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Below is a family biography included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  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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George W. Crane, president and manager for Crane & Company, one of the largest printing houses at Topeka, was born August 25, 1843, at Easton, Pennsylvania, and is a son of Dr. Franklin L. and Mary Elizabeth (Howell) Crane. The Crane family is of Puritan ancestry and Revolutionary stock.

In the spring of 1855, Dr. Franklin L. Crane removed from Easton, where he was established in a good dental practice, to Topeka, Kansas, where he soon became identified with public affairs. He was made secretary of the Topeka Town Association and it was mainly through his good taste and artistic ideas that the present beautiful city enjoys its distinction for wide streets and boulevards, the work of surveying being under his charge. During the Civil War he served as a private soldier in Company E, 11th Reg., Kansas Vol. Inf., and later as hospital steward, his admirable work while he had charge of the smallpox hospital at Hildebran’s Mills being still recalled.

George W. Crane has been a resident of Kansas since March, 1865. Because of the death of his mother in his infancy, he was placed in the care of Canadian relatives, with whom he remained during the period of his school days. His brother, Jesse H. Crane, was operating a store at Fort Larned, Kansas, where he was post trader, and George remained with him for one year and then came to Topeka. For some three years he engaged at market gardening, but in 1868 he embarked in the business which has proved such a great success financially and has given him a very prominent place in the business world. In partnership with J. Y. Byron, he entered into the business of bookbinding and blank-book manufacturing, and in the following year he became owner of a one-third interest in the Daily Commonwealth. This journal was issued under the company name of Prouty, Davis & Crane and Mr. Crane was its manager. Everything was in a promising condition when the firm lost all it possessed by the burning of the Ritchie Block in November, 1869. This disaster, so soon after assuming new responsibilities, was very serious to the members of the firm, but with courage and energy they succeeded in resuming business some months later. The fall of 1873 witnessed another disastrous fire in Topeka, during which the Commonwealth Building was completely destroyed and a second time was Mr. Crane forced to begin at the bottom.

Only a man of much courage and many resources could so soon have recuperated; in a comparatively short time he was again at the head of a business which he managed alone until he had expanded it to such proportions that outside help was needed. Thus came about the founding of the George W. Crane Publishing Company, in 1888. At great expense improved machinery was installed and a modern plant for doing all kinds of printing on a large scale was placed in operation in the Keith Block, one of the newest and best equipped business structures of the city. The building was 50 by 135 feet in dimensions, four stories high, filled from basement to attic with the company’s plant. The fire demon for the third time assailed Mr. Crane’s business, this handsome building being totally destroyed in February, 1889. This loss was more serious than any other, the value of the property loss, above insurance, being $135,000.

The word discouragement is not found in Mr. Crane’s vocabulary. With wonderful philosophy he accepted the facts and with customary enterprise set about to again build up his business. A corporation was then formed under the name of Crane & Company, Mr. Crane was made manager, and now is at the head of one of the largest business houses in his line, including publishing, book-making and commercial printing, his trade extending all over Kansas and through adjacent States. The perfection of the work of this house secured it the contract for furnishing a large part of the books used in the public schools. Tenacity of purpose is a marked characteristic of Mr. Crane and this he carries into business, political and social life. He has settled convictions to which he firmly adheres and his fellow-citizens know that when he is convinced of the justice of a movement, no outside influence can move him.

In June, 1870, Mr. Crane was married to Ella Rain, who was a daughter of Silas and Minerva Rain. Mrs. Crane died in April, 1881, survived by two children: Frank S., who is cashier and superintendent for Crane & Company; and Edna, who married Charles L. Mitchell and died at Morenci, Arizona, August 25, 1904. In 1882, Mr. Crane was married at Elkhart, Indiana, to Fannie Kiblinger, a cousin of his first wife.

Politically, Mr. Crane has always taken a lively interest in city and State affairs, voting constantly with the Republican party, but he has never consented to hold office. In 1893 he was nominated by his party in the Legislature for the office of State printer, one for which he is eminently qualified; he lacked only one vote of election. Mr. Crane has set an example of the conquest over misfortune by the exercise of individual energy, and has shown in a remarkable degree his capacity to mold circumstances and to grasp success out of the ashes of defeat.

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This family biography is one of 206 biographies included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  For the complete description, click here: Shawnee County, Kansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Shawnee County, Kansas family biographies here: Shawnee County, Kansas

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