Biography of Judge Charles L. Selzer
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

JUDGE CHARLES L. SELZER, judge of the Municipal Court of Cleveland, has been a busy professional man in the city for over thirty five years. He entered politics even before he was admitted to the bar, and had much to do with the affairs of the Village of Brooklyn before it was incorporated into the city.

Judge Selzer was born in Cleveland, October 6, 1859, son of Jacob D. and Elizabeth (Wirth) Selzer. Jacob D. Selzer, one of the early German citizens of Cleveland, was born at Franzheim, Bavaria, May 4, 1836, son of Jacob and Mary (Damien) Selzer. Jacob D. Selzer came to the United States and to Cleveland in 1854. His older brother, Daniel, was the first representative of the family in this city. Jacob D. Selzer clerked in a store, became a traveling salesman, and followed that business for about twenty years. In 1867 he bought property in Brooklyn village, and in 1886 engaged in the greenhouse business. That was his principal business activity for a long period of years. He was deputy state treasurer in 1878-79, served as bookkeeper in the National House of Representatives at Washington from 1893 to 1897, and for several years was cashier of the United States internal revenue office at Cleveland. Jacob D. Selzer, who died January 23, 1916, was a substantial citizen in every respect, successful in business, a man of influence in public affairs, and was an intimate friend of many prominent men, including August Thieme, founder of the newspaper, The Waechter and Erie, now the Cleveland Waechter and Anzeiger, and also of Governor Jacob Mueller and William J. Gordon.

Elizabeth Wirth, mother of Judge Selzer, was married to Jacob D. Selzer in 1859. She died in 1865, leaving two sons, Charles L. and Robert E. Robert was drowned while serving on board the U. S. S. Corwin in San Francisco Bay in April, 1882. The second wife of Jacob D. Selzer was Mary Louise Wirth, a sister of his first wife. She was the mother of one song, George H., born in 1867.

Judge Charles L. Selzer was reared in a good home, and encouraged in habits of independence and thrift. He was educated in the graded and in the West High schools, and following school became a drug clerk. A few years later he entered the law office of the late John W. Heisley, read law and also attended the Cleveland Law School, and as a means of earning a living at the same time he and H. M. Farnsworth founded the Cuyahogan, a weekly newspaper published at Brooklyn village. June 3, 1886, Mr. Selzer was admitted to the bar, and subsequently was admitted to practice in the District and the Circuit courts of the United States. His law practice began in partnership with Echo M. Heisley, son of his preceptor, under the firm name of Heisley and Selzer. The firm continued nearly twenty years, until the death of Mr. Heisley in 1904. From 1913 to 1918 Judge Selzer was senior member of the law firm Selzer & Selzer, his junior partner being his son, Robert J., continuing until his elevation to the bench.

The first public office held by Judge Selzer was that of clerk of Brooklyn village in 1882. He was elected in 1884 township clerk, reelected in 1888, was chosen mayor of the village in 1890 and again in 1892, and in 1901 the Cleveland City Council made him a member of the Board of Equalization and Revision of Real Estate for Cleveland. In the same year he was elected on the democratic ticket to the House of Representatives, and in January, 1905, the city council elected him to the vacancy in the council for the Sixth Ward. He was chosen by popular election in 1907. When the Municipal Court of Cleveland was established, January 1, 1912, Judge Selzer was made bailiff of the civil branch of the court, his duties corresponding to those of sheriff in the Common Pleas Court. He was bailiff six years, and on February 1, 1918, Governor Cox appointed him a judge on the municipal bench. In November, 1919, he was elected for an unexpired term of two years, and in 1921 was reelected for a full term of six years as municipal judge.

Judge Selzer is a member of the Cleveland and Ohio Bar associations, belongs to the chamber of commerce, is a past president of the Sycamore Club, and a member of the Third Church of Christ, Scientist. He is past master of Brooklyn Lodge No. 454, Free and Accepted Masons; a member of Webb Chapter No. 14, Royal Arch Masons; Woodward Council No. 118, Royal and Select Masters; Oriental Commandery No. 12, Knights Templar; Lake Erie Consistory of the Scottish Rite; Al Koran Temple of the Mystic Shrine; Al Sirat Grotto No. 7, Mystic Order of Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm, and was president of the Past Masters' Association for the Twenty second District of Ohio during the year 1923, and is president of the Charles H. Eichorn Association of 1920 Scottish Rite. He is also a charter member and past chancellor commander of Riverside Lodge No. 209, Knights of Pythias. He is president of the South Brooklyn Building & Loan Company, a director of the Brooklyn Coal & Coke Company, a director of Brooklyn Masonic Temple Company, a director of the Citizens Society & Loan Association, and secretary of the house committee of the Euclid Avenue Masonic Temple.

Soon after his admission to the bar Judge Selzer, on November 18, 1886, married Miss Ida M. While, daughter of Joseph While, of Cleveland. She died July 18, 1921. There are two sons, Robert J., attorney, and Frank C., engaged in the automobile business.

A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924

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