Thursday, October 15, 2009

Help with this would be appreciated ...

We're researching Caleb Crandell. The only place he is mentioned in connection with Watch Tower history is in a Yearbook article. We lack details, and we're unhappy with the state of our research. Here is the rough draft. If you can add details, please do so.

Rough Draft

The 1979 Yearbook says that Caleb Crandell of Crandell Corners, Ontario, was contacted by colporteurs in the late 1880’s. The Yearbook’s account says: “He accepted Bible literature and entertained the visitors in his home .... No study group was formed there at the time, but we know that Caleb made at least one trip to hear C. T. Russell speak at Massey Hall in Toronto.”[i] None of this is verifiable from issues of Zion’s Watch Tower, and one presumes that it is the product of an interview with family members. Family memories can be inaccurate, and the date assigned to his introduction to Zion’s Watch Tower may be too early. The known colporteur activity in Ontario dates from the early 1890’s.[ii]

Caleb was born July14, 1830, in Reach Township, Ontario, and died January 8, Jan 1907. He was the fourth son of Reuben and Catherine Crandell, the first white settlers in the Reach Township. The 1881 Census lists him as farmer, but “in reality he was a prosperous land owner having inherited much of the original land purchased by his father Reuben. He lived in an impressive house which still stands.”[iii]

A brief biography of him says: “One of Port Perry's oldest residents at the time of his death, he was the most extensive property holder in the town. He had been retired for about 40 years when he passed away, and had lived in one of the most commodious homes in the town. Caleb Crandell was for many years a member of the village council, and was always an enterprising and respected citizen. He was one of the Charter Members of Warriner Lodge, No. 74, Independent Order of Oddfellows.”[iv]

He was active in local politics, and when Port Perry, Ontario, was incorporated as a village in 1871 he was chosen as one of the counselors.[v] He had one adopted daughter, Nettie or Nellie Crandell .

The Crandell family was not a happy one. They disputed over money, property and other issues. Law suits followed, and one of the brothers accused Caleb of causing his arrest to prevent him from testifying in lawsuit over debt and property. The issues are vague and plagued the courts for several years. It is impossible to comment on the merit of much of it, including the accusation that Caleb bribed a magistrate to have his brother Benjamin arrested. All of this precedes his introduction to Watch Tower theology by at least a decade and may be irrelevant. It is simply impossible to say because they sole source for his history within the movement is a Yearbook article which cites no sources.[vi]

[i] 1979 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, page 79.
[ii] Extracts of Interesting Letters, Zion’s Watch Tower, September 1890, page 8. Letter from S. Webb to Maria Francis Russell: “We expect Bro. Z. to-morrow on his way to Ontario to being the colporteur work.” (not in reprints.)
[iii] Crandell Street: How it Got it’s Name, retrieved from October 2009.
[iv] Port Perry/Scugog Township Heritage Gallery:
[v] Farewll, J. F.: Ontario County: A Short Sketch of Its Settlement, Physical Features and Resources, Ontario, 1907, page 84.
[vi] George F. Harmon and Christopher Robinson: Reports of Cases Decided in the Court of Common Pleas of Upper Canada, Toronto, 1880, Volume 30, pages 497-515.

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