George Cranston was born in 1848, probably in New York state. Following an argument with his father, George was ordered to leave the family farm, and in 1866 he joined the army. Cranston's first post was Fort Yuma, Arizona Territory. In the ensuing years, Cranston was stationed at a number of sites in southern Arizona, until 1870 when he left the army's service.
Cranston went on to become a cowboy, farmer, rancher, and saloon keeper, trying his luck in Kansas, Texas, and finally Deming, New Mexico. The last letter, written in 1883, is the birth announcement of Cranston's second child written from Deming. It is unknown what became of George Cranston following 1883.
This collection contains one series, correspondence. It is comprised of 57 letters, 34 of which were written by George Cranston, primarily to his sister, Gertrude. 14 of these letters relate Cranston's experiences as a soldier in the Arizona Territory, from 1866 to 1870. Cranston was stationed at Fort Yuma, Camp Lowell, Fort Grant, Camp Tubac and Camp Crittenden, and his letters reveal the privations of a soldier's life, the uncertainties of living on the frontier, and the fear of Indian attacks. Leaving the army and Arizona in 1870, the letters continue with Cranston's travels in New Mexico, Kansas and Texas. The remaining letters, the bulk of which are addressed to Gertrude, are correspondence from other Cranston siblings, and letters from James Cranston, their father. Many of these are accounts of family activities and events, others reveal some of the emotional undercurrents in family life.
Included are letters from Gertrude's fiancee, Brunson Dunning. Finally, there are a few letters in which the connection with the Cranston family cannot be determined.
Also included is a typescript of a short biography of George Cranston and a summary of many of the letters.