Henry County, IAGenWeb


The Cranes

Had Mr. F.B. Crane, who died at his home here Feb. 19, lived until May,  1953, it would have been his rare privilege of observing the one hundredth anniversary of the Crane family in Mt. Pleasant. For at that early date Rev. Eber Crane, his grandfather, came to this community with his wife and children to make it their future residence. Rev. Eber Crane was one of the early pastors of the Baptist church in this city and here he lived and labored until his death in 1884.

It might be interesting to note that Rev. Eber Crane was the son of one of two brothers who emigrated from Southern England to New England shortly after the settlement of Plymouth in Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was born on the Long Island Sound shore of Connecticut. His wife was a native of Vermont. Turning to the ministry Rev. Eber Crane became a pastor of the Baptist faith. He was one of the early missionaries in Ohio, then the far west, and from that field he moved on westward settling in Mt. Pleasant in 1853.

We know of no other family which has lived uninterruptedly in this community for so many years. And it is wholly probably that Eber Crane's direct descendants, the sons of Fred B. and George E. Crane will in due time observe the 150th anniversary of the founding of the family here.

Among the eight children, five sons and three daughters of Rev. Eber Crane, three of them are well remembered by our older citizens. One of the daughters was Carrie, who became the wife of Mr. J.P. Brenholtz. Mr. Brenholtz was a clerk in the dry goods store of E.L. Penn  & Co., and boarded with the Eber Crane family, and there met the daughter Carrie. Later they were married. At the time the Rev. Eber Crane residence was the large two story brick at the northwest corner of Lincoln and Saunders, recently destroyed by fire. Later Mr. Brenholtz went into the business for himself and for some years was one of our well known grocers. Of the Brenholtz family none remain in the county. Of the four children, the sons Walter and Harry are dead. The two daughters are still living, Jessie at Knoxville, Ill., and Mary is out on the west coast.

Two of the sons of Eber Crane remained here. One of them, Hervey N. Crane, was in the jewelry business for most of his active days, his store being one door to the west of where the Crane jewelry store is now located. For a time the Hervey Crane home was down on South Main. Later in 1893 he built his home on East Washington, at Locust, known as the Judge Withrow residence, and now occupied by the Garrisons. It was at this period that many new homes were built in Mt. Pleasant. Among them were the I.P. Van Cise residence on East Monroe and the Dr. J.O. Ball residence on West Monroe, now the Spearman home. In time owing to ill health, Mr. Hervey Carne sold his business to his nephew Mr. F.B. Crane, and after his death his widow and three children moved to the west. 

The other brother, Baron Crane, also spent his entire life here, his death occurring in the fall of 1887. Baron Crane Sr., was a farmer until 1862, when he enlisted in Co. B., 25th Iowa Infantry and served until mustered out of the army in 1865, with the rank of lieutenant. He again engaged in farming but in 1869 he engaged in the hardware business on the east side of the square. The hardware store is to this day still there, owned and operated by a grandson. Seventy-five years is a long time for a hardware store to be operated on the same spot and under the same family name, aside from one other ownership for a very short time.

The Baron Crane home at first was two doors north of Henry on the east side of Adams. Later on he built the commanding residence on East Washington at Walnut and now owned by Iowa Wesleyan, and the official home of the president of the college. At the time the residence was on a rather larger tract, a part on the west being since sold. A feature of the Crane premises in those days was the very fine greenhouse which was the pride of the family and a beauty of plant and flower seldom noted in other than commercial greenhouses.

Of the nine children born to Mr. and Mrs. Baron Crane, five sons and four daughters, only three survive the death of Frederick B. Crane, Mrs. Ann Crane Whiting and Mrs. R.K. Crane of this community, and Mrs. Edith Crane Lisle of Clarinda, Ia.

The civic activities of few men of our community have been more closely woven into its fabric than those of Mr. Crane, but so unostentatious was his work that few have realized its scope. In business he was eminently successful. While never active in politics he nevertheless held various public positions, school board, trustee of the Memorial hospital, bank director, and other positions of community trust.

