Edward Cranz Farm

Edward Cranz Farm


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The Cranz Farm, like all the farms in the Connecticut Western Reserve, was originally owned by the Connecticut Land Company, a group of eastern investors. After previous owners, Edward Cranz and his wife, Louisa purchased the property in 1865.

About Edward Cranz Farm

The Edward Cranz Farm is set atop a plateau on the north side of Oak Hill Road in Peninsula, Ohio, on land he purchased in 1865. There are six buildings on the property that contribute to the historic landscape: the farmhouse, chicken coop, smokehouse, tool shed, carriage house and pole barn.

The house, built by Edward Cranz in 1867, has undergone numerous additions over the years. In 1890, Edward constructed a west wing. In the 1970s, owner Donald Springer added several additional wings to the west (rear) of the nineteenth-century structure, nearly doubling the size of the house.

The Cranz Farm, like all the farms in the Connecticut Western Reserve, was originally owned by the Connecticut Land Company, a group of eastern investors. This property was first acquired from the Connecticut Land Company by James Burr. Shortly after that sale Simon Perkins, who had a land office in Warren, Ohio, purchased the property in 1829. He, and probably his son of the same name, retained it until 1862.

Early settlers and observers of the landscape preferred the Cuyahoga Valley bottomlands to the upland plateaus. This may explain why the property which would become the Cranz Farm was not purchased by a farmer until well after the initial settlement of the valley areas in the first decades of the nineteenth century. In 1862 the property was sold again to John H. Jones. In 1864, it was purchased by Libbens Point, who sold it the following year to Edward Cranz, the first farmer to purchase the property.

Cranz was born in Württemberg, Germany, and came to America when he was eleven. He spent much of his youth on his father's dairy farm in a new German settlement in Winesburg, Ohio. As a young man he was apprenticed to a saddle and harness maker, and was later a merchant in Bakersville, Mt. Hope, and Winesburg, Ohio. In 1865, he and his wife, Louisa, bought the land just a short distance from the farm purchased the year before by his brother William. Cranz completed construction of the house on the property in 1867, and in 1890 he expanded with the addition of a west wing.

The population census for 1870 indicates that Cranz, who was then forty-seven years old, operated the farm with the help of his sixteen-year-old son Albert, his wife, Louisa, and his eldest daughter, Wilhelmine.

In 1895, Edward and Louisa Cranz sold the farm to their second son, Edward, Jr., but remained on the farm for the rest of their lives. Edward, Sr., was seventy-seven, and past the prime of life, so a seventeen-year-old named Parkins King boarded with the Cranz's to help Edward, Jr., and his wife Malinda continue operating the dairy and sheep farm. King was not the first paid laborer on the farm, however, for Edward, Sr., had employed a man thirty years before. Counting King, Edward, Jr.'s family, and Edward and Louisa, a total of eight people lived on the farm in 1900. The number was reduced to seven in 1901 when Edward, Sr., died of pneumonia. That year, Edward Jr. acquired ownership of the farm.

Walter Cranz, son of Edward, Jr., and Malinda, acquired the farm upon the death of his father in 1924, but only after filing a $12,000 suit of Manifest Injury against his sister Louisa, who had apparently inherited the farm. Walter Cranz continued operation of the farm until around 1930, when he discovered that he could earn a living from selling gravel from the pit on the northeast corner of his property. By the 1950s, Walter was declared an Incompetent Person by the Summit County Court and Allen Johnson was appointed his guardian. On June 29, 1956, Johnson sold the farm to Celia F. Cranz.

Celia did not revitalize the tradition of family farming but kept her job as a nurse at a local hospital. She did, however, set to work cleaning, repairing, and adding modern plumbing fixtures to the house, which had fallen into disrepair during Walter's ownership. Between 1956 and 1968 she sold all but 17.47 acres.

In 1968, Kenneth and Gizella King bought the remaining 17.47 acres of the Cranz farm. This purchase included the house which Edward Cranz, Sr., had built, as well as the barns and outbuildings constructed during the lifetime of Edward, Jr., In 1971, Donald D. Springer purchased the property. Springer continued Celia Cranz's efforts to rehabilitate the deteriorating house during the 1970s. He also added several gables and wings to the west side of the house, and picture windows to the south side, which overlooks Ira Road. In addition. Springer restored the original front entry porch, which is one of the few surviving porches of its kind in the Cuyahoga Valley. Springer has used the farm primarily as his private residence, however, for a time he kept horses as a sideline to his full-time medical career.

The Edward Cranz farm has association with the Railroads, Industrialization and Scientific Farming era, 1851-1913, and represents one of the more prosperous farms that survived the period of Agricultural Decline and Economic Diversification, 1913-1930, in the context area.

Edward Cranz was a progressive farmer, as he maintained an active membership in the Summit County Agricultural Society. In 1872, he was instrumental i n selecting lands for the new fairgrounds in Akron.^ Data from the 187 0 U. S. Agricultural Census indicates that the farm was typical of many of the upland dairy and sheep farms i n the Cuyahoga Valley. The primary function of the farm was dairying and sheep raising. Cranz's 119 acres of improved land supported twelve cows, which produced milk for 400 pounds of butter and 200 pounds of cheese. As of 187 0, Cranz made his cheese and butter on the farm, instead of taking it to area factories.^ In addition to cows, the Oak Hill pasture land supported 33 sheep, which produced 340 pounds of wool. Cranz also raised a few hogs.

In addition to livestock, Cranz produced 18 tons of hay, 200 bushels of oats, and 400 bushels of corn, which could be used as feed.® The oats, however, may have been sold to his neighbor down the hill, Ferdinand Schumacher. Schumacher's Akron oat business, later to become the Quaker Oats Company, was a well-established business by 1870 (see Multiple Property Listing, Item E).

Cranz's other market crops included 300 pounds of winter wheat, 100 bushels of barley, and 60 bushels of Irish potatoes. He maintained a small orchard and a garden, which each yielded $25 worth of fruit and vegetables. Finally, twenty-five gallons of molasses were produced on the farm. These, in addition to the cheese, butter, and wool, were probably sent to market on the canal, and later the Valley Railroad, which was completed in 1880.

The Edward Cranz Farm is located at 2780 Oak Hill Rd. Bath Ohio 44210.

WRHS’s strategic master plan prioritizes the restoration of the Edward Cranz Farm, a mid-19thcentury farmhouse and outbuildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The property was nominated to the NRHP by the National Park Service in 1993 for its agricultural and architectural significance, especially for the period 1867-1930, and represents one of the more prosperous farms that survived the agricultural decline of the early 20thcentury.

WRHS will restore the farm to its original beauty and charm as the Cranz Farm Inn, a unique, historic venue for overnight stays, private parties, events, and organizational retreats. With relatively few spaces in and around the CVNP for overnight accommodations, the Cranz Farm Inn promises to bring local and out of town guests to Hale Farm, the CVNP, the Canalway Corridor, and northeast Ohio.

Western Reserve Historical Society is the oldest cultural institution in Northeast Ohio, the region's largest American history research center, and one of the leading genealogical research centers in the nation.

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