyage of fifty-six days in a sailing vessel, during nearly all of which time he was very seasick. He worked at the baker's trade for two and a half years in New York city, after which he went to New Orleans, and took a contract to furnish wood for two steamboats, "Lenora" and "Olenia," that ran on Lake Pontchartrain from Madisonville to New Orleans, and this work he continued to pursue up to 1850. In the meantime, May 24, 1849, he was married to Miss Lena Lochar, a native of Switzerland, and in course of time a family of five children gathered about their hearthstone: Charles, Jr.; Albert; Eugene; Frank; and Mary, wife of Julius Barr.

In the above mentioned year (1850) Mr. Bender moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas, and opened a bakery, which he conducted for about two years with good financial results, then moved to Warsaw, Missouri, where he not only conducted a bakery, but also a confectionery establishment and operated and owned a saw and grist mill. Owing to good management and faithful attention to his business, wealth began to pour in upon him, but during the progress of the great civil war all his property, to the amount of about $22,000, was swept away, and after hostilities had ceased he was once more compelled to commence at the bottom of the ladder. He enlisted in the second company that went out to battle from Missouri, being a member of Captain O'Kane's company, and operated in Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana. After the battle of Vicksburg he was detailed to the Quartermaster's department, with headquarters at San Antonio, Texas, and he was also engaged in hauling cotton and supplies into Mexico for the Confederate Government.

When the war closed he took up the pursuits of civil life at New Braunfels, Texas, in the vicinity of which he purchased a farm of 1,100 acres, began tilling the soil, and at the same time opened a big packing establishment for the packing and shipping of beef and hides, but, on account of a destructive flood he lost about $18,000, and cattle, said loss aggregating 3,000 head. Mr. Bender was possessed of too much courage and determination to be daunted by this misfortune, but continued his labors up to 1872, when he disposed of his farm and moved to Spring Station, Texas, where he purchased a sawmill, and has followed this business at different places ever since and has made a success of it.

In 1889 he purchased a large mill at Humble, Texas, seventeen miles from Houston, which mill has a capacity of 50,000 feet daily, and in connection with this sawmill he had a large planing mill which turns out a large amount of lumber. Besides this he has a valuable plant at Holshausen, Texas, and a planing mill and office in Houston. He is also the owner of real estate to the amount of 700 acres, near Spring Station, Texas, and valuable property in Houston. He is a self-made man in every acceptation of the term, for he came to this country a poor boy, with no knowledge of the English language, and without aid from any one he has attained an honored position in business circles and has accumulated a comfortable fortune for his declining years, notwithstanding the several business reverses which he has experienced. His life teaches a useful lesson and is in every way worthy of being emulated.

Text and images were digitized and proofread from the original source documents by Murry Hammond. Contact Murry for all corrections and contributions of new material.