|Birth: ||Jun. 3, 1839|
|Death: ||Mar. 21, 1915|
Avarua, Cook Islands
Charles Wells Banks was born near Birmingham, England on June 3, 1839 and also once used the name of John Scard. He migrated to the U.S. and was naturalized on May 14, 1867 at New Orleans, Louisiana. He resided in the United States and was thought to have served with the 206th New York Volunteers in New Orleans under General Banks, as Quartermasters clerk. Research reveals, however, he in fact enlisted on August 31, 1862 at age 23 as a Sergeant and was inducted into Company I, 131st Infantry Regiment New York on September 6, 1862; though he did serve as a Quarter Master clerk under General Banks. His Unit Numbers were 1395. Banks participated in operations in Western Louisiana from April 9th through May 14th, the Teche Campaign from April 11th through the 20th, at Fort Bisland on April 12th & 13th, at Madam Porter's Plantation at Indian Bend on April 13th, at Irish Bend on April 14th, Bayou Vermillion on April 17th, then marched to Opelousas on April 19th & 20th, moved to New Iberia on April 25th, participated in the Siege of Port Hudson from May 24th through July 9th, the assaults on Port Hudson May 27th and June 14th, was in action at Plaquemine on June 18th, the surrender of Port Hudson on July 9th, was at Kock's Plantation at Bayou LaFourche on July 12th & 13th, and participated in the Red River Campaign from March 25th through May 22nd.
Charles Banks was wounded in his left leg during the "Battle of Pleasant Hill", during the Red River Campaign. The Battle of Pleasant Hill, at Mansfield, Louisiana on April 9, 1864 took place between Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Bank's Red River. Charles went on to participate in actions at Mansura, Bermuda Hundred, Deep Bottom, Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley Campaign and the Battles of Winchester and Cedar Creek. Banks, after enlisting as a Sergeant, was reclassified as a Full Private on November 25, 1863, but later reduced to the rank of private; being discharged for disability, as a private, at New Orleans, Louisiana on December 30, 1864. His Regiment went on and was mustered out at Savannah, Georgia on July 26, 1865. After his discharge Banks had accepted a civilian post as Quartermaster Clerk in New Orleans, was later Chief Clerk of the Freedman's Bureau in Washington D.C. and still later a U.S. Customs Inspector in New York; before arriving in San Francisco in 1871. In addition, he was a Republican, a respected Knight Templar, a member of the very exclusive Union and Bohemian clubs and a member of the Oakland Commandery No. 11 of California. Following his hobby of science, Banks had become a member of the Microscopic Society of San Francisco and owned one of the first oil-immersed instruments on the Pacific. After the war and while living in San Francisco, California, he worked for Wells, Fargo and Company as head Cashier, handling large sums of money. As it turned out, however, 1866 would be a bad year for Wells, Fargo and Company. On November 1, 1866 James B. Hume, head of the Wells, Fargo Chief of Detectives discovered that the trusted cashier of the company's express department, one Charles Wells Banks, had vanished after leaving for a fishing trip to the Russian River, just north of San Francisco. He realized there was no foul play involved, because at about the same time he discovered that his associate had embezzled over $20,000 and the deeper he dug into it, the more it looked like the amount missing would exceed $100,000.
On November 8th Hume put up a reward of $1,000 for the arrest and delivery of Banks to any jail in the U.S., with an additional 25% reward of any monies recovered. Banks at that time was a forty-seven year old distinguished Englishman who had migrated to the United States and had been naturalized in 1867; hardly the criminal type. He was 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighed 145 pounds, had thick, curly slightly greying black hair and was both well known and highly thought of. He was said to favour a leg wound received during the war, suffered from varicose veins and wore false teeth. It was said his disposition was one of quick movements and nervousness. He was inquisitive, but controversial by nature, was never inclined to question prices quoted by tradesmen, was always open handed, only purchased good quality products, had a streak of kindness about him, was vain in his appearance, enjoyed notoriety and was familiar with all brands of liquors, wines and French dishes. He smoked tobacco but did not chew, sniffed snuff occasionally and had a slight English accent. He was said to always dress neatly with his collar turned down and carried himself well, in spite of his use of tobacco and snuff. He was very educated, a first class accountant, once for an iron establishment and once worked as a clerk in the artificial flower house industry. He was also a diarist in the Cook Islands and the museum there has preserved most of his diaries. In the Cook Islands Banks married a woman of Atiu in the Cook Islands, but they had no children of their own. Little is known of Banks last years of life, but according to island rumours, he went blind around the turn of the century and lingered on until 1915. Charles Wells Banks died at Rarotonga, New Zealand on March 21, 1915. and was buried in the L.M.S. Mission Cemetery at Avarua, Rarotonga, New Zealand with an elaborate headstone; unfortunately it was badly broken into pieces over time, but has recently been completely restored. Along with the restoration a bronze memorial plaque, acquired for the family by American James Gray and the American Civil War Round Table of Queensland, Australia, Inc., was placed predominately on his tomb.
Avarua Cook Islands Christian Churchyard
Avarua, Cook Islands
Created by: James Gray
Record added: Oct 02, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 42615807
Added: Feb. 26, 2011
Added: Dec. 4, 2009