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Biography of Charles Pilla
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Charles Pilla. The pages of this publication can render no better service than to record upon them the names and activities of such a man as the late Charles Pilla, who for over half a century was one of the vital factors in the prosperity and progress of the Town of Eudora. Much of what he accomplished in a business way is still in existence and carried forward by his descendants. Many other influences that went from his life and wrought themselves into community action and benefit are also still vital even after their originator had passed away.
He was a native of Germany, born in Rhenish Bavaria, February 19, 1830. He spent his early life there, securing a practical education and learning the dyer’s trade, though never following it as a means of livelihood.
At the age of nineteen in 1849 he left the fatherland and crossed to America in an old slow going sailing vessel of the time. A few years were spent in New York City working as a clerk and as a bookbinder’s helper.
In 1865 Mr. Pilla came to Kansas, locating at the old German settlement in Douglas County, Eudora. He brought with him a thorough knowledge of business, and this together with his superior mental endowment and his honest and conscientious character soon made him recognized as a factor in the life of the town. He became a merchant, and for nearly fifty-one years was a leader in the business life of the village. From a poor boy of foreign birth he grew, through his own unaided efforts, until he was recognized as one of the most substantial men of Kansas.
His material prosperity may be passed over with a few words, but much might be said of his character and personal worth. Charles Pilla loved right for right’s sake, not as a matter of policy or because others did right. He was industrious, law abiding and commanded the complete respect of his fellow men. He was a lover of America and American institutions. He kept a place in his heart for the land of his birth, but was absolutely loyal to the land of his adoption both in thought and deed. For a time he served as postmaster of Eudora and for the good of the community was induced to hold other local positions of honor and trust. His active sympathy caused him to contribute liberally to charities, especially to homes for children and old people, and to the maintenance and support of his church, St. Paul’s the Evangelical. There were a number of poor Germans who came to Eudora after him and owed much to his assistance and advice in getting a start. Mr. Pilla was affiliated with the Masonic order and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. At the time of his death he was president of the Eudora State Bank.
Mr. Charles Philla died at the age of eighty-six, on September 4, 1916. His good wife had passed away January 15, 1899, after they had been married nearly thirty-four years. He was married September 10, 1865, at Factoryville on Staten Island, New York, to Miss Alice B. Smith. Their children were four in number: Alvina, Louise, Molvie and Charles. Alvina is the wife of J. E. Dolise, a resident of Eudora, and is the mother of three daughters and one son. Louise became the wife of J. S. Lawson, and they live at Eudora and are the parents of two sons. Molvie is unmarried and lives in Lawrence. Charles died in childhood. The business interests founded at Eudora by Mr. Pilla are still owned by his daughter Louise and his son-in-law J. S. Lawson.
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