Charles David Williams was born August 12, 1875 in New York City. His father, Charles H. Williams, was born in 1849 in Connecticut of English ancestry. His mother, Mary A. Conlin, was born in 1850 in NYC of Irish ancestry. His parents married on July 7, 1873 in Manhattan. He was their only child. They lived at 178 Madison Street, near Pike Street on the Lower East Side. His father was a salesman and his mother was a domestic maid for a private family.
On July 4, 1879 his father died at the age of twenty-nine.
After his father's death he and his widowed mother lived with her widowed father, James Conlin, at 73 Leroy Street on the Lower East Side. Her father was born in 1825 in Ireland and worked as an unskilled laborer.
In 1887 at the age of twelve he finished the seventh grade of public school and entered the work force as an errand boy in the editorial office of a syndicated newspaper. That same company also had an editorial office in Chicago. After a few years of working his way up the ladder, he was transferred in 1892 to Chicago, where he began to work on the staff as a newspaper artist.
At the age of eighteen, according to several newspaper accounts, Charles D. Williams "began his art career as an illustrator in Chicago newspapers in 1893. From Chicago he went to the art staff of The Saturday Evening Post."
In 1898 newspaper advertisements for the December 22 issue of The Saturday Evening Post feature an introduction to the public of "a new artist, C. D. Williams."
By 1900 he was back in NYC and lived with his mother at 619 Lexington Avenue on East 53rd Street.
In 1900 the artist received sensational notoriety when he was mistakenly arrested for molesting a young woman. His reputation was widely promoted in newspaper accounts of the subsequent trial, including one noteworthy lampoon by journalist Leigh Bierce (1874-1901), the son of Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914).
On April 27, 1901 Charles D. Williams married Josephine E. Black in Manhattan Civil Court. She was born in NYC in 1871. The married couple moved a large stylish apartment building at 312 West 109th Street, near Riverside Park and the Hudson River.
He also rented an art studio space at 118 Est 28th Street, from which he conducted his freelance art career.
In 1909 he wrote the essay, "The Illustrator" for inclusion in "The Building of a Book" published by The Grafton Press.
On January 27, 1910 he became a founding member of the Society of Illustrators of New York, of which he later served as President. Other founding members included Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944), Frank DuMond (1865-1951) and Lejaren Hiller. Another member of the club, James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960), drew his portrait.
In 1912 Charles and Josephine Williams rented a country home at 10 Stonelea Place in New Rochelle, NY, which was a fashionable community for illustrators, such as Joseph & Frank Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell and Howard Chandler Christy (1873-1952).
Rather than commute by train to Grand Central Station, the artist bought a Maxwell automobile.
In 1913 he was fined for speeding.
In 1915 he was fined for speeding.
In 1918 he was arrested for reckless driving.
While living in New Rochelle he became fascinated with golf, as did several other local artists, including George Kerr, Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) and Fontaine Fox (1884-1964).
His illustrations appeared in national magazines, such as Collier's, The Saturday Evening Post, American, and The Ladies Home Journal.
On September 12, 1918 he registered with the draft during the Great War, at which time he was forty-three and recorded to be of medium height, medium build, with blue eyes and brown hair.
He painted covers for pulp magazines. His work appeared on The Cavalier, Blue Book, The Argosy, All-Story, All-Story Weekly, and All-Story Love. He also drew interior pen and ink illustrations for pulp magazines, such as Munsey's Magazine and All-Story Love.
On May 19, 1935 the journalist O. O. McIntyre wrote in his column, Everyday New York, for The Times of Batavia, NY, "C. D. Williams, the artist, is a walking map of Ireland."
In 1936 he was consulted as a beauty expert by a New York Post fashion columnist.
In 1937 he began to teach Illustration at the National Academy of Design at 1083 Fifth Avenue near 89th Street.
In 1938 he painted the cover of the December 3rd issue of Liberty Magazine.
In 1939 he and his wife moved to Tenafly, New Jersey, where they lived at 326 Knickerbocker Road.
On April 27, 1942 during WWII he registered with the selective service as required by law. He was sixty-seven. He was recorded to be five-eight, 133 pounds, blue eyes, brown hair and a scar on left cheek.
After the war he retired from illustration and concentrated on painting commissioned portraits.
In 1948 he and his wife moved to 143 Liberty Road in Englewood, NJ. They had no children. According to the daughter of his landlady, "He was a delightful, warm, talented and encouraging artist to all who knew him."
Charles D. Williams died after a long illness at home in Englewood, NJ, at the age of seventy-eight on January 10, 1954.
© David Saunders 2014