Written by D. Collingwood - Struthers Historian
CHARLES SHERMAN VAN AUKER
6 May 1866 - 6 Nov 1947
Charles Sherman Van Auker was born on the Broad Street homestead on May 6, 1866. He was the fourth child born to John Wesley and Sylvia Jackson Van Auker.
Charles attended the Poland Union Seminary School until the age of 15. He became interested telegraphy and soon became proficient in Morse Code. He became a "boomer" telegraph operator and by the age of 20, worked in almost every state in the Union. He then became interested in accounting and worked as a bookkeeper in Salt Lake City.
Mr. Van Auker also enjoyed gambling. In 1906, while employed as a cashier for the Ranier Bank, it is said he gambled with funds of the bank in order to hide his shortage. He bound, gagged and shackled himself in the bank office claiming he had been assaulted and robbed by two thugs. After an investigation, it was found that he had gambled away more money than he had drawn in salary and was placed in custody of authorities of Portland, Oregon. On leaving Portland, under the charge of the deputy sheriff, he made an excuse to step into a building to pay a bill and kept on going. Van Auker was discharged after a preliminary hearing was held, there being absolutely no evidence on which to hold him.
Charles then became a travelling salesman, traveling through Oregon and Canada. By 1920, he had returned to the area and boarded at the home of John and Alcena Keller in Youngstown. He then became a Christian Science practitioner. Later in the year, while in New Hampshire, he married Elsie Walker. They travelled to Jacksonville, Florida then to Michigan as a practitioner. By 1930, while residing at Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, he returned to his vocation of travelling salesman. In 1932, the couple divorced.
When coming to Reno, Nevada in 1938, Charles had done some writing on metaphysical subjects. He returned to a boyhood hobby of sketching. Many spring afternoons you would find him painting in oils along the north bank of the Truckee River.
Charles Sherman Van Auker passed away on November 6, 1947 at the Washoe General Hospital in Reno of heart failure. His services were conducted by the Christian Science Church with Allen Wiggam as reader. Lawrence Layman sang "Abide with Me" and "Oh! Gentle Presence," accompanied by Irving Webb at the organ. Burial followed at Mountain View Cemetery in Reno, Nevada.