Last Survivor of the War of 1812
Born in Frankfort, NY
Articles Contributed by Joanne Murray
From: Broad Ax (Chicago, Illinois) 2 June 1900
A Pensioner of 1812
One hundred years ago - a life as long as the century - is something that can be said of but a privileged few. Among those to whom such an age can be credited is Hiram Cronk of Dunn Brook, Oneida County, N.Y., and to him belongs the additional honor of being a veteran of the second war with Great Britain, the war of 1812, and, in fact, according to the report of Hon. H. Clay Evans, United States commissioner of pensions, the only living veteran of that war on the pension rolls.
Mr. Cronk first saw the light of day on April 29, 1800, at a humble home in the town of Frankfort, Herkimer County, N.Y. He came of sturdy Holland Dutch stock, of the family, which has become famous through its litigation to regain the Cronk estates in the fatherland. In the early childhood of Hiram the family removed to Wright Settlement, about two and a half miles from the city of Rome. There the family lived for about ten years, Hiram attending school and assisting about the "chores" on the farm. From Wrights Settlement the Cronks migrated to a farm near the town of Western, then practically a wilderness, and in that vicinity the subject of this sketch has spent the greater part of his life, having, in 1837, purchased about 110 acres of land, on which he erected a house where he now resides with his only living daughter, Mrs. Sarah A. Rowley.
[Sketch of Hiram Cronk]
While Hiram was still a beardless youth, and not yet 15 years old, his spirit was aroused over the issues of the war and he, with his father and two brothers, John and Jeptha, enlisted in the United States army and went to Sackett's Harbor, where he served for about 100 days. Hiram was so young and of such slight build that the other soldiers tried to joke with him, saying that if need be his father could pick him up and carry him to a place of safety. Such an act was, however, unnecessary, for in a skirmish with the British the youthful soldier carried himself so well and with such a military bearing that Capt. Davis, who had command of the troops, said that if he had a regiment of such soldiers he could go into Canada and fight the enemy on their own grounds. For his services Mr. Cronk receives a pension of $8 per month.
After the hostilities had ceased the Cronks returned to their home and Hiram took up the trade of an itinerant shoemaker, going about the countryside and repairing the footwear of the people at their own residences. He generally made the trip twice a year, and thus kept the farmers' pedal coverings in condition. At the time of the digging of the Erie Canal, Mr. Cronk was employed on the work, and later was employed on the construction of the Black River Canal, which joins the Erie Canal at Rome. When Marquis de Lafayette visited this country in 1825 he passed through the state on a barge on the Erie and stopped at Rome, Mr. Cronk stating that carpets were spread in the streets for the distinguished guest to walk upon as he landed at the warf [sic].
When 25 years of age Hiram met his fate and married her in the person of Mary Thornton, and for sixty years they lived happily together, her death occurring in 1885. Six children were born to them, five of whom are living, one son having lost his life in the Civil War. Of grand children and great-grandchildren Mr. Cronk has about a score. To reach an advanced age means to be the rule rather than the exception in the Cronk family. Out of a family of nine children, Hiram being the only surviving one, One sister died at the age of 98, and four brothers at the ages of 75, 9?, 93, and 97 respectively. Mr. Cronk is still hearty in appearance, and gets about the house as easily as many men thirty years his junior. He is quite deaf, but his eyesight still remains good, and up to several years ago he could read without using glasses. He is almost constantly chewing tobacco, and has had the habit nearly all his life.
Mr. Cronk cast his first vote for Andrew Jackson, and has continued to vote for the Democratic ticket on down through the years. He is a devout Methodist, and often while in conversation will start out in a fairly clear voice on some old familiar hymn. It gives him special pleasure to have anyone listen to his story of his conversion, and it is one well worth the time.
From: Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, West Virginia) 29 April 1905
Only Survivor of War of 1912 [sic],
New York, April 28 - Hiram Cronk, the only survivor of the war of 1812, will be 105 years old tomorrow, and a patriotic celebration has been planned for that date at his home at Ava, Oneida County.
Arrangements have been made whereby every Society in the United States of the Sons and Daughters of the War of 1812 will send a delegation to Ava on the old soldier's birthday. As Mr. Cronk is very feeble this will probably be the last time such an opportunity will present itself. Mr. Cronk was so weak during the winter that he was not expected to survive.
