Remarkable? He was much more
Charles Thomas Major Sr. (1896-1962) was a remarkable person. As a youngster he had spinal tuberculosis, which put him in a body cast. This was followed by a hip infection. According to his son, Charlie Major, a rod had to be pushed down inside his hip covered with soaked gauze every day, a task that fell to Thomas Major the boy's father.

[Photo above: Charles T. Major, left, next to his father, Thomas. Behind Thomas is son John E. Major, with Floyd "Blackie" Major seated on the right. Standing are Sarto Major, left, and Lloyd "Red" Major, Floyd's twin brother.]

The family lived across street from school, but Charles remained at home until he was 12. "For high school," Charlie told me, "my father took the train to the village. He could not always go, especially in snow." He was severely crippled and had difficulty walking up hill. He was about five-feet-four, with a deformed back.

Still, said Charlie, his father built an ice cream, candy store and pool hall in Skaneateles Falls while in high school to support himself and buy law books. He would meet the early train and drag about 200 pounds of ice to the store to pack the ice cream. He had the first crystal radio store in town. 

His interest in and aptitude for law earned him a job as law clerk in the office of Martin F. Dillon, who unfortunately died in 1919 — on the very day Charles T. Major was elected justice of the peace, at age 23.

Charles Major continued working with C. R. Milford, who later became his law partner.

When Charles Major ran for reelection as justice of the peace in 1923 his opponent was Peter Curtin. What resulted was a double victory for Major – he won the election and a few years later married his opponent's daughter, Anna.

Major went from justice of the peace to supervisor of the Town of Skaneateles, later becoming attorney for Onondaga County and a New York State Court of Claims judge.

He loved his hometown and was one of its biggest boosters, earning the nicknamed "Mr. Skaneateles."


Auburn Citizen, March 31, 1922
Skaneateles Store Is Robbed
By Burglar Band
Skaneateles, March 31 – Burglars believed to be members of the same band that has terrorized the western village of Onondaga County for the past two weeks broke into the store of Charles T. Major here Wednesday night and made away with $400 worth of cigars, cigarets and tobacco and about $4 in cash. The interior of the store was wrecked.

Chisels and other tools used by the robbers were identified as implements that were stolen from the home of a Skaneateles Junction carpenter a few nights ago.

Local authorities are certain the men who robbed Major’s store are members of the band that have robbed places in Elbridge, Mottville and other villages.

Mr. Major says the burglars evidently had a master key to his front lock. He says no windows were opened and that entrance and exit were made through the front door. The goods were strewn all over the store floor. The cash was taken from a gum slot machine.

Mr. Major says that he locked up for the night about 10 o’clock and discovered the robbery when he opened his store at 6:30 this morning.


Auburn Citizen-Advertiser, July 2, 1962
Charles T. Major, 66, of 29 E. Austin St., Skaneateles, died in Mercy Hospital Sunday after a short illness. He has been a New York State Court of Claims Judge since Jan 1, 1953. He was appointed by former Gov. Thomas E. Dewey.

He was formerly justice of the peace of Skaneateles, town supervisor for Skaneateles and attorney for Onondaga County from 1940 until his appointment to the bench.

Judge Major was reappointed for a full nine-year term in 1957 by former Gov. Averill Harriman.

Born in Skaneateles Falls, Jan. 13, 1896, the son of Thomas E. and Ellen McCarthy Major. He began his law career in the village of Skaneateles as a member of the firm of Milford and Major. He left the firm upon his judicial appointment.

Mr. Major was a communicant of St. Mary’s of the Lake Church, a member of the Holy Name Society, the Syracuse Council 191 Knights of Columbus, Steuben Assembly Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus, the Auburn Lodge BPOE Elks.

He was past president of the Skaneateles Chamber of Commerce and secretary-treasurer of the Skaneateles Short Line Railroad. He was also a member of the Skaneateles Country Club.

He is survived by his widow, Mrs. Anna Curtin Major; two sons, Charles T. Major Jr. and Peter C. Major, both of Skaneateles; two sisters, Miss Laura M. Major and Mrs. James A. O’Shea, both of Skaneateles Falls; three brothers, Floyd J. Major and Lloyd M. Major, both of Skaneateles Falls, and Onondaga County Sheriff Sarto C. Major of Skaneateles, and three grandchildren. A deceased brother, John Major, was a member of the Auburn Police Department.

Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery.


Skaneateles Press, July 6, 1962
Mr. Skaneateles Goes Home

All Skaneateles grieves at the passing of State Court of Claims Judge Charles T. Major.

Flags fly at half-staff for this native son who was loving husband, father, and patriot, sterling citizen – as American as the Declaration of Independence itself.

We need not go into the details of this man’s rise from small town officeholder to high state office or the meager beginning he started from or of the many human obstacles he overcame in reaching them. The thing we need to know is that he did reach them and on achieving them, what kind of standard he set – what sort of man he was.

A lifelong Republican, his citizenship was not warped by narrow, petty partisanship. Here was an American. A self-made man pulling himself up by his own bootstraps, he was a leader in his own profession, but was common as dust. A devout Christian, he lived his beliefs. Of strong character, always human, he was honest and courageous. His friends were legion.

Because of his knowledge of, his love for, his ever-defense of his native Skaneateles, he had become affectionately dubbed “Mr. Skaneateles,” a sobriquet he well deserved and one he carried up to his death.

As revered citizen, as honored public servant, “Mr. Skaneateles” is now summoned home to join that group whom the poet Longfellow must surely have had in mind when he wrote:

“Lives of great men
All remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And in passing leave behind us
Footprints in the sands of time.”


Marcellus Observer, August 19, 1971
Mrs. Anna Curtin Major of 29 Austin Street, Skaneateles, died recently at home after a long illness. She was 73.

She was born in Niles and had resided in Skaneateles 62 years. She was the widow of Charles T. Major, who had been attorney for the State Court of Claims.

Mrs. Major was a communicant of St. Mary’s of the Lake Church, Skaneateles, and was a member of the Confraternity of Christian Mothers. She also was a member of the Stella Maris Retreat House Guild, Skaneateles.

Surviving are two sons, the Rev. Peter C. Major M.H.M. of East Malaysia and Charles T. Major, Town of Skaneateles justice; two sisters, Mrs. John Emperor and Miss Catherine Curtin, both of Skaneateles; a brother, Joseph Curtin of Rochester, and eight grandchildren.

Services were held Thursday at the family residence, 29 Austin Street. A Mass of resurrection was offered by the Rev. Robert Casey in St. Mary’s of the Lake Church. Burial was in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Skaneateles.