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Source:Memoirs of Milwaukee County : from the earliest historical times down to the present, including a genealogical and biographical record of representative families in Milwaukee County (1909), By Jerome Anthony Watrous
Charles Quarles, deceased, was one of the conspicuous members of the legal fraternity in Milwaukee throughout a period of twenty years, and being recognized as profound and able, he easily took rank with the leading lawyers of the state. He was a younger brother of Judge J. V. Quarles, of whom extended personal mention is made elsewhere in this volume, and in the same connection mention has been made of the fact that their father was one of the pioneer settlers of Kenosha. Charles Quarles was born in Kenosha on Feb. 13, 1846, grew to manhood in that place and began his professional career in the same city.
After passing through the full course of study in the public schools and being graduated in the high school, he entered the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and pursued the classical course until the latter part of the senior year. While at Ann Arbor he was a member of the Greek letter society of the Alpha Delta Phi. He left the University a few months before the time for graduation, but some thirty years later, in 1898, that institution conferred upon him the degree of A. B. and ranked him with his class of 1868. His first encounter with the world was in Chicago, where he entered the offices of the home fire insurance company of New York, remaining thus engaged for about three years, after which he spent two years in the west, principally in southwest Kansas and Indian Territory. While at work in Chicago he had resolved to become a member of the bar, and at the end of his western sojourn, in 1874, he returned to Wisconsin and began the study of law in the office of head & Quarles at Kenosha. He was a diligent student, pursued a thorough and systematic course of reading, and was admitted to practice in 1875. He immediately began the practice of his profession in Kenosha, which city was the base of his operations for the ensuing thirteen years, at the end of which period his services were in such demand that lie determined to enter a wider sphere of activity. In the spring of 1888 he united with his brother, Joseph v. Quarles, and Thomas W. Spence, then practicing at Racine, to form the firm first known as Quarles, Spence & Dyer, and later as Quarles, Spence & Quarles, which soon commanded a large business and rapidly entered the front rank. The firm had offices both in Milwaukee and Racine and consequently Mr. Quarles moved to Milwaukee. As a member of this firm Mr. Quarles contributed his full share toward the attainment of its high repute, and he became personally conspicuous among the able and accomplished lawyers of the city and state.
In the division of professional labor between members of the firm, it fell to him, in a large proportion of cases, to give attention to the points of law involved in cases at bar, and as a natural consequence he acquired special distinction in this connection. As a lawyer he laid no claim to oratory and his addresses to court and jury were usually made in conversational style. But such was the purity of his diction and the clearness of his thought, that they made an argument on the dryest subject a delight. His addresses to juries were masterful efforts, characterized by a comprehensive grasp of the evidence and a profound knowledge of human nature. His arguments to the court were always to the point, and he had a way of keeping his opponents to the point which often proved disastrous to them.
Among the most recent of the important litigation in which he took part, the Schandein will case will be the most quickly recalled to mind, on account of the magnitude of the interests involved as well as of the great interest which the controversy aroused throughout this country and Europe. On Mr. Quarles fell the responsibility of resisting the effort made by the son and daughter of Wisconsin's wealthiest woman to break the will which left the greater portion of her estate to their sister. The battle, which was fought out for nearly two months, was a memorable one and the victory scored by Mr. Quarles was decisive. After the conclusion of this contest, the subject of this memoir figured prominently in the inheritance tax case against the estate of Capt. Frederick Pabst. He also won a complete victory in the Pfister case, and was prominently connected with the litigations growing out of the Bigelow Bank failure. At the time of his death Mr. Quarles was engaged as one of the counsel for the defendants in the suit brought by the attorney-general of the state against the street railway company and others for the annulment of the franchise of that corporation, and in the argument of the preliminary motions he took an important part. He gave special attention to corporate law, as it relates to the steadily growing interests involved in industrial and social questions, being regarded as an authority on these complicated problems, and he was engaged in some of the most important cases arising out of the conflict of interests between labor and capital. Leading members of the Milwaukee bar, upon his sudden and unexpected death, joined in paying tributes to the worth of Mr. Quarles as a man and a lawyer, among which was the following by Judge John C. Ludwig: "I can only say at this moment that Mr. Quarles was one of the most prominent attorneys in the state. He was a man not only of the highest standing in his profession, but was highly educated outside of that, and was generally well informed. He was a thorough gentleman, a man of most amiable disposition, a man of the most acute mind, and highly respected by all who knew him."
While he was a firm believer in the platform expressions of the Republican party, he was never active in practical politics. He held but two public offices during his life, taking them at the earnest solicitations of many citizens-president of the school board of Milwaukee and also at Kenosha while living there. The position of school director he was appointed to in 1897, and his associates on the board recognized the public spirit which prompted a busy man like him to give a portion of his time to the schools by unanimously electing him president of the board. He also served one term as a member of the state board of examiners for the admission of applicants to the bar.
He managed to have some time for the social side of life, and was a member of the Milwaukee, the Deutscher, the Country, the University and the Yacht clubs and the Archaeological Society, and his love for animals was attested by his membership in the Wisconsin Humane Society. He was also a member of the Masonic Order. He was fond of outdoor sports and made it a rule to enjoy at least one fishing trip a year, going to either Florida or California. He had returned from an annual outing in the latter state a few days before his death, that deplorable event occurring on April 8, 1908.
Mr. Quarles was married in November, 1881, to Miss Emma Thiers, of Kenosha, who survives him. Their union was blessed by the birth of four children : Louis Quarles and Charles Bullen Quarles, who were associated with him in the law firm of Quarles, Spence & Quarles ; Henry Capron Quarles, who is a senior at the University of Wisconsin, and Miss Ethel Quarles. Who is a student at Vassar College.