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In the language of the people, Charles H. Everett is a thinker and a worker, and these qualities have made him a leader. Perhaps no man in Wisconsin has exerted a more widely felt and beneficial influence on the agricultural development of the state. He was born in Rock County, Wisconsin, March 22. 1855, a son of Milton Josiah and Mary E. (Ross) Everett, both of whom were natives of New York and have now passed away. They became residents of Wisconsin in 1840 and here the father followed the occupation of farming.
C. H. Everett acquired a public school education, attending the high school, and throughout his entire life has been a strident, especially of everything connected with agriculture, yet by no means has his reading been confined to that line, for he is well versed on the vital and significant problems of the age as affecting the sociological, economic and political conditions of the country. He remained upon the farm until 1895 and success attended his efforts. for he studied thoroughly every phase of farm life, the conditions of the soil, the uses of fertilizers, the rotation of crops, the needs of each cereal and the value of each piece of improved machinery that was put upon the market. Naturally he became a leader and he was called upon to lecture in many farmers’ institutes. He was also called upon to serve as secretary of the state hoard of agriculture and in 1901 he became editor of The Wisconsin Agriculturist at Racine and since that time has devoted his attention largely to the dissemination of news and knowledge of value to the farmer.
In November, 1878, Mr. Everett was married to Miss Angerona E. Barningham of Winnebago County, Illinois, who died in January, 1902. On the 8th of May, 1909, he wedded Grace E. Lang, a daughter of Robert Lang, of Racine. By the first marriage he had a son, Milton W., now general sales manager of the Racine Gas Light & Coke Company. Fraternally Mr. Everett is connected with the Masonic lodge at Beloit, with the Elks and with the Woodmen. His political allegiance is given to the Republican Party and again in that connection he has attained to leadership. He was elected to the state assembly in 1912 and to the state senate in 1914, receiving six thousand and twenty-seven votes as against four thousand six hundred and seventy-seven cast for his nearest competitor, the democratic candidate. He was instrumental in securing the passage of several bills which are of great benefit to the state and he did much in shaping wise legislation at that period. It does not argue that because he is so deeply interested in agriculture and everything that relates to the welfare of the farmer that he is not actively interested in other matters, for he gives the most careful consideration to all questions which come up for settlement and his influence can always be counted upon on the side of progress and improvement. He is perhaps the best known representative of agricultural interests in Wisconsin today and no better indication of the character of the man, his nature, his purpose and his ideals can be given than by quoting an article which was published in-the present year, as follows:
“It was a cool June day, back in 1910, when we stood on the top of the singer building in New York, Mr. Everett and I, looking out over that great network of streets which makes up New York city, and then off in the other direction, across the river and narrows out into the broad Atlantic. I, the easterner, was taking a product of Wisconsin around my ‘farm,’ and he, mentally, instead of measuring buildings in height or area, saw evidently only just so much possibility for prosperous agriculture, were it land and just so many head of dairy cows were those little dots walking on the street below. We stood for a long while just drinking in the weird scene, wondering as one does when he sees New York from such a height, just why people will live that way and how they can exist without the green of a hill or two to relieve the gray of high stone buildings. Then ‘ C. II.’ broke the silence by a characteristic, yet to me, strange remark. ‘With all your millions,’ he said, `with all this great evidence of amassed power and wealth, without wishing to reflect even upon the attractiveness of your surroundings for you-Me for Wisconsin.’ And so it went, everything from Harlem to the Battery he reveled in as to its satisfying immediate pleasure and wonderment. But when it was all over and he stood on the platform of the train, headed west, only then did I observe true contentment and relief from the tired strain. He was on his way back to his ‘beloved’ Wisconsin.
“In later years when I came to know Mr. Everett and Wisconsin better, I could appreciate that deep longing for the peaceful companionship of our wonderful green hills and sparkling water. It was then, too, that I also learned to call him `Unk,” dear old Unk,’ if you will. For although he has by his achievement in legislative activities well earned the title of ‘Honorable,’ it is as ‘link’ he prefers to be known, and as `Unk’ that his intimate friends know him. Uncle to us all, old or young alike, a true friend, a clear thinker, harboring no resentment toward anyone, expecting only fair play, yet with it all, that forcefully quiet plodding toward the goal he set years ago-to do something for his state and his first love, the farmers of Wisconsin.
“Few citizens of the town of Turtle, Rock County, remember probably as far back as March 22, 1855. It is a good many years and Charlie, the little Everett boy, was nothing unusual, as boys go. As he grew up he helped his father on the farm and probably looked for left-handed monkey wrenches and attempted to milk the cow from the wrong side, just as most of us did when we were young. But even at that early age Charles took a keen interest in farming. He only had a common school education, but it seemed ample, for his active mind demanded knowledge, and when he could find no one to give him facts he hunted authorities in books. This constant seeking for the truth made him an indefatigable reader, and even today with a multitude of responsibilities, he can be seen almost any night he is in town, sitting in his easy chair, the gleam of the reading lamp shining out on the midnight darkness as page after page is put behind him.
“Reaching his majority, Mr. Everett started farming for himself, specializing in live stock and breeding, as most farmers of Wisconsin do, but even then his desire to see better conditions on the farms of his state and his interest in farming generally, could not be satisfied by centralized activities-he must broaden by taking on Institute work. So for fifteen years, and until he became editor of The Wisconsin Agriculturist, he lectured before the Wisconsin Farmers’ Institute. Travel wasn’t easy then and many a cold journey he made in poorly heated cars or across the icy country behind a friendly farmer’s team. The need for men who would carry the teaching of modern agriculture abroad seemed constant, and the demand made on his time as a lecturer soon prevented his giving the proper attention to his farm, so he sold that in 1895 to take up his duties as an agricultural editor.
“Few who have not studied farm paper publishing first hand can thoroughly appreciate just what attributes make for perfect editorship. Did one ask me to name the combined elements I would say, ‘emulate Unk Everett.’ He never gets flustered or carried away by clever argument on the part of a pretender. The new-fangled farm stunts all have to pass his exacting examination for practicability before they receive his endorsement, and behind the whole, there lies that charm of character which is only given to act or writing by a really truly big man. I have heard him remark many times, when we were moved to say something pleasing about ourselves in the columns of the paper, ‘Be careful now, boys, what we may be, or why, matters not so much as that we are what we seem to be.’
“Twice elected president of the Wisconsin State Dairymen’s Association, secretary of the state board of agriculture, and member of the board for fifteen years, president of the Wisconsin Live Stock Sanitary Board, and then successively state assemblyman and senator, Mr. Everett’s public services for his native state seemed to multiply with his age. But he is still hale and hearty and as interested as ever. Say ‘agriculture’ to him and his face brightens-add ‘Wisconsin,’ and the friendly gleam broadens into an intensive appreciable expression. The master mind moves quickly and the listener is charmed by a flow of simple but forceful English and a recitation which stamps the narrator as a leader in his chosen work.”