GRANVILLE S. INGRAHAM

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Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County, Illinois with Portraits 3rd. ed. revised and extended (Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 287-289.

GRANVILLE SHERWOOD INGRAHAM, youngest of a family of nine, was born 27, 1824, in Montgomery County, New York. His father, born April 23, 1782, was a tanner and currier, who came from England to the State of Rhode Island in his boyhood, removing subsequently to the State of New York, where he became a very prominent Free Mason and was universally esteemed, dying at the age of seventy-three. He was one of the claimants of the celebrated "Leeds Estate" in England. His mother, Philinda Taylor by maiden name, was born May 1, 1784, at Hartford, Connecticut, living to the remarkable age of ninety-two.

Owing to the disability of total blindness which afflicted his father for the last twenty-five years of his life, the subject of this sketch, after an ordinary education obtained at the Union Mills Academy, was obliged to leave home at the boyish age of twelve to seek his own fortunes, and well indeed did he find them. His first employment was in a merchant's store in New York City; afterward, returning to Saratoga County, was engaged in similar pursuits for a period.

At this juncture the turning point of his business life was presented. James McKindley, the veteran pioneer wholesaler of our metropolis, had spent many happy boyhood days in companionship with Mr. Ingraham; and now, being at the head of the mercantile house, McKindley, Church & Co., thoughtful for and kindly disposed toward this early associate, offered Mr. Ingraham, in 1856, a position with his house as traveling salesman. Losing no time in reaching his new field of employment, destined always to be his home, so well did he foresee the requirements of his own and higher positions, at the same time bending every energy toward fulfilling more duties than those imposed upon him, that in an incredibly short time, namely in 1860, he was elevated to the standing of a full partner in the firm, thereafter to be styled McKindley, Ingraham & Co.

The next seven years witnessed severest application and unremitting efforts upon his part, gaining him unstinted meed of praise from all with whom he had to do, wonderfully fruthering the interests of his concern, but carried to the excess of personal disability, so that at the end of the period of which we are speaking, quite debilitated and "run clown" in health, he was compelled to leave his office and seek the means of regaining strength for the following two years. The firm, in which he still retained his interests, was burned out by the great fire of 1871, but being well insured, it declined offers of financial aid as well as volunteered extension of time on bills payable falling due. With marvelous recuperation, being actually engaged in trade within a week after the burning, and by good fortune, it was enabled to meet all obligations as rapidly as they matured.

About this time was organized the wholesale grocery and tea house of Ingraham, Corbin & May (now Corbin and May), with which he was thenceforth prominently identified in its very successful upbuilding, until, in 1884, overtaxation of mental and physical powers rendered retirement again necessary, this time forced to become practically final. But his fortune continued to be thus mainly embarked with his firm, and during the semi-invalid existence of his slow decline, he always enjoyed thinking and speaking of trade, and dreaming the optimist's dream of the golden days bound to come to the trade when the entire Northwest was better developed in its vast resources.

The last years were made comfortable by a portion of the means his industrious ability had accumulated, the summers being mainly spent in Chicago, while in winter he sought a less rigorous climate; now in California, now in Florida, until finding in Pass Christian, Mississippi, surroundings thoroughly congenial and beneficial, he there bought a home in 1888, that he might regularly surrender himself to the delights of the semi-tropic Gulf Coast. Alas for the brevity of life! Love may not entice away, nor fortune bribe against the visitation of grim, universally fated death. The end came on December 20, 1892, to a patient, long sufferer, resigned to the will of God.

In boyhood he had followed family affiliations with the Christian Church, that being a liberal and righteous faith; but in maturer years he was attracted by the stanch tenets and rugged character of Presbyterianism, and so had been for many years united with the Hyde Park Presbyterian Church, in which, wholly obedient, he passed to a reward of good merits.

In Whig days he was a willing follower of Henry Clay, but on the breaking up of old lines and the drawing of new ones, he took and held a liberal Democratic attitude, in local affairs supporting the best man, irrespective of party. He was always deeply interested in parks and other public improvements, and all educational works had his generous approbation and furtherance. Being most happily environed, and strongly domestic in temperament, he cared not for "club life" or society, so called; yet he was not a recluse, neither, as his friends well knew, was he at all unsociable.

