Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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May 10, 2014

Craine family name linked with early businesses here

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Recently, while assisting a researcher with a house genealogy, I came across another early Lockport family that made their mark on the business community in the city.

In the 1856 Lockport Directory, John Craine was listed as a nurseryman at 17 Garden St. He continued to reside at that address for another 15 to 20 years but moved his business to East Market Street “near the town line” in the late 1860s. His wife, Laura, had a millinery business and son John S. Craine went into the business with his father. The Craines also had two daughters, Bertha and Dora. 

The senior John Craine had a very successful nursery business on Market Street and by 1875 he had either built or had moved into a large brick house near the end of Market, right across from the canal in Lowertown. He died away around 1890 and his wife and daughters continued to occupy the house. Dora died in 1895 and Laura followed in 1910. Bertha lived alone in the house until 1929, when she sold it to Anthony Villella,  who owned the property in to the 1970s. Bertha passed away in 1931.

In 1849, while John Craine was establishing his nursery business, his cousin, John D. Craine, was emigrating to the United States from the Isle of Man with several letters of introduction for his relatives already in Lockport. While still living on that island in the English Channel, John D. Craine was apprenticed to a harness-maker, so upon his arrival in Lockport he immediately found work in that profession.

By 1852, he had opened his own harness shop at 76 Main St. The business did well enough that in 1866 Craine took on a partner, John Watters, and expanded to 78 Main St. His business is described in the 1863 Lockport Directory as “one of the largest harness shops in the State, occupying two floors, each 17 x 140 feet.” For the next twenty-two years, Craine and Watters were the leading harness makers in the city.

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