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Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs:
Cramer

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 997-999 of Hudson-Mohawk Genealogical and Family Memoirs, edited by Cuyler Reynolds (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 929.1 R45. Some of the formatting of the original, especially in lists of descendants, may have been altered slightly for ease of reading.]

Conrad Cramer was of German descent. He was brought up a farmer by his father, who was descended from Jurgen Cramer, of the second Palatine emigration to New York, in 1710. Conrad Cramer settled upon a farm three miles southwest of Schuylerville prior to the revolution. After the surrender of Burgoyne in October, 1777, the Tories and Indians from time to time made raids on the settlers. In May, 1799, they raided the neighborhood of Conrad Cramer's farm. He hastily packed a wagon with such comforts as one team could carry, and started southward. Night overtook them, May 14, 1779, at a tavern south of Schuylerville, but it was filled, and they were obliged to remain in their wagon. The following morning they continued their flight to about three miles south of Mechanicville, where they obtained a small house, and resided there until it was safe to return to the farm. It was during the night of May 14 that their son John was born.

(II) John, son of Conrad Cramer, was born near Bemis Heights, Saratoga county, New York, May 14, 1779, died in Waterford, New York, June 1, 1870, aged ninety-one years. He received a good education, and chose the law as his profession. About 1800 he opened his law office in Waterford, where he continued to reside during his long and eventful life. He became actively interested in politics, and during all his life was active in law, politics and business. He was an unswerving Democrat, and, elected a presidential elector, in 1804, cast his vote for the re-election of President Thomas Jefferson. He served three terms in the New York state legislature, 1806-11-14. In 1821 he was a delegate to the state convention for formulating a new state constitution, and was associated with Martin Van Buren, Governor Tompkins and Samuel Young. Although he was a man of wealth, he opposed the property qualification for voters, and made a strong speech against it, which caused Van Buren to remark to him as he took his seat, "Isn't that a little too Democratic?" In 1823 he was elected to the state senate. In 1832 he was pitted against the veteran congressman, John W. Taylor, who had served for twenty years in congress and been speaker of the National house. He was a very popular man in his district, yet after the hardest-fought political battle the district had ever witnessed, Mr. Cramer was elected, and in 1834 re-elected. He served in congress with James K. Polk and other distinguished statesmen during President Jackson's last term. He seldom took part in public debate, but was an influential member of the house, and usually got such legislation as he wanted. He was a close personal friend of Polk, and after leaving congress returned, at his friend's request, and aided him in his contest for speaker of the house. Mr. Polk was successful, and always remembered the assistance of his friend. In 1840 he was again a candidate for congress against Judge Linn, of Schenectady. The Whigs had carried the state in 1838, and after a hard battle Mr. Cramer was returned defeated by a small majority. Although he was now sixty he would not retire under the sting of defeat. In 1841 he was a candidate for the assembly and was elected. During the session of 1842 he carried through an election law that still practically remains in force. When President Polk was forming his cabinet in 1844 there was a bitter contest over the representative from New York state. Mr. Cramer sustained the claims of Governor William L. Marcy, and went to Washington, where his diplomacy resulted in Governor Marcy's being chosen for secretary of war. He was a natural leader, and exercised a powerful influence upon the politics of New York state for half a century, and for a longer period than any other one man. He would stand by his friends and would go equally far to overthrow an enemy. He probaby did more to advance the political fortunes of Martin L. Van Buren than any other man in the early times, but in 1844 they differed, and he used all his efforts to defeat Van Buren's nomination in that year. For more than fifty years he dictated every nomination made by the Democrats in Saratoga county.

When Fort Sumter was fired on, his patriotism was at once aroused and he headed a subscription in the town of Waterford with the sum of one thousand dollars to aid in raising volunteers. When the company marched from Waterford, under Captain Yates, for the camp at North Troy, John Cramer, then eighty-two years old, marched at the head of the column. His was not a life of political activity alone. He was one of the organizers of the Saratoga County Bank, a member of the first board of directors and afterward president. He was also an organizer of the Bank of Troy, and served on the first board of directors. He had many other business interests that need not be mentioned.

He married Mary H. Close, who died in Waterford prior to her husband's decease. Children:

  1. Mary, married the Hon. Edward Curtis, who was four times elected to congress from New York City prior to 1841; he was collector of the port of New York under President Harrison, and continued under President Tyler as long as his friend, Daniel Webster, was secretary of state. Mrs. Curtis was a passenger on the steamship "Ville Du Havre," that was lost with all on board a few years ago.
  2. Eliphalet, in the banking business in Wisconsin.
  3. George H., see forward.
  4. William E., located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; he was editor and proprietor of the Wisconsin, a daily and a weekly paper, of the city.
  5. John C., remained on the old homestead at Waterford; he was a justice of the peace, elected four successive terms from 1851 to 1871.
  6. Charles C., was considered one of the best linguists in the country; died in 1875.
  7. Harriet, married John K. Porter, formerly judge of the court of appeals.

(III) George Henry, son of Hon. John and Mary H. (Close) Cramer, was born in Waterford, New York, August 14, 1814, died at his summer home at Lake George, New York, July 21, 1900. He was educated in Waterford during his earlier years, but at the age of fifteen he was sent to New York, where he lived with his sister, Mrs. Mary Curtis, and there he was educated and married. After his marriage he settled in Troy, where he began his long connection with the business interests of that city. He was a worthy son of his great father, and made his influence felt in the world of business as the latter did in politics. He was interested in and president of the Rensselaer and Saratoga Railroad Company. In 1834 he bought an interest in the firm of Nazro & Green, the firm becoming Green & Cramer. They later absorbed the heavy iron business of Kellogg & Company. The firm was very successful and continued until 1852, when it was dissolved, Mr. Cramer retiring. He had large real estate and other interests in Troy. In 1865 the United National Bank of Troy was formed by the consolidation of "The Bank of Troy" and "The Farmers' Bank." He was a member of the first board of directors and later president. He was a man of great energy and force of character. He aided, by his voice and purse, all good causes, and was a potent force in the development of Troy. He was a Republican in politics and thoroughly alive to his responsibilities as a citizen. He was a member of the St. John's Episcopal Church and gave liberally to the support of the charities of which he approved. He married, November 21, 1839, Henrietta Knox Cannon, born in 1819, died September 9, 1899, at Lake George, New York, daughter of Le Grand and Esther (Boutin) Cannon. Children:

  1. Mary Curtis, married D. V. R. Johnson, of Albany.
  2. Henrietta C., resident of Troy, New York; member of St. John's Episcopal Church, and a tireless worker for charity.
  3. Le Grand Cannon, of New York; married Mary Wilmerdine, and has three children: Henrietta C., George Henry, William.

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