Crain Family Papers

The Crain family resided in the town of Warren in southern Herkimer County (Cullen, New York), and maintained strong political ties and involvement in both New York City and national politics. Born on March 19, 1774, in Weston, Maine, physician Rufus Crain moved from Connecticut, and established a medical practice in Warren, Herkimer County, New York by 1794. In 1798, he married Philatheta C. Marshall from Colchester, Connecticut. Born August 31, 1798, the couple’s son (one son, two daughters), William Cullen Crain, married Warren resident Perses Narsina Tunnicliff in June 1826. The two had seven children (Philotheta Lucetta Crain Bowers,1827; Rufus William Crain, 1829; Dunham Jones Crain, 1831; Charlotte Ranzau Crain, 1835; William Baker Crain, 1883; Bianca Louisa Crain, 1844; and Richard Tunnicliff Crain, 1883). Born April 20, 1838, William Baker Crain served as a Union Army physician and surgeon from 1861 to 1865. Upon his return to Herkimer County in 1865, his father William Cullen passed away. Dunham Jones Crain was born February 28, 1831 in Warren, and married Hannah Ann Crocker on April 25, 1859. Dunham Jones graduated from Union College in 1850, practiced law with the firm Barney and Butler in 1854, and served as a New York State Assemblyman (New York City Fourteenth District) in 1858, and as President Rutherford B. Hayes’s consul in Milan, Italy, between 1877 and 1884. Born the first of seven children (Sarah N. Eliza Crain in 1862, Hannah Ann Crain in 1864, Christobelle Crain in 1867, Dunham Jones Crain II, 1869-1870, Davida Crocker Crain in 1872, and Edith Ranzau Crain in 1874 on May 25, 1860, Hannah’s and Dunham Jones’s son Thomas Crowell Taylor Crain studied law and entered the practice in 1884 with the firms Cochran and Clarke and Kenneson, Crain, and Alling. In 1890, he served as New York City mayor Hugh J. Grant’s private secretary, and earned a position the following February as City Chamberlain until 1893. That same year, he married Agnes Clarke in New York City. From 1904 to 1905, Thomas Crowell Taylor served as City Tenement House Commissioner, as well as the presiding judge over the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire case. Dunham Jones Crain died on May 17, 1909, and his wife Hannah Ann followed in 1914, while Thomas Crowell Taylor Crain lived until May 19, 1942. Other members of the family included William Cullen Crain II, Alfred Rufus Crain, Alfred Van Rensselaer Crain, and others, including several marriages into Herkimer County and New York City families like the Warrens, Bowers, Taylors, and Crockers.

This collection consists of correspondence, photographs, business ledgers, account books, day books, check books, and documents relating to politics, business, foreign affairs, and the family’s personal affairs, which not only offer a glimpse into nineteenth century rural life in New York State, but detail machine politics on a regional, state, and national level into the early twentieth century. Each member of the Crain family penned several letters to each other, as well as to a variety of political and business leaders from New York City, other east coast cities, and overseas. Also present in this collection are a number of business and governmental ledgers, as well as material associated with the Cullen post office and the establishment of the 1892 Church of the Good Shepherd in Cullen. The collection contains various photographs of both immediate and related members of the Crain family. Several published works belong to the collection as well, including a number of religious works and books published by and for New York State government personnel and politicians. Lastly, a variety of assorted personal, business, political, and other topical documents and some physical objects associated with the Crain family’s estate (Cullenwood), New York City real estate business, foreign appointments, finances and payments, and family and friends are present in several folders sorted by year and/or topic.

Collection owner: Utica College - Center for Historical Research