Sport: Trap Shooting
Born: November 26, 1866
Died: December 13, 1928
Town: Hillsborough Township
Charles W. Billings was born November 26, 1866 in Eatontown. A member of a wealthy family, he did business in New York City, where he was a leading member of the New York Athletic Club, and kept homes in Shrewsbury and Glen Ridge at various times. Charles competed for the NYAC in sporting clay events, and was much celebrated as one of the nation’s top shooters.
Tragedy and scandal rocked the Billings family in 1891 when Charles’s father, Stephen, committed suicide while in jail. He had been arrested for shooting his wife, Maria. Mental illness was rumored to run in his family. Charles and his five siblings split a sizeable inheritance after his mother passed away in 1893. In 1910, Charles purchased the 91-acre West Farm near Monmouth Park racetrack and built a large home on the property. Today this property makes up most of the Wolf Hill Recreation Area. Charles—who sometimes went by C.W.—spent as much of his winters in Florida as he could, enabling him to shoot year-round.
In 1912, the U.S. decided to enter a trapshooting team in the Olympics for the first time. Charles traveled to Stockholm with his wife, Mary, and fellow New Jerseyan Frank Hall, as well as additional team members Ralph Spotts, John Hendrickson, Edward Gleason and Jay Graham. Graham was the top trap shooter in America at the time. In the team competition, Charles was the highest-scoring American as the U.S. squad won the gold medal easily over England and Germany. He did not do well in the individual competition, however, finishing 42nd. Graham took the gold medal in that event.
Upon his return to the U.S., Charles continued to be a popular figure at trap shooting events. He won the prestigious Travers Island tournament in 1913. It was his second victory there, having also won in 1911. In 1920, Charles was elected the first mayor of Oceanport. He served in that capacity until his death in 1928. He was conversing with friends at the Deal Golf & Country Club when he succumbed to a heart attack a few weeks after his 62nd birthday. Mary lived to 89. She was laid to rest with Charles in the family mausoleum. The Billingses never had children.