Alfred Cralle
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Alfred L. Cralle (1866 - 1919)

Alfred L. Cralle aka Crallie
Born in Kenbridge, Lunenburg County, Virginia, United Statesmap
Husband of — married 20 Sep 1900 in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, United Statesmap
Died in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 31 Mar 2009 | Last significant change: 26 Jul 2021
18:58: Abby (Brown) Glann edited the Biography for Alfred L. Cralle (1866-1919). (adding temporary Featured Connections category) [Thank Abby for this]
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Notables Project
Alfred Cralle is Notable.

Alfred L. Cralle (/ˈælfɹəd ˈkɹɔli/) was born in Kenbridge, Lunenburg County, Virginia on 4 September[1] or 10 September 1866,[2] not long after the end of the American Civil War (1861–1865) to parents Alfred Cralle and Martha Street.

The 1870 U.S. Census recorded 3-year-old Apheus Cralle in his parents' household in Kenbridge, Lunenburg County, Virginia. Household members were Apheus Cralle, 28; his wife Martha, 27; son William, 5; son Alpheus, 3; son Mack, 10 months; Edward Cralle, 24 and Lewellen Cralle, 18, whose connection to the family is unknown.[3]

The 1880 U.S. Census recorded 13-year-old Alfred Crallie in his parents' household in Browns Store Magisterial District, Lunenburg County, Virginia. Household members were Alfred Crallie, 42 and a farmer; his wife Martha, 41; son William, 15; son Alfred, 13; son MacKnaugh, 11; son Robert, 7; son Richard, 3; and daughter Martina, 1. All were born in Virginia to parents born in Virginia; all were described as mulatto. The three older sons were "at school."[4]

He attended local schools and worked with his father in the carpentry trade as a young man, becoming interested in mechanics. He went to Washington, DC, where he attended Wayland Seminary,[5] one of a number of schools founded by the American Baptist Home Mission Society to help educate African Americans after the Civil War.

After leaving Wayland Seminary, he settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he worked as a porter in a drug store and at a hotel. It was while working in Pittsburgh as a porter that Cralle learned that ice cream, which had become a popular confection, was difficult to dispense. It tended to stick to spoons and ladles, usually requiring use of two hands and at least two implements to serve. A patent attorney in Pittsburgh advertised for inventors to devise a means to overcome this problem, and Alfred Cralle responded by inventing a mechanical device and applying for a patent.[5] On February 2, 1897, Alfred L. Cralle, then 30 years old, was granted U.S. Patent #576,395 for "Ice Cream Mold and Disher."[6] Cralle’s ingenious invention was designed to be able to keep ice cream and other foods from sticking, and easy to operate with one hand. Strong and durable, effective, inexpensive, it could be constructed in almost any desired shape, such as a cone or a mound, with no delicate parts that could break or malfunction.[7] Shortly after the patent was awarded, the Pittsburgh Press reported that the invention could fill 40 to 50 ice cream dishes in a minute, and "does away with the soiling of the hands." The newspaper reported that Cralle had received a number of offers to sell the rights to his invention or license it for royalties. [5] The efficient design is still seen in modern ice cream scoops.

In 1896, months before his patent was awarded, Alfred L. Cralle was named assistant manager of the newly organized Afro-American Financial, Accumulating, Merchandise and Business Association in Pittsburgh. As of February 1897 he was serving as its general manager.[5]

Cralle did not become famous for inventing the ice cream scooper. In later years he went back to his former line of work. His 1900 marriage license application describes him as a porter; the 1907 Pittsburgh city directory describes Alfred Cralle of 168 Mayflower as a laborer;[8] and both the 1910 U.S. Census and the record of his death in 1919 describe him as a Pullman car porter.

Family Life

Alfred L. Cralle married Elizabeth L. Wade in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, on 20 September 1900. According to his marriage license application, he was born in Virginia on 4 September 1866 and was a resident of Pittsburgh, working as a porter. Elizabeth was born in Virginia on 21 September 1877 and was also a resident of Pittsburgh. It was the first marriage for both.[1]

Alfred and Elizabeth Cralle had three children, daughter Marion, son Alfred Jr., and daughter Anna. In April 1910, the U.S. Census recorded 42-year-old Alfred L. Cralle in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with wife Elizabeth L. Cralle, 31, and children Marion E. Cralle, 8, and Alfred L. Cralle Jr, 3. Alfred Sr. was born in Virginia of parents who were born in Virginia. He worked as a porter for the Pullman company and was described as mulatto.[9]

