The Gene Pool: JTR's Colorful Family History


The Tale of Azariah Crane’s “Bole”

From the Rockaway Records of Morris Co., New Jersey by Joseph Percy Crayone (1902): Deacon Azariah Crane held many prominent offices in Newark and his descendants settled at Cranetown, now Montclair, New Jersey. He outlived his generation, died Nov. 5, 1730, and the “silver bole” bequeathed to John, was finally an heirloom of Deacon Azariah, who bequeathed the “silver bole” to the First Presbyterian Church at Newark, where he was deacon from 1690 until his death in 1730, “to be used forever.”

Note from JTR: Beverly Crifasi has been a big help to many of us on the Fidonet Genealogy Conference. Not only is she our Crane-Ball-Baldwin “cousin”, but she still lives on the same land that our ancestors settled some 300 years ago — once the Horseneck Purchase at “The Mountain,” just west of Newark, New Jersey.

The Hunt for the “Holy Bole”

By Beverly Crifasi of Caldwell, New Jersey — 1995

My daughter Tamara and I just returned from a visit to the Newark Public Library and the First Presbyterian Church in Newark. First, we met with Charles Cumming, the curator of the Library's NJ section and he found a beautiful picture of the silver bowl and told us that he thought the church still had it. We then went to the church expecting only to take pictures of the outside. Every time I've been there previously the gates were locked and there was no hope of going in. This time we noticed that the front gate was open we wandered over and noticed that we had just missed a noon service that would have enabled us to go inside the church. Twice we rang the bell to gain entrance to the building, but no one answered. Undaunted we rang a third time and, feeling a little like Dorothy and the Scarecrow at the gates to Oz, told the voice that asked us what we wanted that we wanted to come in. A kindly secretary-type person let us in and we explained that we wanted to take pictures for a talk we're giving next week. She agreed and Tamara began taking pictures in the church.

Meanwhile the secretary was overheard explaining our mission to an elderly gentleman who looked none to happy to see us. Never-the-less I greeted him and told him what we were doing. I also mentioned that I was interested in making arrangements for cousins visiting NJ next October to see the church. I told him you were particularly interested in seeing Azariah's bowl. He grouched at me a little, saying that it was a waste of my money to try to photograph the bowl because it reflects everything and many people had tried, but it was no use and they had it photographed professionally but only had a few pictures and I couldn't have one (I hadn't asked for one!) and he works twenty hours a week as a Trustee and the unofficial historian and he doesn't have time to answer all the queries he receives . . . etc- you get the picture.

I kept smiling and nodding, but didn't actually ask him for anything, because it was obvious that he really doesn't have time to accommodate people who show up on his doorstep like we did and I certainly didn't want to inconvenience him. I did get his name and phone number so I could make arrangements for your visit in October and in doing so he gave us some postcard pictures of the church and we discovered that he lives near me. Suddenly he offered to open the silver vault and show us the bowl!!! He took us down to the vault with him and then brought the bowl upstairs so we'd have better light for taking pictures! The bowl is beautiful and in perfect condition. It is about five inches high and eight inches in diameter, shaped sort of like a Revere bowl. It has a lovely decorative band around the top and on one side has been engraved to reflect Azariah's will that the church use it forever. We were told that they use it regularly for baptisms. Our guide was charming as he showed us around the grounds and we had a wonderful visit. And all we intended to do was photograph the church from across the street!

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