Col. John Crane

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Col. John Crane

Birthdate: (60)
Birthplace: Milton, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Death: August 21, 1805 (60)
Whiting, Washington County, Maine, United States
Place of Burial: Whiting, Washington, Maine
Immediate Family:

Son of Abijah Berah Crane and Sarah Crane
Husband of Mehitable Crane
Father of John Crane, Jr; Charlotte Crane and Mehitable Crane
Brother of Miriam Crane
Half brother of Abijah Crane, Jr.; William Crane and Sarah Crane

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Immediate Family

About Col. John Crane

Participant in Boston Tea Party at age of 29; one of two dressed as "an indian". Later a colonel in the Revolutionary War.

From a historical record: For the following sketch I am indebted to the Hon. William Eustis, a highly respectable surgeon in the hospital department during the revolutionary war: COLONEL JOHN CRANE, AND OTHERS. The mechanics of Boston and its vicinity may take a just pride in having furnished from their ranks some of the bravest and most useful officers of the revolutionary army, and, among them, no one more brave or more useful than John Crane. In adverting to the sources whence they derived their knowledge of discipline and of service, our first object is to show, from facts and experience, the utility and importance of a well-organized militia, and to defend this invaluable institution from the reproaches of the ignorant and assuming, who would sap the foundation of the national defence; and secondly, to inspire the young mechanics with zeal in the military profession, that like their predecessors they may become the able and substantial defenders of their country. Previous to the war of the revolution, there was in Boston a company of artillery, commanded by Captain Adino Paddock, by profession a chaise-maker. It was composed principally, if not altogether, of the mechanics of Boston, and was distinguishing by its superior discipline, by the exactness of its manoeuvres and the accuracy of its firings. Paddock had tory connexions, adhered to the British, went to England, was consulted repeatedly by the British ministry, and was invested with the military command of the island of Guernsey. In this company were raised Colonel John Crane, Colonel (now General) Ebenezer Stevens, with others, all of whose names are not recollected. Crane and Stevens were house-carpenters, Perkins was a shoe-maker, Seward a hatter, Popkins a tailor, Allen a sail-maker, Carnes a rope-maker, Lillie a cooper, Johnson a painter, Treat a cooper, Burbeck a -, Hall a mason, D. Bryant a chair-maker, Cook a butcher, Thomas a cooper, and Allen a sail-maker. The greater part of these with others formed a regiment of artillery, not exceeded in discipline, valor, and usefulness by any regiment in service. Crane was made a major in 1776. An uneducated man, he had all the pride and ambition of a soldier. He was constitutionally bold and daring, courting danger wherever it was to be found. In 1775, when Boston was beseiged, his station was in Roxbury. On Boston neck a breastwork was constructed, and so soon as cannon could be procured they were mounted. Crane had the command, spent a great part of his time there, and was never more delighted than when he was permitted to fire on the British intrenchment. Our stock of powder was then small. It was on this theatre that he first displayed an undaunted courage, and a knowledge of the art of gunnery, not often displayed by old artillery officers. He repeatedly dismounted the cannon in the embrasures of the British works, killing and wounding their men. After the evacuation of Boston, he marched to New York. Whenever a British ship-of war appeared in the East or North rivers, or any firing was heard, Crane was on horseback, and galloped to the scene of action. Being reproached on an occasion when he exposed himself alone, riding through Greenwich-street, under the constant broadsides of a passing ship, he replied, "The shot is not cast which is to kill me." Not long after, a frigate run up the East river, and anchored on the Long Island side, near Corlaer's Hook. Four field-pieces were ordered to annoy her. They were only six-pounders. Crane, as usual, was present, and pointed the pieces. His sight was remarkably true - his aim was sure. He had from habit and the acuteness of his vision the faculty of seeing a cannonball on its passage through the air. A falling shot from the ship he kenned in a direction to strike him, as be thought, the lower part of his body. Not having time to change his position in any other way, he whirled himself round on one foot; and the ball struck the other foot while raised it in the air, carrying away the great toe and ball of the foot. Thus ended his usefulness for the campaign. He was afterwards removed to New Jersey, and, surviving the perils of a partial jaw-lock, so far recovered as to go home on furlough. He returned the next spring, and continued in service till the peace. The nature of this work will not allow us to follow him through the remainder of his career; but we cannot refrain from stating a closing anecdote, illustrative of his independent spirit. He had been among the number of those who thought the army had been neglected by the country, and spake as he felt, indignantly, at the treatment they had received. A board of general and field officers, with two hospital surgeons, were appointed to examine the wounded officers and soldiers in camp at the close of the war, and to report the rate of compensation to which they were severally entitled. A friend and brother-officer, who well knew the nature of his wound, waited on Colonel Crane, represented to him that, on his return to private life, his activity of mind and body would lead him to some kind of labor, and that having lost the ball of his foot, the bones would come through the cicatrix (scar tissue), and his wound open again, asking the favor of him to walk over, and suffer his foot to be inspected. Stamping the wounded foot on the floor, he replied, indignantly, "No sir; they never shall say that I eat their bread when I have done serving them." He entered afterwards on active and laborious business, and prospered for a number of years, met with adverse circumstances, his wound broke out again, he could no longer labor. After many years he came to the friend who had admonished him of the consequences of his wound, and said to him, with tears in his eyes, "My friend, I am now a humbled man, you may do with me as you please." He was immediately