Of sturdy Dutch stock, Hiram Cronk was born in the town of Frankfort, Herkimer County, N.Y., and soon after was taken by his parents to Wright Settlement, near Rome. There, for ten years the family lived, Hiram attending school and "doing chores" about the farm. From there they moved to the vicinity of his present residence, where since 1837 he has lived. The fertile farm of 110 acres he now possesses was a wilderness when he built his cabin from which has been evolved the snug house in which he and his only living daughter, Mrs. Sarah A. Rowley - she past 80 - have habitation.
When Hiram Cronk was born, Thomas Jefferson was president of the United States, John Marshall Secretary of State, Oliver Wolcott Secretary of the Treasury, and Samuel Dexter Secretary of War. Although but a mere boy, his spirit was aroused over the issues of the second war with Great Britain, and, joining his father and brother, he went to Sakett's [sic] Harbor as an enlisted man in the army, serving for 100 days. So young and slight was he that the other soldiers joked with him to a place of safety. Their jesting was soon turned to admiration, however, for in a skirmish with the British the youthful patriot carried himself so well and appeared to such advantage that Captain Davis, then commanding the troops, complimented the boy publicly, and said that if he had a regiment of such soldiers he could invade Canada and fight the enemy on his own ground.
When hostilities had ceased young Cronk went home with his father and took up the trade of itinerant shoemaker, going about the countryside and repairing the footwear of the people. He covered his circuit twice a year, and stuck to his last until the building of the Erie Canal, when he sought work there, and afterward upon the Black River Canal, which joins the Erie at Rome. Cronk saw the Marquis de Lafayette pass over the canal in a barge of state, and in his day witnessed the changing order of the land, almost since the time it took its place among the nations of the earth.
At twenty-five Hiram Silas Cronk married Mary Thornton, and for sixty years they lived happily together, her death occurring in 1885. Six children were born to them. One son gave his life to his country in the Civil War. Grand children and great and great great-grandchildren are counted to Hiram Silas Cronk by the score, and today a small army of them arrived at the old ancestral home.
When Andrew Jackson was a candidate for the presidency, Hiram Cronk voted for him. In religion he is a devout Methodist and still able to carry the tune of the old, familiar hymns in a fairly good voice. Although deaf, his eyesight is remarkable, and he is yet able to read clear print with the aid of glasses. He is an inveterate user of tobacco, and chews almost constantly.
Despite newspaper stories to the contrary, Mr. Cronk is not able to plow a ten-acre lot before breakfast, nor does he saw and split all the wood for the family use, but he is remarkably hale for his years, walks with the aid of a cane and evinces an interest in current affairs. He is the only original pensioner of 1812, drawing $12 monthly until his one hundredth year, when congress increased it to $25. Some years ago the legislature of New York voted him a pension of $72 a month, and with an additional small income from his farm, he manages to live very comfortably.
The story of the times of Hiram Silas Cronk is the story of the development of the nation. He is the last of the patriots of 1812. The last link connecting the simplicity of Jefferson's day with the strenuous complexity of the present.
From: The Washington Post (Washington, DC) 30 April 1905 [An advertisement]
Last Survivor of War 1812
Mr. Hiram Cronk, of Ava, N.Y., who was mentioned in General Orders for bravery at the Battle of Sackett's Harbor, states that he is kept strong and well by Duffy's Pure Malt Whiskey.
"Thanks to Duffy's, I am able to be out every day and take quite extended tramps in the severest weather."
On being interviewed, Mr. Cronk said: For many years Duffy's Pure Malt Whiskey has been my only medicine. I take a dessertspoonful of the tonic three times a day with my meals, and when I go to bed. Although we have severe weather where I live, I am able to be out every day, and I take quite extended tramps. I am thankful to "Duffy's" for it gives me a good appetite and keeps me strong and well in my old age.
Mr. Cronk is famous the country over for being the sole survivor of the war of 1812. He served in the 157th Regiment Volunteers; fought with distinction throughout the war of 1812, and at the Battle of Sackett's Harbor was mentioned in general orders for bravery. Three years ago congress raised his pension from $12 to $25 a month, and last year the New York aldermen voted to give a public funeral whenever he may die. Mrs. Sarah A. Rowley, his daughter, writes that in spite of the fact that the grand old man is 105 years old, he is keen in mind and rugged in health, thanks to Duffy's Pure Malt Whiskey.
From: The Washington Post (Washington, DC) 14 May 1905
Last Survivor of 1812 War
Ava, NY, May 13 - Hiram Cronk, the only survivor of the war of 1812, died today at the age of 105 years.
