Eli Cross is one of the prominent representatives of floricultural enterprises in the city of Grand Rapids, where as a florist he conducts a substantial wholesale and retail business, with the best of facilities and service. His finely appointed retail store is at 150 Monroe Avenue; his office and retail greenhouses are at 1226-8 Union avenue, N. E., and the large wholesale greenhouses are established at the corner of Page street and Ashland avenue. Mr. Cross was born in Cambridgeshire, England, December 25, 1874, and is a son of Charles and Harriet (Wallace) Cross, the former of whom is deceased and the latter of whom still maintains her home in England, she having made several visits to her son, Eli, since he established his residence in the United States. The schools of his native land afforded Mr. Cross his youthful education, and there also he received the best of technical and practical training in gardening and floriculture, a line of enterprise with which the Cross family had there been identified for several generations. Mr. Cross was about seventeen years old when he severed the home ties and came to the United States, and he came forthwith to Grand Rapids, where he found employment in a florist’s shop. After having been employed about five years by the florist firm of Crabb & Hunter, he realized his ambition and was able to engage in the same line of business in an independent way. His original facilities were of modest order, his first two greenhouses having been small ones and having been in the same location that now shows forth his large and well-equipped greenhouses, twenty-two in number. For a few years Mr. Cross confined his business to the raising of violets, and in this exclusive field his business increased until he had eleven greenhouses devoted entirely to the propagation of violets, the fine quality of which gained him wide reputation, so that he shipped his products into all sections of the United States. It is worthy of special note that at the St. Louis Exposition Mr. Cross won a medal for his exhibit of violets, and was the only person in the United States thus to be awarded a medal for such exhibit. By careful and honorable methods and close application, Mr. Cross has made his business expand in scope and importance each successive year, and his wholesale and retail business now ranks among the largest and best-ordered enterprises of its kind in the state of Michigan. His wholesale business is extensive and widely disseminated. Mr. Cross is a life member of the American Florists Association and an influential member of the Michigan Florists Association, of which he has served as vice president. He is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity, including both York and Scottish Rite bodies and the Mystic Shrine, and has membership also in the Knights of Pythias, Modern Woodmen of American and Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. In 1901, Mr. Cross was united in marriage to Miss Elizabeth Brower, of Zeeland, Ottawa County, and of the three children of this union two are living – Jesamine and Anna Marie. The only son, Wallace, was but seventeen years of age when he entered overseas service with the American Expeditionary Force in the World was, and in this connection, he made a record of gallant and faithful service. After receiving his honorable discharge, he returned to Grand Rapids, and here his death occurred in 1923, his illness having been of the briefest duration, he having been taken ill in the night and having died the next day. He was one of the sterling and popular young men of Grand Rapids, and his death was mourned by a wide circle of friends.
Pages 213-214 – History of Kent County
Transcriber: Mary Huizen
Created: 7 February 2003