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Silas R. Crocker, Page 577
SILAS R. CROCKER, who deserves mention among the early settlers of Sheboygan County, of which he has been a resident for forty years, has not been noted for carrying out great enterprises, but rather for a quiet, honorable life, well worthy of imitation. He springs from old New England stock. His father, James Crocker, was born in Rutland County, Vt., April 2, 1782, and was married January 20, 1801, to Miss Margaret Leland, who was born in the same county, September 8, 1780. They removed from Vermont to Essex County, N. Y., in 1825, and to Sheboygan, Wis., in 1846. The mother died in the town of Wilson, this county, November 18, 1856, and the father in Sheboygan Falls, December 5, 1877. James Crocker was a carpenter and joiner by trade, and had the distinction of being one of the first in Sheboygan County to frame buildings by measurement alone, the old method being to fit every joint before the building was raised. Both he and his wife were active members of the Congregational Church, and in politics he was an old-time Whig. They had a family of eleven children, of whom three sons and a daughter are living. Orman resides in Warren County, Pa.; Silas R. is in Sheboygan; Emily, widow of Egbert Foster, makes her home in Sheboygan Falls; and James S. lives in that city.
Silas R. Crocker, whose name heads this sketch, was reared principally on a farm, but in his father's shop he learned the trade of carpenter, joiner and cabinet-maker. For several years he worked in the pineries of New York State during the winter season.
In Schroon, Essex County, N. Y., he was married, March 12, 1834, to Miss Minerva H. Knapp, a native of Chester, Warren County, N. Y., born July 19, 1815. Her parents emigrated in an early day from Connecticut to New York.
After marriage, Mr. Crocker farmed and ran a cabinet-shop for several years, living in Schroon, Crown Point and Willsborough. In 1853 he came to Sheboygan, and as work was scarce, he engaged in whatever he could find to do. He was first employed in a ship-yard, and worked on the first dredge that was used in opening the harbor at Sheboygan.
Soon after coming here, Mr. Crocker was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife, who died November 25, 1857, leaving eight children: Orthonette, who married L. E. Minott, and died July 2, 1982; Mary E., who is the wife of David Jenkins, a prominent manufacturer of Sheboygan; Watson D., who is President of the Crocker Chair Company, of that city; Ara D., Roger E. and Silas B., who are partners in the above company; Eva M., who is the wife of James M. Rait, of Minneapolis, Minn.; and Martha K., who is the widow of William Billett. All of the children except Mrs. Rait live in Sheboygan.
Mr. Crocker was identified with the manufacturing interests of Sheboygan for a number of years, being among the first to engage in that line of business. In 1866, he, with his eldest son, Watson D. Crocker, and I. V. Bliss, purchased the building on Pennsylvania Avenue known as the old Gurrey Hotel. They put in a sawmill in order to manufacture their own lumber (as none could be bought), preparatory to manufacturing chairs. They sent East for machines, which had to be made, thus causing a delay of three months. The same machines are now used by the Phoenix Chair Company. The factory was burned in 1874, since which time Mr. Crocker has not been interested in the business, though he has lent his assistance.
In religious faith, Mr. Crocker is a Methodist, having served both as Class-Leader and Steward. He has been a life-long Democrat, but has not transmitted his political principles to his posterity, inasmuch as all of his boys are Republicans.
Mr. Crocker was born in Clarendon, Rutland County, Vt., January 26, 1811, and though over eighty-two years of age is still vigorous in body and mind. His well-preserved manhood is in a large measure due to habits of industry and temperance.
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