Charles Sumner Compton was born on September 24, 1860 in Allegheny City (now a part of Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania. When two years old, he was taken by his missionary parents to Brazil where the family remained for two years. Upon their return to San Francisco, California, he attended private schools and entered Grinell College (Iowa) at the age of 17. In order to pay his way through college, his mother resumed her medical practice.
Finishing his course in civil engineering, he took up surveying and returned to California in 1885. After surveying the town of Willows, Glenn County, Mr. Compton moved to Southern California.
His professional career during the years following, included civil engineer with the Beaumont Land and Water Company, during which he engaged in laying out the town of Beaumont. From 1898 to 1901, he was construction engineer with the Union Pacific and Denver and Rio Grande Railroads in Nebraska and Colorado. He was responsible of engineering the building of the arch over the American River at Truckee, while with the Southern Pacific Railroad. He was also chief engineer from 1905 to 1908, for the Northern Electric Railroad, now the Sacramento Northern Railroad, and building the unit north one hundred and twenty miles from Sacramento. In addition, he was consulting engineer to 1915, superintendent of Paradise irrigation System to 1919 and Logging Engineer for the Diamond Match Lumber Company to 1927.
Mr. Compton served the city of Los Angeles as City Engineer in the early days. He was elected to the office December 3, 1894 and served until December 3, 1896.
Failing health on the last two years of Mr. Compton's life prevented further work in his profession. He died October 20, 1929, in Chico, California.