Hon. Charles W. Seward, formerly probate judge and now serving for the second term as judge of the common pleas court of Licking county, is a prominent representative of the bar of this section of the state. Devotedly attached to his profession, systematic and methodical in habit, sober and discreet in judgment, calm in temper, diligent in research, conscientious in the discharge of every duty, courteous and kind in demeanor, and inflexibly just on all occasions, these qualities have enabled Judge Seward to take high rank among those who have won judicial honors or have practiced before the courts of central Ohio.
He is one of the native sons of the county that has honored him with judicial preferment, for his birth occurred in Perry township, April 13, 1850, his parents being James E. and Harriet (Davis) Seward. The father was a native of Luzerne county, Pennsylvania, and about 1822 became a resident of Licking county, Ohio, establishing his home on a farm in Perry township. His purchase was a small tract of land which was partially improved, and with characteristic energy he began its further improvement and development, continuing there to till the soil until his life’s labors were ended in death in 1872. He was a tanner by trade and carried on that business in connection with agricultural pursuits, until after the Civil war, but did not find it a profitable undertaking and hence gave it up, concentrating his energies upon his agricultural interests. He was twice married, his second union being with Harriet Davis, a native of Guernsey county, Ohio, who is also deceased.
The life record of Judge Seward is another proof of the statement that the great majority of successful professional men have spent their youths amid the environments of the farm. He was reared to the work of the fields and acquired his preliminary education in the district schools. He learned the tanner’s trade with his father and continued with him until his death. In 1870 he engaged in teaching school and the following year turned his attention to mercantile pursuits at Perryton, Licking county, in connection with his brothers, John F. and James A. Seward. He remained in that partnership until 1882 and the venture proved a profitable one, the firm not only gaining an extensive trade but also enjoying an unassailable reputation as a prominent factor in commercial circles. In the winter of 1875-6, however, Judge Seward began attending law lectures at the Michigan State University at Ann Arbor and also pursued his reading of law during his leisure hours at home. While in college he was a member of the same class as Judge Taggart, now on the circuit bench. In 1877 he went to Marshalltown, Iowa, and read law in the office of Brown & Binford, being admitted to the bar at that place in 1878.
Returning to Ohio, Judge Seward was admitted to the bar at Columbus in 1879, and the same year opened an office for practice in Newark, since which time he has made steady progress in his profession. In 1882 he was elected by the board of directors of the Home Building Association Company as their attorney and continued in that position until elected probate judge in 1893. He thus served for four years, or until February 9, 1897, when he resumed the private practice of law. An earnest manner, marked strength of character, a thorough grasp of the law and an ability to accurately apply its principles, made him one of the effective and successful advocates in the courts and a growing clientage was accorded him. However, he was again called to judicial service, when, in the fall of 1901, he was elected common pleas judge for a teri of five years, and in 1906 was re-elected,’ so that he is the present incumbent. He has never been an office seeker, hig honors in that direction having been forced upon him by his party, and his personal popularity and the confidence reposed in him by his fellow citizens are indicated by the fact that he was the only republican on the ticket elected in the year 1901.
In September, 1887, Judge Seward was married to Miss Anna G. Stacel, of Newark. They have an extensive circle of friends here and are loyal members of the Methodist Episcopal church, while Judge Seward is a valued representative of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias and the Modern Woodmen. He is also a member of the Licking County Bar Association and is now serving as its secretary. His business career since putting aside his text-books at an early age has been marked by continuous progress. He is conscientious in the discharge of his duties, and his spirit of loyalty, added to his comprehensive knowledge of the law, has made him an official of merit whose ability was attested by public opinion in his re-election for a second term.