Charles F. Tew was born in 1824 or 1825 in Taunton, Massachusetts, to James and Abigail Tew; he had two younger brothers, William and Joseph. Tew joined the United States Navy in 1841, and sailed aboard the U.S.S. Columbus . However, he found himself dissatisfied with navy life, and was discharged for desertion in 1842. He married Amelia Chamberlain in 1847, and worked as a gas fitter and fireman in Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1861, Tew enlisted in the 25th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry as first sergeant; he was promoted to first lieutenant in 1863. Tew participated in multiple battles including Drewry's Bluff, Cold Harbor, and the 1864 Siege of Petersburg. He resigned from the service and was discharged in August 1864, but reenlisted as a first sergeant of the 2nd Massachusetts Veteran Volunteers. After the war, Tew returned to his family Massachusetts. Charles and Amelia had nine children: Carrie, Frank, Ida, Charles, William, Edward (who died in childhood), Mabel, George, and Helen. Their son Charles eventually left home and worked odd jobs around the country until he moved to Colorado during the Gold Rush; he died of an illness in 1880. Amelia died in 1898 and Charles died in 1907.