His first home in Chicago was purchased at the corner of Prairie Avenue and Eighteenth Street; removing, in 1872, to Washington Avenue, just south of Fifty-fifth Street, he was engaged in the construction of an elegant mansion in the immediate neighborhood (No. 5520 Washington Avenue) , when he was taken away. She who is left to execute his wishes may long find a noble employment in the finishing of his appointed work.

The humanitarian shows out nowhere more plainly than in his will. Years of affliction had taught him the needs of the sick, while abundant means enabled him to intelligently contrast the wretched condition of the indigent ill. Therefore, in his last testament, after liberal provisions for his family and near relatives (not overlooking generous legacies to several charitable institutions) , he directed that the residue of his estate should be invested and spent in the founding, building, usefully equipping and maintaining of a hospital for the poor sick to be conducted on as free a plan as possible. Would that all our wealth accumulators, circumstanced like unto himself, could be prompted by as philanthropic motives! Then would riches become a general blessing in disguise, and the abyss between the financially high and low forever kindly bridged. Realizing that he had few dependents, and that he was largely indebted to the city of his adoption for his opulence, he, in this dignified, munificent, lasting manner of endowing a glorious charity, conceived that that debt should and would be paid; and though for a time there be a contest over the will, while something of doubt exists as to the ultimate fate of the quarter of a million of dollars thus bequeathed by Mr. Ingraham to the founding of a hospital, which was to bear his name, let us trust the law will vindicate itself and our testator friend's wishes, and that his widow, unswervingly devoted to the administration of his estate, may be speedily confirmed in her legal rights as his representative, and so enabled to proceed under the will-terms toward the completion of the conceived edifice; and generations to come will thank the justice of the decree while blessing the memory of him, their patron and benefactor.

Mr. Ingraham was twice married; (1.) July 14, 1847, to Miss Frances Sarah Foster, of Saratoga County, New York, who died January 1, 1878, having had as issue a son, Hiram Foster Ingraham, who died February 10, 1874, leaving a widow, Fannie Ingraham (nee Wood), and a son, Granville Foster Ingraham, which latter were cared for by the subject of this sketch while living, and abundantly provided for in his last will.

(2.) December 6, 1881, to Miss Harriette Augusta Foster (sister of his former wife, a daughter of Hiram Clark Foster), who had no children, but who was and is the soul of faithfulness toward him and his house, and appointed as one of the executors of his will.

(For some details of the Foster pedigree, vide under sketch of James Mairs Gilchrist, on another page herein.)

Mrs. Ingraham's mother was Elizabeth Platt, of a family of honorable standing and mention in Eastern centers. Elizabeth was the fifth child and daughter of Alexander Smith and Annie Platt (nee Wakeman, of Greenfield, Connecticut) and Galway, New York; Alexander being the fourth son of Obadiah and Thankful Platt (nee Scudder, of Huntington, Connecticut), and North Fairfield, Connecticut; Obadiah being the fourth son of Obadiah and Mary Platt, nee Smith, who removed from Huntington across Long Island Sound (with his brother Timothy), founding the Fairfield branch of the family; Obadiah was the eldest son of Jonas and Sarah Platt (nee Scudder), of the "Older Huntington" (Connecticut) branch. Jonas was the second child and eldest son of Isaac and Elizabeth Platt (nee Wood) who (with his brother Epenetus) founded the "Older Huntington" branch. Isaac was probably born in England, being the third son of Richard and Mary Platt, who came to this country from England in 1638, landing at New Haven, Connecticut, where he afterward acquired valuable landed possessions. The old family seat, however, is at Milford, a few miles thence west, where the first American progenitor is buried, and where have ever since dwelt the honored descendants.

The English seat of the emigrating branch is believed to be Bovingdon, a village near Hertford, England. The Herald's College shows some seven coats-of-arms assigned and granted to different English families by the name of Platt.

From the foregoing it will be seen that Mrs. Ingraham, through her mother, represents the eighth generation of Platts in the United States.

 

– Submitted by Sherri Hessick on November 22, 2008.

 

DISCLAIMER:  The submitter is not related to the subject of this biography nor is she related to anyone mentioned in the biography.