Charles the Central Congregational Church, in Topeka. Charles
Charles Sheldon was born on February 26, 1857, in Wellsville, New York, the second child and son of Steward and Sarah Sheldon. Steward Sheldon, a congregational minister moved his family west to the Dakota territory in 1854. Life in the Dakota’s was to the Sheldon family, one of excitement, and danger. The family homestead was on 160 acres of farmland. The Sheldon’s were Godly people and brought their five children up to respect and to obey God’s Word. Devotions and family prayers were a part of everyday. All five children were taught to do the many things that farm life involved. Charles Sheldon recalled their life on the Dakota farm as what taught them,” the dignity and joy of working with their hands”. The Sheldon family attended their Uncle’s church in Yankton on Sunday mornings. During the winter special meetings were held at the church in the evening, and it was after one of these meetings, Charles prayed to be saved. The children attended school also taught by Joseph Ward. Charles then attended the Yankton Academy and later went to Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. To help pay expenses at the academy, he held many part-time jobs. Sweeping floors, replacing broken windows, and serving as an personal assistant to an elderly professor, Charles earned about three-dollars a week. He graduated from the academy in 1879, and went on to Brown University, in Providence, Rhode Island. Charles graduated from Brown University in 1883 and in 1886 he entered Andover Theological Seminary. After nine years of training and working to make ends meet, Charles was offered an exceptional job as an editor for an independent New York religious journal. Instead he visited his parents and they prayed together asking God to guide. He very soon received his first pastoral call from the Congregational church in Waterbury, Vermont. Charles was twenty-nine years old. In November of 1888, Charles resigned from the Waterbury church and traveled to Topeka, Kansas. He was thirty-one years old when he became the full-time minister of the Central Congregational Church, in Topeka. Charles Sheldon and Mary Abby Merriam were married May 20th, 1891. On February 23, 1897, their first and only child was born. Charles Sheldon was a talented writer, and wrote many Christian novels and articles, of which many were published, making him a best-selling author. Charles traveled the country speaking to over 1.5 million people about the evils of drinking. Charles Sheldon was very devoted to his ministry and to the thousands of people to which he preached. He worked endlessly to help meet the needs of all around him. Many claim that at the turn of the twentieth century, Charles Sheldon was the best-known clergyman in America.