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The career of an enterprising, honest business man is a matter of interest in any community, and when the public witnesses his gradual advancement and increasing prosperity it rejoices in his justly won success. During a period of more than a quarter of a century Charles Cleary has been engaged in business in LaSalle and has won the esteem and best wishes of all with whom he has had dealings.

The paternal grandfather of, our subject, John Cleary, was a farmer in Ireland, and died when about sixty-five years of age, from injuries received in a runaway. Of his eight or nine children Peter, the father of Charles Cleary, was a gentleman of excellent education and general attainments. In his early manhood he was a school-teacher, and subsequently to his marriage he turned his attention to agriculture. He was a participant in one of the rebellions in Ireland, but was too great a lover of his country to ever leave her shores. He died December 28, 1896, at the advanced age of eighty-seven, and on the 17th of March, 1898, his faithful wife followed him to the grave, she being in her eighty-seventh year at the time of her death. In her girlhood she bore the name of Frances Flynn, and her father, Henry Flynn, lived and died in Ireland. He was a shepherd much of his life, and for a few years was a pilot in the employ of the government. Peter and Frances Cleary were members of the Catholic church and reared their children in the same faith. Of their three sons and eight daughters nine are yet living, namely: Maria, wife of Thomas Cardon of Easky, Ireland; Ann, wife of John O'Donnell, of Culleen, Ireland; John, a resident of West Hartlepool, England; Charles; Kate, wife of Michael O'Leary, of Streator, Illinois; Frances, wife of James O'Leary, of the same town; Peter, of Joliet, Illinois; Jane, of Chicago; and Julia, Mrs. Michael Brady, of Culleen, Ireland.

Charles Cleary was born in county Sligo, Ireland, April 3, 1851, and received a common-school education. He was but twelve years old when he commenced learning the grocery business, to which line he has devoted himself chiefly ever since. In 1872 he came to America and for seven months was employed in New York city. The same year he came west and lived in Utica, Illinois, until the fall, when he removed to LaSalle, and for about a year was in the employ of Matthiessen & Hegeler, in their zinc works. The following four years he worked in the coal mines, and at length he commenced clerking in the grocery owned by Mr. Cavanaugh. During the next ten months he thoroughly mastered the details of the business and finally became the manager. In 1879 he purchased Mr. Cavanaugh's stock, and for several years carried on a grocery on First street, one block west of his present location, where he has been for the past fourteen years.

In his political convictions, Mr. Cleary is rather independent, but inclines to the Democratic party. A friend to education, he is now serving for the ninth year as a member of the school board. Socially, he is a member of the Royal Arcanum and the Court of Honor. He is strictly temperate in his habits, leaving all kinds of intoxicating liquor entirely alone, and in every respect his life is worthy to be held up as an example to the young.

On the 1st of May, 1876, Mr. Cleary and Miss Annie, daughter of Thomas and Mary (Manly) Durkin, were united in wedlock. They have had seven children, but Annie Teressa and Teressa Annie died when young. Three daughters and two sons remain to brighten the home, namely: Mary A., Frances, Thomas H., Charles Vincent and Loretto. In 1889 Mr. Cleary purchased his comfortable residence, which is situated at the corner of Fifth and Creve Coeur streets.

Extracted 26 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 2, pages 444-446.

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