JUDGE C. H. EARNEST, who has left and is leaving the impress of his individuality upon the judicial history of western Texas and has gained special distinction as a land lawyer in Mitchell county, was born in San Marcos, Texas, on the 9th of April, 1859, and in the paternal line comes of German ancestry. His grandfather was a resident of northern Alabama and one of his sons, William Earnest, was born in that state in 1822. When a mere boy he went to Tennessee to live with his uncle, as he was left an orphan by the death of his parents and until 1852 he continued a resident of Tennessee, after which he came to Texas, settling in San Marcos. He was one of the first merchants of that place, handling a general stock of goods and continuing in business there for about fifteen or sixteen years, subsequent to which time his eldest son, J. W. Earnest, became his successor. Mr. Earnest, the father, continued to make his home in San Marcos until 1871, when he moved to Austin, where he is now living at the venerable age of eighty-three years, while his wife has attained the age of eighty-one years. His marriage occurred while he was living in Tennessee when about twenty years of age, the lady of his choice being Miss Martha Williamson, who was born in that state and was of Scotch Irish descent. Her father and mother came to Texas about the same time the Earnest family did. They settled in the San Marcos country, where her parents lived to a good old age, their home being at Purgatory Springs, about twelve miles from San Marcos. In the family of William Earnest there were twelve children, eight sons and four daughters. Of this number for have passed away, while the remainder are residing in Texas, the family record being as follows: Fannie, deceased; Jo W., who is residing in San Marcos; A. Reams, who is living in Colorado, Texas; James M., of Austin, this state; A. Clay, who makes his home in San Antonio, Texas; Robert, deceased; Tennie, the wife of R. P. Wright, of Austin; Charles H., of this review; Emma and Henry, both deceased; David C., who is living in Dallas; and Walter L., who resides at Austin.
Charles Houston Earnest acquired his early education in San Marcos and in 1871 upon his father’s removal to Austin he entered the Texas Military Institute conducted by John G. James and was graduated from that school in 1877 with first honors in his class. Later he was engaged as sub teacher in that school for about one term and afterward taught in a German American school conducted by Professor Jacob Bickler at Austin. In the year 1879 he went away to school, pursuing one course in the law department of Vanderbilt University at Nashville, Tennessee, in the session of 1879 and 1880. He afterward obtained a license to practice in the courts of Tennessee, which was also recognized by the court of Texas, and he was admitted to practice here. He first located in Austin for a few months but afterward removed to Runnels, the county seat of Runnels county, which had just been organized. There he opened an office in the spring of 1881 in connection with A. G. Wills in the land business, which partnership continued for two years. He then returned to Austin and spent about a year there and in March, 1884, came to Colorado, where he entered into partnership with Judge J. L. Shepherd in the land business, on connection with which Mr. Earnest also practice law. This partnership was continued until January 1, 1901, and was attended with a gratifying measure of success.
In 1890 Mr. Earnest was elected county judge of Mitchell county and served for one term of two years, after which he declined to be a candidate for re-election. Since the termination of his partnership with Judge Shepherd he has been alone in the practice of law and in real estate dealing. His practice is largely along the line of land litigation and thus his entire work is largely in connection with realty operations. The lands which he has in charge are both improved and unimproved and lie in Mitchell and a adjacent counties. He is also agent for the Texas & Pacific Railroad lands in this section of the country. Judge Earnest is highly educated man and in the course of his long residence in this country and in association with its public and business interest he has had splendid opportunity for the development of his best faculties and talents. A gentleman of pleasing address and a fine conversationalist, his words always elicit attention and interest. He has a remarkably keen insight into the current affairs of the day. In the road that he has traveled he has met many disappointments and also many victories and at length he has reached the goal of prosperity, not through any fortunate combination of circumstances but because of his sincere and laudable ambition and straightforward course. He has consecrated all of his energies to one purpose and he now enjoys the reputation of being one of the most successful and capable land lawyers in Mitchell county.
Judge Earnest was united in marriage May 25, 1886, to Miss Fannie Craig, a native of Pennsylvania, who resided in Lynchburg, Virginia, prior to her arrival in Colorado, Texas, where he resided at the time of her marriage. They now have two sons and three daughters: Charles Reams, Martha Agnes, Jeannette, Mable and Jo. Judge Earnest is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, being affiliated with the lodge at Abilene, Texas. In a life of intense and well directed activity he has gained an honored name and stands to-day as one of the representative men of western Texas, who has ever been the champion of progress, reform, improvement and substantial development.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 404-405.