Paper-Lumber Concerns Oldest in County

While Cooperstown observes its 75th anniversary this year, a Griggs County concern is laying plans for a similar observance in 1958.

Crane-Johnson Company, one of the oldest operating business places in Griggs County had its modest beginning back in March 1883, several months before the railroad came to this central Griggs town.

Noting the demand for lumber and building supplies which at that date had to be hauled from Valley City or Sanborn, Maynard Crane brought into existence the parent concern which now is known as the Crane-Johnson Company, Inc.

Crane operated the lumber plant alone for almost a decade. In 1887, however, he employed a farmer settler from southern Nelson County, John E. Johnson, whose interest in the business was no whit less than Crane's. In 1896 Johnson became a partner in the business and the company reorganized under the firm name of Crane and Johnson.

The boom period of Cooperstown along with the demands of home-building settlers created a volume of business that soon caused the concern to expand even further. In 1890 a yard was established at Hannaford under the managership of Archie Sinclair. With the extension of the railroad to McHenry a third plant was set up there in 1902. Two years later F. C. Potter, a farm lad from Sanborn, was given the manager's job at McHenry.

He exhibited remarkable managerial ability at McHenry and three years later he was shifted to Cooperstown. In 1914 he became general manager of the corporation which has been organized as such in 1903. He held the post of general manager until his death in 1935, having in the meantime been also named as vice-president following the death of John E. Johnson, one of the original partners.

During the quarter century preceding 1932 the company expanded its operations to include yards in many other communities. The general office was also moved to Fargo.

Ben Fink is local manager while F. E. Carpenter operates the Sutton yard and Paul Vance the Hannaford branch.

H. H. Swingen of Hannaford, who is now retired, served as manager there for forty two years. He is also a director on the board.

Source:  Cooperstown Diamond Jubilee 1882-1957 Page 30

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