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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York published by Chapman Publishing Co., in 1895.  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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WILLIAM CRONK, of Havana, one of the prominent citizens of central New York, is widely known as the Superintendent of the Cronk Hanger Company. The company was incorporated in 1888, with a capital of $50,000, its officers being as follows: C. R. Pratt, a member of the law firm of Pratt & Joery, of Elmira, President; C. F. Carrier, the inventor of Carrier’s double-braced steel rail and Carrier’s, anti-friction and barn-door hanger, and patent wire cutter and plier, Secretary and Treasurer; and William Cronk, Superintendent. The factory of the company is located at Havana, where a force of about sixty skilled workmen is employed.

The Cronk family is of English extraction, and the first to come to America were three brothers, who located on Long Island. From one of these sprang Arnold Cronk, the father of our subject, whose birth occurred in Westchester County, N. Y. When a lad of sixteen years he accompanied a brother three years older to Seneca County, the two making the journey on foot. The father was a man of great determination and force of character, and after coming to this part of the state worked for a time at whatever he could find to do, and finally settled down to farming, which vocation he followed through life. He lived for several years in Seneca, Schuyler and Chemung Counties, and at the time of his death was threescore years and ten.

Arnold Cronk was one in a family of four sons and one daughter. He was married to Miss Mary Howell, a native of New Jersey. She was of German extraction, and lived to be seventy-seven years of age. Their union was blessed by the birth of eleven children, of whom Henry, Jonathan and Catherine, the latter now the widow of Roswell Wakely, live in Havana; Abbie is the wife of Orrin J. Stone, and resides in Elmira; John is a resident of Osborne, Kan.; William, of this sketch, was the seventh in order of birth; Nelson and Albert are residents of Havana; Mary, Mrs. Frank Smith, makes her home at Binghamton; and Warren is in business at Horseheads.

The subject of this sketch was born in the town of Dix, in this county. May 30, 1837. He was there reared to the life of a farmer, in the mean time pursuing his studies closely in the common schools. On attaining his eighteenth year he was apprenticed to learn the carpenter’s trade, at which he worked for a period of ten years. About that time he abandoned the vocation and engaged in the hardware business, conducting a paying enterprise for fourteen years.

Mr. Cronk is a natural machinist, and in 1885, in a small way, began the manufacture of the Cronk barn-door hanger, of which he was the inventor. The business grew to such proportions that the present company was incorporated in 1888 He has full charge of the mechanical work, and designs and manufactures all the machinery used in turning out his numerous inventions. In all his undertakings it has been his ambition to excel, and he devoted himself with ardor to the production of a class of specialties which would not only vie in excellence and utility with both domestic and imported wares, but when once introduced and tested would be preferred by the dealer and consumer alike over all other similar productions. That he has succeeded in this laudable endeavor, there is no longer any doubt, as the superiority attained in the manufacture of his inventions is such as to have created a permanent and constantly increasing demand from all parts of the country. Paying close and undivided attention to the excellence of their productions rather than to the amount of sales or monetary returns, the company’s trade has steadily grown from year to year, until they have reached a high mark in their industry, of which they have every reason to be proud. Their resources are ample, their facilities for rapid and perfect productions are complete and comprehensive, and the quality of their goods can be implicitly relied upon.

The Cronk Manufacturing Company have recently made an addition to their factory, and now have a large cutlery department, known as the Carrier Cutlery Company, from which is turned out an extra quality of pocket-knives. They also handle the new Cronk griddle, which is so devised that the heat is equally distributed over the entire upper surface, and very desirable results are obtained in cake-baking. One of their best selling articles is the sliding-door latch, with attachment for lock; also the Queen City six-bladed chopping knife, which is made so strong and durable as to give satisfaction in every respect. The company have for sale the patent expansive rubber valve for chain pumps, which was patented in 1886, and of which a great number have been sold.

During the hard times which succeeded the World’s Fair, the Cronk Manufacturing Company continued to run a full force, and even then were not able to fill all their orders promptly. They pay cash for all their materials, and in this way get a discount, which, though small, amounts in the aggregate to a handsome sum annually.

Cronk’s anti-friction and steel barn-door hanger is made from heavy steel, and is so arranged that it will carry the door with perfect ease. The double braced steel rail is braced so that it will not sag, and is by far the best and strongest rail in the market. The adjustable stay roller is made with wrought-steel straps and a cast block, with a slot in it so that it can be easily adjusted. Cronk’s inside adjustable stay is simple and durable, and is much better than a cleat nailed on the floor, for it avoids all friction and leaves no place for the dirt to accumulate. The garden rake and garden mattock are both articles of superior make and find ready markets. The company manufacture Cronk’s combination cutting and gas pliers, pruning shears, hedge shears and wire cutter and bender.

William Cronk was married, in 1860, to Miss Mary E. Brink, a native of Schuyler County, and the daughter of Samuel Brink, a prominent resident of this section. To them have been born three children, namely: Elmer L., Edna G. and Grace V. Mr. Cronk is a Republican in politics, and although never an office-seeker, has been an official member of the School Board for the past seventeen years, serving two years of that time as President. He has represented his fellow-townsmen as Trustee of the Village Board for ten years, and is now President of the Board. In religious affairs he is one of the valued members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and has been President of the Board of Trustees of his congregation. Too much cannot be said in praise of the interest he has taken in the growth and development of the industrial portion of Havana, as during his entire life here he has taken an active part in all its progressive measures.

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This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York published in 1895. 

View additional Schuyler County, New York family biographies here: Schuyler County, New York Biographies

View a map of 1897 Schuyler County, New York here: Schuyler County, New York Map

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