ROBERT H. CRABTREE. Twenty-seven years is a short time in the life of a nation or state, and represents half the normal lifetime of the individual. But in such a period, which measures the time Robert H. Crabtree has been identified with Scott County, changes and events have been so wonderful as to practically transform that entire district so far as its usefulness to mankind is concerned, and the same period has also effected the evolution of Mr. Crabtree from a young man of the humblest financial circumstances to a position where he is now one of the most important factors in the development of the community.
Mr. Crabtree arrived at Scott City September 6, 1889. He was in search of the opportunities the great West offered then, as it is still offering today, to the young man. Practically his only capital was in his brain and hands. All the cash he possessed was $15. With little thought as to what it might mean in the future he bought a few lots in the incipient city, paying $1 for each. He declares he might have purchased almost any business location in the town for $25. Farm lands could be had for about 30 cents an acre. Subsequently he refused to trade a $50 horse for the well known Rudolph quarter section.
Before continuing the recital of his experiences and achievements in Scott County something should be said of Mr. Crabtree's early life. He was born September 7, 1868, in Boone County, Iowa, having come to Kansas from Des Moines. His father, George Crabtree, was descended from English stock, grandfather Crabtree having been a native of England. When a young man George Crabtree moved to Iowa, in 1848, spent his life privately and quietly as a successful farmer, and was a member of the democratic party. In old age he went to Nebraska, where he died in 1902, and is buried at Indianola in that state. George Crabtree was married in Iowa to Miss Almyra Hoyt. Her parents were James and Mrs. (Latta) Hoyt. Mrs. George Crabtree died in Los Angeles, California, December 25, 1912, where she is buried. Her children were: Charles C. of Rapid City, South Dakota; Mrs. Ella Loughran, of Scott City, Kansas; Robert H.; Frank E., of Los Angeles; Clinton, of Whittier, California; Lula M., widow of Boyd Arthur, of Los Angeles; and Perry E., of Oakland, California.
The boyhood of Robert H. Crabtree was spent on an Iowa farm. He attended the common schools, afterwards qualified for teaching, and a large part of his early career both in Iowa and in Kansas was passed in the schoolroom. He put in fourteen years in the vocation and twelve years of that time in Kansas, alternating the teaching terms with farming and other interests. For several years he was principal of the Scott City schools, and he also served on the county examining board.
Mr. Crabtree came to Scott City by railroad in company with his sister, Mrs. Ella Loughran. It will be noted that he arrived in Scott City the day before his twenty-first birthday and the day after he became of age he filed on a pre-emption in Beaver Township. He proved up his claim and put up a frame house sufficient for bachelor's hall. He later took a homestead and tree claim and proved up both of them. His homestead was 1 1/2 miles east of Scott City. It is now one of the most substantially improved farms in the county, and it was his home until recent years and he still owns this farm. His first house there was a small frame building, and he paid his expenses not so much from the crops he raised on the land as from his wages as a school teacher. Mr. Crabtree can give personal testimony as to the amount of wages paid teachers in this section of Kansas in early days. He received $25, $30, $40 a month, and while in the Scott City schools was paid $50 a month. As soon as the school term was over he went to the farm, put in several months of hard work, some times completing a crop, and on leaving educational work he took up farming and stock raising as an exclusive vocation. When his affairs had progressed to the point where profits were reasonably assured, he began investing his surplus in new improvements and other land until he had secured an estate of 1,200 acres. As a stockman he handled both horses and cattle. Many years cattle sold at low prices on the market and gave little profit for the expense of raising them, but in other years he got a fine price and on the whole his cattle business was the chief source of his income.
In 1910 Mr. Crabtree retired somewhat from his business as a farmer and stock man and engaged in the real estate business at Scott City. He is a dealer in his own properties and also a broker. Hardly any other line of business offers greater opportunities for the manifestation of real public spirit and to wield an important influence upon the future welfare of a community. Mr. Crabtree has been guided by wholesome principles in all his real estate transactions, and as an advertiser has done much to promote irrigation to this section of the state. He is a member of the Central Real Estate Dealers Association of Topeka. Among other interests he holds stock in the First National Bank of Scott City, is one of its directors, and in former years was bookkeeper for two years.
A number of years ago he was elected probate judge of Scott County as successor to Judge Ball, and filled the office one term. Judge Crabtree is a democrat and has attended many state conventions and local gatherings of the party. He was present at the Kansas City National Convention in 1900 and saw Bryan nominated, and was in the Denver Convention of 1908 when the famous Nebraskan was again a candidate. He has always been chairman of his county committee. Mr. Crabtree has served as councilman of Scott City, for two years was mayor, and has continuously used his influence to promote higher education. He was an effective worker for the establishment of a county high school. As secretary of the Commercial Club he did his part toward the promotion of the C. K. and O. Railway, and also helped secure the Garden City-Scott City branch of the Santa Fe. As a material builder he erected his residence in Scott City and also the business house in which his office is located. Fraternally he is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, and has attended state and national conventions of this order, and he and his family are identified with the Christian Church, in which he is an elder.
Mr. Crabtree was first married October 9, 1895, in Pueblo, Colorado, to Minta Anderson, who died in Scott City July 25, 1899. No children survived her. On December 22, 1901, he married Miss Bertha M. Royer. Her father, D. W. Royer, was a Pennsylvania man but came to Kansas from Nebraska. He was married in Nebraska to Mary Girl, who came from Illinois. Mrs. Crabtree was the oldest of the family, her sisters and brothers being: Hattie E., who died as Mrs. Hartzell of Scott City; J. Melvin, of Marshalltown, Iowa; Celia A., wife of P. D. DeVault, of Scott City; and Etta E., who died as Mrs. Henry Strickert, of Scott City.
Mr. and Mrs. Crabtree have two children, Merna, who is now attending the Scott County High School, and Roland Hoyt Crabtree (R. H. C., Jr.), born July 5, 1917.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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