Brigadier General Charles H. Grosvenor was born September 20, 1833 and died October 30, 1917. He was 84 years old.
The Grosvenor family can be traced to England with General Grosvenor’s ancestors being named as noblemen at the time of William the Conqueror and King Richard the First. The Grosvenor name is still prominent in England: Grosvenor Square. At one time, the family owned the famous Gainsborough painting “The Blue Boy” which currently hangs in the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino/Pasadena, California.
John Grosvenor emigrated to America in the 1600’s and was one of twelve grantees who were given title to 15,100 acres of wilderness lands in the Connecticut colony which became the Township of Pomfret in 1656. The Grosvenors still reside in Pomfret Connecticut.
The Grosvenor family has distinguished themselves militarily in the history of this country beginning with Charles Grosvenor’s paternal grandfather, Thomas, who was the great grandson of John Grosvenor. Thomas Grosvenor was in the first seven regiments of the Minute Men which Connecticut raised for the Revolution. Lt. Thomas Grosvenor was wounded at Bunker Hill and in the famous Turnbull painting of the Battle of Bunker Hill, Thomas Grosvenor is the figure in the foreground, accompanied by a black servant. He further served at the Battle of Long Island, in the retreat from New York through the Jerseys, participated in the actions at Trenton and Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. After Valley Forge, he was commissioned Lt. Col., commandant of the First Connecticut Regiment.
Charles Grosvenor’s father, Peter, was a major in the War of 1812 and his mother was Ann Chase Grosvenor. Charles was the sixth child, sixth son of a family of nine children.
Life and Influence of Charles Henry Grosvenor
In 1838, at the age of five, Charles Grosvenor’s family moved to Athens County, Ohio where he attended a log house school and he received considerable training and education at home from his mother. As a young man, Charles worked the farm in season, taught district school during the winter and read the foundation books of law during leisure hours. In 1857 at age 24, he was admitted to the bar of Athens. He formed a law partnership with the Honorable S. S. Knowles in 1858. This partnership was terminated by the opening of the Rebellion in 1861. He enlisted as a private in the 18th Ohio Volunteers Infantry at the outbreak of the Rebellion of 1861. He rose to the rank of major and in June 1865 was advanced to Col. He commanded a brigade at the Battle of Nashville and later commanded a post at Chattanooga. He was brevetted brigadier general in March 1865, and then returned to Athens, his family, his law practice and to politics.
Following the Civil War, he became associated with J. M. Dana and later E. S. Jones, forming the firm of Grosvenor, Jones and Davis. (Mr. Jones was the grandfather of John Jones, who was president of the Ohio University Alumni Association when the Grosvenor house became the Konneker Alumni Center in 1981.)
Charles married Samantha Stewart in 1858, the daughter of Daniel Stewart who built the Stewart-Murphee house in Stewart Ohio, now on the National Register. Their daughter Constance Stewart Grosvenor McKee lived next door and had three children, Grosvenor McKee, Grace M. Evans, and Katherine M. Jones.
Samantha died in 1866 and the following year, Charles married Louise Currier. They had a daughter, Louise G. Leete, mother of Constance Leete, who lived in the Grosvenor house until sold to the Episcopal Church in 1948.
Charles entered politics and was elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1873. Re-elected, he served as Speaker of the House from 1876–1878. In 1872 and 1880, he was a Republican presidential elector. In 1884, he was elected to the U. S. Congress where he served successive terms in the 49th, 50th, 51st, 53rd, and 54th Congress. In Congress, he rose to national prominence as an orator, a member of the “Speakers Cabinet”, third ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Chairman on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. In 1896, he was the Ohio delegate-at-large to the Republican National Convention in St. Louis and also the same in 1900 to the Convention in Philadelphia which nominated McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. He was a friend to many whose names are prominent in our history: Sherman, Sheridan, Blaine, Thomas, Garfield, McKinley, Taft, Roosevelt, and Carnegie.
On retiring from Congress, his colleagues in the House and Senate unanimously passed legislation allocating $100,000 for a new Post Office in Athens, now Haning Hall. President William Howard Taft, a close friend, waited in an outer office to sign the legislation.
Charles was also responsible for encouraging Andrew Carnegie to give $30,000 to build the library at Ohio University, now the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism.
The Grosvenor House
52 University Terrace, the residence built by Gen. Charles Grosvenor and
current home to Konneker Alumni Center, 1912
Commissioned by Charles Grosvenor in 1899 with his architect cousin in Boston, Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, who is known for many architectural projects such as the Chickamauga Memorial in 1899, Campus plan and additions at West Point from 1903–1910, and St. Bartholomew’s Church, New York City from 1914–1919. The house was completed in 1901. He lived in the house until his death in 1917 and was later occupied by his granddaughter Constance Leete until 1948. The house was acquired by the Ohio University Fund, Inc. in 1980, restored and dedicated as the office residence of the Ohio University Alumni Association in 1981 and named for alumnus Wilfred R. Konneker, Class of 1942, who contributed $250,000 to acquire the house and another $100,000 as a challenge grant to encourage gifts to restore and furnish the property.