Saluting the last veteran of the War of 1812

Hiram Cronk lived a humble life.

Born in 1800 in upstate New York, he became a shoemaker, married in 1825, had seven kids, and spent his life living on a farm in Oneida County, near Syracuse.

But when he died at the age of 105 in 1905, he was treated like a hero. New York City hosted a state funeral in his honor, joined by politicians and military units and watched by thousands of city residents who thronged the streets in appreciation.

Like a dignitary, his body lay in state in City Hall before Cronk was buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn.

So what did Cronk do to land all of this honor and attention? He survived.

Cronk was the last known veteran who fought in the War of 1812. He enlisted at the age of 14 with his father and brothers and served as a private at a naval station in Sackets Harbor off Lake Ontario, according to the New-York Tribune.

His military career wasn’t necessarily distinguished. But Cronk was heralded as a symbol.

In the Gilded Age city, people were still dealing with the aftershocks of the Civil War as well as rapid progress and waves of European immigration. As a result, nostalgia for older wars like the War of 1812 took hold.

“Cronk and other survivors and artifacts of the War of 1812 and the Revolutionary War became objects of great national fascination and enshrinement,” states the National Park Service. “Cronk’s mere existence created for many a tangible connection to simpler times and great patriotism.”

Cronk himself didn’t seem to have any connection to New York City. But the city has its War of 1812 remnants, some of which still exist today (even though New York was never attacked).

[Video: Library of Congress; third image: Brooklyn Eagle via Tapeshare.com]

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7 Responses to “Saluting the last veteran of the War of 1812”

  1. Ellen Says:

    Where is he buried there? We pass that cemetery a few times per month and would visit it.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I’m not sure exactly, but one of the references I used said it was in an area reserved for War of 1812 veterans.

  3. Zoe Says:

    That is a beautiful photo of him. Also I love his striped silk cravat.

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      agreed!

      • Zoe Says:

        & I just learned ‘cravat’ is named after a scarf worn by an 18th c. croation military unit. See what we did there Ephemeral? -> veterans -> cravats -> military gear -> veterans ->

        -> Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

  4. Saluting the last veteran of the War of 1812 | Ephemeral New York | First Night History Says:

    […] Source: Saluting the last veteran of the War of 1812 | Ephemeral New York […]

  5. Timothy Grier Says:

    A beautifully written post about an unusual event I’d never heard about. How interesting and my how times have changed! I didn’t see a single automobile in the video footage even though by 1905 the transition from horses to cars was proceeding apace.

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