Hiram Cronk for years occupied a unique place in American History. As the last survivor of the first foreign war in which his country engaged after securing its independence, he had been honored by the national government and by his native state as well. The aged veteran also had another unique distinction. Months before his death, and when he pronounced himself to be in almost perfect health, despite his more than 104 years, the board of aldermen of New York City outlined and practically perfected elaborate plans for disposition of his body after death. Signal honors were to be shown him according to these plans, and even the spot where his body would find its last resting place was selected.
Born at Frankfort, Herkimer County, N.Y. on April 29, 1800, Hiram Cronk became a member of Capt. Edward Fuller's Company of the 157th infantry when only a little more than fourteen years of age. His term of service was short, however, scarcely five weeks, and nearly all of it was spent in camp near Lake Ontario. He had hardly "smelled powder" up to that time. On the day following his discharge, however, while at Watertown on his way to his home, there came the sounds of cannonading at Sackett's Harbor, where a British warship was bombarding the fortifications. In less than a month he was back in the ranks serving with his father, James Cronk, and his brothers, John and Caspar, at Sackett's Harbor. There he served forty days as a private, assisting in the construction of barracks. In November 1814, he was honorably discharged from the service.
At the close of the war Mr. Cronk learned the trade of shoemaker, at which he gained a livelihood for many years. He was married in 1825 to Miss Mary Thornton, of Western, NY, and they lived together for sixty years on the old farm in this town. They had seven children. During the last years of his life Mr. Cronk received from the state of New York a special pension of $72 per month, in addition to the pension granted by the federal government to all survivors of the war of 1812. He was an honorary member of Fort Stanwix chapter, Sons of the Revolution, and also of the State and National chapters.
Under a resolution passed by the New York City board of aldermen in December of last year, the body of Mr. Cronk will lie in state in the City Hall there, and will be buried in Mount Victory, Cypress Hill Cemetery, in Brooklyn, where more that half a hundred of his fellow soldiers in the war of 1812 have been laid at rest.
From: The Washington Post (Washington, DC) 18 May 1905
Honor Cronk's Memory
New York, May 17 - The body of Hiram Cronk, who lived to be the last survivor of the war of 1812, was brought here today from Boonville, N.Y. and will be laid away in Cypress Hills Cemetery with full military honors. The funeral will be held tomorrow, and in the meantime the body will lie in state in City Hall.
Accompanying the body were Mr. Cronk's three surviving sons and one daughter. They were Philander Cronk, eighty-one years old; William, seventy-two years old; John, sixty-six years old; and the daughter, Mrs. Sarah Rawley, seventy-one years old.
As the funeral cortege moved from the Grand Central Station to the City Hall it afforded an imposing and unusual spectacle. Led by a police escort of mounted and foot officers, a detachment from the United States regular army, the Society of 1812, and the Old Guard, in uniform, came the hearse bearing the old warrior's body. Around it, in hollow square formation, marched the members of U.S. Grant Post, G.A.R. Then followed the Washington Continental Guard, of New York, and the Minutemen of Washington, D.C., the Army and Navy Union, and carriages with members of the Cronk family. Carriages with Mayor McClellan and members of the city government brought up the rear.
The body will lie in state at the City Hall until tomorrow, when a second cortege will proceed to Cypress Hills Cemetery. The body will be buried in the Mount of Victory, where sixty other veterans of the war of 1812 have been laid at rest.
From: The Washington Post (Washington, DC) 19 May 1905
Funeral of Hiram Cronk
New York, May 18 - The body of Hiram Cronk, the last veteran of the war of 1812 to pass away, was buried today in Cypress Hills Cemetery with impressive military honors.
From the City Hall to the cemetery the body was escorted by a detail of mounted police, the Fourteenth Regiment, and a troop from the Second Brigade, National Guard, New York, delegations U.S. Grant Post G.A.R., and from the Veteran Corps of the war of 1812, and carriages containing relatives of the dead soldier and a committee from the board of aldermen representing the city. All along the route over which the funeral cortege passed the streets were lined with people. At the cemetery, Marcus B. Taylor, chaplain of the Veterans Corps of the war of 1812, conducted the burial service according to the Grand Army ritual.
Thousands of persons, thinking that the body was still at the City Hall, visited that building long after the funeral cortege crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. The crowds grew to such proportions that additional police were called to preserve order. It was estimated that during the noon hour 10,000 persons visited the building.
From: New York Military Equipment Claims, War of 1812, Page 124