Charles Christian Shaler (1852-1926) – Druggist

On May 31, 1852, David Shaler and Martha Dwyer of Ankenytown, Ohio, were blessed with the birth of their son, Charles Christian Shaler.  Charles’ mother died when he was six years and at an early age assisted his father with managing the farm.  He grew up in Knox County, Ohio with his father, step mother, and half-siblings.  Around 1877, Charles married Elizabeth K. King, daughter of Wilson N. King and Sarah Mills, who were early residents of Abilene.

Ellsworth Reporter 1880

Ellsworth Reporter, September 25, 1879

Charles and his brother in-law, Millard King, opened a grocery store on Douglas Avenue in Ellsworth, Kansas in the summer of 1879 under the firm Shaler & King.  Prior to opening the store, Charles had been a grocery store clerk for J. Beebe in Ellsworth.  Shaler & King in Ellsworth closed in April 1882 and the gentlemen moved to Abilene.  Millard died at his parent’s home in Abilene the following month.

Charles switched product lines and opened a drug store in Abilene in 1883 in the 200 block of at N. Cedar Street.  The Shaler’s lived on Buckeye Avenue.  The drug store was the scene of a professionally safe cracker in 1884.  It was surmised that the cracksman entered the building through the post office.  The thief drilled a small hole in the safe and set off a powder charge that destroyed the combination mechanism.  The loss was $100 in cash and a gold watch and chain.  The watch had been a gift he received as a fifteen year old boy from his uncle.  The burglar also tried to drill through the post office safe and resorted to a significant amount of powder to blow it open.  The post office lost $2,000 and some valuables.

February 12, 1885, Abilene Weekly Reflector

Abilene Weekly Reflector, February 12, 1885

The drug store moved to the newly completed building at 102 NW. 2nd Street in 1885.  Among the employees of the Shaler Drug Store were Harry Lee, who was with the company for 5 years and D. E. Scanlan.  Mr. Lee sold many items including drugs, patent medicines, toilet articles, and paints.  In those days, it was common for drug stores to carry cigars and other items we today find adverse to good health.  In 1887, Charles applied under a new law to carry liquor, which was granted by the Dickinson County Probate Court.  The legal application of this new law created an uproar in the community that wasn’t ready to go wet, so two weeks later he surrendered the permit he had just received.  However, in 1890 he did receive and retain a permit to sell liquor.

Charles and his father in law, Dr. King, took on a project of great significance to downtown Abilene beginning in November 1885, when they started building the commercial building addressed 305-307 N. Buckeye, which is currently the north half of the RHV store.  Martin and Adams were the builders.  The first tenant in the north half of the block building was R. R. VanSant who operated a confectionery and ice cream parlor (307 N. Buckeye).  Mrs. VanSant had a millinery in the south room of the building (305 N. Buckeye).  Charles and his family moved into the residential space above the VanSant businesses.

The Shaler’s had three children: Maude, Millard, and Ethel.  Charles was civic minded.  He was a member of the Knights of Pythias and served as the Treasurer for the Young Men’s Republican Club.  He was elected to the Board of Education in 1888.  The family moved out of the 2nd floor of the commercial building to the house on Buckeye formerly owned by O. J. Raub and a year later moved to a house on 4th Street, one door east of his in-laws.  Charles also participated in the local baseball scene by playing 3rd base for “The Doctors and Druggist” team.

Charles also purchased and sold businesses.  In December 1888, he exchanged property for the Jackman’s mill site in Chapman and turned over the operation to his brother, E. S. Shaler.  This mill was renamed the “Roller Mill” and was resold in to William Drain in May 1889.  He also purchased the “Gem” drug store in Manchester, Kansas and added to it’s stock.  A year later, Charles purchased a competitor, “The Palace Drug Store”, from H. H. Keel.  He did not consolidate the drug stores.

Abilene Weekly Reflector Shaller-Allen

Abilene Weekly Reflector

The Shaler drug store was sold to Harry C. Allen in October 1890, who opened H. C. Allen & Company and moved the stock to the former First National Bank Building (207 N. Cedar).  Four months later The Place Drug Store stock was packed and shipped to Whatcom, Washington.  Shortly after Mrs. Shaler was taken ill and returned to Abilene to help improve her health.  Charles returned to Abilene and started working for the Gulick Drug Store in 1894, but was once again in Whatcom.

LDJW 4-6-1915

Lawrence Daily Journal-World

In 1896, the Shaler family moved from Whatcom to Lawrence, Kansas where Charles was a traveling drug salesman for a drug manufacturer.  They lived in several homes in Lawrence, with 907 Ohio Street being their longest tenured residence.  Charles decided to purchase the drugstore of Dr. J. A. Hamlin, who was in failing health.  Shaler’s San-Tox Drug Store was housed at 742 Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence.

Charles continued to have an interest in the pacific northwest.  In 1915, he sold the San-Tox Drug Store to Dr. E. R. Hess, who came to Lawrence from Hays.  After the sell, Charles spent a month traveling the west coast looking for an opportunity to open a drug store.  He settled on Portland, Oregon and moved there in March 1916.

The move to Portland was made by Charles, Elizabeth, Maude, and Ethel.  Millard had become a mining engineer and was pursuing what would become a very successful career in that field.  The family lived at 1020 Pacific Street.  Charles would own and operate a drug store in Portland for the next ten years till his death on July 9, 1926.  Elizabeth died on December 3, 1928 in Portland.  They are buried in the King family plot in the Abilene Cemetery.



About James D. Holland

I'm a former local government planner turned real estate agent turned safety manager turned Chamber of Commerce Director, turned marketing sales representative... phew. I enjoy writing about Abilene's history, businesses, events, politics, and anything else that interests me.
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