HON. ARTHUR THOMPSON CROCKER, present state senator from Chase County, is a member of the firm Crocker Brothers, who as stockmen and farmers have developed some of the biggest interests in that line in the State of Kansas. The center of their operations is near Bazaar in Chase County.
Senator Crocker is a native of Chase County and was born on his father's cattle ranch here January 17, 1874. He is a son of Erastus Bryant and Annie Elizabeth (Grey) Crocker. Erastus B. Crocker, who was born in New York State in 1840, is a son of Alexander and Dorcas (Bryant) Crocker, the former a native of Maine and the latter of Massachusetts. When Erastus was six years of age his parents moved west from New York to Michigan and he grew up on a farm near Battle Creek, receiving his education in the public schools and also in college. He was just of age when the war broke out and he enlisted in Company C, Seventh Michigan Cavalry. He saw 3 1/2 years of active service and was in many important battles, including Gettysburg. He was with Grant's army at Appomattox. He was never seriously wounded but had two horses shot from under him. He rose to the rank of captain and left the army with that rank and title.
Captain Crocker was one of the prominent pioneers of the county, where he arrived March 20, 1866. He had traveled by railroad as far as Leavenworth and from there came on by wagon. He took up a homestead in the south part of the county, gradually acquired other lands, and for many years was a recognized leader in public and business affairs. As a republican he represented Chase County in the State Legislature in 1868, and was at one time a member of the board of county commissioners. He was an enthusiastic Mason. His death occurred on the old ranch in Chase County April 18, 1876.
In 1860 Captain Crocker married Miss Hattie Mercy Hoffman, who was born at Three Rivers, Michigan, in April, 1840, and died January 24, 1870, in Chase County. She was the mother of three children: Ada Corena, Erastus Harley and Walter, the last dying in infancy. Ada C., who was born January 19, 1861, married October 14, 1880, Andrew J. Dunlap, who was born at Niles, Ohio, August 20, 1855. They have a son, Andrew Crocker, born December 9, 1895. Erastus Harley Crocker, born December 7, 1862, is now a successful lawyer at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He married in 1891 Ada H. Farmer, and they have six children, two sons and four daughters.
On May 2, 1871, Captain Crocker married his second wife, Mrs. Annie Elizabeth (Grey) Mason. She was born in New York State February 28, 1842, and died May 30, 1897. By her first marriage to John Mason she has a son, John Marshall Mason, who is now living in Kansas City, Missouri. He married in 1890 Lillian Day and they have three children, one son and two daughters. Captain and Mrs. Crocker were the parents of two children, Edward Grey and Arthur T.
Arthur Thompson was educated in the public schools of Chase County and the city schools of Emporia. His early training on his father's ranch counted strongly in the choice of a career and when he was seventeen he became associated with his brother under the firm name of Crocker Brothers, and together they have developed their extensive ranching and farming interests. At the present time they have a 10,000 acre cattle ranch in Chase County, one of the best in point of equipment and one of the largest now in the entire state. They conduct their business on a plan of efficiency justified by long experience and are breeders and raisers of some of the finest Hereford cattle in Kansas.
Senator Crocker has for many years been an active republican. He was elected to represent the Twenty-third Senatorial District, comprising the counties of Chase, Marion and Morris, in 1916. During the following session he was a member of some of the important committees in the Senate. He is president of the Kansas Hereford Cattle Breeders Association and is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason and Shriner and also a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
The Crocker brothers married sisters, daughters of the late Capt. Henry Brandley. Capt. Henry Brandley was a pioneer and a citizen of such character and ability in Chase County that he deserves some special mention at this point.
Henry Brandley was born in Switzerland October 12, 1839, and died at his beautiful home at Matfield Green in Chase County June 1, 1910. When he was about twelve years of age his parents came to America, being fifty-two days in crossing the ocean. In 1852 the family settled in Cincinnati, where he finished his education and worked at the painter's trade. In 1856 the Brandleys moved to Randolph County, Indiana, and there the young man had further experience as a farm hand, in a shingle mill, as rail maker and digger of ditches.
In the spring of 1859 he went overland to Western Iowa but in the same fall came on foot to Tecumseh, Kansas, where he was employed in a brick yard for a short time and then took up a claim in Chase County, which was still unorganized. During the following winter be built a shanty on his claim and when he returned from Ohio in 1860 he found another occupant on his quarter section. After a contest he was declared the legal owner and he at once set to work to develop and prove up. At the outbreak of the war he walked forty miles to Emporia to enlist with the Lyon County troops, commanded by L. T. Heritage. He was mustered in September 1, 1861, and a few days later the company was consolidated with others, making Company H of the Eighth Kansas Regiment. He was elected as fifth sergeant. In the winter of 1862 this company was sent to Missouri, camping on Sugar Creek, and on March 10, 1862, Mr. Brandley was appointed orderly sergeant of what by consolidation finally became Company B of the Ninth Kansas Regiment. A detailed account of the movements and operations of this regiment will be found on other pages. On June 1, 1862, Mr. Brandley and his company started for Utah as escort to General Harding, the newly appointed governor of Utah. For a short time he was at Fort Laramie, afterwards guarded a stage route camp in Colorado, and then began the building of Fort Halleck at the foot of Elk Mountain west of Medicine Bow River. February 23, 1863, while scouting, Captain Brandley was shot through the left arm and side by a Ute Indian on the North Platte River, Soon afterward he was promoted to first lieutenant. After the Quantrill raid in Kansas the company was ordered east and arrived at Fort Leavenworth in November, 1863. Captain Brandley was in command of his company at Kansas City part of the winter of 1863-64 and in April, 1864, he joined his regiment at Lawrence, this being the first time he was with the regiment as a whole. The regiment spent the rest of the year in Arkansas and in the spring of 1865 Mr. Brandley was commissioned captain of Company B, made of former Companies B and E. He had command of the post at Brownsville, Arkansas, and was in service until mustered out August 17, 1866. Other members of this company were T. B. Murdock, George Plumb and other well known citizens of Emporia.
After his army service Captain Brandley returned to his claim in Chase County. The same year he was elected a member of the House of Representatives, served as journal clerk of the House and in 1874 was elected state senator from Chase, Marion and Morris counties. He was a familiar figure in the state capitol at Topeka for a number of years. He was baptized in the Lutheran Church, and while never a member of any church he was essentially a religious man. He was charitable, kindly, a big man in every respect and left an honored name in his part of Kansas. He was the father of six children: Clara B. Hildebrand, Maude Crocker, Harry Brandley, Ruby Wagoner, Daisy Crocker and Pearl Brandley. Captain Brandley developed one of the finest ranches in Kansas. He made his home and surroundings a place of beauty and spent his last years among the cedars and the surroundings which he had created by his own labor.
Edward G. Crocker married October 12, 1894, Miss Maude Brandley. She was born in Chase County March 13, 1872. The children of Edward G. Crocker and wife are two sons and two daughters: Arthur Weston, Ruby Louise, Anna Marie and Henry Mason.
Senator Crocker married at Blackwell, Oklahoma, November 15, 1902, Miss Daisy Brandley. She is also a native of Chase County, born April 20, 1878. Senator and Mrs. Crocker also have four children: Earl Edward, born January 6, 1906; Hila Eileen, born January 14, 1909; Marion Hazel, born January 1912; and Sybil Elizabeth, born July 6, 1915.
A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Matt Page, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, December 1,1999.
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