Born: Jan­ua­ry 24, 1856, near Moos­up, Con­nec­ti­cut.

Died: June 27, 1927, Bridge­port, Con­nec­ti­cut.

Buried: Ce­dar Hill Ce­me­te­ry, Hart­ford, Con­nec­ti­cut.


Charles was the son of Eras­tus L. Pri­or and Sar­ah L. Bur­le­son, and hus­band of Ma­ry El­ea­nor Camp­bell.

His in­ter­est in mu­sic dat­ed from ear­ly child­hood. By age three, he was sing­ing Ro­sa­lie, the Prair­ie Flow­er and oth­er po­pu­lar songs. When he was about four years old, the fa­mi­ly moved to Jew­ett Ci­ty, Con­nec­ti­cut.

At age 14, he be­came or­gan­ist for the Con­gre­ga­tion­al Church in Jew­ett Ci­ty, where he served eight years. He re­signed to ac­cept the po­si­tion of cho­ris­ter and or­gan­ist for the Bap­tist Church, where he al­so formed a choir of young peo­ple, and or­gan­ized a Sun­day School or­ches­tra.

Prior con­duct­ed the song ser­vic­es of sev­er­al Chris­tian En­dea­vor Con­ven­tions in Con­nec­ti­cut, and was elect­ed mu­sic­al di­rect­or of the an­nu­al as­sem­blies at Cres­cent Beach, held by the Con­nec­ti­cut Bap­tist Bi­ble School Un­ion.

Prior was an hon­or­ary mem­ber of the Wor­ces­ter Coun­ty Mu­sic­al As­so­cia­tion for ma­ny years, and it was while sing­ing in the cho­rus at its fes­ti­vals that his love of ora­to­rio mu­sic was kin­dled. He was al­so keen­ly in­ter­est­ed in Gos­pel songs and church mu­sic in ge­ne­ral.

His first com­po­si­tions were an­thems for his choir. He went on to write a num­ber of po­pu­lar songs, ov­er 50 of which were pub­lished in sheet form, in­clud­ing sac­red, sen­ti­men­tal, cam­paign, and tem­per­ance songs.

In ad­di­tion to mu­sic­al tal­ent, Prior had con­sid­er­a­ble bu­si­ness acu­men. His first com­mer­cial po­si­tion was in the of­fice of the Nor­wich Wor­ces­ter Rail­road in Nor­wich. In 1875 he be­came book­keep­er and pay­mas­ter for the Ash­land Cot­ton Com­pa­ny of Jew­ett Ci­ty.

He was elect­ed sec­re­ta­ry and trea­sur­er of the Jew­ett Ci­ty Sav­ings Bank in 1883, and a few years lat­er be­came a mem­ber and di­rect­or of the cor­por­a­tion.

In 1895, he ac­cept­ed the po­si­tion of as­sist­ant trea­sur­er of the Se­cur­i­ty Com­pa­ny of Hart­ford. In 1896, he was elect­ed sec­re­ta­ry and trea­sur­er of the com­pa­ny, and in No­vem­ber 1904, be­came vice-pre­si­dent and trea­sur­er.

For six years he was pre­si­dent of the Hart­ford Bap­tist Un­ion. He was al­so a di­rect­or of the Hart­ford YMCA, and a mem­ber of the Con­nec­ti­cut His­to­ri­cal So­ci­ety.

Prior was al­so deep­ly in­ter­est­ed in the Ital­ian Bap­tist Mis­sion in Hart­ford for a num­ber of years, serv­ing as pi­an­ist and trea­sur­er.