Charles McLister (1869–1896)

Charles McLister was born on the 23rd April, 1869, in Norton township, Summit County, Ohio [source nos. 1, 2]. He was the fifth child, and fifth son, of Archibald McLister (1819-1896) and Mary Kilpatrick (1837-1887). [3]

Archie McLister was a native of the county Antrim, and Mary Kilpatrick spent the first ten years of her life in Lislea townland, parish of Kilrea, county Londonderry. Mary's family fled the Great Famine in 1847; two of her brothers and her aunt died during the sea voyage, or shortly after their arrival in Canada.

Archibald and Mary were married in Prescott in 1858. [4] After the births of Charles' eldest brothers—Robert and Willie John at Prescott, and Daniel in the state of New York—the family moved to Summit County, Ohio, in 1863. [5] During the remainder of the 1860s and into the '70s, they lived near Norton Center, where Charles' father worked as a railroad labourer.  During this period, Mary was raising Charles and his brothers, Willie John, Daniel, and Samuel, while his eldest brother, Robert, spent much of his childhood living in Prescott with his maternal grandparents, Samuel Kilpatrick (c.1810-1894) and Jane M'Kay (c.1806-1886). [6,7]

When the 1880 census was enumerated, Charles' father was fifty-six years old and working as a labourer. Three more children had been added to the family, Arthur, Sarah, and Minnie. With eight children, and three working men, Robert's mother was kept very busy with running the household. Charles' eldest brothers, Robert and William, were employed as miners, almost certainly with the Norton Coal Company in the village of Dennison (later known as Sherman) in Norton township, where the family lived. The youngest children were still at home: Daniel, age 17; Samuel, 13; Charles, 11; Arthur, 9; Sarah, 4; and, Minnie, just 1. [8] 

Disaster struck the family on the 29th November, 1884. For nearly two years, trouble had been brewing between Charles' eldest brother, Robert, and a local fellow—a childhood friend, and coworker—named Joseph Welsh. Though they tried to avoid one another, one ill-fated evening brought the two young men together in a saloon in Dennison. Tensions flared and, all too quickly, Joseph Welch lay dead, at the hands of Robert and the revolver that he had taken to carrying "in case of."

Robert took himself home and broke the news to his parents. While the "wildest of excitement" prevailed throughout the neighbourhood, the family waited, Archy and Mary growing increasingly distraught, the children hushed. Constable George Jennings arrived later in the evening, to arrest Robert and spirit him away to jail, there to bide his time until the trial.

Three long, anxious months passed before Robert's fate was sealed. Finally, on the 9th February, 1885, the trial began, concluding eight days later with a verdict of guilty of murder in the second degree. On the 23rd February, the judge handed Robert a sentence of imprisonment for life in the State penitentiary at Columbus. [9]

Charles' parents fended and coped, but the strain was too much for his mother. Two years later, when Charles was nearly eighteen years old, Mary McLister née Kilpatrick died on the 3rd March, 1887. [10] Her husband, Archy, was left with three young men—Daniel, Samuel, and Charles (William had married in 1883)—to manage, and three young children to rear: Arthur was fifteen-years-old, but Sadie was just eleven, and Minnie, nine.

Three years later, then, the news that Governor Foraker had granted an unconditional pardon to Robert [11] would have been bittersweet for the family. Further, controversy swirled in the wake of Robert's release. The petition, which had been submitted to the State Board of Pardons, was purported to have been accompanied by a letter of conciliation and intercession from the dead man's sister, Mary Welsh—a claim which she denounced publicly as a forgery. [12] Though Miss Welsh and her relatives, then living in Massillon, called for an investigation, [13] the matter seems to have faded from public view.

During the 1880s and '90s, the young men of the McLister family began to make their own ways in life. Charles' brother, William, who worked as a coal miner at Dennison, had married Cora Tinstman in 1883; Cora's father, Isaac Tinstman, was a farmer of long standing in Norton township. [14] William's and Cora's only child, Clem Isaac (1887-1951), and Charles' first nephew, was born at Western Star, [15] mere weeks after the death of Mary McLister.

Late in 1891, Charles' brother, Robert, married Mary Young, daughter of the man who was formerly the mine boss of the Norton Coal Company in Dennison. [16]. Robert and Mary made their home at East Liberty, just south of Akron. Their first child, Robert Foraker, was born in April, 1892. Sadly, the wee infant succumbed to lung fever a scant four months later. [17]

In June of 1892, Charles' next eldest brother, Samuel Adam, went to Cleveland to enlist in the U.S. Army, 11th Infantry, E Company. [18]

In 1893, Charles welcomed a niece, Mary Isabelle, [19] and again in 1895, a nephew, John Archibald, [20], children of Robert and Mary.

Throughout this period, Charles and his father, Archy, continued to work as coal miners in Norton township. Without the 1890 census, which burnt in 1921, we do not know if Charles' brother, Daniel, stayed on in Norton, but it seems likely that he did, working alongside his father and Charles. Similarly, we can only surmise that the youngest three children—Arthur, Sadie, and Minnie—lived with their father. By 1890, Sadie was fifteen-years-old, an age at which she would have been expected to keep house, with help from Minnie. Thus, in the early 1890s, the household may have comprised Archy, with his adult sons, Charles, Daniel, and Arthur, and his daughters, Sadie and Minnie.

