John Hulse and Hattie Elizabeth (Blakeslee) Crane
A Sketch created in 19th Century History
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.
     Realizing the excellent opportunity afforded by Michigan as a fruit growing center, John decided to turn his attention to this pursuit, and now owns sixty-three acres of land which is devoted to the raising of various kinds of fruit.  He also rents his mother's farm of one hundred and twenty acres, fifty acres of  which are devoted to the raising of fruit, while the remainder is used for general farming purposes.

The house at right was Lydia Crane's
Click photo >


 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 Bristol, Connecticut. Elma Fenn became the village president of Allegan. He also was part owner of Fennville's 1st saw mill located 2 miles north of town.
     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. 415, 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.

From Allegan County files on the Web.





U S Crane's father was John Hulse Crane ( born April 22, 1858 Battle Creek, MI;
 died October 16, 1939 died in Douglas Hospital --  Douglas, MI ).
 
John Crane attended business school in Battle Creek and came to Fennville and
opened the first general store ( which later had the first telephone in the town ) .  He
met and married Hattie Elizabeth Blakeslee ( who was born  June 20, 1862 ) -- the first
white child ( non - Pottawatamee Indian child ) to be born in the then village of Fennsville.
The settlement had previously been known as Fenns Mills.
 
Hattie Elizabeth Blakeslee was the only daughter of  Lydia Irene ( Fenn )  Blakeslee and Henry
 Lee Blakeslee.  Henry Lee Blakeslee had come to Fenn's Mills from Plymouth, CT to work in
 Elam Fenn's lumber mill.  Elam Fenn had built a boarding house and had written back to the East Coast to hire workers from friends and family to come and clear the forest and saw the logs 
in order to build homes for the onslaught of new settlers.  Henry met "Irene" Fenn and they were
married and had baby Hattie Elizabeth  ( born June 1862 and who was named  Hattie to honor his sister Harriet back in CT)
 
Then Henry and others from the area joined the Union Forces and marched off to try to
push the Conferate Forces back as they  -- The Confederates -- tried to push further North.
Henry was a member of  Company B,  The 19th Regiment of Michigan Volunteers.  He enlisted
in Aug. 1862.  Baby Hattie was only a young infant but, as the story goes, and is related in the
marvelous letters that he wrote to his wife : all the young men were going and Henry's brother
back in CT was in the Union Army so he thought that it was his duty to go and that he would
be back soon.  And then they would go back to CT for a visit so his family could meet her
 ( Irene ) but they were purchasing land from her father Elam Fenn and would live in MI.
Irene and baby Hattie lived with her parents so he felt that she would be well taken care of
until he returned.
 
Not to be ! !   Henry Lee Blakeslee was killed in the Battle of Franklin Ridge, Thompson
 Station, in       , 1863  Therefore, Baby Hattie never got to know her father.
 
I treasure having been able to read Henry Blakeslee's hand-written letters to his wife
and then hearing "first-hand" my grandmother Hattie's recollections of growing up.  Her father
wrote wonderful tender letters to Irene expressing his turmoil over his decision to march
 off to war, leaving her and the baby when their future had been so bright.  He chronicles
army life and its spirit of patriotism as well as its difficulties on an almost day-to-day basis  -- so much history  -- names and places too --I almost felt as though I was there.  He was a true patriot.
 
Irene eventually re-married ( about 4 years later ).  The man who sought her out was a
Civil War friend of Henry's, named James George Reeve, originally from England.  He came
to MI, won her heart and stayed in MI and he and Irene had six more children.
 
 Hattie was particularly close to her grandparents Elam Atwater Fenn ( born March 2, 1821
 in Plymouth, CT; died Dec. 19, 1898 ) and Mary J. ( Barker ) Fenn  ( born Aug 12    year  ?
in Bristol, CT: died May 5,  year  ?  )  in Allegan, MI.  The Fenns eventually moved to Allegan
( the county seat ) to be near their son who was a lawyer there.  Elam Fenn became the village
president of Allegan.
 
As far as the Fenns go:
 
  I have the lineage back to Elam Atwater Fenn's great grand-parents :
Thomas ( born 1707; died 1769 ) and Christian Fenn of Litchfield Co. CT.  
They had 9 children.
 
Elam Atwater Fenn's  grandparents were : Jason Geains Fenn ( born   -- date ?  He was
the 4th of 10 children  -- He was a Volunteer and Minute Man  in the Revolutionary War --
 I ( N. H. ) understand that there were only 30 Minute Men ) and Mary Potter Fenn of then Plymouthtown, CT .  Jason was a seargent inthe 8th Company, 1st Regiment and his discharge date was 11 - 25 - 1775 .   ( Aside : Dixie and I have papers verifying this as we are eligible for
membership in the D.A.R ( Daughters of the Ameroican Revelution ) but neither of us have chosen
 to join. )
 
Elam Atwater Fenn's parents were :  Elam ( born 6 - 26 - 1797 ; died 8 - 24- 1884 ) and
Lydia Atwater Fenn  ( born 6 - 17 - 1779; died  in 1873 ) both  of Plymouth, CT. They had
 10 children. 
 
 We always have been told that our first Fenn family members to come over from
England came on the Mayflower but not on its first sailing.  I have the listing of those who
came on the first sailing to Plymouth MA and, correct, they are not on that list. Haven't pursued
later listings for the Mayflower.  Shall leave that for others to do, if interested.
 
Well, enough of this for now.  I have much more ( with lots of strories ) as I reasearched
the history of Fennville when I was in college for a Michigan History class  assignment paper,
of choice. Can't put them down here but may share some of them with you, if you are interested.
 
For now,
 
Norma