JOHN HULSE CRANE, owning and conducting a fine fruit farm in Allegan County, is a native of Michigan, his birth having occurred in Battle Creek on the 22nd of April, 1858. The paternal great-grandfather was of English ancestry and served as a soldier in the Revolutionary war, while the grandfather, Abraham Crane, was a native of Massachusetts and participated in the War of 1812. In his family were six children, but only one survives at the present time.
John's parents, Dwight R. and Lydia A. (Griswold) Crane, were among the early residents of the state. Dwight R. was born at Rochester, New York, in
1829 while Lydia's birth occurred at Elmira, Chemung Count, that same state. The year 1837 witnessed the arrival of Dwight R. Crane in this state, having come with his parents at the age of seven years, they being among the pioneers of Battle Creek, where they took up their abode and became identified with the lumber business, in which he was engaged for fifteen years. This was at the same time Harrison Hutchins was building a road to his new property in Allegan County, the area John would ultimately live out his life. Dwight R. Crane was one of the prominent and influential citizens of his community and aided in the work of development and improvement of this part of the state. He received a common school education in his youth and later attended the Normal at Ypsilanti, Michigan. From his room mate being P.D. Beckworth, John acquired a fund of knowledge that fitted him for the responsibilities of life, and in the early day engaged in teaching school. He prospered in his work and was ever ready to aid in any movement which tended to advance the condition of this locality. Dwight's death occurred in 1894, when he had reached the age of sixty-five years, but his widow still survives. Lydia too came to Michigan in an early day, having come with her parents the year following the arrival of her husband. In their family were two daughters and one son, of whom Lydia is the eldest, the others being Dwight R. and Mrs. Emma E. Swarts, all of whom are natives of Battle Creek.
John Hulsa Crane, whose name introduces this review, was reared and educated in the place of his nativity. Later, however, having accompanied his parents on their removal to Fennville in 1874, he here, in connection with his father, engaged in the mercantile business. As time passed they enlarged the scope of their business operations and engaged in the lumber and hardware business, in which they continued for six years, thus doing much of the commercial development of their locality.
He has made a study of this business and thoroughly understands all the details connected with the care and cultivation of fruit, so that the products of his farm find a ready sale on the market, owing to their superior quality and flavor, and he is now one of the largest shippers of Fennville. He has erected modern and substantial buildings on his home place, and has thus made it one of the model country homes of Allegan County. Beside his farm in this county he also owns a tract of one hundred and sixty-five acres in Cuba, which is situated on San Marcus Island. John expects to develop this property, having firm faith in the possibilities of the island.
In February 1887, John was united in marriage to Miss Hattie Elizabeth Blakeslee, a daughter of Henry Lee and Lydia Irene (Fenn) Blakeslee, the first to settle within the limits of the original village on the east side of the railroad.. Mrs. Crane was the first white child (non - Pottawatomi Indian child) and the first child born in a frame house in Fennville. The 1895 map displays the Pottawatomi Club property west of New Richmond. The house was the property of her grandfather, Elam Atwater Fenn, the village being named for him. Henry Blakeslee was a prominent factor in his community and lost his life in the Battle of Franklin Ridge, Thompson Station in 1863. Hattie never got to know her father but he had written many letters to Lydia Irene which were chronicles of army life and displayed Henry's spirit of patriotism as well as its difficulties on an almost day-to-day basis. Henry Lee Blakeslee was a true patriot while serving his country in the Civil war. Hattie, as a grandmother, told many inspiring stores to the children of the twentieth century. Irene remarried to James George Reeve, Henry's friend, and had six children.
Lydia Irene (Fenn) Blakeslee1 was the daughter of Elam Atwater Fenn2, b. 3-2-1821 in Plymouth, Connecticut, d. 12-19 1898 and Mary J. (Barker) Fenn born in
Elam Atwater Fenn2 was the son of Elam Fenn3, b. 6-26-1797, d. 1873 and Lydia (Atwater) Fenn, b 6-17-1779, d. 1873 both of Plymouth, Connecticut. They had 10 children.
Elam Fenn3 was the son of Jason Geains Fenn4, born the 4th of 10 children and Mary (Potter) Fenn both of Plymouth town, Connecticut. Jason was discharged on 11-25-1775 as a sergeant in the 8th Company, 1st Regiment, a Volunteer and Minute Man in the Revolutionary War in New Hampshire. U S's daughters now have papers verifying their eligibility for membership in Daughters of the American Revolution, (DAR). Blakeslee Crane's children are also eligible to be DAR's or SAR's. It is said that Jason G. Fenn or his parents may have come to America on one of the Mayflower's many trips but it has not been proven.
Unto our subject, John Hulsa Crane, and his wife have been born seven children, of whom six names are known:
.....Ethel M. who's third husband Clifford Paine of Golden Gate Fame, had a home on Hutchins Lake. both Ethel and Clifford attended Peach Belt School in their grade school days. Ethel graduated from Fennville High School in 1902 and she went on to be a graduate of Wesley Hospital Nursing School in Chicago, having fitted herself for a nurse. Mr. Paine attended Hope College from 1906 to 1907.
.....Bessie, lived only a few months.
.....U.S, married Lena Miller. They received J.H.'s farm and had six children.
.....Lydia Irene "Rena". Rena married Lyn Loomis who died of TB about a year later. Later she married Oscar Pearson of California, thought to be a Harbor Master. After Oscar died she married Paul Kuenzel.
.....Henry Blakeslee married Muriel E. Smith. They received both the Harrison and Alvin Hutchins farms.
.....Berneth Rockwell. married Margaret.
U S, Rena, Blakeslee and Berneth all graduated from Michigan Agricultiral Collage, now M.S.U.
Interested in the cause of education, John H.
Crane has served as a member of the school board for a number of
years. He holds membership relations with the Methodist Episcopal
church in which he is active as steward and trustee. He is also
serving at the present writing in 1906, as superintendent of the Sunday
school. He and his father donated the lot on which the church was
erected in 1891 and he contributed fifteen hundred dollars toward the
building fund. Socially John H. is a member of Damascus Lodge No.
F.&A.M., and is also identified with the Grange and the Knights of
the Maccabees. John belongs to to the State Horticultural Society
and the Local Fruit Shipping Association, and assisting in organization
the latter society in the winter of 1888-89. He likewise was
instrumental in the organization of the Fruit Packing House
Association, which body distributed fruit all over the west, shipping
seventy-five carloads annually. Thus it will be seen that John
Crane has taken a very active and beneficial interest in all matters
pertaining to horticulture in which he is now successfully
engaged. Having spent his entire life in Michigan, the greater
part of which has been passed in this county, he has a wide
acquaintance in both social and business circles and is accounted one
of the enterprising and progressive representatives of the fruit
industry in this community.
This information is from history found in the Fennville Library and
from research performed by U S Crane's daughter Norma.
John had this addition platted when he lived in town. In the 1920 census he was listed as John H. Crane, age 61, wife Hattie E. age 57, son Berneth R. age 17 and mother Lidia A. age 91.
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