Charles Hackley

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Charles Henry Hackley (January 3, 1837 – January 10, 1905) son of Joseph H. Hackley and Salina Fuller Hackley was born in Michigan City, Indiana, January 3, 1837 [1] He was an important figure in the history of Muskegon, Michigan. He arrived in Muskegon in 1856, from Indiana, with his father to work on the creation of the early Michigan roadways, and later became the owner of many acres of cutting grounds throughout the state of Michigan. Later on (with business partner Thomas Hume) the Hackley-Hume Lumber Mill on Muskegon Lake. The mill operated successfully in 1856-1894, closing in 1894 after most of Michigan's Lower Peninsula had been effectively deforested. While many lumber mill owners moved their operations to the Pacific Northwest, Hackley remained in Muskegon and focused on urban revitalization of that city.

Hackley became Muskegon's biggest philanthropist. In his own words: "A rich man to a great extent owes his fortune to the public. He makes money largely through the labor of his employees....Moreover, I believe that it should be expended during the lifetime of the donor, so that he can see that his benefactions do not miscarry and are according to his intent....To a certain extent, I agree with Mr. Carnegie....that it is a crime to die rich."

Charles Hackley's gifts to the city of Muskegon were valued at $12.0 million in 1905. They included:

Hackley was much more than a philanthropist, he along with business partner Thomas Hume were strong supporters of the city of Muskegon. Armed with funding from the Muskegon Industrial fund, Hackley and Hume were able to convince several companies to open shop in Muskegon, growth of these companies (most notably Brunswick, Central Paper Co (now Sappi Fine Paper) and Continental Motors (now L-3 Communications Inc.) would later provide thousands of jobs to Muskegonites for much of the twentieth century. Hackley is not only credited with his gifts to the city, but also stopping the ebb of people leaving Muskegon for jobs elsewhere after the lumber industry folded.

Both Charles Hackley and Thomas Hume's homes are still standing, and after a major restoration in the mid-1990s, are open for tour to community visitors. Also open for tour is The City Barn which served as the pairs stable for horses and equipment. In addition, a replica of the building that housed the C. H. Hackley Hose Company No. 2 also serves as a museum. All are part of the Muskegon County Museum which is located downtown.

Charles Hackley also founded the neighboring city of Muskegon Heights, which has recently seen an increase in new housing as well as construction of a state of the art high school.

His portrait was painted in 1904 by artist Herbert A. Collins. The painting was hung in the then newly completed Hackley Hospital.[2]


  1. ^ Muskegon Chronicle, Feb. 10, 1905
  2. ^ Biography of Herbert Alexander Collins, by Alfred W. Collins, February 1975, 4 pages typed, in the possession of Collins' great-great grand-daughter, D. Dahl of Tacoma, WA

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