As the family were finding their way, they received yet another blow, more precisely, the first of two. At the age of twenty-six, Charles died on the 12th February, 1896. [21] The causes of death—lung trouble and/or arthritis—suggest health problems of some duration (please refer to the Postscript, below). An unfortunate incident occurred during the funeral, held at Sherman, bringing to an emphatic close the short and troubled life that was Charles McLister's. A train ran through Dennison station, frightening the team of horses that was pulling the hearse. The tongue of the carriage penetrated the coffin, cutting and bruising the skull of the deceased young man. After hasty repairs were made to the coffin, the funeral proceeded to the cemetery. [22] The family, and their friends, would be forgiven, had they interpreted this indignity, no matter how accidental, as further proof of the cloud of misfortune that seemed to hover over the McListers.

Postscript: The written records of Charles McLister's death are curious. His death was registered twice:

  1. the particulars were written into the “Record of Deaths, Probate Court,” Summit County, on the 27th June 1896, more than four months after the event. Date and cause of death were recorded as 12th February, 1896, and lung trouble; and,
  2. the particulars were recorded again, at the same time that Archy's death was written into the “Record of Deaths, Probate Court,” Summit County, on the 12th June, 1897—date and cause of death were registered as 10th March, 1896 (which must be wrong, given the February dates of the newspaper reports of the funeral), and arthritis.

Obviously, there was a considerable lapse of time between the events and the entries of those events into the civil records, which seems odd enough. However, the more intriguing question is, why was the cause of death altered?

In another interesting example, one of the two newspaper reports of the unfortunate incident at Charles' funeral referred to him as John McLister, and the second, as James McLister. This discrepancy may have been simply a mistake in transcription; or, perhaps Charles was known familiarly by his middle name for which, unfortunately, no record seems to have survived.


