Charles Dole

The First  40 Years

Charles Sidney Dole was born in Oakland County Michigan. He was born in Bloomfield, now a suburb of Detroit. He was born on November 2, 1819 to Sidney and Elizabeth (Swan) Dole. A few decades later, Charles would have a great effect on a small town called Crystal Lake in the state of Illinois.

Charles spent is youth in Michigan, and, after losing everything to a devastating fire that took the business that Charles owned with his younger brother James, Charles and James moved to Chicago in 1848 to live with their uncle, George W. Dole.

1848 was a pretty momentous year for the young town of Chicago. In April, the new Illinois and Michigan Canal was completed. In October, the first locomotive to travel the Chicago and Galena Railroad arrived in the city – this is the first railroad in Chicago and it was built to connect the Galena lead mines with the city. The first city hall on State Street, the Market Building, was erected. Charles arrived just in time to get in on the ground floor of the blossoming of this great city.

George Dole was one of the earliest residents of Chicago, known as Fort Dearborn until 1833. In 1831 George met John Brink, who was then a staff member of the United States Deputy Surveyor, John Mullet. Brink Street here in Crystal Lake is named for John Brink. In that year the surveying party, including John, passed through Fort Dearborn on their way to Galena.

George Dole was an enterprising gentleman and was involved in many of Chicago’s early businesses. He is credited with building the first grain storage facility in Chicago in 1838, probably to help further his father, James’, grain interests. In 1850, George was appointed Postmaster of Chicago and his nephew, Charles, was Assistant Postmaster.

In 1852, Charles embarked in the grain commission business. He formed a partnership with his brother James. The firm was known as C.S. Dole & Co. Charles was kept very busy attending to the business of the firm along its entire route – which lay through a country rich in grain and hogs. He built up a very successful commission trade with the farmers of this favored district. The principal grain was wheat, which the firm was obliged to handle and store in immense quantities.

Up until 1850, there had been no attempt to classify wheat into grades and no standards recognized. This was a great disadvantage to those who produced and dealt in a superior quality of wheat, as they had no way to set their product apart. In 1850, the Board of Trade of Chicago attempted to establish grades by separating the three leading varieties of wheat into three standard grades. However, there were no laws at that time which defined standards or enforced their adoption into practical use. Mixing of good grain with inferior grades prior to delivery became common practice. The Chicago market became degraded and much of the better quality grain was diverted to other markets.

In 1858, a second attempt was made to establish grades of grain and this one was successful. The Board of Trade placed the matter in the hands of a committee consisting of S.H. Butler and Charles S. Dole. They drew up recommendations which were adopted and Chicago soon resumed its place as a grain center. Many of these recommendations are still in use and practice today!

With the success of the grading system, Charles continued to build up his business. In 1861, he was affiliated with both C.S. Dole & Co. as well as Armour, Dole and Company. Together, both companies owned four large grain warehouses, that combined held 6,350,000 bushels of grain!

At the age of 38, on October 9, 1858, Charles Dole married Julia Louise Coffin at St. James Episcopal Church in Chicago. Charles and Julia were first cousins. Julia’s mother, Harriet Dole Coffin was a younger sister of Charles’ father, Sidney Dole.

Wife: Julia Louise Dole, Died at 66 years old

Son: Syney Hope Dole, Died at 26 years old

Daughters: Mary Florence Dole, Died at 66 years old & Harriet(Hattie) Delia Dole, Died at 52 years old

CaptureIn the early 1860’s, Charles acquired over 1,000 acres of land on and near the shores of Crystal Lake. How did he find this land? It could be that his business interests led him here – or did he hear about the beautiful lake from his uncle’s acquaintance, John Brink?

Dole maintained the estate for over 30 years, entertaining lavishly. As an example, for his daughter’s wedding in 1883 he built a spur line from the Chicago and Northwestern railway tracks almost to his doorstep. A canopied and carpeted walkway extended 750 feet from the front door to the train enabling the guests to walk to the mansion for the ceremony and return to the train without concern for the weather.

Mr. Dole’s interests changed throughout the years. He laid out a half-mile racetrack on his property and purchased the finest horses that money could buy, soon accumulating a string of horses that was the envy of northern Illinois included Julian Rumsey (mayor of Chicago and Dole’s first cousin) and Levi Leiter (first partner with Marshall Field). It is said that Mr. Dole loved to go up in his tower and watch his horses run. When tired of the fad of his stable, he disposed of his beautiful and valuable horses, holding an elaborate sale.Capture11

The Dole’s lived in the mansion until the late 1890′s. He sold his home to his son-in-law for $1.00, who continued using the mansion as a place of business an office for his ice harvesting business.  Ice was harvested from Crystal Lake and shipped by rail to nearby Chicago.



Bibliography Crystal Lake Historical Society, “The Man – Charles Sidney Dole”. The Chicago Public Library