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There is a sadness that comes with the story of my great-grandfather, Charles Bingle.   A sadness from not knowing enough about him, and also from the realization that the short time he was alive ended so tragically.

Charles Bingle was born 10 September 1899 in Cleves, Ohio, a small village that is located in southwestern Ohio.  His father, Harrison Bingle, had spent his entire life on the banks of the Ohio River, being born in North Bend.  His mother, Mary Ann (Abdon), was also familiar with the area, born just across the state line in Indiana in a portion of the state known as “Indiana’s Gore” (another tale for another time), a tri-state area where many people spent their lifetimes going back and forth across state lines.  When Harrison and Mary Ann Bingle married and settled down, however, it was the village of Cleves that they settled in and where they would raise their 7 children.

Charles Bingle married a young girl, Zettie Peak, who was also from Cleves, on 24 September 1921 in Lawrenceburgh, Indiana.  Their first child, a son, was born 11 months into their marriage, and two daughters would come along by 1927. This young family of five was living in Xenia, Ohio at that time, where Charles was working as a linesman for the Dayton Power & Light Company.


A 1929 Linesman – similar to what Charles Bingle would have been doing. (Photo courtesy of Shorpy)

A few years later, the family had moved south to Hamilton, Ohio – possibly to be closer to both of their extended families.  Charles was able to continue his work as a linesman in his new hometown, although now he was employed by the Hamilton Service Company.

The final days during the month of July in 1929 in southwestern Ohio were the epitome of summer heat.  Temperatures ranged from 84 all the way up to 90 degrees that final week in July.  Still, Charles Bingle would not find himself relaxing on the banks of the Ohio River on that hot summer’s day.  On Tuesday, July 30th he was doing repair work on a utility pole on the corner of Second and High Streets in Hamilton.

From the front page of the Hamilton Evening Journal – Wednesday, July 31, 1929:

Bingle, Charles O. article zoom2“Man Killed In Fall” – Lineman, Believed Overcome By Heat, Falls From Pole On Second St.
Charles Bingle, 29, 266 Hancock Avenue, Hamilton Service company lineman, was killed at 3 o’clock Tuesday afternoon when he fell 30 feet from a pole to the sidewalk in front of the Second street entrance to the W. C. Frechtling store, Second and High streets.
Linemen told authorities that Bingle had released his safety belt and was descending when his “spurs”, used to get a foothold in the pole, failed to hold.
Belief of police is that Bingle was overcome by the heat.
No hopes were held for the lineman’s life when he was taken to Mercy hospital by police. His legs and left arm were broken and his skull was fractured.
Bingle was married and was the father of three small children.
Funeral services will be held Thursday from the home of Bingle’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Bingle, Cleves, Ohio. Interment will be in the Greenwood cemetery, Cleves.

More than anything, I wish I had a picture of my great-grandfather.  I have been told this story since I was a young girl (minus the graphic details, of course), but I have no idea what Charles looked like.  The only thing I’ve ever known of him is the story of how he died.  If my grandmother had a photograph of her father, I know I would have found it by now in the family trunk.  It’s not there.

His bride would remarry, and his children all grew to live long full lives.  The building he fell in front of is no longer there – in its place is a small green space in an area that is being revived in the center of Hamilton.  His stone that was placed in the cemetery in Cleves is simple.  Life has a way of carrying on – and we’re left with only the stories of those who were here long before us.

Bingle, Charles O.-grave