Charles Widman
Portrait of Widman from the Chicago Daily Tribune, Nov. 25, 1898
Date of birth: (1879-06-17)June 17, 1879
Place of birth: Rochester, New York
Date of death: December 19, 1944(1944-12-19) (aged 65)
Place of death: Detroit, Michigan
Career information
Position(s): Halfback
Height: 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
College: Michigan
High school: Central High School (Detroit, MI)
 As player:
1898 Michigan

Charles Henry Widman (June 17, 1879 – December 19, 1944) was an American football player. He was born in Rochester, New York in either 1878 or 1879.[1] He was the son of John C. Widman and Lena (Widman) Keifhaber. His father was a manufacturer of furniture who moved to Detroit and operated under the name J.C. Widman & Co., furniture manufacturers.

File:Widman's TD run.png

Widman attended Detroit High School and enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1898 as a freshman in the law school. He was the starting left halfback on the undefeated 1898 Michigan Wolverines football team that won the school's first Western Conference championship. He scored both of Michigan's touchdowns in the 1898 championship game against the University of Chicago. His 65-yard touchdown run against Chicago was described as follows in The Michigan Alumnus in December 1898:

"Widman's now famous run of sixty-five yards through Chicago's territory for a touchdown clinched the victory which Michigan was bound to win and was perhaps the feature of the game. As the result of his dash down the field with the whole Chicago team after him Michigan has a new football hero and the history of western football is enriched by the story of a run as thrilling as was ever made on any gridiron."[2]
After the game, the Chicago Daily Tribune published a story on Widman in which it opined that he "promises to become one of the greatest football stars Michigan has ever produced."[3] He was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity at Michigan.[4]

During the fall of 1898, a Detroit newspaper published an article suggesting that Widman had not graduated from high school and was only in Ann Arbor to play football and that he had no intention to remain after the football season concluded. The Michigan Alumnus in November 1898 defended Widman: "There is no more promising or prominent candidate for football honors than Charlie Widman, the plucky little half back who has been making such a good record."[5] The charges were investigated at a meeting of faculty members. Professor Albert Pattengill announced the faculty's decision finding that Widman was "taking the full amount of course work laid out for him by the dean of the law department" and concluding there was no foundation for the charges that Widman did not intend to return to college after the Christmas vacation.[5]

Widman did not return to Michigan in the fall of 1899 and subsequently played football for the Detroit Athletic Club. On October 15, 1902, he was married to Eleanor Cecilia Frees at Detroit.[6] He later became the vice president of the J. C. Widman & Co. in Detroit.[7][8] In the 1910s and 1920, the company evolved from furniture manufacturing to producing millwork and interior cabinetry for automobiles and eventually the production of entire bodies for several automobile companies.[9] J.C. Widman & Co. eventually merged with J. W. Murray Manufacturing Co. to form Murray Corp. of America, a major producer of automobile coachworks.[10] Widman was an officer and director of the Murray Corp. of America during the 1930s and early 1940s.[11][12]

He died in Detroit in 1944.[13]


  1. His draft registration card completed in 1918 lists his date of birth as June 17, 1879. The 1900 U.S. Census indicates he was born in June 1878.
  2. "The Thanksgiving Day Game". The Michigan Alumnus. December 1898. p. 115.
  3. "Sketch of Young Widman: Wolverine, to Whom Ann Arbor Largely Owes Its Victory, in His Freshman Year". Chicago Daily Tribune: p. 3. November 25, 1898.
  4. 1899 Michiganensian, Sigma Chi, approximately page 225 (pages not numbered).
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Charges Against Widman". The Michigan Alumnus. November 1898. p. 62.
  6. "Widman-Frees". Detroit Free Press: p. 5. October 16, 1902.
  7. Draft registration card for Charles Henry Widman dated September 6, 1918. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Registration Location: Wayne County, Michigan; Roll: 2024031; Draft Board: 7.
  8. Census entry for Charles H. Widman (age 50, born in New York) and Ellenore Widman. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Year: 1930; Census Place: Detroit, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: 1043; Page: 5A; Image: 1094.0; Family History Library Film: 2340778.
  11. "Murray Corp. at a High". Wall Street Journal. May 4, 1934.
  12. "Murray Corp. of America". Wall Street Journal. November 29, 1940.
  13. [1]
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