Norma Louise CRANE Hungerford


November 10, 2007:

     Gazette article on the P.O.W. camp ?  About twenty years ago John and I met a man ( through Rotary ), who I believe, lived in the Grand Ledge, MI area who had been there as a German P.O.W. during WWII and who later emigrated to MI because the people here treated the prisoners so  humanely -- unlike how his country treated Americans who were P.O.W. s. He also said that Michigan's topography and climate were similar to that of Germany.
     Did I tell you about Russell Skinner who lived on a farm northwest of our farm and how the nodmadic goat herders hid him from the Germans who were searching for him after their company was wiped out in North Africa?
     When I was 10 years old I used to write v-mail letters to Howard Beagle from Fennville who was a best friend of my brother Richard.  The paper was thin like an "onion skin" paper, went through censors, and had to be addressed to a common East or West Coast address for security forwarding.
     At our one room school Peachbelt School, we knitted scarves and mittens for the military, learned about victory gardens, and brought money to school to buy war bond stamps every Friday.  We sat in our front yard and watched and waved to convoys of American troops going from Fort Custer to Chicago and Westward.   And then there were the occasional "blackout drills' where we turned out all of the lights and and pulled down shades and hoped that enemy planes would never come to the United States -- or to Fennville, in particular.  I think that you were too small to remember any of this or the food stamps, clothing stamps, or the gas rationing --  but as the Older Citizen  ( that you thought me to be ), I do have to admit that I remember.

     My husband, John, as a thirteen or fourteen year old was a volunteer Civil Defense "plane spotter" on roof tops and high hills in Maryland where he grew up along the Potomac.
November 12, 2007:

     I had not researched my grandfather (John H. Crane ) to much degree as I focused on my grandmother ( Hattie Crane ) because she was the first white (  non-Potowatami ) baby born in Fennville ( Then Fenn's Mills ) and her parents: Henry Lee Blakeslee and Irene Fenn Blakeslee and her grandparents: Elam A. Fenn and his wife.
November 15, 2007:

     Referring to the 1895 plat map I have just received.  So interesting !  The J. H. Crane property of 63 acres was inherited by my Dad along with what may be the 40 acres across the road and to the East. The Eastern property was referred to as " the old place".  My Dad and his father J. H. Crane were in the fruit growing business together after my father, having graduated from Michigan State ( then Michigan Agricultural College ) and having taken a job with the State of Montana as a fruit inspector in the foothills of Montana. He returned to MI, married my mother and shortly after, Grandma and Grandpa moved into town; Mom and  Dad stayed on the farm.
December 13, 2007:

     About roller skating in Zeeland.  I didn't even know that there was a roller rink there.  We used to go to the one in Allegan.  Because my mother worried about us driving through the "pine plains" (the Allegan State Forest) at night, she would drive us and would take a book to read or something to sew on and sit in the bleacher section until we were ready to go home.  Quite often some cute boy or another would want to pick us up at our home and take us to go skating there and this gave our mother a chance to look those young men over and give or not give her approval.  She was very protective of us.  Sometimes we dated Allegan boys because it seemed that there were more females than males in our high school classes.
December 14, 2007:

     Reading Arthur Coxford's "Obit" was very interesting.  I knew that he had taught at one time at University High at the U. of M.  Did you know that Albert Crane's sister Shirley Crane Walton, (later Gallaher) taught at the U. of  M. Elem. School. About the same time I taught at The W. M. U. Elementary School  ( before I went up to the College of Ed to teach in higher education -- students undergraduate who were going to become teachers K-12 and Special ED ? Funny --  all three of us from small town Fennville and the Fennville Public Schools.  The Michigan Legislature closed all Campus K-12 schools in the state as a money-saving gesture at a time when educational innovation and research weren't as welcomed in the public schools.
March 15, 2008:

     History about our dad's name being just two letters, "U S" without periods after each letter. My father told me that his father John H. Crane really admired Ulysses Grant as a militant strategist  -- although not as a president and wanted to name Dad after him but did not want him to get stuck with a name such as Ulysses so just named him U S Crane. Dad was many times asked what the U and the S stand for and he would just say that it was his name and not initials for anything.
     Funny thing is that Mother was born Carolina ( pronounced Carolena and she later used Lena as her legal name ) In the family bible she was listed as Carolina Mathilda Miller, daughter of Carl and Mathilda Moller-- later "Americanized" to Miller, who were German immigrants  from Rugen Germany. Carl and Mathilda came to Kalamazoo where he had a sister and later settled in Decatur, Michigan with their older children.  My mother was born there. Her mother was pregnant with Mother's baby sister, Augusta when Carl became ill and died. Mother's older brothers had to help raise and support the young family.  My mother never forgot that. Her dreams of being a nurse were lost.  She and my father later sent Aunt Augusta through nurses training and my mother thought her dream would be realized through Augusta.  Not to be! Aunt Augusta died having  mastoid surgery while she was still in training.  Mother never really got over the loss.  My sister and I often talk about Mother going to the aid of anyone needing help in the community with food and supplies in case of illness or hard times.  Sometimes as children we went with her. Most people never knew all that my Mother and Dad did to help others. Later she went on to serve on the Douglas Community Hospital Board. Our parents taught us one of the most valuable lessons that we learned - - that of "Giving back".
March 15, 2008:

