Charles B. Wiggins. So indispensable has the automobile become to modern life that one is led to marvel that such great progress in manufacture and use could have been made in comparatively so short a time. Although the idea of self-propelled vehicles was entertained and to some extent proved possible long before 1886, when the first horseless carriage as a practical conveyance appeared on the boulevards of Paris, France, it presented so many impossible features that for years the venture was not regarded as feasible. When other motive power than steam became known to the industries, it required only the application of inventive minds to evolve the automobile, a rather crude affair even in the summer of 1898, when in the entire United States there were only eighty of these new vehicles. In comparison with the present the record is astounding, not only in the volume of automobile output, but in the improvements that each year adds to the utility, beauty, use and comfort of this wonderful invention. With the increased use of the automobile dawned a new prosperity in every land, business methods have been revolutionized, agriculture is carried on along new lines, social life has been pleasantly stimulated and even war is prosecuted with unheard of vigor because of automobile inventions. Thousands of far-seeing business men find profit in handling one or another of the special type of cars, and along this line an immense business is being transacted at Champaign by Charles B. Wiggins, who is the local agent for the well known Cadillac cars.
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Although numbered with Champaign’s most representative and solid business men, Charles B. Wiggins is not a native of Illinois. He was born near Circleville, Ohio, January 16, 1872. His parents are Henry J. and Eosalie (Eggleston) Wiggins, both of whom were born in Ohio. They now reside at Homer, in Champaign County, Illinois, where the father is engaged in a banking business. Three sons made up the family: Perley, who is associated with his father in the bank; Charles B., who belongs to Champaign; and Henry, who is deceased.
Completing his public school course by the age of sixteen years, Charles B. Wiggins for a time was connected with his father’s bank. Later he went to the Arkansas Valley in Colorado, and near Rocky Ford bought a large farm and went into the business of raising sugar beets, an industry he continued for four years, and then took advantage of an excellent offer and sold out. He returned then to Illinois and reentered his father’s banking establishment and in the course of time became vice president of the bank and continued in the financial field until 1912, when he sold ‘his interest and came then to Champaign.
In coming to this city Mr. Wiggins had a very definite plan in view and immediately set about putting it into execution. He immediately invested in valuable vacant property, on which he erected one of the finest business structures in this city, a four-story fireproof building which has a frontage of forty-six feet on Hickory Street and forty-six feet on Neil Street, with a depth of 100 feet. The entire building is devoted to the exhibition of the Cadillac cars. Out of the numberless makes of automobiles, each with special claims to attention, Mr. Wiggins selected the Cadillac, assuring himself first concerning the superiority which he has no difficulty in impressing on buyers when they view and investigate the merits of the magnificent display of cars provided in such an admirable setting by Mr. Wiggins.
On September 16, 1901, Mr. Wiggins was united in marriage with Miss Daisy Morrison, who is a daughter of Elisha A. Morrison, a well known resident of Homer, Illinois, and one daughter was born to them, Marion, who did not survive infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Wiggins are members ‘of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Mrs. Wiggins taking an active part in the benevolent work for which this religious body is notable.
Not only is Mr. Wiggins an alert and progressive business man, but is active also in all that pertains to public affairs, especially in his own city, and, elected on the Republican ticket, he effectively served as alderman of the Sixth Ward until May, 1917, when a commission form of government was adopted. Fraternally he is identified with the Masons and the Elks.