Charles Chester McClain
1880 - 1968
Charles Chester McClain was born in 1880 in Bellaire, Ohio. Chester's father Charles
McClain was an immigrant from Tyrone County, Ireland, joining his elder brothers who had
settled around Bellaire . Chester's mother Elizabeth Peters was a native of Wheeling, West
Virgina (across the Ohio River from Bellaire), though her parents also had come from
Northern Ireland shortly before her birth. Elizabeth died young leaving 5 year old Chester
and his sister Ella, 7 months. Their father remarried and eventually moved the family to San
Francisco, California. They remained in San Francisco and lived through the 1906 Great
Earthquake and Fire.

Chester was working  on a cattle ranch near Red Bluff at that time, but he returned to SF
shortly after the Quake and Fire to marry his sweetheart, Carrie Guthrie.
Chester and Carrie had three children: William, Flora and David. All three of their
children graduated from the University of California at Berkeley.

Chester went to work as for the Southern Pacific Railroad as a clerk and worked for
them all his life, retiring when in his 80's. At the time of his retirement, he held the
record for the longest employment with SP. About 1920, the family moved across the
Bay to Oakland into a new Craftsman style bungalow they designed. Chester commuted
to SF every day, first by ferryboat (before the Bay Bridge was built), then by train.

Chester lived through amazing times: the 1906 Quake, WWI, the Roaring 20's, the
Great Depression, WWII, the postwar boom of the 1950's and most of the Revolutionary
Flora, David & William
Chester played clarinet in the the Southern Pacific Railroad Marching Band, which
toured all over the western states. He also sang barbershop quartet and with the SP
Glee Club.
Chester far right singing Barbershop Quartet
Chester on right in his SP Band uniform
at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk
Chester and Carrie about 1947