Charles Roger Lame was born on November 27, 1820, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Joseph and Sarah Lame. Charles and his sibling William and Amanda were baptized on April 26, 1830, at the Old St George Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On May 11, 1841, Charles married Elizabeth Reed Whartnabey in Philadelphia.
In 1836 the family traveled west settling in Alton, Illinois before returning east. Charles once again moved west in 1842 settling in Barry, Pike County, Illinois for about two years at which time he moved to Pittsfield, the county seat of Pike County.
Lame was a former Whig Party member who turned Republican and had strong beliefs regarding the expansion of slavery into the free territories. He was a Mason and secretary of Pittsfield Lodge No. 56, A.F. & A.M. Charles was a builder and contractor by trade, building many of the homes and businesses in Pittsfield. Lame belonged to the Congregational church in Pittsfield which he had helped build.
Charles Lame was a dear friend of Abraham Lincoln. On October 1, 1858, Lincoln was in Pittsfield campaigning for a seat in the Senate against Stephen Douglas. In preparation of Lincolns arrival Robert Caldwell Scanland and Charles Lame were practice firing a campaign cannon which was a tradition of the day. The two men had fired one shot from the cannon and were in the process of loading the second shot. While Lame swabbed the barrel and carefully rammed the powder charge and wadding, Scanland filled the vent with powder and then covered the vent with his hand. This was done to prevent air from getting into the barrel and feeding any hot amber that might be left which could cause the gun to fire prematurely. As Scanland placed his hand over the vent hole of the barrel, he was met with extreme heat which caused him to jerk his hand away. Scanland’s actions caused sparks to fall from the torch he was holding which ignited the powder in the vent hole causing the cannon to fire before Lame had removed the ramrod and stepped back. This resulted in Lame’s face being burned and his arm badly mangled by the ramrod. The ramrod flew a block away lodging itself into a tree on Piper Lane.
Lame was taken to his home on Fayette Street and local physician Dr. Joseph H. Ledlie was called. Ledlie had wanted to amputate Charles Lame’s arm, but he decided against it. Over the next few days Lame developed a fever due to infection in his wounds causing Dr. Ledlie to believe that Lame would die from his wounds.
The room that Lame laid in did not have screens on the open windows. This allowed houseflies to enter the home and lay their eggs in the wounds of Lame’s arm resulting in the hatching of maggots. Dr. Ledlie did not remove the maggots because they were cleaning the wound of dead and infected tissue. Over time Lame’s fever went down and he fully recovered.
Charles Rodger Lame continued to support Lincoln and run his furniture and undertaking business until his death at age sixty-seven. He is buried in West Cemetery, Pittsfield, Pike, Illinois.