Of his public services probably none was more significant and more important than his long tenure of office as a trustee and secretary of the board of trustees of the Memorial hospital. Immediately after the voters of Henry county approved the erection of the hospital, the Board of Supervisors appointed its first board of trustees of the hospital. Among the members appointed were this writer and Mr. Crane. This writer was honored with being chosen president of the board, and Mr. Crane was selected to the all important post of secretary. This writer remained president of the board until his resignation to accept the position of postmaster, but Mr. Crane remained at his post for some years longer. It was here that Mr. Crane and this writer became fully acquainted.

The hospital about to be built, was the third in Iowa to be erected under the Iowa law, the hospital at Washington being the first and at Fairfield second. The problems facing the new board of trustees were real ones. The vote approving the hospital was very close. If we remember correctly, every voting precinct in the county, outside Mt. Pleasant, was carried by large or small majorities against the construction of the hospital. Much resentment and in some places bitterness was engendered during the campaign and it did not entirely die down with the election. 

Among the problems was the question of a site for the hospital and there was a wide divergence of opinion on that. There was the selection of an architect, and plans and specifications, a reliable contractor, the first superintendent and staff, the acquisition of hospital equipment.

To anyone familiar with such a project, especially where a group of men, wholly unacquainted with hospitals and hospital management, is facing such problems, the vital importance of an efficient secretary is apparent. Mr. Crane filled the position efficiently.

On the finest site in the community a thoroughly equipped hospital was erected and put into operation. The building was erected within the alloted money. No legal troubles arose, even the physicians of the county were satisfied. And during those days and weeks and months Mr. Fred B. Crane was secretary, the liaison officer, the keeper of the records and he did a great job. As did the other members of that first board of trustees of the hospital. 

Of the many other matters of public interest of which Mr. Crane and this writer worked together, one makes an interesting story, the organization of the Country Golf Club. The first attempt at golf was when a bunch of us formed a club and laid out a course down on what is now Saunders Grove. This aroused a wide spread demand for a full fledged golf course. Mass meetings were held, each to wind up in a row over location, and all sorts of objectives and objections. A few of us saw that the way to organized a golf club was to organize one. So one night nine men of our community quietly gathered in the law office of J.C. McCoid. There were as we recall, Judge Paul McCoid, Dr. F.M. Edwards, Mr. B.E. Seeley, Mr. Glen Bingham, then coach at Wesleyan, Mr. Fred Crane, Mr. Kenneth Nelson, J.R. Weir and Dr. Geo. B. McKibbin.

We decided to organize a golf club and we did. First we studied the rules and regulations of established golf clubs of our community calibre and gathered all the information possible. Meeting after meeting was held. The secret was closely kept. The result was the purchase of the present acreage west of town. From our own small group we selected directors and officers, agreed on rules and regulations, fixed the membership and fees. Moreover each member took out and paid for enough memberships to make a down payment on the grounds, the balance was borrowed from the bank.

When everything was done, hog tied, the barn door locked with horse in his stall, an announcement was made of the organization of a golf club. There was no chance to throw bricks through the windows, no monkey wrenches into the machinery. There was nothing to fight about. Those who wanted to become members were invited. Memberships cost $100.00 down, and a yearly fee for operation needs. In one season the golf club was on a solid foundation. Later we built the present club house.

Here again Mr. Crane proved his worth for he was at once put into the harness as secretary. These two instances are to us the high lights of Mr. Crane's public activities, affording our community the Memorial hospital and the Golf club, both of which have served well. And now after three quarters of a century among us as a good citizen he passes on, but the family name of Crane remains.

[Note: Eber Crane was the brother of my 3rd great grandfather, Augustus Crane -- C. Joynt Labath.]

-- “Bystander’s Notes“ by Charles S. Rogers, Publisher-Editor of  The News [weekly newspaper published in Mt. Pleasant, IA] February 25, 1946 p. 2

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