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KONRAD KRAIN

Conrad Grein/Konrad Krain, The Hessian Soldier
Submitted by Hazel Green Pflueger, ggg-granddaughter
pflueger@montana.com

The patriarch of the Green/Crayne family in America was Conrad Grein, born 11 July 1749, Allendorf, in Hessen Kassel, Germany. He was the second child and oldest son of George Heinrich and Gehla Stecher Grein and the grandson of Johannes and Magdelena Grein. His siblings included an older sister, three younger sisters, and a brother. When Conrad was thirteen years old, his father died at the age of 40. Prior to his induction into the Hessian army in 1769, he had learned the trade of linen weaver, at which he no doubt worked before his military service and on his rotation from the army. In April of 1775, he was mustered into Company 5 of Lt. Gen. Wilhelm Freiherr von Knyphausen's 2nd Hessen Cassel Regiment as Konrad Krain, one of approximately 12,000 soldiers provided by his Landgrave, Friedrich II, to the British government in their fight to quell the American rebels. As a fusilier in the 1st Division of German soldiers to depart for America under the command of General Heister, his regiment marched from the garrison town of Ziegenhain on 3 March 1776 for embarkation at the port of Bremerlehe on 15 April. Conrad, along with his regiment, boarded the ship, Claudina, arriving in Portsmouth, England 26 April to meet the other troop ships and their British escort ships for their voyage to America. On 6 May, their sea voyage began. Although it could probably be characterized as "the trip from hell" since it was hampered by overcrowding, unfavorable weather, spoiled food and water, rats, and sick soldiers, the1st Division finally anchored below Staten Island on 12 August, 1776 to begin its American campaign.

Conrad's regiment was called to duty shortly after arrival, participating in the Battles of Long Island, White Plains, and Fort Washington before being dispatched to New Jersey. It was at the Battle of Trenton that Conrad was among the 978 Hessian soldiers of the Rall brigade who were captured on 26 December. His regiment was escorted to the Delaware River and ferried across to the Philadelphia side near Frankford and taken to a large prison. Several days later, the Hessian prisoners were paraded through the streets of Philadelphia before the crowds of curious Americans and then marched sixty miles to Lancaster where they would be quartered in the barracks there. Conrad was among the more than 400 Hessian prisoners who were subsequently signed out to work for farmers, merchants, and tradesmen in the surrounding area, as part of the American plan to not only use Hessian labor for their war effort but to illustrate the advantages of American life to Hessians who might wish to defect. In this regard on 15 October 1777, Conrad was assigned to Peter Heilman, the son of the deceased immigrant farmer, Peter Heilman, in North Annville, now Lebanon County. Then, on 17 June, Conrad was exchanged as a prisoner and marched to back to Philadelphia and on to New York to join the Consolidated or Woellwarth Brigade.

When sufficient Hessian prisoners were returned to New York and replacements arrived from Germany, the individual units were reconstituted and Conrad was back with the von Knyphausen regiment. This regiment was headed for Quebec in September 1777, accompanied by the von Lossberg and British 44th Regiments, to defend it against a possible French attack. Companies 3 and 5 of the von Knyphausen Regiment boarded the transport ship Triton which, along with the five other vessels, found themselves in one of the most violent equinoctial hurricanes ever recorded in the North Atlantic. The ordeal aboard the Triton was described in detail by Lt. Wiederholdt in his diary. The storm blew the ship as far down as the Virginia coast, where it waited out the storm. While limping back off the coast of New Jersey, the Triton was captured by American Privateers and Conrad found himself a prisoner again. He was marched back to the Philadelphia jail where he evidently volunteered to return to Lancaster Borough to work, this time, for Matheus Schmidt, a shoemaker. Nothing is known about his personal life in Lancaster, but his final listing in Hetrina III for May 1783 was Code 11, or that of prisoner. At some point, he decided not to return to the ship taking him back to Germany and his final disposition was listed as unknown.

After his defection from the Hessian Army, Conrad apparently remained in Pennsylvania for a time among his friends, the German-Americans, whom he met while he was farmed out as a prisoner. In 1788, he traveled the Great Wagon Road which ran along the Shenandoah Mountains from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Pittsylvania County, Virginia with a group of settlers led by Harmon Cook, a colonizer. He purchased 100 acres in Toshes, a small community where other Germans had settled in the northwest part of the county, and must have married shortly thereafter to a woman thought to be named Elizabeth. His name was often spelled as Conrad/Conrod/Coonrod and Crain/Crane/Grain/Grane on records there. Beginning in 1792, seven children were known to be born to him and his wife:


      George Crain/Green, b. 1792; m. Mary Polly Crider in 1813

      Jacob Crain/Crayne, b. abt. 1797; m. Nancy Deboe in 1820

      Margaret "Peggy" Crain/Crayne, b. abt. 1798; m. John W. Turley in 1818

      Mary "Polly" Crain/Crayne, b. abt. 1799; m. Sandford Turley in 1823
        
      Henry Crain/Crayne, b. abt. 1801; m. Elizabeth McNeely in 1820

      Conrad Crain/Crayne (Jr.), b. 1809;   m. Mary "Polly" Deboe in 1834
          m. Martha Hunt in 1868
        
      Nancy Crain/Crayne, b. abt. 1810, m. James Hill in 1832
          m. William M. Crider, 1848 

Conrad died sometime in 1818, and by 1830 all of his children had moved to Livingston County, Kentucky where the Green and Crayne families flourished for a century before dispersing to other parts of the country.

Hazel G.Pflueger
pflueger@montana.com


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