This story by Enid Davis, lower school librarian, originally appeared in the January and February 2002 issues of Harker News
Frank Cramer (1862-1948): Earliest Founder of The Harker School
Frank Cramer was born in Wausau, Wis. He was one of Palo Alto’s first residents and played a strong leadership role in both the city government and local public schools. I’m sure Diana Nichols would have found his company lively as Cramer had a lifelong interest in the natural sciences and was a biologist.
Frank Cramer graduated from Lawrence College, Appleton, Wis., in 1886, taught for a while and came to Palo Alto in 1891 to attend Stanford University. He studied zoology, earning a master’s degree in 1893.
What better training to open up a school? Under the influence of David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford University, Cramer opened Manzanita Hall, a college prep school for boys in 1893. Twenty-four boys were enrolled there in September 1894.
When Cramer opened the school, Palo Alto was not the bustling, expensive community it is today. But it was growing. According to Arthur Coffman’s history of Palo Alto: “From 1890 to 1894 the number of buildings in Palo Alto increased from 6 to 165. During the same four years, the population rose from 12 to 700.”
In terms of real estate prices, Coffman reports “a six-room cottage was built for $1,500; a ten-room house for $3,300; and a twelve-room house for $4,500.”
Blitzer, Carol. http://www.service.com/paw/Centennial/1994 Apr 15. 1890SC.html
Coffman, Arthur. An Illustrated History of Palo Alto. Palo Alto: Osborne, 1969.
Palo Alto City Library. Obituary Files.
Frank and Archie – Harker Heroes from the Past
We all know about the Harker eagle, our school’s mascot, but have you heard the tale about Archie, the “knee-sprung horse,” who belonged to Frank Cramer, one of the founders of The Harker School?
Frank Cramer, who founded Manzanita Hall in 1893, was very much involved in Palo Alto’s relief effort for San Franciscans after the 1906 earthquake. He and his faithful Archie would go back and forth from the train station delivering yeast and flour from San Jose to bakers in the Palo Alto area, and back again to the station with the loaves.
In one incident Cramer heard that Duff & Doyles’ store in Menlo Park was offering lots of yeast for the cause. He hitched old Archie to a 600-pound wagon, imagining himself the hero of the day when he would deliver at least 50 pounds of yeast to cheering bakers. Instead, he received a tiny package from a worker, who insisted that they were dispersing one small box to each family.
“My dream of valiant service was shattered,” reported Cramer. “But I took the dainty box of yeast cakes. On the way back I wondered, if rumor can do that kind of thing traveling only a mile and a half, what could it do going once or twice around the world?”
According to reports, “Mr. Frank Cramer furnished his horse and express wagon and worked himself untiringly, or at least ceaselessly, from early morn till late at night, receiving, checking, counting, and delivering at the station the finished product, amounting to several loaves of bread daily. His good grey horse may well be counted among the earthquake sufferers.”
Sources: Dick, Linda. Palo Alto: 1906. Foothill College District, N.D. p.14.