Biography of Alexander Craigmile
Alexander Craigmile. Of the men whose ability, industry and fore-thought have added to the character, wealth and progress of Champaign County none deserves better mention than Alexander Craigmile, a veteran of the Union army, long and successfully identified with agriculture, and now with his good wife living retired in a comfortable home at Rantoul.
His public spirited citizenship has stood every test of time and service. Forty years he has known Compromise Township, and during that time has again and again been chosen to fill places of trust and responsibility. He was elected to serve as assessor, collector, supervisor and road commissioner, and is now on his second term as justice of the peace at Rantoul, having been reelected in April, 1917. He gave the best of his ability to the various offices, and his work in civil office has been characterized by the same fidelity which he displayed when following the flag of the Union during the Civil War. Mr. Craigmile is now commander of Seaver Post No. 253 of the Grand Army of the Republic at Rantoul.
He is of Scotch nativity and ancestry, and was born near Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1843. When a child he immigrated with his parents to Upper Canada, and in 1852 the family came to Illinois. When Alexander Craigmile was twenty-one years of age he enlisted at Chicago in Company D of the One Hundred and Fifty-sixth Illinois Infantry, and marched away to the sound of the fife and drum to protect his country’s flag. He saw active service for upwards of a year and was finally mustered out at Springfield, Illinois, in October, 1865. Some idea of the service rendered is noted in quoting the contents of the Christmas card which Mr. Craigmile received in 1916 from Comrade C. C. Dudley of Minneapolis. This card reads: “To the playmates of my boyhood days, who knew no care or responsibility, and whose only burden was the long hours in the class rooms in Naperville Academy and who later put our names to the enlistment roll of Company D, One Hundred and Fifty-sixth Illinois Infantry, and saw Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Dalton and Memphis, and then every man went his way to the sterner duties of life. To my old associates in business and friends in church and college and old comrades of Phil Kearney Post No. 7, who walked with me side by side, sharing one another’s joys and sorrows. To my new friends of later days in Minneapolis, whose kind hospitality has made our stay so full of gladness and cheer; I wish you all a joyous Christmas and a glad New Year. To the friends of a lifetime I count friendship one of the chiefest enjoyments of my life, a comfort in time of doubt and trouble, a joy in time of prosperity and success.”
Mr. Craigmile is a son of Alexander and Jean (Mitchell) Craigmile. He received his early education in Ontario, Canada, in DuPage County, Illinois, and finished his work in Naperville Academy. After the war he came to central Illinois, and in 1868 made his first purchase of land near where the present town of Gifford stands, but before a railroad was built through that section.
Mr. Craigmile laid the foundation of his own home by his marriage to Miss Agnes Calder. She was born in Canada, a daughter of William and Mary Ann (Hempey) Calder. Her father was born in Scotland and her mother in Bristol, England. William Calder was a brave soldier of the British Empire and was in the armies of her majesty fourteen years.
After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Craigmile started life on a farm of 254 acres at Gifford. There the young Scotch couple demonstrated the possession of those sterling characteristics so familiar to the people of the land of the hills and heather. Though they started on the bare prairie, they gradually surrounded themselves with comforts and improvements, and have long since accumulated a fine estate. For his first land in Champaign County Mr. Craigmile paid only $11 an acre, and any of his possessions now are worth many times that sum. He has been both a farmer and stock raiser.
The children born into their happy home are named A. H., Erva J., Mary, Archibald, Eunice and Charles. The training and education of these children have been always close to the hearts of Mr. and Mrs. Craigmile. The first school they attended was near Gifford, and the parents encouraged the boys and girls to make the best of their time and opportunities, and subsequently gave them the advantages of the great University of Illinois at Urbana. Mary and Charles both graduated from that institution with honors, and Mary became a popular teacher in Champaign County in the district schools at Penfield and the Rantoul High School. Charles Craigmile specialized in civil engineering and is now employed by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway, with headquarters at Lincoln, Nebraska. He is a progressive American boy and makes friends wherever he goes. A. H. Craigmile was a successful teacher for ten years and for two years was principal of the Gifford schools. He also taught in Alberta, Canada. The children fitted themselves for useful occupations in which they might exercise the best talents of their characters. Many pupils have received instruction from the Craigmile children, and as teachers their record is enviable and worthy. The oldest child, A. H. Craigmile married Miss Clara Williams of Rantoul, and they now reside at Dauphin in Manitoba, Canada. Their two children are named Mary W. and Robert Alexander. Erva J. Craigmile is the wife of W. S. Smith, and they live at Armstrong, Illinois. Their two children are named Emile Jean and Charles Craigmile. Eunice Craigmile married J. F. Clark, a Rantoul attorney, and is the mother of two daughters, Elizabeth and Janis.
For the past ten years Mr. and Mrs. Craigmile have had their home in Rantoul. Both attend the Methodist Episcopal Church, and fraternally Mr. Craigmile has affiliations with the Grand Army of the Republic, and Mrs. Craigmile belongs to the Woman’s Relief Corps. Their comfortable home is on Belle Avenue, and here they dwell in peace and may look with pardonable pride over the backward stretch of years from the time they married and started to make a home until now their children are grown and they have grandchildren.