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Below is a family biography included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published by Biographical Review Publishing Company in 1896.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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JOSEPHUS CRAFTS, a venerable and well-known citizen of Northampton, until recently President of the Hampshire County Savings Bank, and a man of sterling character, was born in Deerfield, Franklin County, Mass., March 2, 1810. The progenitor of the Crafts family in America is said, by tradition, to have come over from England in the “Mayflower.” His name is not found in Hotten’s list of the Pilgrims of 1620; but he may have been a passenger in a subsequent voyage, that historic vessel, it is claimed by students of Colonial history, having brought emigrants to these shores in 1629 and 1630. Savage’s Genealogical Dictionary says that Griffin Crafts came in 1630 in the fleet with Winthrop — tradition again says, in the “Arbella.” (See sketch of David W. Crafts on another page of this volume.)

Chester Crafts, father of Josephus Crafts, was born in Whately, Franklin County, Mass., in 1783, and was the son of a farmer in moderate circumstances. He died in Deerfield on September 27, 1827, on the day on which his brother Roswell was buried, his own summons to depart coming very suddenly and unexpectedly while his family were attending the funeral, at which he himself, though in feeble health, had thought to be present. Like his father, he was a farmer. He married Phila Jewett, of Deerfield; and to them nine children were born, five sons and four daughters, of whom Josephus is the eldest. Four sons and one daughter are now living: David W., in Northampton; Roswell P., in Holyoke; Albert, in Ashfield; and the sister, Sylvia, widow of Alvin Field, in Northampton. Mrs. Phila J. Crafts lived to be nearly ninety years of age, dying in Northampton at the home of her son David.

Josephus Crafts when but a lad of nine years left his home to go to that of Russell Cooley, a large farmer of Deerfield. Here he lived for nine years, working hard most of the time and getting but a very meagre schooling, so that, when he started out at eighteen to win his way in the world, his capital consisted chiefly of his health and energy. Walking to Greenfield, he let himself to Spencer Root, a hotel-keeper and stage proprietor, as hostler. He soon began to drive stage, and one year later, when the mail contract changed hands, engaged to drive for another party. He drove stage for about five years on the Ashfield road, and in the course of that time met his fate and married. Mr. Crafts next bought the stage route, which he ran for seven or eight years, when he established himself in business at Ashfield as a dealer in dry goods and West India goods, including rum, which was a staple in those days. And the marvel is that Mr. Crafts never drank a glass of rum, nor did he smoke, though his father was a veteran smoker, his one experience when a boy, from which he was deathly sick, proving sufficient. Mr. Crafts carried on this business for about six years in connection with a small farm. On leaving Ashfield, about thirty years ago, he came to Northampton. His first purchase of real estate here was the lot on which the Hampshire House now stands, this block having been erected by him in 1870. He also bought another lot back of it, which he sold at a handsome profit. Although people doubted his wisdom in purchasing this property, it has proved a good investment, bringing him in a yearly rent of from eighteen hundred to twenty-four hundred dollars. Since coming to Northampton Mr. Crafts has done little business aside from making loans and settling estates, of which, as administrator, executor, trustee, or assignee, he has had charge of one hundred and twenty-one, some in Greenfield, but most of them in Northampton, and some of them reaching far into the thousands, showing the confidence in which he has always been held by his fellow-men. Mr. Crafts has been one of the organizers of several different banks, three in Holyoke, one in Conway, and one in Shelburne Falls. The Hampshire County Savings Bank was started in Northampton about thirty years ago; and about twelve years ago, when Luther Bodman, the president, died, Mr. Crafts became his successor, and filled the place most faithfully up to the summer of 1895, when he voluntarily retired.

Mr. Crafts married Roxie D., daughter of Lyman Cross, for many years landlord of a stage house on the Ashfield road. Mr. and Mrs. Crafts reared to adult life two of the seven daughters born to them and one son. Their only living child now is Harriet L., wife of Joshua H. Fraser, of Holyoke, and mother of a son and a daughter. Mrs. Fraser’s sister, Frances E., wife of Henry C. Hallett, died in Northampton in the fall of 1894, at the age of forty-two, leaving four children, one daughter and three sons.

In political affiliation Mr. Crafts is a firm Democrat and has served on some of the committees. Mr. and Mrs. Crafts are members of the Edwards Congregational Church. This exemplary couple have enjoyed sixty-two years of wedded life, a rare experience; and both are still in comfortable health. Their home is at 71 Market Street, where they settled within three years of coming to Northampton, which they have seen grow from a village of about five thousand inhabitants to its present population of some eighteen thousand. The accompanying portrait of Mr. Josephus Crafts will be recognized and appreciated by many friends.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Biographical Review Volume of Biographical Sketches of The Leading Citizens of Hampshire County, Massachusetts published in 1896. 

View additional Hampshire County, Massachusetts family biographies here: Hampshire County, Massachusetts Biographies

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