Charles W. Welty, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Charles W. Welty


This worthy gentleman, who is one of the editors of " The Vidette," and an old soldier, springs from an old Colonial family of Swiss origin. His remote ancestors came to America at a period antedating the revolution and settled in Adams County, Pennsylvania, within the limits of the battle fields of that state. The original deed for this land is from Thomas Penn to John Welty, and since that time the farm has been owned by this family, being now in the hands of Frank Welty, our subject's brother. The old brick house is still standing and was built by John Welty, the grandfather of our subject. During the battle of Gettysburg it was within the rebel lines and the mother of our subject fed the Confederate soldiers, but did not hesitate to talk her Union sentiments to them. The Welty family were Lutherans in their religious belief. John Welty, father of the Captain, was born in the old brick house on the homestead and married Miss Hannah Chamberlain, who was of Scotch Presbyterian stock. She was the daughter of Joseph Chamberlain. To Mr. and Mrs. Welty were born seven children, as follows: Rebecca, John, Edward, Brown, Eliza, Hannah M. and Frank. Of these children our subject and Brown were soldiers in the Rebellion. The latter served three years in the signal service and was picked off by a rebel sharpshooter, but lived to reach home. The father of these children lived to be seventy-eight years of age. In religion he was a Lutheran, and in politics an Old Line Whig at first, but afterwards a Republican. He was an independent, substantial farmer and a man of sterling worth. Capt. Welty, our subject, was born on the old home place May 4, 1838, and early became familiar with the arduous duties of the farm. He received his scholastic training in the district schools and when thirteen years of age supplemented the same by attending the town school at Gettysburg until sixteen years of age. After this he taught a five-months term of school in his native county and subsequently attended Pennsylvania College at Gettysburg three years. During the winter of 1850 he taught private school in the same township where he taught the district school, and became well known as a successful educator. The breaking out of the Rebellion roused all his patriotism and on the 17th of April, 1861, he enlisted at Gettysburg in Company E, Second Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, as a private in the three months service. This was five days after the firing on Fort Sumter. His company was divided into messes of six, and in young Welty's mess every soldier, except one, became a commissioned officer. This man did not re-enlist, but the others did. One of these soldiers was killed and all were wounded but one. In the latter part of May, 1861, our subject was present at the battle of Falling Water, near Shephardstown, Virginia, and this was one of the very first engagements of the war. The three months service was the era for shoddy clothing and poor food furnished by dishonest contractors, for the officers were as inexperienced as the men. For six weeks the regiment was at York, Pennsylvania, but went from there to near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, thence to Harper's Ferry and then to Winchester. Returning home when his enlistment had expired he re-enlisted September 19, 1862, at Kittanning, Pennsylvania, as a private in Company M, Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry, and on the re-organization of the regiment, November, 1862, he was promoted to the rank of Captain of Company M. After this he served almost wholly in the Shenandoah Valley in the Army of the Potomac, and participated in many of the severest engagements. He was in the battle of Huttonville, West Virginia, Droop Mountain, and, although struck in the ankle by a piece of shell, he kept with his regiment. While dismounting at Rocky Gap he received a slight wound in the back by a minnie ball. On the 8th of December, 1863, his regiment went with Gen. William Averill on his famous raid and our subject suffered many hardships during this campaign, especially while returning, for Early's army attacked them with great vigor, and the return march was one continual skirmish with cavalry, infantry and artillery. At Jackson river the Confederates had burned the bridge and the water was deep and very rapid, owing to the winter rains, and the Union soldiers could not cross. While they were endeavoring to build a foot bridge the Confederate army made a determined attack and Capt. Welty was sent back with Companies M and L to protect the ford, one and a half miles to the rear. He was repeatedly attacked in force, but repulsed the enemy several times until the rebel artillery and infantry came up. Knowing that his weakness was discovered he was obliged to retreat. In the meantime the Federals found a fordable place and crossed the river. The entire march was marked by great exposure and much suffering, nearly every man having his feet frozen or frostbitten. As the wagon train of supplies was captured by the enemy at Jackson river, much suffering was caused by lack of food, the troops living on corn meal and a little bacon for over a week. The troops did not go into camp for fourteen days, but the men slept in their saddles and at the camp fires when the column occasionally halted. Gen. Averill reported to headquarters that "Since December 8, we have marched, swam, slipped and slid over 600 miles and destroyed over $2,000,000 worth of bacon, corn and supplies for the enemy. Nearly every man is more or less frozen and disabled, and we have brought back every gun, but have lost the wagon train." The regiment went into winter quarters at Martinsburg, West Virginia, and remained there until April 5, 1864. The first battle of the next campaign was at Withville, West Virginia, after which came Winchester, Piedmont, Stanton, Lynchburgh, and during the return of four hundred miles there was fighting all the way to the Shenandoah Valley, The second battle of Winchester was then fought, then Fisher Hill and Cedar Creek, where Gen. Sheridan made his famous ride. Then came the famous order to devastate the Shenandoah Valley, and this order was carried out to the letter. The troops went into winter quarters at Winchester during 1864 and '65, and during the spring and summer of the last named year they acted against the famous Guerrilla chieftain Mosby until the surrender of Gen. Lee. When Capt. Welty rode to Washington, District of Columbia, with his regiment during the grand review, there were 600 new recruits in the regiment and the Governor would not muster these men out. Lots were drawn and it fell to Capt. Welty to continue in the service. He was ordered to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he served until August, 1865, and then returned home. After this he spent one year prospecting for oil and then decided to go west, going as far as Junction City, Kansas, which was then the end of the Kansas & Pacific Railroad. He spent some time in Salina, Kansas, and here engaged in a buffalo hunt, his party killing enough to fill three wagons with buffalo meat. Mr. Welty sold his meat for sixty dollars and then went to Hayes City, Kansas, where he met Gen. Custer who gave him a position in the quartermaster department at Fort Riley, Kansas. He was afterwards in the same capacity at Fort Barker and Fort Union, New Mexico. After two years he began mining for gold on the Maxwell ranch on the borders of New Mexico and Colorado, and not succeeding very well, lie engaged with a surveying party. Later he ran an hotel at Las Vegas, New Mexico, and in 1871 he was a contractor to furnish ties for the Kansas & Pacific Railroad. During that time he visited Pike's Peak and Kit Carson. Later he returned to Pennsylvania, visited his home, and in 1873, having some land in White County, he came to Indiana. In 1876 Capt. Welty married Miss Loa Wilson of Wabash County, Indiana, and they have three children, Paul, Ola and Elsie. In the spring of 1888 he came to Valparaiso and bought the "Vidette," in company with William J. Huff, and has since been editor of this paper. He is a member of the G. A. R. Post No. 106, Valparaiso, and in politics is an ardent Republican.

Source: Goodspeed Brothers. 1894. Pictorial and Biographical Record of La Porte, Porter, Lake and Starke Counties, Indiana. Chicago, Illinois: Goodspeed Brothers. 569 p.
Page(s) in Source: 137-140

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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