Biography of Frank Snow Crane

Frank Snow Crane, who had been a citizen of Kansas all his life, represents a family that had left its impress on Kansas affairs for fully sixty years, and is a son of one of Topeka’s most prominent business men, the late George W. Crane, whose life was a part of Topeka history, and is sketched on other pages.

Since the death of his honored father Frank S. Crans had been at the head of Crane & Company, one of the largest publishing and printing concerns in the Middle West. A son of George W. and Ella (Rain) Crane, Frank S. Crane was born in Topeka February 7, 1871. He may also be said to have been “born into the business” of which he is now the head, and with which he had been connected from early childhood.

His father believed that a boy should be taught some useful trade, and in practice of that belief Frank was put to work in the summer vacations from the time he was eight years old. Two summers were spent in the press room of his father’s printing office, while one summer was spent in the bindery and another summer in the electrotype and stereotype foundry.

His school records show that he was very quick to learn and he was only twelve years of age when he passed his examination in the high school. In those days boys seldom got into high school at such an early age, and the father again exercised his judgment in supervising the education of his son, and at his suggestion Frank apprenticed himself to learn the trade of compositor, with the idea of returning to school later. Having learned this trade and having worked for two years in the office as assistant treasurer, he entered the St. John’s Military School at Salina, Kansas, and completed his education preparatory to entering medical college. At that time he had no other thought or ambition than to become a surgeon, following the example of his honored grandfather.

In February, 1889, his father’s plant was completely destroyed by fire, though the business was continued until May, 1890, when the burden of the tremendous fire loss became too heavy and his father made an assignment for the benefit of his creditors. The assignee employed George W. Crane as manager, and at that juncture Frank left school and came home to assist in rebuilding the business and getting it out of the creditors’ hands. By 1893 satisfactory settlements were concluded with the creditors, and the business was once more under the individual ownership of George W. Crane. In 1895 the business was incorporated.

In the meantime Frank S. Crane had saved some money and had married and established a home of his own. He had also resigned his ambition to study medicine, and he bought an interest in the publishing and printing conesrn. From 1895 until about 1905 he was secretary and treasurer of the company. He also filled the position of superintendent of the factory, and in this capacity his previous training as a boy stood him in good stead, since he had worked in every department of the plant.

There occurred two important changes in the management in 1904. In that year Charles L. Mitchell, brother-in-law of Frank S. Crane, came into the company as assistant superintendent. In the same year occurred the death of Mrs. Charles L. Mitchell, and after her death George W. Crane began to arrange for his retirement from the active management, and during the last few years of his life the affairs of the company were practically in the hands of his son Frank and his son-in-law C. L. Mitchell. On the death of his father in 1913 Frank S. Crane was elected president and treasurer of the company.

Such is a brief record of the business experiences of one of Topeka’s best known citizens and business men. He takes due satisfaction in the part he had played in maintaining the state-wide reputation of this publishing and printing concern, and in developing and extending its service according to the modern needs and standards.

On October 3, 1894, he married Gertrude Smith. Their daughter Dorothy was born November 6, 1898.

Mr. Crane had a somewhat unique record in Masonry. In 1892, at the age of twenty-one, he became a member of Siloam Lodge No. 225, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and served the lodge in various official capacities. Two months after being raised to the grade of Master Mason he was appointed junior steward and served a full year in each appointive and elective office, becoming master and serving the lodge as such during 1899. In 1910 he was elected treasurer of the lodge and held that position a number of years. Other Masonic connections are with Topeka Chapter No. 5, Royal Arch Masons, Zabud Council No. 4, Royal and Select Masters, Topeka Commandery No. 5, Knights Templar, Abdallah Templs, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, and all the Scottish Rite bodies of Masonry. In 1909 he received the honorary degree of knight commander of the Court of Honor, and on October 22, 1915, was coronetted as inspector general, honorary thirty-third degree. Mr. Crane is also a member of Topeka Lodge No. 204, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Topeka Country Club and the Lakeview Fishing and Shooting Association.



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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