Search billions of records on


Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 79-80

CHARLES CRAIN was one of the worthy pioneers of Evanston, and is entitled to honorable mention in this record.  He was born in Stockton, New York, July 16, 1822, and died at Evanston, June 2, 1891.  He was a son of Charles Crain, of whom further mention will be found in the biography of Osro Crain, upon another page of this volume.

Charles was a small boy when the family removed to Indiana, where he remained until he reached the age of eighteen years.   He first visited Chicago in 1840, making the journey on foot in company with his brothers.  He soon after returned to Indiana, but the following year he again came to Cook County, and learned the cooper’s trade in John Foster’s shop in Niles Township.  He worked at this trade until the spring of 1850, when he started overland for California, accompanied by his brother and several others from Cook County. He remained in the land of gold but a few months, returning by way of the Nicaragua route, he and his party being the first to make use of that since-popular thoroughfare across the Isthmus.  They were fourteen days in crossing Central America on horseback, under the leadership of a native guide.  He reached home a little less than a year from the time of starting.

In 1846 he had purchased a small farm lying on both sides of the present Ridge Avenue, south of Greenleaf Street, and he now engaged in market-gardening upon this tract.  The rapid growth of Chicago and Evanston afforded a ready market for his products, and he continued this vocation until 1875, at which date he sold most of his land, and all has since become a part of the city of Evanston.

In 1846 he was married to Sarah Burroughs, daughter of David W. and Judith W. Burroughs, who became residents of Evanston in 1844.   Mrs. Burroughs’ maiden name was Stevens.   She was a native of New Hampshire and her husband of Vermont.  The Burroughs family, which is remotely of English descent, was one of the first to locate in Massachusetts, where one of its members was burned for witchcraft, while the crusade against that imaginary evil was at its height.  Mrs. Crain, who still survives, was born at Ashtabula, Ohio, and came to Cook County in 1842. There were but four frame houses within the present limits of Evanston when she located there.   She became the mother of ten children, of whom the following is the record: Malvina C. is the wife of O. D. Angle, of Evanston.  Melissa S. died at the age of sixteen years.  Alice E. is now Mrs. J. C. McDougall, of Evanston, where Osro A. died March 13, 1886, at the age of twenty-nine years.  Lucy J. and William E. still reside at the old homestead, and Charles E. also makes his home in Evanston.  Frances M. is the wife of William H. Blake, of South Evanston, where George H. also resides; and Harvey E., the youngest, is living at Arlington Heights.

Mr. Crain was an early member of the Masonic order, and previous to his demise was voted an honorary life-membership by Evans Lodge.  An adherent of Republican principles, he was never a seeker of political patronage.  During his later years he was severely afflicted with rheumatism, but bore his trials with patience and resignation.  He was a man of quiet, domestic tastes, who sought little notoriety, but enjoyed the esteem and friendship of the community in which most of his life was spent.

                                -- Submitted on 11/4/99 by Sherri Hessick ( )