Charles Henry Fletcher

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Charles Henry Fletcher

Charles Henry Fletcher (aka Chas. H. Fletcher in company advertising) organized and led The Centaur Company, makers of the eponymous "Fletcher's Castoria", serving as President and General Manager.[1]


Birth and relatives[edit]

He was born December 25, 1837 (according to most records) in New York, New York. He married Jemima Elizabeth Bright (10 September 1848, England - 8 May 1932, Manhattan, NY) (New York Times, p15, Col 4, May 9, 1932) in 1866 (according to 1890 Census records). He had three female children who lived to adulthood, Mymie (My-me) (16 May 1868 in Brooklyn, New York- 28 May 1958 in Pasadena, CA) who married the Reverend William Morrison (5 October 1863 - 4 January 1915) who was the priest at Trinity Church in New York, Lucille (16 December 1873 in Brooklyn, New York - 29 February 1956 in East Orange, New Jersey) who married George Howard Betts (5 August 1871, Brooklyn, NY - 8 Jul 1940 in Pinehurst, North Carolina) who was a cosmetics manufacturer (New York Times, July 9, 1940, p21, Col 2), Ettye (Et-E)(25 November 1870 in Brooklyn, New York - 7 December 1929 in Orange, New Jersey) who married Albert Bryant also had large roles in the Centaur Company and Sterling Products later known Sterling Drug. Albert Bryant's sister, Sara Cone Bryant, was a well-known children's book author. Records indicated he had one daughter, Eva born about 1869 who died young and another child who is believed to have died at birth and was unnamed.

He had one sister, Catherine Gale Fletcher and two half-sisters, Fanny Fletcher and Lucille Bennett. His house still stands and is privately owned on Berkeley Ave in Orange, New Jersey. The house has seven full bathrooms.

Business career[edit]

As a boy of 13, Fletcher went to work for a proprietary medicine company. In 1872 he managed to save enough to buy from a physician, Dr. Samuel Pitcher, the formula of the laxative Castoria. With this formula, he made a fortune.

Originally marketed as Pitcher's Castoria, the product has had several names, notably Fletcher's own.

A little known fact is that he was sent South before the Civil War to collect debts by Demas Barnes. He returned (successfully) just before Fort Sumter was attacked (so shortly before April 12, 1861 he returned north). Partly due to this success (and others both before and after), Demas Barnes backed him in forming The Centaur Company.


"[The Centaur Company is] probably the largest proprietary medicine concern in the country, if not in the world. Mr. Fletcher's name has become so identified with the product of the company that it is known all over the civilized world." [1]

"Charles H. Fletcher['s] ... signature is perhaps better known that that of any other man of his day..." The signature is shown here [2]


Charles Henry Fletcher died Sunday April 9, 1922 in Orange, N.J. He was interred in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. See New York Times, April 10, 1924, p46,C8.

Related Facts[edit]

  • In 1884, The Centaur Company offered to pay for the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty when the Pedestal Fund Committee found itself short of money in return for placing "Castoria" on the base for one year. The offer was declined.[3]
  • Charles Henry Fletcher's son-in-law Albert Bryant began working for The Centaur Company (and later Sterling Products) in 1899 and retired from the company November 8, 1937.
  • In July 1908 he received from Charles L. Seabury Company the "largest yacht in the world driven by motor power" at the time, the Jemima F. III which was approximately 111 feet in length, named for his wife, Jemima, a trend for large luxury yachts that continues.[4]


  1. ^ a b Standard Remedies, April 1922.
  2. ^ The Western Druggist, April 1922
  3. ^ New York Times May 18, 1986, Los Angeles Times July 3, 1986, Time Magazine July 1986, Washington Post, December 28, 1986
  4. ^ "QUEEN OF MOTOR YACHTS, The Jemima F. III., Largest in the Word, Launched in Harlem", The New York Times (New York), 17 July 1908: 1