Thursday, April 28, 2011

Edwin C. McRae, Attorney and Inventor

I love researching ancestral family lines and stumbling upon an ancestor who was both successful and particularly interesting. Edwin C. McRae, my second cousin twice removed from my maternal family branches is just such a person.

Edwin was born on January 4, 1900 in Mount Pleasant, Isabella, Michigan, USA. He was the youngest of seven children in the family of William Alexander and Anastasia (nee O'Neill) McRae. William and Anastasia were both born and raised in Victoria County, Ontario, north-east of Toronto. William had been trained in the building trades and made his living as a contractor. Sometime in the mid-1890's, he moved his family from the quiet rural setting of Victoria County, Ontario to the quiet, rural setting of Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

William and Anastasia's eldest son, William Vincent McRae, followed in his father's footsteps as a contractor, although for some time around 1920 he was also employed as an auto worker in Detroit. Second oldest son, Colin Joseph McRae moved to Detroit as a young adult and similarly gained employment as an auto worker.

Edwin moved with his parents to Detroit where they can be found living in 1920. By 1930 however, Edwin was married and living with his wife Grace (nee Bunt) on Sherwood Drive in Huntington Woods, Michigan. Edwin worked like other family members at the auto plant but he was the company attorney.

I'm not certain how long Edwin worked as an attorney in the auto industry but at some point, he left Michigan and he and Grace settled in Cusseta, Alabama where he passed away in August 1993.

What is most interesting about Edwin is not only his success at becoming an attorney but he was also granted 28 patents for inventions connected to a variety of automobile engines and accessories. Everything from an anti-skid braking control system to a vehicle torque converter to a ball cock valve. I cannot claim to understand nor fully appreciate the complexity of his inventions and I don't know if any of them were used in automobile production but it is clear the Edwin C. (for Cyprian) McRae clearly had a brilliant mind and put it to good use.


  1. Hi, I am the granddaughter of Edwin C McRae, and I would like to correct something you have on your blog. He died in Aug. 1993 not 1983. Thanks.

  2. I am also the granddaughter of E.C. McRae. I would like to know where you received your information from.

    1. The sources of information for this post came from U.S. census records (1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930), the Social Security Death Index, Michigan marriage registration, State of Georgia death index and U. S. Patent Office.