Marcus and Ida Crandall were married in 1918 in the Ferrybank district

Reflections – A.J. Crandall family among first Ferrybank settlers

Experience of a local family who were among the first settlers in the region

Andrew Jackson Crandall, who was always fondly known in the west country of Ponoka as A.J.’ was born in Indiana, U.S.A.

And after pioneering in several states, he along with his wife Melissa and their young family came by rail to Ponoka in 1901. They settled in the Ferrybank district, west of Ponoka, purchasing S.W. 1-44-27 and homesteading on the S.E. 2-44-27, where they would raise their family of nine children including Harry, Marcus, Charlie, Kurtis, Chester, Margaret, Mary, Josephine and Jessie.

The weather was very wet when they arrived, with many mud holes and other obstacles to be crossed as they slowly moved all their belongings out from Ponoka. But all those early pioneers were so friendly and willing to help others, when A.J. and his wagon got really bogged down one day, a young homesteader came by and they toiled together to finally get him unstuck.

When A.J. asked the lad what he owed him for his kind assistance, he casually replied, ‘If you have a daughter who would make a homesteader a cook, we will call it square.’ A.J. was always a man of his word, and a few months later when their eldest daughter Margaret (Maggie), 18, arrived from Washington, a young Waldo Herrick came by and asked permission to court her. That friendly debt would eventually be paid when the happy couple were married and would live in the Ferrybank district until 1923.

Over the years, the Crandall family became very well known in the district, with A.J. being a very gifted old time fiddler who supplied the music for many a house dance and event, with his favourite tunes being ‘The Lost Indian’ and ‘The Arkansas Traveller.’ Andrew and Melissa left the district for a few years and then returned to farm in the Dakota district on a location that later became the home of Mrs. Emil Tiltgen. In 1919, the Crandall’s left for Bellingham, Washington, where they purchased a farm and remained until their passing Melissa in 1922 and A.J in 1932.

Marcus Crandall family

Marcus Crandall moved with his family to the farm west of Ponoka in 1901 and then at the age of 17, he engaged in logging operations along the Battle River, assisting in the early log drives down stream to the busy Ponoka mills. In 1905, he married Bertha Franklin and they were blessed with a family of four children including Alva, Ella, Edith and Ernest.

In the year 1912, his wife Bertha passed away leaving him with four small children, but with the kind assistance of the hired help and grand-parents Andrew and Melissa Crandall, they were cared for until 1918 when Marcus married Miss Ida Reynolds. In the years that followed, nine children were welcomed to this union: Mildred, Myrtle, Jim, Elsie, Marie, Robert, Hugh, Dixie and a daughter who died in infancy. All of the children enjoyed their memorable years at the Ferrybank School, followed by classes at the always popular district and Ponoka schools.

In 1916, Marcus bought a stream threshing rig, and with his hard working crews, threshed from north of Chesterwold to south of Lochinvar for many successful years. By 1925, Marcus Crandall was farming over 1,000 acres as well as having horses on 12 quarters of land. In 1927, he purchased another farm near Lynden, Washington, which he operated seasonally. As he advanced financially, he also gained the esteem and respect of his countless neighbours and friends, helping many a young man to make their farming start in the district as well as serving in several capacities of public office. In those rugged, but colourful early days, the glorious ‘harvest bees’ followed the Crandall steam engine through the neighbourhood homesteads and that proud and roaring tradition would be carried on by the family generations for so many colorful decades.

Marcus Crandall was always mindful of the needs of others and his long-standing and dedicated record of public service included positions on the school, hospital and Co-op boards, in addition to devoting over 30 years to the municipal and county councils, also serving as the Reeve.

Ida was fondly known for her good nature and served as an active member of the Ferrybank Women’s Institute for many years. They will always be remembered for their very active farm and community life, which continued until 1962 when ill health forced Marcus into retirement with son Ernest taking over the grand old family farm.

Marcus, who was one of our true district pioneers and was avidly active in all community activities to everything from baseball to municipal government for many decades, passed away in 1964 at the age of 80 years and his wife Ida died a year and half later.