Death and Aftermath

Alfred L. Cralle died in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at his home at 168 Mayflower Street, on 6 May 1919. Cause of death was pulmonary tuberculosis. His daughter Marion had died of the same disease three months earlier.[10] According to the death certificate, Alfred was born in Virginia on 10 September 1866 and was 52 years, 7 months, and 27 days old. His parents were A. L. Cralle and Martha Terry, both natives of Virginia. He was married and worked as a Pullman car porter. Burial was in Monongahela Cemetery. William Cralle of 2617 Penn Ave. in Pittsburgh was informant for the death certificate, which describes Alfred as "colored." [2]

In January 1920 the U.S. Census recorded Mrs. Elizabeth Cralle, age 39 and a widow, on Mayflower (street) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with son Alfred, age 12, and daughter Anna, age 9. Elizabeth was born in Virginia to parents born in Virginia. The children were born in Pennsylvania to parents born in Pennsylvania. All three family members were described as black; none was listed with an occupation. Elizabeth owned their home.[11] The death of Elizabeth Cralle was recorded in Pittsburgh later that year, on 22 November 1920.[12]

In 1920, Cralle's only son, Alfred, also died of a disease, leaving Anna Cralle, born in 1910, as his only surviving child. [13]

After her father's death, his daughter, Anna, moved in with her uncle, Joseph Cralle in Connecticut. In 1945, Anna Cralle moved to Tuskegee, Alabama to work at the U.S. Veterans Administration hospital as an accounting clerk. She was active at the Washington Chapel AME Church for 55 years. At the age of 90, she moved in 2000 to Bowie, Maryland to live with her godson, Thomas Wims. She died February 1, 2009 at the age of 98. [13]

Disputed Death and Place of Burial

Most accounts of the life of Alfred L. Cralle state that he died in an automobile accident in 1920, but the death record reported here contradicts that, indicating that he died from tuberculosis the previous year.

There is a memorial stone in Mount Carmel Cemetery, Kenbridge, Lunenburg County, Virginia, for Martha A. Cralle, Elizabeth W. Cralle, and Alfred L Cralle. There are no dates on the stone. A FindAGrave Memorial identifies the Alfred named on the stone as this man,[14] but it is more likely to be his father of the same name.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Pennsylvania, County Marriages, 1885-1950," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 5 November 2017), Alfred L. Cralle and Elizabeth L. Wade, 20 Sep 1900; citing Marriage, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, United States, various county courts and registers, Pennslyvannia; FHL microfilm 878,595.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Death certificate #52299, Alfred L. Cralle. Accessed on at
  3. "United States Census, 1870", database with images, FamilySearch ( : 2 January 2021), Alphens Cralle in entry for Alphens Cralle, 1870. Kenbridge, Lunenburg, Virginia, United States
  4. "United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 24 December 2015), Virginia > Lunenburg > Browns Store > ED 134 > images 25-26 of 54; citing NARA microfilm publication T9, (National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., n.d.)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 The Pittsburgh Press, 14 February 1897, page 10. Clipping accessed at on 29 September 2019.
  6. United States Patent and Trademark Office. Image for Patent #576,395, Ice Cream Mold and Disher, patented Feb. 2, 1897.
  7. United States Patent and Trademark Office. Specifications and Claims for Patent #576,395, Ice Cream Mold and Disher, patented Feb. 2, 1897.
  8. Pittsburgh City Directory, 1907, page 429. Accessed on at
  9. "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 24 June 2017), Pennsylvania > Allegheny > Pittsburgh Ward 12 > ED 436 > image 28 of 50; citing NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  10. Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Certificate #13734, Marion Cralle. Accessed on at
  11. United States Census, 1920. Enumeration sheet for Pittsburgh Ward 12, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1521; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 512. Accessed on at
  12. Estate and Proceedings Indexes, 1788-1971; Vol. 007-008; Allegheny County (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills; Pennsylvania. Image 769 of 930. Accessed on at
  13. 13.0 13.1 Content from African-American Inventors website Findagrave, which do not identify their sources. Needs verification.
  14. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 29 September 2019), memorial page for Alfred L Cralle (4 Sep 1866–3 May 1920), Find A Grave: Memorial #100315049, citing Mount Carmel Cemetery, Kenbridge, Lunenburg County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Louise Homan Keiser (contributor 47168457). Note: The photographed "CRALLE" memorial stone has three names (Martha A, Elizabeth W, and Alfred L) and no dates.

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Comments: 5

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It looks like there is a possible birth record for Alfred which has a different birth date: "Virginia Births and Christenings, 1584-1917", database, FamilySearch ( : 6 August 2020), Alfred Cralle in entry for Alfred Cralle, 1870.
Nice work Ellen!
posted by Mindy Silva
He died on the 6th of May 1919, from TB, per his death certificate, and his death notice.
posted by Lincoln Lowery
Information from biography and located marriage information added
posted by Michael Sackett
Hi Betty

Would you please change the privacy setting to open? There is much info for this profile on G2G that the Integrators Project would like to transfer to the profile.


posted by Doug Lockwood