Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Charles H. Thurber
Charles Hequembourg Thurber, the secretary of the 1859 unknown St. Louis baseball club, was born on December 25, 1842 to Edward E. Thurber and Emma Hequembourg, most likely in Buffalo, New York, where his parents were married in 1840. His father died in 1857 in Cincinnati and it's probable that Charles and his widowed mother moved to St. Louis shortly thereafter. While there is conflicting evidence, several sources state that Emma was born in St. Louis around 1820 and it appears that Emma Thurber returned home in the late 1850s, following the death of her husband. Interestingly, Charles Thurber is directly related to Charles Hequembourg, in whose offices the Empire Club was formed in 1860 and who was also the brother of Emma Thurber.
By 1860, the young Thurber was working as a clerk in an insurance office in St. Louis and, following the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined the 1st Missouri Infantry in June of 1861, mustering in as a sergeant. In August of 1861, he saw action at the Battle of Wilson's Creek and, soon after, his unit was reorganized as the 1st Missouri Light Artillery. At some point prior to April of 1862, when his unit was fighting at the Battle of Shiloh, Thurber had been promoted to Lieutenant. In 1863, the 1st Missouri Light Artillery was transferred from the Army of Tennessee to the Department of Missouri and Thurber spent the rest of the war in central and western Missouri. Also, in May of that year, he was promoted to Captain.
1864 was an interesting year for Capt. Thurber. He was transferred to the 2d. Missouri Artillery and was stationed in Warrensburg, Missouri. In Warrensburg, he met Amanda Ellen Moody, a sixteen year old local girl, and married her on May 24, 1864. In the fall, Sterling Price invaded Missouri and Thurber was involved in several battles, helping to drive the Confederate raider back into Arkansas. By the end of the year, Thurber was serving as a staff officer in Warrensburg and operating as the district inspector for the army.
In 1865, Thurber and his wife had a daughter, Mary, and, with the war over, he mustered out of the army in the fall. Thurber and his new family settled in Warrensburg and it appears that he spent the rest of his life there, working as a clerk in the Secretary of State's office. He and his wife had three more children, all sons.
Charles Thurber died in Warrensburg on June 9, 1891. He's buried in Warrensburg and that's his tombstone at the top of this post, which I found at Billion Graves.
Thurber certainly lived an interesting life and his was rather typical of pioneer-era St. Louis ballplayers. Meeting his young bride during the war, while he was stationed at Warrensburg, was a nice detail but the most interesting part of his biography was his relationship to Charles Hequembourg. Now I stated earlier that Hequembourg was his uncle but it's entirely possible that he was his grandfather. Both Emma's father and brother were named Charles but the father was a Reverend and, therefore, I don't think he would have been the Justice of the Peace in St. Louis in 1860. The young Charles was in his late forties and, without looking into it too deeply, I peg him for the Justice Hequembourg in whose offices the Empire Club was first organized. Charles Hequembourg didn't really have anything to do with the organization of the Empire Club and I doubt that he was ever a member but it's an interesting coincidence that Thurber, a member of what was possibly the first baseball club in St. Louis, was related to Hequembourg, who is tied to the organization of another antebellum St. Louis club. It is probably just a coincidence but it's something that jumped out at me. Without reading too much into it, it's possible that there is some connection between the Unknown Club of 1859 and the Empire Club.