Who Were the Cranes: Two Very Different Sisters

by Anne Motto, Curator of Collections
September 21, 2021

Top photo: The Cranes at Acorn Hall, 1870

Augustus and Mary Crane of Acorn Hall had four children who all grew up at the Hall. Their two eldest, Mary and Julia, were doted on by their parents as archival records and collections objects illustrate. It is believed that the two sisters shared the Summer Bedroom decked with moss rose wallpaper and cottage style furniture, some of which is in pairs. Their parents,  lovingly provided them with gifts of royal ermine stoles, dance lessons by a teacher at Erasmus Hall Academy in Brooklyn, and music lessons from a pianist in the NY Philharmonic. Two ladies, however, went on to lead two very different lives.

Mary Ellen Hone (née Crane, 1849-1876)

When the Cranes moved to Morristown, Mary was around nine or ten years old. The eldest sibling, she was said to be musically talented and to have filled in as organist at Church of the Redeemer beginning at a very young age. She likely debuted at the grand 1867 Charity Ball in the City where she entered the rarified circle of New York Society. In 1869, she married John Hone IV (1844-1915) of the Hones of NY, who grew up next door in Morristown. While his parents wedding gift, Rest Harrow (today 69 Morris Avenue) was built, the newlyweds lived with her parents at the Hall. The Cranes own gift was a remarkable 1872 Chickering grand piano, today on display in the Hall’s Music Room. Sadly, Mary, by then the mother of three young boys, died of typhoid in 1876. Her sons would be the Crane’s only grandchildren and her youngest, Augustus, inherited the Hall from her sister Julia in 1935.




Julia Corning (née Crane, 1850-1935)

The second daughter of the Cranes was around eight or nine years old when the family moved to Morristown.  In 1875, she was an invited guest at the wedding of William K. Vanderbilt and was very likely the first in her family to travel to overseas, visiting England in 1881. Her own small wedding to Dr. J. Leonard Corning in 1883 was held at the Hall. She and her brothers jointly inherited the family home when her father died in 1906. After that, Julia and her husband split their time between NYC and Morristown, spending at least part of their summers at the Hall with her mother until Mrs. Crane died in 1913. She then spent more and more time in Morristown, as did her brother Augustus Jr. After her husband’s death in 1923, she and her brother lived out their days at the Hall until their own deaths in 1932 and 1935.


For the first generation of Cranes see Who Were the Cranes: The Country Gentleman and the Doting Mother
For Mr. and Mrs. Crane’s sons see Who Were the Cranes: Gus Leads, Ben Follows