Todd, Charles Stewart

Charles Stewart Todd was born in Lincoln county, Kentucky, and was educated at William and Mary college, Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1807, 1808 and 1809. He was graduated in law at Litchfield, Connecticut, where was the foremost law school of that time, in the early spring of 1812, and began at once the practice of his profession in Lexington, Kentucky. He enlisted in the summer of 1812 as an ensign in the local military company which was called into service on the outbreak of the war of 1812. During the next winter he was promoted to a captaincy of the Twenty-eighth Infantry, May, 1813, and was appointed aide-de-camp and assistant inspector-general May 20, 1813, on General William Henry Harrison’s staff, in which capacity he served at the Battle of the Thames, October, 1813. He was appointed November 1, 1813, assistant inspector-general with the rank of major, and was assigned to duty in the eighth district, comprising the states of Kentucky and Ohio, and the territories of Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Missouri. He resigned his commission in 1815, and resumed the practice of law in Frankfort, Kentucky.

In 1817 he was, for a few months, Secretary of State in the Administration of Governor Madison, who died soon after his inauguration.

In 1818 he abandoned the practice of law, and settled on a fine farm called ‘Stockdale” in Shelby county, Kentucky, which land had been surveyed for, and patented to his wife’s father, Governor Isaac Shelby, in April, 1776.

In 1820 Colonel Todd was appointed by President Monroe Charge d’ Affaires, and in 1822 Minister to the State of Colombia, South America. It was during his administration of the latter office that President Monroe made the declaration in regard to the necessity of non-interference in American affairs by European powers, which has since been known as the Monroe doctrine. He returned from Bogota in 1825. On his way home in a United States frigate he was attacked by yellow fever when off Santiago, Cuba. His life was despaired of, and he was landed at Charlestown, South Carolina, to die. He did recover, but it was a singular consequence of his sickness that, whereas he had from his infancy hair of positive redness, it changed at the age of 34, before his arrival at home in Kentucky, to a dark brown, and so remained throughout his life, being but slightly tinged with gray when he died, at the age of 76 years. It is further worthy of note that all of his children had dark hair, and that among his descendants, which have now reached to the fifth generation, red heads occasionally appear, which can only be traced to Colonel Todd.

A stay of six weeks in Charlestown so far recruited his health that he was able to undertake the journey of six hundred miles on horseback to his Kentucky home, where his fine blue-grass farm became noted as a model of agricultural management, as well as the seat of a gracious hospitality.

During the Presidential campaign of 1840 Colonel Todd spent many months in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he edited the “Republican,” and took an important part in promoting the candidacy of his old commander, General William Henry Harrison. President Harrison lived but one month after his inauguration, but John Tyler, his successor, carried out Harrison’s wishes in appointing Colonel Todd Minister to Russia, which position he held from 1841 to 1845.

During the next Administration, which was democratic in politics, he held no office, but in 1850 President Fillmore appointed him one of the commissioners to treat with the Indians of western Texas and New Mexico, a region which had but lately come under our control, and which was inhabited by the fiercest and most imtamable savages which have ever been wards of the government of the United States. The familiarity with the topography and with the possibilities of this region, which he acquired while engaged in this duty, led him to become one of the projectors of the Southern Pacific railroad, and when a company was formed to build it, he was elected to its vice-presidency. While he held that position he made his home at Marshall, Texas, where he lived till 1861, when he returned to Kentucky, settled at Owensboro, and was appointed by President Lincoln Assessor of Internal Revenue for the district of western Kentucky.

Colonel Todd was a successful man throughout his life, making a shining mark as a scholarly writer, a brilliant diplomatist and a distinguished soldier, and he is remembered as one of the ablest public servants whom his native state has produced.

His wife was the youngest daughter of Isaac Shelby, the first governor of Kentucky, and a granddaughter of General Evan Shelby, who was in command of all the troops which were actively engaged in the hard-fought battle, and the important victory over the Indians, known as the “Battle of Point Pleasant,” or the “Battle of the Great Kanawha,” which was fought at the confluence of the Ohio and Kanawha rivers, October 10, 1774. Theodore Roosevelt, in his history of the “Winning of the West,” says that Evan Shelby was a stout old Marylander of Welsh blood, and that his son, Isaac Shelby, a stalwart, stern-visaged young man, was a subaltern in his father’s company, but was put at its head when, upon the wounding of Colonel John Field, the command of all the forces engaged devolved upon Evan Shelby. General Andrew Lewis was the commander of the expedition, but he was not in the field during the fighting.

The Shelbys were at this time citizens of the debatable land claimed by Virginia and North Carolina, which afterward became the eastern part of the state of Tennessee, and Isaac Shelby was, in 1779, made county lieutenant of Sullivan county, a part of that territory. October 7, 1780, he was in command of the left wing of the American army at the battle of King’s Mountain, which was, perhaps, the most completely successful action fought by the Americans during the war of the Revolution.

He removed to Kentucky, of which he became the first governor 1792-6, and was again governor 1812-16. He was born in Maryland, December 11, 1750, and died in Kentucky, July 18, 1826.

Evan Shelby’s wife was Letitia Cox, and the wife of Isaac Shelby was Susanna Hood, a daughter of Nathaniel Hood and Sarah Simpson. Colonel Hood was killed and scalped by the Indians at Boonesborough, Kentucky, in August, 1782.

A romantic story is told of the meeting of Letitia Shelby, the youngest daughter of Isaac Shelby, with Charles Stewart Todd, who afterward became her husband. After the disastrous battle of the River Raisin, Upper Canada, January 22, 1813, General Winchester, who was in command, sent Captain Todd with dispatches to Governor Shelby, apprising him of the disaster to the Kentucky troops. After a journey of great hardship and privation through pathless forests in the dead of winter, Todd arrived at the executive mansion at Frankfort to find the governor at the theater. With torn and mud-stained uniform, showing signs of his wrestle with the difficulties of his journey, and of his haste to deliver his dispatches, he entered the theater and presented them to “His Excellency’s” box. They told of the defeat and capture of five Kentucky regiments, and almost every person in the audience had a relative or a friend whose life was in jeopardy. The whole theater sat in suspense while the governor perused them, and the suspense but grew greater when, burying his face in his hands, he gave them to his secretary that he might read them aloud.

But the sad tale was no new one to the messenger. During his long journey he had become habituated to the moving details, and his wandering gaze being soon arrested by the sight of Letitia Shelby, seated in her father’s box, he fell at once a victim to her charms. Her portrait remains to testify to her great beauty, and she, on her part, found the herald a young hero, who captivated her fancy, so that a mutual attachment was then formed which led to their marriage at the executive mansion three years later. She was fourteen years old when they met, having been born June 11, 1799, and she died July 22, 1868. Colonel Todd outlived her nearly three years, dying while making a visit at Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He and his wife lie buried at Elmwood cemetery, Owensboro, Kentucky.

Source: Record the Harris Family Descended From John Harris Born 1680 Wiltshire, England, Joseph Smith, Press of George F. Lasher, Philadelphia, 1903