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Lewis J. Crans

L. J. Crans, one of the best-known attorneys and an early settler of Cloud county, is a native of Philadelphia. The date of his birth was January 26, 1826. He is a son of Peter and Harriet (Lewis) Crans. His father conducted a boot and shoe business in the early days of Philadelphia. He was a native of Orange county, New York, and was a soldier in the war of 1812. His family were numerous in New York; his ancestry were of German and Dutch origin and belonged to the early settlers of that section of the country. The paternal homestead went into the hands of the distinguished William A. Seward, who was a relative by marriage. The maternal ancestors were of English and Irish origin. His grandparents died when our subject was a mere child.

Mr. Crans is the eighth of a family of nine children and with the exception of one, all lived to ripe old age. He has one unmarried sister living, who is ten years his senior; her residence is in Philadelphia. Mr. Crans' last brother, Peter, died about two years ago at the advanced age of eighty-six years. With the exception of a brief time in Kansas this brother spent the greater part of his life in the city of Philadelphia.

Mr. Crans received his education in the public schools of the Quaker City and graduated as a member of the second class from the Central high school and subsequently had conferred upon him by that institution the degree of master of arts. After his graduation he took up the study of law in the office of his brother, Peter Crans, but before his admission to the bar he removed to the town of Kirbysville, Pennsylvania, where he engaged in lumbering and mercantile business. Mr. Crans was admitted to the bar at Clearfield in the early fifties. He was unanimously elected district attorney of Clearfield county, and devoted his entire attention to the practice of law in that city.

In the year 1861 he removed with his family to Philadelphia, where he continued the practice of law. He has striven for success in his profession and has been well rewarded for the effort made to gain the top round of the ladder of fame. While engaged in getting forces into the field for Governor Curtin, not as a soldier, but as a private citizen, Mr. Crans, through an accident, lost the use of a limb, which entirely unfitted him for service and prevented him from entering the army, and through this circumstance, he removed to Philadelphia.

He later located in Jersey City and in 1871 emigrated to Concordia, Kansas, after stopping a short time at junction City, awaiting the opening of the land office at Concordia. From that date he has been actively engaged in the practice of law in Cloud and the northern counties of Kansas. His practice has been extensive and extended.

Mr. Crans was married on the 21st of July, 1847, to Margaret A. Peterson, a daughter of John and Naomi Peterson. Mrs. Crans' father was of Swedish ancestry who were early settlers on the Delaware river. Her maternal ancestors were among the English families who came over with William Penn. Mrs. Crans was born in Philadelphia.

Mr. and Mrs. Crans' family of six children were all born in Clearfield, Pennsylvania. Five of their children are still living.

Charles, deceased, unmarried. The others are all married and have families living in different parts of Kansas. One son, Merwin, is a resident of Concordia. A daughter, Margaret A. Richardson, with her two daughters, live in the home of her father. Mrs. Crans, the loving, faithful wife and devoted, unselfish mother, after many years of patient suffering, was called to her eternal home. The touchingly beautiful devotion of her bereaved husband was universally remarked. He moved his office to the residence that he might be constantly by her side. Had she been spared her family a few months longer they would have celebrated the proverbial golden wedding, a magic time, a consummation hoped for by congenial companionship. Her death occurred May 17, 1896. The family of Mr. Crans are members of the Protestant Episcopal church and while he is not a regular attendant of any church Mr. Crans has a reverence for everything good and holy.

In November, 1901, the semi-centennial of Clearfield, Pennsylvania, was celebrated and Mr. Crans was the only living man at that time who participated in the organization of that body. Concordia was in its infancy when Mr. Crans settled there in the early part of 1871. J. F. Hannam, who was then a farmer west of Concordia, moved Mr. Crans, his family and their effects to Granny creek (now White's creek), where he and several of his children had entered land, whereon they anticipated devoting their attention to agriculture only.

Concordia consisted of but a few houses, and a number of active and energetic men engaged in the erection of other buildings with a determination to establish a thriving business point. The whole country at that time was covered with a soft carpet of short buffalo grass and only a very few trees to break the view-a long stretch of level land, but to the eye of a farmer great possibilities were discernible. The greater part of the country was uninhabited and the soil produced very little for the support of the settlers. This drawback caused the necessity of Mr. Crans moving into Concordia in order to eke out an existence and where shortly afterward an accident opened up to him the means of support through his profession. He found himself a failure as a farmer and his family were not inclined to remain without him upon the lands they had selected.

A difficulty having sprung up between the citizens of the town and the county, which claimed the title to the land, Mr. Crans, at the request of F. W. Sturges, Milton Reasoner, A. A. Carnahan and others, proposed what was then commonly called "jumping" the town site. In 1873 Mr. Crans consented to act as attorney for the inhabitants in a contest against the Town Company to enable them to throw open to actual settlers the most of the land contained within the town of Concordia. He became associated with judge Sturges and Judge Carnahan. The Town Company abandoned its claim to what was yet government land, but through an arrangement between they local land office and the Town Company homesteaded and pre-empted claims for such lands as were entered.

The gentlemen named with Mr. Crans then entered contests and after a hard struggle before the United States land office, succeeded in securing to all the citizens and those who might afterward become such, the unpatented lands within Concordia.

Mr. Crans removed his family into the city, where he has continued to reside and always, not only as a lawyer, but a law-abiding citizen, with the welfare of his townsmen ever uppermost in his hopes, well knowing prosperous men make a thriving town.

Source: Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas: biographies of representative citizens; published 1903, 915 pgs.

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