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Thomas F. McGraw, who for the past twenty-three years has conducted business as a retail shoe merchant at his present location, is one of the oldest representatives of trade interests on Sixth Street, most of the merchants having come into active connection with the commercial life of Racine since he opened his store. A progressive spirit has at all time ruled his activities and sound judgment has guided his business transactions. He was born in Racine, December 15, 1869, a son of John C. and Julia (Powers) McGraw, both of whom were natives of Ireland. The father arrived here when a lad of but fourteen years and the mother also settled in Racine during the period of its early development. Mr. McGraw was a moulder by trade and utilized his skill in that direction to provide for the support of his family. Both he and his wife are now deceased.
After attending the public and high schools of Racine, Thomas F. McGraw started out in the business world as an employee of L. W. Philbrook, a shoe manufacturer, with whom he remained for ten years. His first position was a most humble and unimportant one, but gradually he worked his way upward through efficiency and fidelity until he was given charge of the shipping department. His desire to engage in business on his own account reached its fulfillment when, in 1893, when a young man of twenty-four years. he opened a retail shoe store which he has since conducted, remaining at the same location for almost a quarter of a century. There is today on Sixth Street scarcely a merchant who was in business here when he opened his store and throughout all the intervening period he has maintained an unassailable reputation for progressiveness, reliability and enterprise.
On July 2, 1893, Mr. McGraw was united in marriage to Miss Margaret Baltes, of Racine, her parents being George and Lucy Baltes, who were early settlers of this city. Mr. and Mrs. McGraw now have three children, namely: Lucile, a high school graduate; Vincent, who is pursuing the engineering course in the University of Wisconsin, and Marcella, a high school student. The family are communicants of St. Rose Catholic church and Mr. McGraw is identified with the Knights of Columbus, which draws its membership from those of the Catholic faith. In the order he is past grand knight. His political opinions are not coerced by party affiliation, as he votes independently. He belongs to the Commercial Club and is ever ready and willing to co-operate in any movement that has for its object the benefit and betterment of the city. Here he has always lived and the circle of his friends includes many who have known him from his boyhood, a fact indicative of a well spent life.