Biography of John Crete, Sr.

The Fatherland has furnished to America many of her valued citizens, men who have crossed the Atlantic to ally their interests with those of “the land of the free.” Adapting them-selves to entirely new surroundings, customs and manners, they have achieved success and won a place among the representative men of the communities in which their lots have been cast. Such is true of John Crete, the genial, well-known and popular proprietor of the War Eagle Hotel, at Silver City. Born in Hasbrouck, Hanover, Germany, April 25, 1832, he was a son of a Ger-man soldier who afterward became a police officer, and while making an arrest, was beaten by a criminal. His injuries brought on blood-poisoning, from which he died when fifty-two years of age. His wife long survived him, and passed away at the advanced age of ninety years. They had six children, five sons and one daughter, all now deceased but two.

John Crete, the fourth in order of birth, was educated in the schools of his native land, and in 1849, when seventeen years of age, crossed the Atlantic to the New World, hoping to better his financial condition in this country, where broader and better opportunities are afforded young men. He landed in New York and there accepted a position as salesman in a coffee and teahouse, where he remained until i860, when he sailed for California, going by the isthmus route. At the old town of Shasta in the northern part of California he first engaged in mining. On the 1st of May, 1862, with seven others, he started on a prospecting tour to the upper country, expecting to go to Florence, Oregon, but at Canyon City, that state, they discovered gold, and Mr. Crete engaged in prospecting and minning there until fall, when, attracted by the discoveries in the Boise basin, he came to Idaho. Here he engaged in mining and in conducting a pack train between the basin and Auburn, Oregon. He received twenty-five cents per pound for all goods, which he handled, but his expenses in other lines were proportionately high.

In the fall of 1863, allured by the rich gold discoveries at Silver City, he came to this place and began quartz-mining, but the evident demand for a good bakery determined him to with-draw from mining ventures and establish a bakery and saloon. This he did on the 14th of June, 1864, and from the beginning he prospered in the new undertaking. He added an eating house and constantly enlarged his facilities to meet the growing demand of the trade until 1878, when he purchased the War Eagle Hotel, the nucleus of which was a log structure that had been built by a Mr. Carrol, who was killed by the Indians in June, 1864. In 1867 it was enlarged, and after Mr. Crete became the owner it was enlarged to its present proportions and greatly improved. It now contains thirty-five rooms well furnished, and everything possible is done for the accommodation and comfort of the guests. Joseph Gross, who is acting as clerk, is a well known California and Idaho pioneer and prominent Freemason, and, like the proprietor, is highly esteemed by the traveling public, owing to his obliging ser-vice and evident desire to make the guests of the War Eagle at home. The hotel was named for the War Eagle mountain, which stands near by and which rises seven thousand and five hundred feet above the sea level and towers one thousand feet above Silver City and the surrounding mountains. It is full of valuable ore. both gold and silver, and is one of the historic places of interest in the state.

In New York, in 1856. Mr. Crete was united in marriage to Miss Mary Kornmann who was of German lineage, and was born in New York city, in 1841. In 1861 she accompanied her husband to California, where she remained two years, while he was prospecting in Oregon and Idaho, and then joined him at Silver City in the fall of 1864. She has been to him a faithful companion and helpmeet, and has thus contributed to his success. Three sons and three daughters have been born to them: Louisa, now the wife of Anthony Brooks, of Butte. Montana; August, who is engaged in business in Silver City; Emma, who is the widow of Alfred Hicks and resides with her parents; Minnie, now the wife of Dr. Weston, a prominent physician of Silver City; Frederick, who is his father’s partner in several mining enterprises: and John, who is operating his father’s electric-light plant.

Mr. Crete has been prominently and actively connected with various interests of this locality, and has done much to promote the public welfare and general prosperity. He has built a system of water-works, by which a supply of pure spring water is brought from the mountainside to the hotel and also supplies many of the homes of Silver City. At his own expense he erected an electric-light plant of twelve hundred candle-power, and thus illuminates the hotel and business houses. These two enterprises have proven of great practical benefit to the town, and indicated the progressive spirit of the owner. In addition to his hotel property, Mr. Crete also has a number of buildings in Silver City, and in connection with his brother Fred owns the San Tuan group ; and the Banner group of mines is owned by John Crete, Sr., Fred Crete, Jr., and Robert Leonard, Sr.

In his political views Mr. Crete is a Democrat, and though well informed on the issues of the day and interested in the success of his party has never sought office. He has taken the Royal Arch degrees of Masonry, is past master of the blue lodge and has held nearly all the offices in the chapter. He also belongs to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He came to America with the hope of bettering his financial condition, a hope that has been more than realized: and by taking advantage of opportunities and by unabating energy and good management he has won a handsome competence and is now numbered among the substantial citizens of Owyhee County. As the genial proprietor of War Eagle Hotel he has a wide acquaintance and is popular in all classes.


Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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