placed on the pension-list, but did not live a year to enjoy his pension. JOHN CRANE, Colonel of the Massachusetts regiment of artillery in the Continental line of the Revolutionary army, was born in Milton, Mass., 7th December, 1744, and died in Whiting, Maine, 21st August, 1805. His education was scanty. In 1759, when only fifteen years of age, his father, Abijah was drafted as a soldier in the French war. John offered to go in his father's stead, and was laughed at on account of his youth. Nevertheless, the boy went and proved himself a brave lad, saving the life of a lame fellow-soldier, who had fallen when pursued by a party of Indians, at St. John's. He came to Boston in early life, married, and established himself in business as a house carpenter,—his house and shop being in Tremont Street, opposite Hollis. He assisted Major Paddock in setting out the elm trees on the Tremont Street mall, about the year 1765. These trees were old acquaintances of Crane's, having, like him, been transplanted from Milton. Naturally enough, in one of his ardent temperament, he at once identified himself with the active Sons of Liberty. One of the famous tea party, his career came near being permanently ended by the fall of a derrick, used in hoisting out the tea, which, falling upon him, knocked him senseless. His comrades, supposing him killed, bore him to a neighboring carpenter's shop, and secreted the body under a pile of shavings. They afterwards took him to his home, where good nursing and a strong constitution, soon brought him round. The late Colonel Joseph Lovering, who lived opposite to Crane, used to relate that he held the light on that memorable evening, while Crane, and other young men, his neighbors, disguised themselves for the occasion. House building and other branches of industry having been paralyzed by the "Boston Port Bill," Crane, with his partner, Ebenezer Stevens, (also one of the tea party,) went to Providence, R.I., where they followed their business with success, until the war broke out. Both had been members of Paddock's artillery company, a corps famous for having furnished a large number of valuable officers to that arm of the service in the Revolutionary army, among whom may be named John Crane, Ebenezer Stevens, William Perkins, Henry Burbeck, John Lillie, and David Bryant. Crane had been commissioned by Governor Wanton, captain-lieutenant of the train of artillery of the colony of Rhode Island, December 12, 1774, (barely one year after the destruction of the tea,) and immediately after receiving the news of the battle of Lexington, he was made captain of the train attached to the Rhode Island "Army of Observation," commanded by General Nathaniel Greene. Crane's command, "all well accoutred, with four excellent field-pieces marched, in the latter part of May, to join the American army near Boston. They made a very military appearance, and are, without exception, as complete a body of men as any in the king's dominions." Stevens was a lieutenant in this company. Possessing a remarkably keen vision, Crane was exceedingly skilful as an artillerist, a talent he had frequent opportunities to display during the siege of Boston. Early in the morning of July 8, 1775, Majors Tupper and Crane, with a number of volunteers, attacked the British advance guard at Brown's House, on Boston Neck, (near the corner of Newton Street and Blackstone Square,) routed them, and burned two houses. This was regarded as a brave and well-executed affair, and is noteworthy as being the only hostile encounter that has ever taken place in the old limits of Boston. During the siege he was stationed at the Roxbury line, and was engaged in several skirmishes on the islands in the harbor. Commissioned major of Knox's regiment, January 1, 1776, he accompanied the army to New York, and while cannonading a British frigate which was passing his batteries at Corlaers Hook, was severely wounded by a cannon ball, which carried off a part of his foot, disabling him for several months, and finally causing his death—the wound having closed. He raised in Massachusetts, in 1777, the 3d regiment of Continental artillery, which he commanded till the war ended, when he was brevetted a brigadier-general, (October 10, 1783,) his commission as colonel dating from January 1, 1777. This corps, officered chiefly from those who had been trained under Paddock, Gridley and Knox, was not exceeded in discipline, valor, and usefulness by any in the service. It was principally employed with the main army, and was an essential auxiliary in the most important operations. Portions of it were also with Sullivan in the Rhode Island campaign, with Gates at Saratoga, and in the heroic defence of Red Bank, on the Delaware. After the peace, Crane formed a partnership with Colonel Lemuel Trescott, in the lumber business, in Passamaquoddy, Maine, in which they were unsuccessful. The connection was soon dissolved, and Crane finally settled in Whiting, Washington County, Maine, where he had a grant of two hundred acres of land, for his Revolutionary services, from the legislature of Massachusetts. Colonel Crane was five feet eight inches in height, stout and thick set. He possessed great energy, resolution and courage, and at critical moments was perfectly cool. In 1790, he was commissioned judge of the Court of Common Pleas, by Governor Hancock. While at the lines on Boston Neck, Crane aimed a ball at a house near his own, belonging to Rev. Dr. Byles, the Tory, but succeeded only in knocking the ridge pole from his own dwelling. He became a Freemason in 1781, joining an army lodge at West Point, and was also a member of the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati. Colonel Crane, in 1767, married Mehitabel Wheeler, believed to have been a sister of Captain Josiah Wheeler, a member of the tea party. His three daughters married three sons of Colonel John Allan, who, with his Indian allies, rendered valuable service to the patriot cause in protecting throughout the Revolutionary war, the exposed north-eastern frontier. William Allan, who married Alice Crane, was the grandfather of George H. Allan, of Boston, from whom many of the above facts have been derived, and who has made extensive collections relative to the Allan and Crane families. DAR #A027425

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Col. John Crane's Timeline

December 2, 1744
Milton, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States
Age 23
Age 34
Age 37
August 21, 1805
Age 60
Whiting, Washington County, Maine, United States
Whiting, Washington, Maine