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  • Donna Hechler Porter

Benjamin Franklin Cruse (1861-1944), poss grandson of Jeremiah Crews and Elizabeth Harland

Part of a continuing series on the possible children and grandchildren of Jeremiah Crews and Elizabeth Harland. As usual, most of this information comes to me courtesy of Marian Kay Cruse Abbot.


Benjamin Franklin Cruse was the second child born to Zachariah Cruse and Rachel Lane. His grandparents were David Cruse and Jane Jewell. He was born in July of 1861 (3), three months after the official start of the Civil War in April of that same year. He is sometimes seen in records as B. F., as Ben, and as Franklin and/or Frank. For consistency, I will refer to him as Ben.

According to family tradition, Ben's parents, Zachariah and Rachel, died between 1876 and 1880 and within two weeks of each other (4). Ben would have been between 15 and 19 years of age. I do not know how much care he and his older brother John Cruse gave to their younger siblings, but in later years it was Ben's younger brother, William Thomas Cruse, that saw to his funeral arrangements after his death (4).

In 1880, eighteen year old "Franklin Cruse" was living in the household of Henry Lansing in Honey Creek Township in Vigo County, Indiana, He was working as a farm laborer. Henry Lansing lived next door to Alexander Moore (1) who has been mentioned in other places on this blog. Moore's sister, Edith Cruse, was married to James Cruse, son of David Cruse and Jane Jewell and uncle of Ben.

At some point, Ben left Indiana and moved to Illinois. In 1900 he was living in Macon, Maroa County, Illinois, in the household of William Cox. He was 38 years old, single, and working as a farm laborer (2).

For some reason, he is not findable in the 1910, 1920, nor the 1930 census. It is known that about 1918 he took a job as a night watchman for Penrod, Jurden and Clark which was a large lumber company in Independence, Missouri. He worked here for about 20 years before retiring about 1938 (7).

By 1940, Benjamin was living in Independence, in Jackson County, Missouri at 319 South Spring Street. He was renting this home and at 78 years of age he was still single. He had apparently never married (5).


He subsequently moved to 505 East Pacific Street (7). On 12 March 1944, his home burned and he perished in the fire (6). Benjamin Franklin's brother, Thomas Cruse, as well as Thomas' son, Walter Cruse, traveled from Rosedale, Indiana, to Independence, Missouri, to make Ben's funeral arrangements (4).

His obituary found in The Independence Examiner, 13 March 1944, page 3, reads as follows:

B. F. Cruse, 83 years old, was found dead in his little one-room home at 505 East Pacific Street by city firemen shortly after 7 o'clock Sunday morning, after the firemen had extinguished a fire in the place. The body was found on the floor between a stove and the south wall. Damage to the building and the contents was estimated at $150. According to the fire department report the fire was caused by a coal oil lamp. Pending funeral arrangements, the body was removed to the George C. Carson Funeral Home. Mr. Cruse was for twenty years a night watchman for Penrod, Jurden and Clark until his retirement seven years ago.

The Kansas City Times, 1 March 1944, page 6, column 4, reads as follow:

Funeral services for Benjamin F. Cruse, 84, of 503 East Pacific, Independence, at 10 o'clock Wednesday at the Carson Chapel, Independence. He is survived by a brother, William T. Cruse, Rosedale, Indiana. Burial will be in Wooodlawn Cemetery, Independence.

Sources:

(1) 1880 U. S. Federal Census, Vigo County, Indiana, Honey Creek Township, household of Henry Lansing.

(2) 1900 U. S. Federal Census, Macon, Maroa County, Illinois, household of William Cox.

(3) Census records point to year with consistency. The 1900 census gives the month.

(4) Research of Marian Kay Cruse Abbott.

(5) 1940 U. S. Federal Census, Independence, Jackson County, Missouri.

(6) Research of Marian Kay Cruse Abbott. She cites Missouri Death Certificates as the source.

(7) Obituary of Benjamin Franklin Cruse, courtesy of Marian Kay Cruse Abbott and found in The Indepedence Examiner, 13 March 1944, page 3.


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