Charles Schooley: City Paymaster and Prominent Baptist

Charles Abraham Schooley - FBC LIfe Deacon and COV Chief Paymaster

Charles Abraham Schooley. n.d. First Baptist Church (Vancouver) Archives.

Charles Abraham Schooley (1850-1931) was born in Port Colborne, Ontario. He studied law for a couple of years but ultimately withdrew from that course of study due to illness. He then was one of the first men to enter into the moss trade (of all things) while in Florida for a few years. He returned to Ontario where he began working with the Hobbs Hardware Co. of London until he came to Vancouver in 1889 with his recently-wed wife, Kate Eastman Schooley (nee Samons, of Hamilton). When he got to Vancouver, he worked at first as an agent with Imperial Oil Co. and later as a wholesale produce dealer. Finally, in 1905, he became a City employee, working initially with the Treasury department and, two years later, being promoted to the post of Chief Paymaster.*

Schooley became a member of First Baptist Church shortly after establishing his residence here. He served as a Deacon and as Church Clerk for many years. In January 1925, he was made an Honorary Deacon in recognition of his many years of exemplary service.**

When the Schooleys first came to the city, they lived on Howe Street between Smithe and Nelson. By 1908, they’d moved to 2020 Beach Avenue – a home on the south side of Beach near Chilco Street. By 1911, however, the City wanted to create a string of parkland east of Stanley Park and so, as part of that plan, Schooley’s beachfront property was purchased by the City’s Land Purchasing Agent for $13,513.60.

S-5-15 - English Bay [and Beach Avenue West of Chilco Street looking east]  ca1896

CVA S-5-15 – English Bay [and Beach Avenue West of Chilco Street looking east]. ca1896. The Schooley residence at 2020 Beach Ave. would have been along here.

The Schooleys moved to their final residence at 2057 Pendrell Street in 1914.

VW 29 Sept 1922-1

Schooley’s job as City Paymaster wasn’t without drama. On September 29th, 1922 at 10.15am, Schooley and his aide, Bob Armstrong, “were slugged by three auto[mobile] bandits and relieved of a civic payroll of $75,000, while a crowd of terrified Chinese, who were standing by, scattered from a fusillade of three shots fired by the robbers.” (Vancouver Daily World, September 22, 1922). (We will leave to one side the question of whether three shots may be accurately called a fusillade.)

Neither Schooley nor Armstrong seem to have suffered serious injury. City Hall, at that time, was in the Old Market Hall. The two City employees were returning to City Hall from the bank, where they had picked up the payroll.

To the best of my knowledge, the robbers were never brought to book for this crime.***

Kate Schooley pre-deceased her husband in 1927. Schooley died in 1931 at the age of 84.

Charles and Kate Schooley seem to have been childless. I had initially wondered whether Jennie Schooley, a teacher at Strathcona School from  1928-1959, might have been their daughter, but I later learned that she was the daughter of another local Schooley: William Francis Schooley.

Notes

*These early details of Schooley’s life were found in British Columbia From Earliest Times to the Present: Biographical. Volume IV. 1914. S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., p. 819.

**Mrs. Schooley was a devout member of a different church: St. John’s Presbyterian (just a few blocks from First Baptist).

***There was a report on November 1, 1922 that Tacoma, WA police had two men in custody on suspicion of being parties to the Vancouver robbery. It was established pretty quickly, however, that the two who were detained were in no way responsible for the theft.

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