Charles Conrad Kraft/Craft (alias Conrad Kraft or C. C. Kraft and typically spelled as Craft after 1880) was born in June 1830, in Hesse Darmstadt, Germany. He emigrated in the early 1840s according to the U.S. federal census. His U.S. military records document the town as “Elfurt,” possibly Erfurt, or Alsfeld, if actually in Hesse Darmstadt.

Conrad married Maria Gannon on 1 April 1856, at Fort Duncan, (near San Antonio), Bexar County, Texas. Maria, born in 1838 in Ireland, was the daughter of John (sometimes called John Patrick) Gannon and Catherine Hanly. Baptismal records indicate Maria and her siblings were born in today’s Strokestown Parish, Roscommon, Ireland.

Conrad enlisted in the U.S. Regular Army, First Infantry in New York for two sequential terms (1852–1863) and was attached to Companies G and D. Throughout his military service, Conrad, and later Maria, resided at posts in Texas and Indian Territory (Oklahoma), and following the outbreak of the Civil War, Kansas and Missouri. These included Ft. Duncan, Ft. Macintosh, Ft. Cobb, Ft. Leavenworth, and Benton Barracks. As the western Texas frontier expanded, the U.S. Army fortified the border to protect emigrant-settlers, native peoples, and northern Mexican communities from Kiowa and Comanche raids. As a named fort blacksmith, Conrad’s postings can be traced via the U.S. Army Post Returns. Maria, like many enlisted men’s wives, served as a laundress for Company D.

With the outbreak of the Civil War, the First Infantry quickly retreated northward. As they fled, Conrad received an injury to his leg when a horse ran away with the wagon he was driving. On 10 August 1861, he and his unit participated in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek in southern Missouri, and later, Conrad was discharged in 1863 in Louisiana.

Craft Blacksmith Shop
Craft Blacksmith Shop, St. Francois Street, Florissant, Missouri, circa 1881–1899
(Charles C. Craft Sr., right;
Charles C. Craft Jr., left)

Used with permission of Historic Florissant, Inc.

The family settled in St. Louis where Conrad established a series of blacksmith shops at locations on Market Street and later Natural Bridge Road. By 1881, the Crafts and the business relocated to St. Francois Street in Florissant.

Three daughters: Catherine ((1858–1889, Sister Mary Bennett of the Loretto Community), Mary (1859–1905, Mrs. John Ferguson), and Alice (1862–1881), arrived in St. Louis with their parents. They were soon joined by John (1864–1932), Henrietta (1866–1914, Mrs. Edward McCabe), Charles (1869–1951), William (1871–1929), George (1875–1950), Joseph (1878–1938), and Alphonsus (1879–1880). Five of twelve Kraft/Craft offspring who survived to adulthood remained Missouri residents throughout their lives. Son, Charles C. Craft, Jr., served as mayor of Florissant.

Conrad died on 27 October 1901 and Maria on 14 February 1925. Along with their baby son Alphonsus and teenage daughter Alice, they are buried in Calvary Cemetery. During their lifetime, the Crafts were associated with St. Teresa of Avila and St. Ferdinand Catholic churches. Conrad served several terms on the city council and was a member of Branch 400, Catholic Knights of America.

(Sources include family history, published books, census, tax, baptismal, marriage, death, cemetery, church, military, and pension records, newspapers, and Historic Florissant, Inc.)

Written by Lynn Marie Alex (great-great-granddaughter)
June 2017 (Revised March 2021)

© 2017, St. Louis Genealogical Society

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Last Modified: 06-Mar-2021 12:51