Charles Frederick Crain was born in Freeport, Illinois, USA on 21 July 1872. He was the son of lawyer Joseph Addison Crain and Venette Sweet. He had three siblings.
After graduating from school Crain attended West Port Military Academy and served for many years with the US Army, retiring with the rank of Colonel.
In October 1898 he was married to Annie Durand Jackson and their daughter Elizabeth was born in 1900. By 1912 the family lived at Fort Sheridan in Lake County, Illinois.
Crain, his wife and daughter were first cabin passengers aboard the Carpathia when that ship rescued the survivors of the Titanic disaster. He related a story to the press whereby a fourteen-year-old boy had been saved by Colonel Astor, the man picking up a girl’s hat and jamming it on the boy’s head and, watching his chance, pushed the boy into the lifeboat with the women (The Record-Argus, 20 April 1912).
After thirty years of service with the US Army, Crain retired in 1921. Widowed in 1918 and never remarrying, in later years he moved to Pasadena, California where his daughter Elizabeth lived and where he spent the rest of his life.
Charles F. Cain died in Los Angeles on 12 February 1956; he was buried in the US Military Academy Post Cemetery in West Point, New York.