      U S Crane's father was John Hulse Crane b. April 22, 1858 Battle Creek, MI; d. October 16, 1939 in Douglas Hospital --  Douglas, Michigan.
    John Crane attended business school in Battle Creek and came to Fennville and opened the first general store, which later had the first telephone in the town.  He met and married Hattie Elizabeth Blakeslee, b.  June 20, 1862 the first white child (non - Pottawatamee Indian child) to be born in the then village of Fennsville.  The settlement had previously been known as Fenns Mills.
     Hattie Elizabeth Blakeslee was the only daughter of  Lydia Irene (Fenn) Blakeslee and Henry Lee Blakeslee.  Henry Lee Blakeslee had come to Fenn's Mills from Plymouth, Connecticut to work in Elam Fenn's lumber mill.  Elam Fenn had built a boarding house and had written back to the East Coast to hire workers from friends and family to come and clear the forest and saw the logs in order to build homes for the onslaught of new settlers.  Henry met "Irene" Fenn and they were married and had baby Hattie Elizabeth  b. June 1862 and who was named  Hattie to honor his sister Harriet back in Connecticut. 

      Henry L. Blakeslee and others from the area joined the Union Forces and marched off to try to push the Conferate Forces back as they  -- The Confederates -- tried to push further North. Henry was a member of  Company B,  The 19th Regiment of Michigan Volunteers.  He enlisted in Aug. 1862.  Baby Hattie was only a young infant but, as the story goes, and is related in the marvelous letters that he wrote to his wife : all the young men were going and Henry's brother back in Connecticut was in the Union Army so he thought that it was his duty to go and that he would be back soon.  And then they would go back to Connecticut for a visit so his family could meet her, "Irene" but they were purchasing land from her father Elam Fenn and would live in Michigan. Irene and baby Hattie lived with her parents so he felt that she would be well taken care of until he returned. Not to be ! !   Henry Lee Blakeslee was killed in the Battle of Franklin Ridge, Thompson Station, in 1863, Therefore, Baby Hattie never got to know her father.
     I treasure having been able to read Henry Blakeslee's hand-written letters to his wife and then hearing "first-hand" my grandmother Hattie's recollections of growing up.  Her father wrote wonderful tender letters to Irene expressing his turmoil over his decision to march off to war, leaving her and the baby when their future had been so bright.  He chronicles army life and its spirit of patriotism as well as its difficulties on an almost day-to-day basis  -- so much history -- names and places too --I almost felt as though I was there.  He was a true patriot.
      Irene eventually re-married, about 4 years later.  The man who sought her out was a Civil War friend of Henry's, named James George Reeve, originally from England.  He came to Michigan, won her heart and stayed in Michigan and he and Irene had six more children.

      Hattie was particularly close to her grandparents Elam Atwater Fenn b. March 2, 1821 in Plymouth, Connecticut; d.Dec. 19, 1898 and Mary J. (Barker) Fenn b.Aug 12 ___? in Bristol, Connecticut: d.May 5, ___? in Allegan, Michigan.  The Fenns eventually moved to Allegan (the county seat) to be near their son who was a lawyer there.  Elam Fenn became the village president of Allegan.
As far as the Fenns go:
     I have the lineage back to Elam Atwater Fenn's great grand-parents: Thomas b. 1707; d. 1769 and Christian Fenn of Litchfield Co. Connecticut. They had 9 children.

     Elam Atwater Fenn's  grandparents were : Jason Geains Fenn b.?  He was the 4th of 10 children  -- He was a Volunteer and Minute Man  in the Revolutionary War -- I (N. H ) understand that there were only 30 Minute Men ) and Mary Potter Fenn, of then, Plymouthtown, Connecticut. Jason was a seargent inthe 8th Company, 1st Regiment and his discharge date was 11-25-1775.  (Aside : my sister and I have papers verifying this as we are eligible for membership in the DAR "Daughters of the Ameroican Revelution" but neither of us have chosen to join.

     Elam Atwater Fenn's parents were :  Elam b. 6-26-1797; d. 8-24-1884 and Lydia Atwater Fenn  b. 6-17-1779; d. in 1873, both of Plymouth, Connecticut. They had 10 children.

     We always have been told that our first Fenn family members to come over from England came on the Mayflower but not on its first sailing.  I have the listing of those who came on the first sailing to Plymouth MA and, correct, they are not on that list. Haven't pursued later listings for the Mayflower.  Shall leave that for others to do, if interested.

      I have much more (with lots of strorie ) as I reasearched the history of Fennville when I was in college for a Michigan History class  assignment paper, of choice.