Charles Mortimer Bingham, a former well-known merchant of Claremont, Sullivan County, N.H., was born in New London, Conn., February 22, 1804, son of Nathan Bingham. His father settled in Claremont in 1809. He was a hatter by trade, and carried on a large and successful business here. He was a musician, and played the bass-viol in the Episcopal church for years. He died at the age of seventy-eight. He had six children. His daughter Lucretia married Ralph Metcalf, who became the governor of New Hampshire. Her sister Elizabeth married Luther S. Porter, and Maria became the wife of Henry W. Galpin. Silas L., one of the three sons, was a professional voice teacher. He died in Cleveland, Ohio. George, the only surviving member of the family, resides in Minneapolis, Minn. Both Elizabeth and Silas Bingham had remarkable voices.
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In 1818, at the age of fourteen, Charles Mortimer Bingham began to fit himself for a business career by entering the employ of Josiah Stevens & Sons, dealers in general merchandise, his father, Nathan Bingham, having made an agreement with the firm that, under certain conditions, he should remain with them until twenty-one years of age. We copy, with a few verbal corrections, the following well-told story of his life and character: “A typical New Englander, having completed his term of service with Josiah Stevens, he struck out for himself. He left Claremont with little capital, but with a good deal of honest purpose, and engaged in business in Greenbush, Vt. From thence he went to Chester, where he did a thriving business until 1837, when he was induced by friends to return to Claremont. A copartnership was formed in April of that year with Mr. Stevens, under the firm name of C. M. Bingham & Co., dealers in hardware, dry goods, and groceries. The firm existed until the sudden death of Mr. Stevens, which occurred September 18, 1842. With the exception of three years in partnership with a son of his former partner, Mr. Bingham continued alone until, having passed forty-one years of his life in the mercantile line, he closed up his affairs in 1871, and retired from active business.
“Possessed of a vigorous intellect, he early attracted the notice of his fellow-citizens, and by them was called to many important posts, the duties of which he discharged to their acceptance. He represented his town in General Court for four years, was for many years Town Treasurer, and, save with few exceptions, was elected Moderator at the annual 1843 in organizing the parish of Trinity Church, was the first Warden elected, which position he held continuously for thirty years, and had previously held that office in Union Church. He inherited great capabilities for music, had sedulously studied its theory, and on all occasions did much to encourage the science in Claremont. He was for many years chorister of his church, his sister, Mrs. Porter, singing in his choir.
“He married first Mary, daughter of George Cook, of Cornish. His second wife was Abby Fairbanks, of Charlestown, by whom he had six children-Catherine F., Charles E., Mary C., William M., John F., and Lucy F. The four last survived him. He married third Mrs. Lydia Ballou Perry, widow of Mr. Lewis Perry, of Claremont. She is a descendant of John Chamberlain, who occupies a prominent position in the early history of Westmoreland, New Hampshire.
“Mr. Bingham died March 5, 1888, at the age of eighty-four years. He was a man of kindly disposition, of unusual energy and industry, and of unblemished honor and integrity. A gentleman of the olden time, he was distinguished for many excellent personal qualities, was of singularly pure and abstemious habits, witty and genial withal, and dearly beloved by those who had the good fortune to know him intimately. In him even old age appeared delightful. He is inadequately praised when he is named one of the best men who ever lived in Claremont .”