GEORGE WASHINGTON CRUM, now retired, has been a resident of Kansas since 1879. He is an old soldier, having fought gallantly for the preservation of the Union and has proved his capacity and fidelity in many other relations to the busy world. His home is in Strong City, and he has been identified with Chase County from section hand to county official.
He was born in Chemung County, New York, October 16, 1842, son of Le Roy and Polly (Watkins) Crum. His parents were born in the same section of New York State and his father was a flour miller. The son grew up on his father's farm and also in the mill and when not otherwise employed was attending the public schools. He was not yet nineteen years of age when the war broke out and his father being opposed to military service he ran away in order to enlist. He was first with the Eighty-fifth New York Infantry Company D, and in that service was wounded and soon discharged. He went to Pennsylvania, organized a new company, Company A, One Hundred and Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, was promoted to lieutenant, and fought in many of the historic engagements of the war, and was captured in front of Petersburg. About the close of the war he returned home, receiving his discharge June 12, 1865, and for a number of years followed farming and dairying in New York State.
When he came to Kansas in 1879, Mr. Crum continued farming a few years, but in 1883 came to Strong City. For three years he was trustee of Strong Township and in 1887 was elected register of deeds of the county. He filled that office two terms, four years. He was also deputy sheriff of Chase County four years. Mr. Crum has also been a loyal and active republican and is a past commander of John W. Gerry Post of the Grand Army of the Republic at Cottonwood Falls. He has held all the chairs in the local lodge of Odd Fellows and is a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. For twenty years Mr. Crum was secretary of the Consolidated Street Railway of Strong City and Cottonwood Falls.
In an interval of his army service, on March 2, 1864, he married Miss Mary E. Chapel, who was born in Allegany County, New York, February 14, 1847, a, daughter of Stephen L. and Sally Chapel, natives of the same county. Mrs. Crum was a teacher before her marriage. Six children were born to them, two sons and four daughters, Clara Ione, born January 10, 1865, died in Chase County, Kansas, September 13, 1880. Stephen Leroy died in infancy. Bertha Ellen, the third child, has had a notable career among Kansas women, special mention being made thereof in following paragraphs. Estella Maude the fourth child, was born April 8, 1872, and is now the wife of Albert Hoffmiller, of Portland, Oregon. Inah Leona, born November 13, 1879, the same year the family came to Kansas, is the wife of Andrew Hillbarger, of Chehalis, Washington. George Franklin, born May 22, 1883, is an electrician at Los Angeles, California, and on February 22, 1904, married Maude Leeper, of Fort Scott, Kansas.
Bertha Ellen Crum was born on a farm near Bolivar, New York, July 26, 1869, and was ten years of age when her parents came to Kansas. She completed her education in the public schools of Cottonwood Falls and at the age of eighteen became deputy register of deeds of Chase County, holding that position four years, one year under her father's successor in office. February 22, 1894, she became the wife of James Plummer. Mr. Plummer was born in Kansas, February 10, 1869, was reared on a farm, at the age of seventeen took up railroad work, and was passenger conductor when he died in the Santa Fe Hospital at Topeka February 2, 1906.
In the same year of her husband's death Mrs. Plummer became deputy register of deeds of Chase County, again filling that office one year. For three years she was associated with the Chase County Leader at Cottonwood Falls, and for one year was associate editor of the Strong City News. She is a woman of many accomplishments, has business ability developed to a high degree, and her energy and influence have long made her a factor in Chase County affairs. In 1910 she entered upon a noteworthy campaign for nomination to the office of register of deeds in Chase County on the republican ticket. This campaign was made the subject of a special article by a correspondent of a Topeka paper and some parts of that article deserve quotation as showing how a Kansas woman succeeded in politics.
"When she announced her candidacy," say the article in question, Mrs. Plummer decided to give to each voter she met some kind of a souvenir that would cause them to remember her and that would be more useful than the regulation Kansas campaign cigar. She hit upon the lead pencil as a proper gift and ordered from an eastern pencil factory one thousand pencils bearing the inscription 'Vote for Mrs. Bertha Crum Plummer for registrar of deeds, primary. August 2, election November 8.' With these campaign souvenirs Mrs. Plummer and her little six year old daughter started on a tour of Chase county in a topless buggy drawn by a sure-footed horse. The little girl held the reins and guided the animal while the mother protected the two from the burning sun with an umbrella. Chase County away from the Cottonwood River and the beautiful valley that borders it is hilly and uneven, and much of its area is in pasture and cattle ranches. The homes of many of these ranches are located a half mile or more within the enclosure and to reach them many gates had to be opened and some of these required the strength and skill of the hardiest ranchman. But Mrs. Plummer was equal to every emergency and she probably opened and closed five hundred farm and ranch gates in her strenuous campaign for the nomination.
"It required four weeks' canvassing to cover all sections of Chase county. Starting from her home at Strong City on Monday, Mrs. Plummer and her little daughter would spend the entire week out among the country folks. She was made welcome at every home, for nearly every farmer and citizen knew her personally, having met her in the Court House of Cottonwood Falls where she served nearly seven years as deputy under former registers of deeds. It mattered not where Mrs. Plummer and the daughter found themselves at night, the big ranchmen and their families were glad to entertain them, and at noonday they were invited to join the men working on the ranches or in the threshing fields at luncheon. These meetings gave the energetic widow an opportunity to solicit votes, and she never failed to secure pledges of support."
In the triangular campaign for the nomination she won by a majority over the other two candidates and in the following November was elected, filling the office with admirable confidence and judgment for two years. Though a candidate for a second term in 1912, the split in the republican party that year caused her defeat by a small majority. In 1913 she became clerk in the office of register of deeds of Shawnee County at Topeka for six months and since then has been busily engaged in different capacities with local news papers. In 1911 Mrs. Plummer took the lead in organizing the Kansas State Registers of Deeds Association and was elected its first secretary and treasurer. She is an active member of the Eastern Star and the Rebekahs, is identified with church and Sunday school, and while for many years dependent upon her own exertions for a living and the support of her child, she has concerned herself with everything that promotes the welfare of her home community. Mrs. Plummer's one daughter is Marion Frances, who was born at Strong City November 21, 1903.
A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Staci Lewis, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, December 1, 1999.
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