George W. Crane is a member of a family whose name has been identified with the history of Kansas and the city of Topeka since 1855, and during the forty-seven years that he has himself been a citizen of the state he has seen it pass triumphantly through all of its political and financial crises, from each of which it has emerged a stronger and more progressive state, and no one is prouder of its rank today among the first states of the Union than is Mr. Crane. He was born at Easton, Pa., Aug. 25, 1843, and is a son of Dr. Franklin L. Crane, who was a prominent surgeon and dentist of Easton until he became a member of the Topeka colony in the spring of 1855, after having visited the state in the fall of 1854. Dr. Crane became secretary of the Topeka Association and did much of its work. To him is due the credit of securing the broad thoroughfares of which Topeka citizens are so justly proud and which he surveyed. During the Civil war he rendered loyal service as a true son of the republic in Company E, Eleventh infantry. Soon after his enlistment he was detailed as hospital steward and was placed in charge of the smallpox hospital at Hildebran's Mills, Ark., where he did a brigade surgeon's work, but never received more than the pay of a private soldier. George W. Crane's mother was Mary Elizabeth Howell, who died when her son, George, was but a babe. Upon the death of his wife Dr. Franklin L. came to Kansas, and George was placed in the care of an aunt in Canada, with whom he lived until he, too, came to Kansas, March 1, 1865. At the close of a year's employment as a clerk in the store of his brother, Jesse H. Crane, then post trader at Fort Larned, he became a market gardener in Topeka and cultivated for three years the grounds on which are now located the yards and freight depot of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company. In 1868 he opened a book binding and blank book making business with J. Y. Byron as a partner, and in the summer of 1869 also became identified with the "Daily Commonwealth" and was manager of that newspaper for the firm of Prouty, Davis & Crane, Mr. Crane being the owner of a one-third interest in the business. The firm, Crane & Byron, unfortunately suffered the loss of their entire stock in the burning of the big Ritchie Block in November, 1869. In a few months the business was renewed, only to be again completely destroyed when the Commonwealth building burned in the fall of 1873. Undaunted by these misfortunes, and with courage and zeal, Mr. Crane renewed the struggle, this time alone, and continued the business until 1888, when he organized the George W. Crane Publishing Company. This company continued on a large scale the business of printing, binding and publishing, and established a large and lucrative trade throughout Kansas and adjoining states. For the third time the business experienced the misfortune of a disastrous fire and was entirely wiped out in 1889, when the magnificent Keith Block, occupied exclusively by the Crane Company, was completely destroyed. In each of these fires but a small portion of the loss was covered by insurance, for in the fire of 1869 the loss was $10,000, with an insurance of $4,000; in 1873 the loss was $47,000 and the insurance $29,000; and in 1889 the value of the property destroyed was $135,000, with an insurance of $50,000. This heavy loss compelled an assignment, which was closed up in 1893, after being conducted by Mr. Crane under the assignee. The business of which he is manager is now conducted as a corporation. The indomitable courage and recuperative genius which have been manifested by Mr. Crane when overwhelmed with disaster have been of such a remarkable type as to merit the admiration and approval of not only his friends and business associates, but of his competitors as well. The business has again become firmly established and does a very large publishing business, in addition to commercial printing and book making, and has published many of the state school books used under the "State Uniformity" law. Though an ardent and active Republican in politics, Mr. Crane has never held any public office. He was, however, nominated for state printer in 1893 by the Republican legislative caucus, but was defeated in the election by one vote, the Democrats and Populists having a majority on joint ballot.
In June, 1870, Mr. Crane was united in marriage to Ella Rain, the daughter of Silas and Minerva Rain, and to them were born two children: Frank S., who is associated with Crane & Company a treasurer and superintendent, and Edna. Mrs. Crane died in April, 1881, and Mr. Crane subsequently married Miss Fannie Kiblinger, on Nov. 7, 1882. Not only has Mr. Crane been a witness of the growth of Topeka during the past forty-seven years, and has been an active factor in its development by contributing his full share to the civic and commercial life of the city.Pages 1073-1075 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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