Biography of David O. Crane

David O. Crane. Of the men who have served Topeka in official capacities of importance and responsibility, few have won more fairly a reputation for fidelity than has David O. Crane, since 1884 superintendent of the Topeka Cemetery. In the thirty-two years that he has been the incumbent of this office he has labored efficiently and conscientiously to discharge its duties in a reverent and honorable way, and the mere fact that he has held his office during such a long period should be sufficient evidence of the quality of his ability and the worth of his service.

Mr. Crane was born at Easton, Pennsylvania, February 12, 1842, and is a son of Franklin L. and Mary Elizabeth (Howell) Crane. His father was born at East Windsor, Counecticut, January 10, 1808, and was a veteran of the Civil war, through which struggle he fought as a private of Company E., Eleventh Regiment, Kansas Volunteer Infantry. Franklin L. Crane, Jr., a brother of David O. Crane, was a private in that same war, being identified with Company G., Second Regiment, Kansas Volunteer Infantry. Doubtless father and son who fought for the Union inherited their patriotic military tendency, for David Crane, the grandfather of David O., was a soldier of the Continental line during the War of the American Revolution.

David Orville Crane received his educational training in the public schools of Easton, Pennsylvania, and Dobbs Ferry, New York, at which latter place he resided for four years. The year 1858 saw his advent in Topeka, where he attended school during that winter, and then started to prepare himself for his career as an apprentice to the printer’s trade, under the teaching of J. F. Cummings, at that time proprietor of the Topeka Tribune. He was so engaged when men’s minds were turned from their personal affairs to the great issues that were affecting the country, and May 14, 1861, enlisted from Shawnee County, in the three months’ service, as a musician, in Company A, Second Regiment, Kansas Volunteer Infantry, under Capt. Leonard W. Horne and Col. Robert B. Mitchell. The Second was recruited during May and was rendezvoused at Lawrence, was mustered into the United States service at Kansas City, Missouri, June 20th, and joined the brigade commanded by Major Sturgis, at Clinton, Missouri, which was attached to the division of Brigadier-General Lyon, near the Osage River, at St. Clair, Missouri.

The company of which Mr. Crane was a member was established in camp near Springfield, Missouri, where drilling commenced, and, after being put under the command of General Dietzler, the First and Second regiments had their baptism of fire at Forsythe, Missouri, July 22d. Subsequently, they moved south under General Lyon, and, on August 2d, engaged and defeated the enemy at Dug Springs, pursuing him to McCulloch’s Ranch. The enemy fell back to concentrate his columns into an unit, and the Second Kansas retired to Springfield, where a large and heavy supply train awaited it, this train having been so large and unwieldy as to preclude the idea of rapid movement without its abandonment. General Lyon determined then to attack at daylight, August 10th, and accordingly Colonel Sigel’s artillery opened the engagement of Wilson’s Creek, with the Second Kansas supporting Totter’s Battery on the extreme left of the Union line. During the first part of the battle, which was fought in a cornfield, the regular infantry fell back, but the Second Kansas covered the retreat with the aid of the battery mentioned and drove the enemy beyond the field. Colonel Mitchell fell, wounded, and General Lyon, himself twice shot, answered the call of Mitchell to lead the regiment. He had just turned to fulfill the order, with the words: “Come on, brave men!” when he fell, mortally wounded by a bullet in the breast. Lieutenant-Colonel Blair at once assumed command, and, after six hours of severe fighting, received orders to withdraw his troops. Feeling it impossible to retire at such a crucial moment, he held his ground for another hour and one-half, by which time the enemy’s fire had been completely silenced and he withdrew. The Second Kansas was the only regiment to maintain its line during this battle from first to last, but it was at the cost of one-third of its number. At the close of this engagement, the command returned to Springfield, and then went by way of Rolla and St. Louis to Leavenworth, Kansas, where it received orders to reorganize. Mr. Crane received his honorable discharge October 31, 1861, and reenlisted March 17, 1862, for three years’ service, as a private in Company A, Fifth Regiment, Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, under Capt. William F. Creitz and Col. Powell Clayton. This regiment participated in the engagement at Drywood, September 2, 1861; at Morristown, Missouri, September 17th, where Col. Hampton P. Johnson fell; at Osceola, where they attacked the rear of Price’s army and routed the enemy. Lieutenant-Colonel Clayton assumed command of the regiment in February, 1862, and in May of that year, the hard-fighting Fifth drove the guerilla hordes of Coleman out of that section of the country. On July 6th it routed an Arkansas cavalry regiment at Salem, Arkansas, and in the following winter engaged in several skirmishes with the Confederate cavalry near Helena, Arkansas. On May 7, 1863, the regiment joined the expedition of Colonel Clayton through the country to the west and south of Helena, destroying supplies, etc., and August 15th joined Colonel Steele’s Arkansas expedition. On September 10th it engaged the enemy at Little Rock, and October 25th was attacked at Pine Bluff by General Marmaduke, with 3,000 men and twelve pieces of artillery. Colonel Clayton had but 600 men to oppose this attack and nine pieces of artillery. After six hours of action the lines of the Gray were defeated at all points, the Confederates leaving the field in possession of Colonel Clayton and his brave men. Not long after this battle, Mr. Crane was transferred to Company H, Fifth Regiment, Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, with which he served throughout the remainder of the war. He was honorably discharged at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, July 19, 1865, and returned to his Topeka home.

David O. Crane had charge of the Topeka Cemetery from 1868 until 1871 under the direction of his father, who had for some years served as its superintendent. In the spring of 1871 the younger man removed to Osage City, Kansas, where he held the office of city clerk for eight years and that of justice of the peace for two years, and continued to live in the same city until the death of his father, November 17, 1884, since which time he has lived at Topeka and has had charge of the cemetery. Prior to November, 1884, there had been 3,857 interments, and at the present time the number aggregates 15,659.

On March 3, 1869, Mr. Crane was joined in wedlock with Anna S. Kay, of Topeka, whose brother, James T. Kay, had served in Company C, Eighty-third Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry, and was killed in battle during the Civil war. To this union there have been born four children, of whom three are living: Mrs. Mary E. Radcliff, Miss Anna S., and Franklin L.

Fraternally, Mr. Crane is affiliated with the Masons, in which he has taken all the degrees up to and including the thirty-second; the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; the Knights of Pythias; the Ancient Order of United Workmen; the Modern Woodmen of America, and the Fraternal Aid Society. He belongs also to Lincoln Post No. 1, Department of Kansas, Grand Army of the Republic. Mrs. Crane holds membership in Lincoln Circle No. 1, Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, and she and her daughters are members of Naomi Rebekah Lodge No. 95 and of the Order of the Eastern Star. Mr. Crane [p.1724] is a republican in politics and a man of high moral and religious principles. He was vice president of the Crane & Company, Printers, of Topeka, for a number of years, but owing to a continued illness, following a stroke of paralysis, resigned his office and since then has continued to give his entire attention, assisted by his wife and daughter, to the care of the Topeka Cemetery.



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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