Alfred Cralle
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Alfred Lewis Cralle (1866 - 1919)

Alfred Lewis Cralle aka Crallie
Born in Kenbridge, Lunenburg County, Virginia, United Statesmap
Husband of — married 20 Sep 1900 in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, United Statesmap
Died at age 52 in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 31 Mar 2009
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Alfred Cralle invented the mechanical ice cream scoop in 1897.[1]
Notables Project
Alfred Cralle is Notable.

Alfred L. Cralle (/ˈælfɹəd ˈkɹɔli/) was born in Kenbridge, Lunenburg County, Virginia on 4 September 1866,[2] 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,[3] and the 1880 U.S. Census recorded 13-year-old Alfred Crallie in his parents' household in Browns Store Magisterial District, Lunenburg County, Virginia, where his father was a farmer.[4] Alfred attended Wayland Seminary,[5] founded by the American Baptist Home Mission Society to help educate African Americans after the Civil War.

After finishing school, he joined the great African American migration, and moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where, according to his online biography at Find A Grave, a he worked as a porter in a drug store and at a hotel. There he learned that ice cream, newly popular, was difficult to dispense commercially because it tended to stick to utensils, requiring the use of two hands and two serving utensils. A patent attorney in Pittsburgh advertised for inventors to devise a solution, and Alfred Cralle rose to the challenge, 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 his "Ice Cream Mold and Disher."[6] His invention afforded a quick release for ice cream and other foods, and was 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."[6][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 can still be seen in modern mechanical 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]

He did not become rich or famous for improving the ice cream scoop, but he did manage to buy his home on Mayflower Street.[8] He did not continue in business; his 1900 marriage license application describes him as a porter; the 1907 Pittsburgh city directory describes Alfred Cralle of 168 Mayflower as a laborer;[9] and both the 1910 U.S. Census and the record of his death in 1919 describe him as a Pullman car porter.[10][11]

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.[2]

Alfred and Elizabeth Cralle had three children:

Death and Aftermath

Alfred L. Cralle died at his home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 6 May 1919 from pulmonary tuberculosis.[11] His daughter Marion had died of the same disease three months earlier.[12][13] Burial was in Monongahela Cemetery.[11][14]

The death of Elizabeth Cralle was recorded in Pittsburgh later that same year, on 22 November 1920, also from tuberculosis.[15][16] And in April of 1922, his only son, Alfred, a student, died in Massachusetts from the disease,[17] leaving Anna Cralle, born in 1910, as his only surviving child.

Several accounts of the life of Alfred L. Cralle state that he died in an automobile accident in 1920, but the death certificate contradicts that, indicating that he died from tuberculosis the previous year.[11]

There is a memorial stone, likely a cenotaph, 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. Alfred and Elizabeth W. are obviously he and his wife; Martha A. Cralle is their daughter Anna, who died in 2009.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wikipedia contributors, "Alfred L. Cralle," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed August 22, 2022).
  2. 2.0 2.1 "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.
  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
    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.
  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.)
    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.
  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. 6.0 6.1 United States Patent and Trademark Office, Image for Patent #576,395, Ice Cream Mold and Disher, patented Feb. 2, 1897.
  7. 7.0 7.1 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). Biography not credited. Note: The photographed "CRALLE" memorial stone has three names (Martha A, Elizabeth W, and Alfred L), and no dates.
  8. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette August 4th 1928, p. 21 Delinquent tax lien for land and property on Mayflower St [1]
    The land was 23 by 100 feet on Mayflower Street between Paulson and Ashley Streets. It had a two-story frame house on it.
  9. Pittsburgh City Directory, 1907, page 429. Accessed on at
  10. "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.).
    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., mulatto, was born in Virginia of parents who were born in Virginia. He worked as a porter for the Pullman company.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 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. Accessible with paid subscription on at
    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. He died from pulmonary tuberculosis at home, 168 Mayflower Street. William Cralle of 2617 Penn Ave. in Pittsburgh was informant for the death certificate, which describes Alfred as "colored." Burial at Monongahela Cemetery.
  12. Child, death: 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
  13. "United States Census, 1920," Enumeration sheet for Pittsburgh Ward 12, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1521; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 512. Accessed on at
    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.
  14. Obituary: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 9th May 1919, p. 15 [2] According to his obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Alfred L. Cralle died at 3 am on Tuesday May 6th 1919 at his home at 168 Mayflower Street, East End. His widow was Elizabeth L. Cralle. It says the funeral was to take place at his church the Carson Street Bapstist Church at 1 pm that Friday. It adds he was a member of Golden Seal Lodge No. 69, Free and Accepted Masons.
  15. Wife, death: "Virginia, Death Certificates, 1912-1987," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 16 August 2019), Alfred L Crawley in entry for Elizabeth W Crawley, 22 Nov 1920; from "Virginia, Marriage Records, 1700-1850," database and images, Ancestry ( : 2012); citing , Lunenburg, Virginia, United States, entry #, Virginia Department of Health, Richmond.
  16. Estate and Proceedings Indexes, 1788-1971; Vol. 007-008; Allegheny County (Pennsylvania). Register of Wills; Pennsylvania. Image 769 of 930. Accessed on at
  17. "Massachusetts Deaths, 1841-1915, 1921-1924", database with images, FamilySearch ( : 7 April 2021), Alfred L Cralle in entry for Alfred L Cralle, 1922.

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Comments: 6

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Hi Nick,

This profile has been designated by WikiTree's USBH project as a Platinum Profile, and as such will receive a little polishing in the coming days, in order to best honor him and conform with WT and USBH standards. Please refrain from editing for a couple of days while we review and possibly make minor revisions. Please let me know if you have any questions! Thanks for your good work to this point!

posted by Stephanie Ward
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