Benjamin Crane is our family's first recorded ancestor, and first in Colonial England. There a lot we know about Benjamin and his life in the colonies, but there is no record of his arrival or birth and no record of parents or grandparents. We do know Benjamin had a brother named Henry, but he also has no clear historical record prior to 1655. It is possible he and his brother were apprenticed outside the home or that their parents had died or moved back to England.
Benjamin was married to Mary Backus, daughter of William and Sarah (Charles) Backus, April 23, 1655. The name Backus also suggests England as a country of origin. They had 9 children. In the years 1655 and 1656 Benjamin was involved in two lawsuits, in which he was the defendant. He was granted the status of Freeman May 12, 1658, which meant he could own land, become a member of a church and vote in civic matters.
Benjamin owned a tannery about a mile from Wethersfield, Connecticut on the Middletown road. According to E.B. Crane, the spot was known for many years as “Old Crane’s Tannery Place.” Benjamin died in 1691 at approximately 61 years of age and Mary died July 8, 1717, their burial location is currently unknown.
The following has been transcribed from “Genealogy of the Crane Family. Volume II.”
Crane, Ellery Bicknell. Genealogy of the Crane Family. Volume II. Pages 11-12.
1. Benjamin Crane, was in Wethersfield, Conn., as early as 1655, and may have been there a few years earlier. According to the Records of the Particular Court, held at Hartford, March, 1655, he is defendant in a civil suit with John Sadler, pltf.; also in June, 1656, he is defendant in another suit with Richard Montague. He was born about 1630; was made freeman May 12, 1658, at Wethersfield. It is not positively known from whence he came to Wethersfield, but Hinman in his “History of Connecticut Settlers” seems to think that he came from Massachusetts, which statement all investigations thus far seem to warrant. February 24, 1656, the town gave him a home lot of 2 1 - acres, more or less, bounded by the Common N. W., a brook and the home lot of John Graves N. E., the Common S. E., the highway S. W. He also bought John Dixon’s or Dickenson’s land in the West Field, Sept. 14, 1664. The latter is said to have removed to Hadley 1659 or 1660. It appears that this last mentioned tract of land was that on which the late home of Sam’l Coleman, deceased, “stands, on Mud Lane. It was there when Mr. Crane built his dwelling-house and tanneries. The house was one of the six houses fortified by vote of the town in 1704. The town also gave him three acres of land on Beaver, now Tando’s, Brook, in 1660; served as juror 1664 : drew land in the allotment of 1670, and purchased land of Daniel Rose, Dec. 8, 1671. January 15, 1673, he is rated among inhabitants of Wethersfield to pay the town 0-4-5-5 1/2; acquires more land next south of Job Whitcomb’s, February 22, 1680, March 25, 1680, July 13, 1680; under latter date the land is located on the Connecticut River on road to Middletown and road to Rocky Hill.
May, 1682, Benjamin Crane with others petitioned the General Court for liberty to “erect a plantation in the Wabaynassit country” (Windham County). It was proposed to have a “ Town Grant ” ten miles square.
He married Mary Backus, daughter of William and Sarah (Charles) Backus, April 23, 1655, and carried on the tanning business about a mile below the village on the Middletown road. The spot for many years has been known as “Old Crane’s Tannery Place.”
At his death. May 31, 1691, his son John succeeded to the business. She died July 8, 1717. Children:
2—1. Benjamin, born March 1, 1656; drowned June 20, 1693.
3—2. Jonathan, born December 1, 1658.
4—3. Joseph, born April 1, 1661.
5—4. John, born April 30, 1663.
6—5. Elijah, born 1665.
7—6. Abraham, born 1668.
8—7. Jacob, born 1670.
9—8. Israel, born November 1, 1671.
10—9. Mary, born 1673.
The following has been transcribed from “Fifty Puritan Ancestors.”
Nash, Elizabeth Todd. Fifty Puritan Ancestors, 1628-1660: Genealogical Notes, 1560-1900. New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Company, 1902. Internet Archive. Web. 2014. Page 93.
Benjamin Crane, son of John, born 1630, went to Wethersfield by 1658, and in 1662 was one of the petitioners to set out a plantation in Wapaquasset County (now Woodstock, Conn.), Juror in 1664.1
Henry and Benjamin engaged in the tannery business in Wethersfield as early as 1665 or earlier.
Benjamin Crane married Mary Backus, daughter of William Backus, of Saybrook, April 23, 1655.2
Benjamin Crane’s son, Jonathan, took charge of his father's business after his death and settled with the aid of his uncle, Henry Crane, the estate. He owned over five hundred and fifty acres of land and estate, valued at £640.3 Mrs. Mary Backus Crane died July 8, 1717.
Benjamin, b. March 1, 1656.
Jonathan, b. Dec. 1658; rem. to Windham; d. 1697.
Jose, b. April 1, 1661.
John. b. April, 1663; d. 1694.
Isreal, b. Nov. 1, 1671.4
1Hinman’s Puritan Settlers, p. 748.
2Old Houses of the Ancient Town of Norwich, p. 414.
3Crane Genealogy by Ellery B. Crane, p. 13.
4Family Records. Windham Records.