HENRY CRASKE, a member of the State Board of Equalization, a resident of Rushville, and one of its most prominent citizens, was born in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk county, England, September 26, 1845. His father, James Craske, was born in the same place, January 4, 1798, and his grandfather was also a native of England, where he passed his entire life. James Craske was the only one of his children to come to America. He was reared and educated in his native land and lived there until 1862, when he came to this country and located at Little Falls, New York, where he still lives, at the unusual age of ninety-four years. His wife's maiden name was Eliza Clark, a native of Barton Mills, England, and died in Bury St. Edmunds, of the same country, in 1849. Her children were named Marianne, Sarah, James, Caroline, Elizabeth and Henry, all of whom were reared to maturity.
The original of this sketch and the youngest of the family was educated in the public schools of Bury St. Edmunds, and when fifteen years of age jointed his older brother and sisters in America. He located in York State, where he continued to reside. On September 5, 1862, he enlisted in Company A, One Hundred and Fifty-Second New York Volunteer Infantry, and served with distinction until the close of the war. He was in the Second Army Corps, of the second division, and at different times was connected with the First, Second and Third Brigades. At the battle of the Wilderness, May 6, 1863, he was wounded in the head by a minie ball while charging the enemy's lines, a portion of his skull being torn away. On the following day be fell into the hands of the enemy and lay on the field without medical attendance for fourteen days. The provisions of the rebels ran short and they sent word to the Federal commander that he might supply his wounded with food and medicine. Consequently a forage train was sent upon the field when Mr. Craske managed to crawl aboard and in that way escape to the Union lines. He remained in the hospital until the last of June, when he joined his regiment and remained with it in all its campaigns, marches and battles until he was honorably discharged, July 14, 1865.
Upon the termination of his military career he returned to York State and, on December 23, 1865, was united in marriage to Miss Ellen Maria Jones, a native of Little Falls and a daughter of Elijah and Jane Jones, born respectively in England and New York. On the 23d of April, 1866, he came West, and located in Springfield, Illinois, and there followed his trade, that of a dyer, until March 28, 1868, when he removed to Rushville and resumed his trade, continuing until 1870, when he went to Decatur and lived a year and a half and then returned to Rushville and engaged in the grocery business and in buying and shipping produce to St. Louis, Chicago, New York and Boston, continuing the same for a number of years. Mr. and Mrs. Craske have seven interesting children: Geneva A., Caroline Elizabeth, Mamie, Frances C., Harry Barton, Lillian M. and John A. Logan. Fraternally Mr. Craske is a member of Rushville Lodge, No. 9, A. F. & A. M.; Rushville Chapter No. 184, R. A. M.; and Rushville Commandery No. 56, K. T. He is also a member of the A. O. U. W. and of Security Lodge, No. 31, I. O. M. A.; and also of Colonel Harney Post, No. 131, G. A. R.
Mr. Craske has taken considerable interest in politics and in that difficult and doubtful field has distinguished himself. He was elected a member of the State Board of Equalization in 1888, and in 1885 was the originator of the scheme in the Thirty-fourth District which elected a Republican Representative to the State Legislature, thus breaking the dead lock which had tied up the General Assembly for months and ended in the election of John A. Logan for United States Senator. The following letter explains itself, and shows how the part taken by Mr. Craske contributed to Republican success:
LELAND HOTEL, Springfield, Ill, May 20, l885.
My Dear Sir: The election is over and the victory is ours. To the Thirty-fourth Representative District we are indebted for the vote that gave us the majority in the Legislature, and to you, my dear sir, there is much due for the organization and success. You were the first man who suggested to me the possibility of carrying the district. I wrote you then, saying the plan was a good one. Of course, great credit is due to all our friends who aided in carrying out the programme from whom I would not wish to detract anything; but to you I give the credit as the originator of the plan which was a success, and to you I now return my grateful acknowledgments. Your friend, John A. Logan
It should be said by way of explanation, that in the Thirty-fourth General Assembly the two houses were a tie on joint ballot and in consequence there was a dead lock in the Senatorial contest which continued under great excitement for months. On the 12th of April, a Democratic member of the Thirty-Fourth Senatorial District died, and a special election was called for May 6th to fill his seat. In that district the Democrats had a majority of 2,000, and therefore felt certain of electing their nominee. Mr. Craske wrote a letter suggesting a still hunt and the plans to be pursued to secure success. His plan was submitted to General Logan and by him to the Republican caucus, and were adopted and acted upon. The result fully met their anticipations, the Republican nominee was elected, the Democrats were out-generaled and astonished, and even the people in distant States were filled with surprise. The movement was so adroit that General Logan pronounced it the most daring piece of political strategy, so successfully executed, since the days of Alexander the Great.
Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, Biographical Review Publishing Co., Chicago, 1892, pages 151-153.
Copyright 1999-2006 Judi Gilker; all rights reserved. For personal use only. Commercial use of the information contained in these pages is strictly prohibited without prior permission. If copied, this copyright must appear with the information.
Return to Biographical Review Index