Col. Charles William Durham is the principal assistant in the engineering office at Rock Island Arsenal. His father, Charles Durham, was born in Belfast, Maine; his mother, Dorcas C. Durham, was born in the town of Brewer of the same State. Mr. Durham, senior, was for the greater part of his life a lumber merchant and vessel owner. Both parents are now dead.
Young Charles was a graduate of Chelsea (Massachusetts) High School in 1864, and graduated Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College in 1868. Thence he went to Germany and studied in Heidelberg University for one year, returning to America in 1869 and entering the Institute of Technology at Boston.
During portions of the years 1870-71 he served the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad in Nebraska. Before the end of the latter year he entered the Government service at Rock Island Arsenal in the Engineering office where he has continued to the present time, except for one year, when he was employed on the United States Survey of Onachita River in Arkansas and Louisiana.
Colonel Durham has had charge of snag-boats on the Upper Mississippi since 1876. He has also had charge of many works of river improvement from Minneapolis to the Missouri River and in addition to his other duties was captain of a snag-boat for a period of twenty years.
He was Colonel and Aide-de-Camp to the Governor of Illinois for a period of four years and is now retired Colonel of the Illinois National Guard. Colonel Durham has served on the board of education, Rock Island, for a period of nine years and on the library board for six years. In politics he has always been Democratic; in religion a member of the Episcopal Church. He is a Mason, a Knights Templar, a Noble of the Mystic Shrine, a Rock Island Club Director and secretary of the Marlin Rifle Club.
On November 19, 1875, Colonel Durham was united in marriage to Mary Elizabeth Brackett. This union has been blessed with four children: Charles Brackett, Mary Ely, Ada Schwatka and John Barnet. Charles Brackett died in 1898.