Zadoc Crane was born in 1758 to William Crane and his second wife, Mary, a prominent family in Cranetown, and the surrounding community. Zadoc grew up in the family house located on Valley Road and Clairmont Ave in Cranetown, which was part of Newark, then West Bloomfield, and today is Montclair.
He had seven siblings, Rachel, Hannah, Mathias, Jonathon, Jonas, Sarah and James. His sister Hannah married Major Nathaniel Crane, a Revolutionary War veteran and son of Samuel Crane. His sister Sarah married Stephen Fordham, another veteran of the Revolutionary War and exceptional citizen of Essex County.
Zadoc was considered “lame”, which doubtless kept him from joining the local militia, but Zadoc contributed to the Patriot cause in the ways that he was able, and deserves notice here.
Zadoc is sometimes described as a waiter in Washington’s body-guard and a scout for the General. His most famous contribution to the Revolutionary War occurred when Generals Washington and Lafayette stayed at his father’s house for approximately 3 weeks in October and November of 1780. Zadoc , then 22 years old, tended to Washington’s famous gray horse and did his best to ensure that evidence of their presence in the area was kept from prying eyes.
An urgent warning came to General Washington that the enemy was planning an attack on the Continental Line in their present, rather unsecured position at “Cranetown Gap”. The General wished to meet the Regulars headon, if they should arrive, but not being able to spare any of his men, he called upon local volunteers to gather the minutemen living over the First and Second Mountain. This story is well told in the Crane Family Genealogy, “…covering the region between the Passaic River and the Second Mountain, including Horseneck, Pine Brook, Swinefield, etc. Zadoc, a son of William, who had been lame from boyhood, offered to assume the difficult and perilous undertaking. Although lame, one leg being shorter than the other, he was well able to ride on horseback, and soon appeared mounted on his own spirited horse, and armed with a heavy cutlass, this being his only weapon; just as the sun was disappearing behind the mountains, under special orders from the General, he set out on his important errand. It was a ride for the night, calling at every house and routing them from their slumbers. As the gray of the morning began to show itself, he was marching his men toward the Crane mansion, and just at daybreak drew up his squad in front of the doorstep, on which stood Gen. Washington for the purpose of inspecting them. 'Well done, my man,' was the salute of His Excellency. 'Now come in and take a horn of whiskey, for you must need it.'”
Zadoc did get married to a woman named Joanna, sometime after the War, but they had no children.
He served his country well, though he attained no rank higher than soldier or patriot. He was denied a pension because his name did not appear on the Service Rolls, but the citizens of his community knew his contribution. Zadoc died at age 83 in Cranetown on February 11, 1841 and is buried in the Old Burying Ground behind the First Presbyterian Church at Caldwell, beside his wife Joanna, who joined him on Oct 22, 1849 at the age of 83.