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Overseers in Lowell's Textile Mills

Lowell Labor History

Charles A. Welch

                                                    portrait of Charles A. Welch

Lowell Historical Society "Album 1," p. 040.

Born in Canaan, New Hampshire, in 1825, Charles A. Welch followed his brother, Willard C. Welch, to Lowell, arriving in 1834 at the age of nine. He immediately found work as a bobbin boy at the Merrimack Mills. Welch remained with the company for many years, working his way up to overseer in 1849.1 He served as overseer for about 31 years. Active in the local Whig Party and, following its demise, in the Republican Party, Welch won a seat on the City Council in 1856. He ran again as a Republican in 1873 and 1874, winning both elections. In addition to his role in local politics, Welch was active in an Odd Fellows lodge and was a member of the Old Residents Historical Association.

Welch was twice married. He and his first wife Sarah had a daughter, who died as a child. Sarah Welch died in 1853 before reaching her thirtieth birthday. Welch’s second wife, Elvira A. (Boynton), was born in Canada in 1825 and died in 1877 at the age of 52, leaving a son Lincoln R., age 12.2 Welch suffered from Bright’s disease, which forced him to leave the Merrimack Mills in the spring of 1880. He sought to recover his health by joining one of his son’s and a daughter in California. Upon his departure, Welch received a gold ring from the employees in his room and the second hand, Dennis P. Bates, presented the gift and addressed the gathering of workers.3 Enroute to California Welch contracted pneumonia. He then went to the home of a brother, who was a physician, in Williston, Vermont. Welch died there in August 1880. In Lowell, Welch left his son Lincoln, age 15, and a brother, Willard C. Welch, who also served many years as an overseer.4 Lincoln Welch eventually settled in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, where he was secretary in a fire insurance company (which he ultimately ran). He had a wife and one son.5

1 “Overseers in the Mills,” Lowell Daily Courier, July 12, 1872.
2  Lowell Vital Records, 1877,  v. 293, p. 120.
“Personal,” Lowell Daily Courier, April 13, 1880.
“Obituary,” Saturday Vox Populi, August 21, 1880.
Census, Fitchburg, Massachusetts, 1900.