A Narrative History of The People of Iowa


RALPH W. CRAM.  When, on Armistice Day, 1928, Davenport dedicated its new airport, constructed by Davenport Airways, Inc., Col. D. M. King, commandant of the Rock Island Arsenal, in the principal speech of the occasion said:  "One of your own citizens, Mr. Ralph Cram, has done much for American aviation.  He has spent his time and his money, has served as vice president of the American Aernautical Association.  To him much credit is due for the establishment of this airport. And now, as an officer of the United States army, it is a very great pleasure to take part in the dedication of this field, not only to commercial uses, but to the service of our county, and to christen it Cram Field of Davenport."

This compliment was well deserved and is an illustration of Ralph Cram's versatility and many-sidedness as an Iowa citizen.  Davenport people in general know him best for his long career as a newspaper man.  mr. Cram was born at Zanesville, Ohio, June 19, 1869, son of Charles E. and Clarissa (Deming) Cram.  He had only a public school education, and in 1883, at the age of fourteen, went to work on the Davenport Democrat, and that newspaper institution has been his employer ever since.  In 1889, when he was twenty years of age, he was handling the news reporting for the Democrat, going  about over the city on a bicycle.  He had started in the composing room, and for six years he did everything that a practical printer did in those days before linotype.  His hobby through all the years of his journalistic career has been reporting, and as one of his associates said:  "His viewpoint in newspaper work has been to tell in an interesting, gossipy easy flowing style the news of the day, always taking into consideration the other fellow's feelings."   He has enjoyed the interpretation as well as the telling of the news of local and national significance and for many years has attended the national conventions of the two great parties as a reporter, and his news letters on politics have been one of the most attractive features of the Davenport Democrat.

In his progress as a newspaper man Mr. Cram was promoted to the desk of city editor in 1903 and in 1908 became managing editor.  July 1, 1930, he became the paper's publisher as well.  he is also a director of the Register Life Insurance Company and the Morris Plan Bank.

He became interested in aviation shortly after the first heavier than air craft were developed.  It was in 1923 that he was elected vice president of the National Aeronautical Association as a recognition of his active part in the flying movement.  Flying is by no means a theoretical knowledge, since he has piloted many planes and has taken part in any number of national  air tours.  After the war he acted as editor of the Scott County History of War Activities, one of the finest  accounts of local war activities published in any county of Iowa.  For a time he published Fly Leaf, an aviation journal, and is author of Aviation - It's Development and its Relation to the National Defense;  An Amateur Flyer's Vacation; A 4100 Mile Trip by Air.   Mr. Cram was a signer of the charter of the National Aeronautic Association.  He is a member of the Davenport Chamber of Commerce, the University Extension Society, the Contemporary Club, Davenport Flying Club, Tri-City Press club, Outing Club, Kiwanis Club.

He married, December 27, 1892 Mabel Laventure, of Davenport.  They have four very remarkable children.  The oldest, Eloise Blaine Cram, graduated Bachelor of Science from the University of Chicago; subsequently took the Bachelor of Philosophy degree at George Washington University at Washington and is one of the most distinguished women in the field of science in America today, being associate zoologist of the Bureau of Animal Industry at Washington and is author of upwards of fifty bulletins and special reports on animal parasites, particularly the long list of such parasites that infest domestic farm animals.  She is one of the two women comprising the staff of laboratory investigators in the Bureau of animal Industry in the Department of Agriculture.  The second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Cram is Margaret Mason, who graduated from the kindergarten training department at the University of Chicago and is now the wife of Frank W. Siemen.  The third daughter, Mary Deming, is a graduate of the University of Iowa and a teacher at Davenport.  The son, Ralph La Venture, was educated in the Iowa State College at Ames and the Guggenheim School of Aeronautics.  new York University, where he graduated, and is now doing very interesting work on the engineering staff of the Boeing Aircraft Company at Seattle, Washington.


~ source: A Narrative History of The People of Iowa with SPECIAL TREATMENT OF THEIR CHIEF ENTERPRISES IN EDUCATION, RELIGION, VALOR, INDUSTRY, BUSINESS, ETC., by EDGAR RUBEY HARLAN, LL. B., A. M. Curator of the Historical, Memorial and Art Department of Iowa Volume IV THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc. Chicago and New York. 1931
~ transcribe by Debbie Clough Gerischer for the Great War