Biography of Charles E. Gates
Oregon Biographies





Charles Edwin Gates is a splendid example of sheer pluck and natural ability and a striking figure of a self made American. He is now serving as mayor of Medford and his capability and worth in office are widely acknowledged. He was born in the little town of Monticello, Indiana, in December, 1871, his parents being Jacob and Mary (Hastings) Gates, both of whom were representatives of old pioneer families. His father was engaged in the railroad business and spent thirty three years of his life in transportation service. When Charles E. Gates was but a youth of tender years, the family removed to Pulaski county, Indiana, and there he obtained a common school education. When but fifteen years of age he taught in a small country school in order to enable him to secure a commercial training in the Hall Business College at Logansport, Indiana. It was not his educational qualifications that secured him the teacher's job at that early age but the recognition on the part of the school directors of the fact that the boy possessed rare executive ability and much self reliance and as the school had been changing teachers quite often they gave Mr. Gates the chance to see if he could instill into the pupils some degree of obedience to rules. This he emphatically did, at once giving the pupils to understand who was master in the room.

Following his graduation from the business college Mr. Gates decided to become a court reporter and for a brief period was in a law office, but that line of activity failed to appeal to him and he secured employment with the Columbus Construction Company, which at that time was engaged in building a pipe line for natural gas from Greentown to Chicago. Entering the company's office as a clerk Mr. Gates in less than four months had so impressed the managers with his natural ability that he was appointed statistician of the entire line. He remained with the company for eight years, a portion of which time was spent as chief accountant in the Chicago office. For several years afterward he was connected with the Economic Fuel Gas Company and in 1897 became associated with the McDwaine Richards Gas Well & Supply Company, with which he continued in various capacities until 1901, when he was made general manager of the company's plant at Noblesville, Indiana, and held such responsible posts as president of the Bath Tub Manufacturers Association of the United States, vice president and chairman of the organization committee of the Soil Pipe Manufacturers Association and other kindred and mammoth business enterprises. The twelve years which Mr. Gates put in as an active worker in this field so undermined his health as to force his retirement from strenuous duty and in 1912 he came to Oregon seeking rest and health.

Visiting Medford Mr. Gates concluded he could find no better place on the coast and, sending for his family, at once established his home in this city. For a man of his energy and determination something must be doing all the time, so he turned his attention to the automobile business, becoming agent for the Overland cars. Something of his business ability may be seen in the fact that in the first season he sold seventy seven cars and more than a hundred in the second season. In 1914 he accepted the agency of the Ford Company and since that period has handled only the Ford cars and Fordson tractors. On a prominent corner of the city he has erected a handsome garage and service station of one hundred and forty by one hundred and twenty feet, which is modern in every particular and detail and includes a large display room, accessories store, women's rest room which is fitted up to be of real service to his patrons, one of its many features being cribs for tired infants, repair shop and service station. Nothing has been omitted in the construction of this model garage. Twenty six persons are employed in the plant, eleven of whom are expert mechanics. While he has developed an important enterprise in this connection Mr. Gates is also the vice president of the Farmers & Fruit Growers Bank of Medford, and in all things he displays sound business judgment as well as unfaltering enterprise.

Mr. Gates was united in marriage to Miss Leah A. Farnsley, of a well known pioneer family of Kentucky, and they have become the parents of three children: Eltha Marie, now the wife of J. Wesley Judge of Medford; Laura, the wife of James E. Kerr of Medford; and George E., who is associated with his father in business, the firm name being the C. E. Gates Automobile Company. George E. Gates has a notable war record, having enlisted in 1917. He was sent to Fort Columbia and later to Camp Lewis and in March, 1918, went overseas as a member of Battery E, Sixty fifth Regiment. Hem served with that command throughout the period of active duty in France, the close of the war finding him in an officer's training camp in that country. George E. Gates is a Mason, also a Knight of Pythias and an Elk. He was married and has an infant son, George E., Jr., the mother having passed away.

The Masonic fraternity has long enjoyed the stalwart and loyal support of Charles E. Gates, who has attained the thirty second degree of the Scottish Rite and is a member of the Mystic Shrine. While in Noblesville, Indiana, he occupied the post of exalted ruler of the Elks lodge and since coming to Medford was made chairman of the Elks building committee, which erected the handsome Elks Club building and is now chairman of its board of trustees. He was chairman of the Red Cross, also chairman of the Council of Defense and chairman of the Liberty Loan drives during the World war. For two terms he has been the president of the Medford Chamber of Commerce and he is now serving for the third term as mayor of Medford, his administration being characterized by a most businesslike and progressive spirit, productive of splendid results. His religious faith is that of the Presbyteran church and for the past seven years he has been on the church board at Medford. In a word his activities have had to do with all that tends to advance the material, intellectual, social, political and moral welfare of the city. His efforts have been a most potent force in producing results highly gratifying, and Medford places him among her most valued residents and names him as a splendid example of American manhood and chivalry.

From:
History of Oregon Illistrated
Vol. 3
BY: Charles H. Carney
The Pioneer Historical Publishing Company
Chicago - Portland 1922


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