D. Cran Oliver during his time as Athens police chief.
Undoubtedly one of the most unusually named men ever to serve in the Georgia legislature, Dionysius Crandell "D. Cran" Oliver represented Banks County for one term and following his removal to the city of Athens served as its police chief for several years. While there is a dearth of resources mentioning him, an obituary for Oliver (published in the December 8, 1899 edition of the Athens Weekly Banner) helped significantly in terms of information! Sharing an odd first name not only with the Greek god of winemaking but also several other figures from ancient history, Dionysius Crandell Oliver was born in Georgia on November 14, 1834, the son of the Rev. Jackson and Mary Maxwell Oliver.
No information could be located on Oliver's early life or education, excepting notice of his marriage in Madison County on October 9, 1853 to Emily J. Sanders (1832-1912), to whom he was wed for over forty years. The couple would have several children, including Dionysius Jackson (born 1860), Sanders B. (1861-1937), George Pierce (1868-1875), Adessa Ann, Thomas Britton, and Roberta Estelle.
A year following the start of the Civil War, D. Cran Oliver enlisted in May 1862 as a private in Co. A., 24th Regiment Georgia Volunteer Infantry, with which he would serve through the duration of the hostilities. In August 1862 he was promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant and is recorded (under the name Dionicious Cran Oliver) as having surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia on April 9, 1865.
At the conclusion of his service, Oliver returned to his home state, where for years afterward was engaged as a Methodist minister, both in Banks County and Athens, Clarke County and in 1877 served as chairman of the first annual Banks County Sunday School Celebration. A lifelong temperance advocate, Oliver is remarked in his Athens Weekly Banner obituary as "having never known the taste of alcoholic stimulants or tobacco. Such a record few men in this world can boast", and was a member of the Independent Order of Good Templars, then a leading prohibition organization.
D. Cran Oliver made his first foray into Georgia political life in late 1877, being elected as Banks County's representative to the Georgia General Assembly. Taking his seat at the start of the 1878-79 session, he would be named to a "committee to investigate the expenditures in the Geological department." Oliver's prohibition leanings also impacted his one term in the legislature, and in 1879 he introduced a bill to
"Provide for the prohibition of the sale of spiritouous, malt or vinous liquors in the different counties of this state, and to provide for the punishment therefor, and for other purposes."Following his legislative term, D. Cran Oliver removed to Athens, Clarke County, Georgia, where he would reside for the remainder of his life. In 1883 he entered into the race for Athens police chief and was elected, serving in that post until 1891, and again from 1894-95. Oliver's time in office saw him attend the 1895 national gathering of police chiefs in Washington, D.C., and after leaving that post in December of that year began a trek through Arkansas and the Indian Territory, where he would "preach the gospel."
From the Atlanta Constitution, December 30, 1895.
After his return to Georgia Oliver returned to an active role in the civic life of Athens, being a member of the local Masonic and Odd Fellows lodges, and in January 1898 was named as Commander of the Cobb-Deloney Camp of United Confederate Veterans. In early December 1899, he visited Macon, Georgia as a receiver in bankruptcy to take stock of a bankrupt business in that city. On December 4, while still on business in Macon, Oliver died unexpectedly at age 65, the cause of death being attributed to heart disease, according to the Athens Weekly Banner. Oliver's remains were later returned to Banks County for burial at the New Salem Cemetery. He was survived by his wife Emily, who died aged 79 in 1912 and was subsequently buried in Barrows County, Georgia.
As an addendum, one should note that in addition to the spelling given here, Oliver's name is most often listed as "D. Cran" and his middle name spelled as both "Crandell" and "Crandall".
From the Athens Weekly Banner, December 8, 1899.