Biography of Arthur Fulton Cranston

Arthur Fulton Cranston. From time immemorial, the legal profession has attracted to its ranks a large percentage of notably brilliant men. When rightly followed it is one of the noblest callings, affording at once full play to Christian sympathy, and opportunities for helpful public service, and holding a mighty prerogative, that of instigating exoneration of and restitution to the wrongly oppressed, or the administration of just retribution to the guilty. It has no room or opportunity for the weakling, but the strong it strengthens with a keener insight to [p.2032] human thought and feeling, with a more accurate realization of the obligations and responsibilities that are civilization’s bequest to modern manhood.

Of the brilliant men in the legal profession of Southeastern Kansas, one of the best known is Arthur Fulton Cranston, of Parsons, legist, legislator, public-spirited citizen and influential republican politician. He was born at Urbana, Champaign County, Illinois, December 14, 1867, and is a son of Capt. W. W. and Jennie (Fulton) Cranston. The Cranston family originally came from Scotland, locating in Rhode Island during Colonial days, and in that state was born in 1804 the grandfather of Arthur F. Cranston, Christopher Cranston. Christopher Cranston became a pioneer of the Western Reserve of Ohio, where he settled on school lands and engaged in farming and the raising of livestock, being particularly interested in the raising of sheep. His death occurred on his farm in the vicinity of Woodstock, Ohio, 1859, when he fell from the loft of his barn. He was one of the substantial men of his day and locality, whose efforts assisted materially in the building up and development of his community and whose example was an influence for good among his fellow-citizens, by whom he was honored and respected. He married first a Miss Parks, and they became the parents of three children: Charles, a farmer and dealer in and breeder of fine horses, who died at Galesburg, Illinois; and Mary and Josephine, the last named dying unmarried. Christopher Cranston was married the second time to Irene Knott, who also died at Woodstock, Ohio, a granddaughter of Ethan Allen, and they had eight children, namely: Christopher, who met a soldier’s death on the battlefield of Shiloh, during the Civil war, while wearing a blue uniform; Lew, who followed farming in the vicinity of Woodstock, Ohio, and there passed away; W. W.; Nettie, of near Trenton, Missouri, widow of Mr. Harris, who prior to his death was engaged in farming there; Helen, who married Mr. Sykes, once mayor of Trenton, Missouri, where both died; Ann, who died at Trenton, Missouri, in 1880, as the wife of Mr. Perry Froman, who lives in Oklahoma; and Dr. Otto G., who is engaged in the practice of medicine and surgery at Wewoka, Oklahoma.

W. W. Cranston was born in 1838, at Woodstock, Ohio, where he received his education. As a young man he was interested in mercantile enterprises, beginning at the close of the Civil war. In 1861 he enlisted in the Sixty-sixth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry, with which he fought until the close of the war. He took part in some notable engagements, including the battles of Chickamauga, Antietam and Chancellorsville, and was with Sherman on his famous march to the sea and participated in the Grand Review at Washington. His service was characterized by bravery and faithful devotion to duty, and during the period of the war he rose from the ranks to be captain of his company. Captain Cranston was the recipient of a medal from Congress for distinguished bravery under fire. With three others, he crept out to a bullet-swept position and brought in a wounded Confederate soldier, who was carried to Chancellorsville church. Unfortunately the risk was useless, as shortly thereafter the church was set ablaze by shellfire and the wounded Johnnie Reb perished with many others, wearers both of the blue and the grey.

At the close of his military service, Captain Cranston returned to Ohio. In 1867 he went to Urbana, Illinois, and in the vicinity of that place, in Champaign County, purchased a farm. This he conducted until 1877, in which year he disposed of his interests and went to Gainesville, Texas, where he turned his attention to the cattle business on the open range. He bought and sold several ranches and remained in the Lone Star State until 1882, when he came to Parsons, Kansas, and located on a farm. In 1890 he retired from active pursuits, moved to the City of Parsons, and here passed his declining years in comfort and ease, dying at his home here December 7, 1907. Mr. Cranston was one of the most highly esteemed citizens of his community. He was a republican in his political views, served in the Kansas Legislature in the session of 1889-1891, and was for years a member of the board of school directors. He was a faithful member of the Universalist Church. Mr. Cranston married Miss Jennie Fulton, who was born at Urbana, Ohio, in 1846, and now resides with her son at Parsons. Three children were born to this union: Arthur Fulton, of this notice; Dr. Oscar; and Florence. Dr. Oscar Cranston is a graduate of the Kansas City Medical College, class of 1894, degree of Doctor of Medicine, and is now engaged successfully in the practice of medicine and surgery at Madison, Kansas. He is married and has two daughters, Dorothy and Mildred, both of whom are attending the public schools of Madison. Florence Cranston married Alvah Carter, who was engaged in the sale of school and church furniture up to the time of his death in 1903. Since that time Mrs. Carter has lived in Parsons, Kansas, as do the three children, Jean, who attends the Los Angeles High School, and Ruth and Aleene, who attend the public schools. Mrs. Florence Carter belongs to Hannah Jameson Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.

Arthur Fulton Cranston attended school in Illinois for two years, then was a pupil in the subscription schools of Texas, and in 1882 entered the public schools of Parsons, Kansas. In 1887 he enrolled as a student at the Kansas Agricultural College, where he displayed unusual ability by completing the four-year course in three years and was graduated in 1890. For the three years that followed he was a teacher in the public schools of Labette County, and in the fall of 1892 entered the law department of the University of Kansas, where, in the graduating class of 1894 he received the degree of Bachelor of Laws, in the same class being Fred Jackson, Judge E. L. Fischer of Kansas City, Judge Ruppenthal, Judge Raines, and Judge Hogan, of Jewell County, Kansas. Mr. Cranston began a general practice at Parsons in 1894 and since that time has steadily risen to a commanding position at the bar of Sontheastern Kansas. He maintains offices in the Karr Building. He resides at the old home, No. 1531 Stevens Street, and owns three other dwelling houses in Parsons.

Mr. Cranston has always been a republican, and is accounted one of the strong men of his party in Labette County. In 1898 he was a candidate for the legislature, but was beaten by a 200 majority by Doctor Gabriel. In 1908 he again ran for the legislature and was elected over Doctor Allison, his subsequent career in the house being an active and distinguished one in which he served on eight committees, including that to inspect state institutions, the Judiciary, the Labor Committee, of which he was chairman, First Class Cities, Mines and Mining, Penal Institutions, and Judicial Apportionment, and two special committees, one of which was to report on methods of economy for the state. He was interested in the State Bank Guaranty measure and railroad legislation, introduced a bill to raise from $10,000 to $25,000 indemnity for railroad employee meeting death in the line of service, and in every way looked after the interests of his constituents. He also introduced a referendum bill, and a bill to call a convention to draft a new state constitution, and both of these passed the House but were killed in committee by the Senate. In 1910 he ran versus P. P. Campbell for a seat in Congress in the primaries, but this was an insurgent year and he met with defeat, although he made fifty speeches in nine counties and prosecuted a most vigorous campaign. He has also served as clerk of the school board of Parsons for six years and was county attorney from January, 1913, to January, 1915. In 1907 he was a candidate for appointment as district judge of the Sixteenth Judicial District.

Mr. Cranston belongs to Parsons Lodge No. 117, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Parsons Camp No. 844, Modern Woodmen of America, of which he was clerk six years; Knights of the Maccabees, Parsons Tent, of which he was also clerk six years; Ancient Order United Workmen, Parsons; and the Anti-Horse Thief Association. Mr. Cranston is unmarried. He possesses one of the finest libraries, legal and otherwise, to be found in the city.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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