DAVID P. O'LEARY

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 37-38

David Philip O'Leary, the accommodating Postmaster at Evanston, is a native of that city, born at what was then known as Ridgeville, later South Evanston, June 6, 1856.  His parents were John and Margaret O'Leary, of whom further mention will be found elsewhere in this volume.  David P. O'Leary attended the public schools, and later a private school taught by Miss Frances Willard, whence he went to Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana, graduating from that famous institution in the Class of 1879.

Mr. O'Leary began business life as a reporter on a Chicago paper, in which capacity he continued for two years.  In 1884 he began dealing in coal at Evanston, and continued at that business ten years.  Upon the death of his father, he became administrator of the estate of the latter, which includes much valuable property along the lake shore, and is intersected by the famous Sheridan Road.

On the 1st of March, 1894, he was appointed Postmaster at Evanston, and still holds that position, discharging its arduous duties in a manner which wins the approval and admiration alike of political opponents and party colleagues.  During the first year of his administration, he raised the Evanston office from the second to the first class, annexed South Evanston, and established the free-delivery system, increased both clerk and carrier force, and this office is now ranked as the third in the state.

Mr. O'Leary has been a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church of Evanston from youth.  He exerts a marked influence in the local councils of the Democratic party, has served as a member of the County Central Committee for the last twelve years, but has never allowed his name to come before the people as a candidate for elective office. He is a gentleman of pleasing address and ample business capacity, and is constantly forming new friends among the people whom he meets.

Mr. O'Leary can relate many interesting reminiscences of the days when the greater part of Evanston was an unbroken wilderness.   While a boy, he and his father and brothers often helped to rescue people wrecked off Gross Point, then a treacherous shoal, on which many vessels were lost.  At that time the Government had made no provision for promoting the safety of navigation at this point, which extended much further into the lake than at present, and in stormy weather vessels frequently ran upon the adjacent shoals, and were broken in pieces by the wind and waves, leaving passengers and crew to save themselves as best they might.  Their only assistance was that afforded by the voluntary efforts of the families residing in the neighborhood, who did all in their power to aid the unfortunate people.  It was near this point that the ill-fated "Lady Elgin" was lost, with about three hundred souls, a catastrophe which will ever be remembered by many of the people of Chicago and Milwaukee.  Most of those who survived the disaster landed at Gross Point.

                                -- Submitted by Sherri Hessick   (slhessick@crosswinds.net) on 8/30/99