Judge Charles Henry Willingham was born October 26, 1855 at 3:00 o'clock on a Friday morning in Washington County, Texas, USA. He was deprived of educational advantages due to the fact that there were no public schools and private schools were scarce in the area; but being an ambitious man and determined to have an education, at the age of eighteen, Charles completed the entire course of Baylor University which then was located at Independence, Texas and received a civil engineer degree.  Upon getting his degree, Charles went to work for the G.C. and S.F. Railroad, working for two years and eight months between Temple and Lampasas before accepting a commission with the same company to locate their land certificates in the wild and western part of the state. For six years, he encountered controversies with Indians, wild animals, and poisonous snakes which inhabited the unsettled regions. 

Charles, determined to study law, ended his work in the deserts and mountains and went to Brenham, Texas where he attended Brenham Law School and worked in the offices of Breedlove & Ewing. He was admitted to the bar on October 28, 1879. His finances exhausted, Charles took his possessions upon his back and barefoot, set out for what is now Ballinger, Runnels County, Texas, a distance of 368 miles where he had made his choice of location to live. Upon his arrival he started working immediately surveying and running lines for the projected county. In April 1880, when the county was organized and had a population of about 1,901, Judge Willingham was elected to the state legislature in which capacity he served four years. Upon retirement, the judge devoted himself to raising cattle and farming, withdrawing completely from public service and declining all offers of public office. On May 17, 1882, Judge Willingham married in Commanche, Texas to Miss Lellie Egglestone Carr the daughter of J.D. Carr of Cadiz, Kentucky who had been a merchant in Kentucky and later moved to Commanche County where he was engaged in that same business. Lellie's father died in 1912 and her mother died in 1910.

Judge Charles Henry Willingham died a true Texas Pioneer and definitly a self-made man May 17, 1934.

"A History of Texas and Texans" by Frank W. Johnson, The American Historical Society, Chicago and New York 1914.

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