John Martin Cronk

Biography courteously provided by Joyce Riedinger, Delaware County Coordinator.


JOHN MARTIN CRONK is a prominent citizen of Roxbury, Delaware County, N.Y. His birthplace was on the turnpike, about two miles from Grand Gorge; and he was born on May-day, 1847 only four months before General Winfield Scott captured the city of Mexico; and there has always been victory in his bones.

In our sketch of H.B. Cronk may be found further particulars of the Cronk ancestry. The great grandfather, Lawrence Cronk, was born in Germany, but early emigrated to America, and was a Revolutionary private, dying with small-pox then contracted. His son, Lawrence Cronk, who grew up in Tarrytown on the Hudson, in early manhood came to Delaware county, and kept a hotel in Roxbury. Afterward he went to Dutchess County, married Nancy Crary, and worked a few years at his trade of carpentry, which he had before learned. Coming to Roxbury again, he worked for J.C. Hardenburgh. Then he bought the farm of a hundred acres now owned by Merritt Davis, and devoting his energies, put that into excellent condition. Making another move, he bought the farm still known by his name. His last years were spent with his son, Edward Cronk. He was a firm Whig, though he lived to see the Republican party come into power; for he was ninety-three years old at the time of his death, in 1863. His wife also lived to be very old; and they had ten children-John, Sally, Nathan, Nathaniel, Polly, Hannah, Betsey, Phebe, Rosetta, Edward.

Edward Cronk received some education at the district school, and worked both on his father's farm and for the neighbors till he was of age. Then he hired a farm for himself, and at the age of twenty-five, in 1830 married Elizabeth Haner, the daughter of Martin and Elizabeth [Shoemaker] Haner. Mr. Haner was born in Dutchess County, but became an early pioneer in Greene County, clearing an estate of a hundred and thirty acres, where he spent the most of his life. Edward Cronk bought a farm of two hundred acres, which had been settled by Edward Jump. Thereon he built a new wagon-house and barn, and greatly improved the place, keeping at one time twenty-five cows. He had six children-Sarah, John Martin, Cornelia, Lawrence, Elizabeth, and George Washington Cronk. Their mother died in 1887, at the age of fifty-seven, in the Presbyterian faith; and Mr. Cronk then retired to the village where in the declining years, he quietly enjoys his Republican opinions, and needs no glasses to read the papers. John Martin Cronk worked at home, and went to the district school after the manner of other farmer's sons; but in 1861, just at the outbreak of our Civil War, when he was only fourteen years old, he went to work as a farm hand for David Smith, from whom for half a year he received as wages his board and four dollars. Thereafter he kept on in the same line , but with other farmers, till he passed his majority. In 1870, at the age of twenty-three, he was married to Mary Selleck, daughter of Solomon Selleck, a successful farmer in Gilboa, Schoharie County, who married Mercy Richtmyre, and who lives a retired life in the same town, though he lost his wife when she was fifty-eight. They had but two children. One was Pratt Selleck, who first married Cora Becker, and then Anna Burhance, and is a Gilboa farmer. The other child, Mary Selleck, became the wife of the subject of this biography, and has two children-Ina and Selleck Cronk, born in 1873 and 1875, and both still gladdening the home.

In 1887 Mr. Cronk bought the old More place of two hundred acres; and here in 1891 he built a fine new mansion in the village of Grand Gorge, where he has accommodation for nearly forty city boarders. He attends also to general farming, and a dairy of sixty cows. Besides his own production, Mr. Cronk buys the milk from fifteen other farmers, shipping it to New York. This business he has personally attended to for the past eight years. In politics he is a Republican, like his father, and like him also, is a Presbyterian in his religious convictions. In his life and character he illustrates what that great preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, once said,--"Vigilance is not only the price of liberty, but of success of any sort."


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