GEORGE W. CRAWFORD is a Western Kansas pioneer, and had the experience which enabled him to affiliate with on terms of equality the old settlers who tried farming, stock raising and the various other shifts required for existence in the early days. Since 1897 Mr. Crawford has made his home at Larned and has developed a large and successful insurance business in that city.
While he endured a number of difficulties and hardships as a Kansas farmer, he was well used to hardships, and he was under the stress of a somewhat rough and tumble existence from early childhood.
He was born in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, March 1, 1854, and in 1868 his parents moved to Westmoreland County. His grandfather, Levi Crawford, was a native of Pennsylvania, spent his life there chiefly as a farmer, and after the opening of the oil fields in the western section of the state became a boatman on the Allegheny River. He died in Armstrong County when about eighty-five years of age. Levi Crawford married Miss Klingensmith, of a Pennsylvania German family. Their children comprised John, David, Henry, Jackson and Catherine.
John Crawford, father of George W., was born in Pennsylvania, and for a time he also followed boating on the Allegheny River. During the Civil war he was a member of the Pennsylvania Militia. He was a republican and a member of the Lutheran Church. John Crawford married Anna B. Younkens. Her parents were John and Eleanor (Crooks) Younkens, her father, a small farmer of Armstrong County. The other children in the Younkens family were: William, who was killed while serving as a Union soldier; John; Ellen; Mary; and Euphanis. John Crawford and wife and two of their daughters died within a period of three months, the parents being then about thirty-five years of age. Their children were: George W.; James P., of Morton County, Kansas; Levi K., who was killed while a foreman in one of the Carnegie Steel Company's plants; Annie, wife of Albert Riggle, of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania; and Jennie, wife of David Riggle, of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.
The only schools George W. Crawford attended were the common schools of the rough and rugged district of Pennsylvania in which he was reared. He was still a small boy when his parents died, and, as was the custom of the time, he was bound out, and was brought up under considerable restraint and difficulties. For one year he lived with an aunt, for three years was a bound boy in the home of Lewis Hancock, and for another four years was with Joseph McKee. During this time all he learned was hard work, and when he reached his majority he had no money and little more than a memory of much mistreatment. After gaining his majority he worked as a farm hand for a year, and then took up carpenter work. He followed the trade of carpenter for three years from 1871 at Latrobe in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania.
In that county on January 21, 1877, Mr. Crawford married Miss Mary E. Markle. Mrs. Crawford was born February 1, 1859, a daughter of John B. and Lucinda (Stout) Markle. Her father was an old resident of Westmoreland County. Her mother had a brother who was killed in the battle of Bull Run. John B. Markle was a Pennsylvania German, a native of Pennsylvania, and spent his active career as a farmer, dying when past seventy years of age. His children were: Mrs. Maggie McCurdy, who lives in Latrobe, Pennsylvania; Mrs. Crawford; Emma, wife of Carl Shanefelter of Westmoreland County; Conrad George, of Westmoreland County; and Cecelia, who married Taylor Bates, of Westmoreland County.
Soon after his marriage Mr. Crawford and his wife came west to Kansas, traveling by rail to Larned. They were influenced in selecting Kansas as a home upon information given them by former settlers from Pennsylvania, but all their rosy hopes and expectations suffered many severe disappointments before they were firmly established and securely fixed in the new life of a new state. They arrived in Kansas February 22, 1878, and Mr. Crawford flied on a claim in Edwards County, in Belpre Township, three miles north of the Village of Belpre.
Here the young people burnt a dugout, and that sheltered them for two years. Mr. Crawford worked hard, planted his seed regularly and cultivated it with diligence and care, but suffered frequent disappointments in the harvest and again and again had to resort to other means to make his living. For five years he was foreman on the sheep ranch of James Rider, and during that period he also became a sheen owner himself. James Rider was one of the old settlers of Edwards County. Finally Mr. Crawford began the sheep business on his own claim, and he continued it with moderate success until the tariff was taken off wool, which made the industry unprofitable. He then sold his flock of sheep at $1 a head.
On leaving the sheep business Mr. Crawford became a mixed farmer. His old dugout in the meantime had been replaced by a small two-room frame house, and from time to time barns and sheds were erected for the shelter of his stock and grain. He also fenced his land and brought 100 acres of it under cultivation. His chief support as a farmer seems to have been in raising broom corn. Later he took charge of a cattle ranch for Reynolds & Coatsworth of Kansas City, and he made this move in order to secure the farm part of the ranch.
While living the life of a farmer Mr. Crawford took up the fire insurance business, and his success in it finally justified his devoting all his time to it. He left the cattle ranch and came to Larned in 1897 and transferred his farm insurance agency to his new home. For many years Mr. Crawford has represented the Continental Insurance Company. His medal from the company in 1916 showed him to have been in its continuous employ for twenty-six years. Besides his large insurance business Mr. Crawford is a stockholder and is secretary of the Dugan Manufacturing Company, whose plant is located at Wichita. This company manufactured the Dugan harvester, a combination machine for harvesting and threshing grain with one operation.
Mr. Crawford cast his first presidential vote in 1876 for Rutherford B. Hayes, and has been constantly loyal to the republican cause for over forty years. While a resident of Edwards County he served as trustee of his township, but has sought little active participation in political affairs. Fraternally he is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen of America.
Mr. and Mrs. Crawford have been married forty years, and both children and grandchildren have grown up around them. Their oldest child, Annie Matilda, died in childhood. Alice E. is the wife of Fred J. Haag, of Larned, and has a son, Harley Frederick. Blanche E. is the wife of Jacob Haag, of Larned, and has a son, Harold Crawford; Arthur G., engaged in the insurance business at Larned, married Della Belle Stevens and has a daughter, Kathleen Mary; Walter M., the youngest child, is a soldier in France as a member of Company B, Three Hundred and Thirteenth Ammunition Train in the Eighty-eighth Division. He went to Camp Funston in June and to Camp Dodge in July; went overseas in August, 1918.
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.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project