  1. Kilpatrick family Bible, inscribed by Samuel Kilpatrick (c.1810-1894) and Jane McKay (c.1806-1886).
  2. U.S. 1880 Census; Archibald McLister, Mary Kilpatrick, and family, Dennison, Summit County, Ohio; original records: United States, Census Office, 10th Census of the United States, film T9-1069, page 318B; National Archives, microfilm publications, ref. T0009; database hosted by Family Search, FHL film 1255069, online at (accessed 2004-03-10); confirmed to digitised copies held by (accessed 2011-05-25, by subscription).
  3. Ibid.
  4. Elizabeth Hancocks, C.G., compiler and editor. County Marriage Registers of Ontario, Canada. Vol. XX: 20: Leeds & Grenville. Agincourt, Ontario: Generation Press, Inc., 1987.
  5. U.S. 1920 Census; Robert McLister and family, Akron, Ohio; enumerated 13, 14, and 15 January 1920; enumeration district no. 179, supervisor’s district no. 14, sheet 12B; original records: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920 (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls), Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29 (National Archives, Washington, D.C.); 2004-10-30; confirmed to digitised copies held by (accessed by subscription).
  6. Canada 1861 Census; Samuel Kilpatrick & Jane M’Kay, Saragh Kilpatrick, Margaret Kilpatrick, and, Mary McLister née Kilpatrick and sons, Robert and William; Prescott, County of Grenville, Canada West; enumeration district no. 2, East Ward; original records: Canada, Census returns for 1861, LAC microfilm C-1026, page 30; records held by Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa; database hosted by (accessed 2011-05-25, by subscription).
  7. Canada 1871 Census; Prescott, Grenville County, Ontario; district no. 69, South Grenville, sub-district B, division, Prescott Town east of Center Street; original data: Census of Canada, 1871; Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa; microfilm C-10003, page 27, family no. 114; digitised copies held by (accessed 2011-05-25, by subscription).
  8. U.S. 1880 Census; Archibald McLister, Mary Kilpatrick, and family, Dennison, Summit County, Ohio, op. cit.
  9. Lane, Samuel Alanson. "The M’Lister-Welsh Tragedy," in Fifty Years and Over of Akron and Summit County (Akron, Ohio: Beacon Job Department, 1892), pp. 931-9.
  10. The Akron Beacon Journal, 22 March 1887, pg. 2, col. 4; "Another Case of Death from Grief" (Mary McLister née Kilpatrick (1837-1887); digital copy of death notice from the Akron-Summit County Public Library, Special Collections (2014-09-21).
  11. The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), "Murderer McLister Receives Pardon," 1 January 1890, pg. 5; digitised newspapers hosted by (accessed 2014-10-17, by subscription).
  12. Source: The Cincinnati Enquirer (Cincinnati, Ohio), 15 January 1890, pg. 1; "M’Lister’s Pardon--Miss Welch Claims That The Letter to the Governor For Release Was a Downright Forgery;" digitised newspapers hosted by (accessed 2014-10-17, by subscription).
  13. The Salem Daily News (Salem, Ohio), 15 January 1890, pg. 1; "Crooked Work-—Pardon of a Life Convict Secured by Documents Which are Said to be Forgeries;" digitised newspapers hosted by (accessed 2014-10-17, by subscription).
  14. Marriage Record: Marriage License and Return; William John McLister and Cora A. Tinstman, 10 July 1883, Summit County, State of Ohio; original records: Summit County Ohio Probate Court, book 4, pg 336, (2005).
  15. U.S. 1900 Census; William McLister and family, Akron, Summit County, Ohio; enumerated 2nd June 1900; supervisor’s district no. 16, enumeration district no. 73, Akron ward 5; original records: US Bureau of the Census, Twelfth Census of the US; archived at National Archives and Records Administration, roll T623-1324, page 3A; digitised copies held by (accessed 2011-05-24, by subscription).
  16. Ohio Marriages, 1800-1958; Robert Mclister to Mary Young, 12 November 1891, Summit County, Ohio; LDS record search pilot, Indexing project batch no. M02344-2, ref. p 297; FHL film no. 900968; original records: Marriages records, v. 7-8, 1890-1895, Probate Court, Summit County, Ohio; digital copies online at (accessed 2011-05-24); confirmed to Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1997; Robert McLister and Mary Young; original record: Marriage Record, Probate Court, Summit County, Ohio, vol. 7 (1890-1892), pg. 297; database hosted by, FHL film no. 900968, digital folder no. 004017052, image no. 256 (accessed 2014-09-27).
  17. Death index entry, FHL record search pilot, Indexing project batch no. B07104-5, ref. v2 p42, FHL film no. 900949, for Robert Forath [sic] Mclister, born 1892, died 8 September 1892, child of Robert Mclister and Mary Young (, accessed 2011-05-24); confirmed to Summit County, Ohio, Death Records, 1866-1908: Robert Foraker McLister, died 3 September 1892, single; age 4 months, 20 days; father: Robert McLister, mother: Mary Young, white, cause of death: lung fever, resided in Summit County; original records: Record of Deaths, Probate Court, Summit County, vol. 2, pg. 42, nos. 189 & 124; database hosted by (accessed 2014-09-24, by subscription).
  18. U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914; Samuel Adam McLister, 11th Infantry, Company E; original records: Register of Enlistments in the U.S. Army, 1798-1914, (National Archives Microfilm Publication M233, 81 rolls), Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, Record Group 94; National Archives, Washington, D.C.; digitised copies hosted by (accessed 2014-09-17).
  19. U.S. 1910 Census; Robert McLister and family, Akron, Summit County, Ohio; enumeration district 0164, visit 0420; posted by to the OHSUMMIT-L RootsWeb mailing list on 3 Oct 2003; original records: Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm T624), Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, National Archives, Washington, D.C.; confirmed to Akron Health Department Birth Records, Mary Isabelle McClister, 19 July 1893, East Liberty, Summit County, Ohio, USA, certificate #3/29, transcribed by NT of Akron, 2005-01-07.
  20. U.S. 1910 Census; Robert McLister and family, Akron, Summit County, Ohio, op. cit.; confirmed to Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003; John Archibald McClister, born 29 July 1895 in East Liberty, Ohio; male, white; father: Robert McClister, mother: Mary Young; residence: East Liberty; registered 10 July 1930, with notation: omitted test filed 10 July 1930; original records: Indexed Record of Births, Probate Court, Summit County, Ohio, vol. 4, pg. 310; database hosted by, FHL film no. 900947, digital folder no. 4017056, image no. 560 (accessed 2014-10-06).
  21. Summit County, Ohio, Death Records, 1866-1908: two entries: (1) Charles McLister, male, died 12 February 1896, single, age: 26 years, 10 months, 22 days’ died at Sherman, born at Norton, Miner, white, cause of death: lung trouble, lived at Sherman; (2) Charles McLister, male, died 10 March 1896, single, age 26 years, died at Norton, born at Norton, Miner, white, cause of death: arthritis, lived at Sherman; original records: Record of Deaths, Probate Court, Summit County, vol. 2, pg. 80, no. 208 (1), and vol. 2, pg. 92, no. 188 (2); database hosted by (accessed 2014-09-24, by subscription).
  22. Marysville Journal-Tribune (Marysville, Ohio), “Skull of a Corpse Crushed,” 20 February 1896, pg. 1; and, The Salem Daily News (Salem, Ohio), “Mutilated a Corpse--A Sad Runaway at an Akron Funeral,” 18 February 1896, pg. 5; digitised newspapers hosted by (accessed 2014-10-17, by subscription).

Return to McLister or McClister of Summit County, Ohio index page.
Return to Biographical sketches, outlines, and timelines index page.

❖          ❖          ❖

© Alison Kilpatrick, 2015. All rights reserved.
Copyright notice

"The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there."—Lesley Poles Hartley (1895–1972), The Go-Between (1953).

Contact   |  Copyright notice  |   Privacy statement   |   Site map

© Alison Kilpatrick 2014–2019. All rights reserved.