HARRY S. CRITTENDEN is one of the few men in Western Kansas who might still deserve the appellation of one of the lords of the ranch and range. His activities as a stock man in Hamilton County involve the ownership and control of almost an entire township. Since early manhood he has been a shipper to the Kansas City market and has a wide personal acquaintance among stock men and commission houses, and he is one of the few who have a distinctive individuality among the thousands who take stock to that market every year.
Mr. Crittenden was a small boy when the family established their home at Coolidge in Hamilton County in December, 1880. There was no Hamilton County at that time and civil government had not progressed to the point where there were boundaries or courts or towns, the entire region being the domain of the range cattlemen and of the still wilder denizens, the wild horses and occasionally the survivors of the great herds of buffalo.
The Crittendens are an old and numerous family in America and their origin goes back to two Crittenden brothers who settled in Massachusetts in colonial days. Going back several generations from the present the head of the family was Isaac Crittenden, who was born in 1778. He married Sarah Savage on May 28, 1803. Their children were Alfred, Electra, Elvira, Phoebe, Philander, Sallie and Isaac N. Isaac Crittenden moved from Ashfield, Massachusetts, to Laclik, Cayuga County, New York, in 1815 and about 1829 established his home in a wilderness section of country around Conneaut in northeastern Ohio. His son Alfred and the other children were born in Cayuga County, New York.
Of this family, Alfred Crittenden, who was born in 1804, moved to Ashtabula County, Ohio, July 3, 1828, and entering a tract of public land cleared a farm from the woods and lived there until his death in 1898. In that section he established the first Baptist mission, and was a deacon of the church from its founding in 1836 until his death. Alfred Crittenden married Lydia Williams. Their children were: Simeon; Charles B.; Justin; Harriet R.; Alfred B., who is still living at Conneaut, Ohio; Theresa S. and Mary A., who married Job Green and lives in Georgia.
Charles B. Crittenden, father of Harry S., was one of the most prominent old timer citizens of Western Kansas and was born near Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio, July 2, 1833. He married May 18, 1857, Jennie May Bowman, daughter of Philip and Mrs. (Anderson) Bowman. Charles B. Crittenden died August 26, 1898, and his wife in 1901. They reared the following children: Ida, who died childless at Burlingame, Kansas, September 2, 1898, wife of John Horton, an old Santa Fe railway engineer; Clara B., who became the wife of Miles Standish, a descendant of the historic Miles Standish of Massachusetts, and she died May 14, 1886, in Coolidge, leaving a son, Miles Standish, Jr.; Charles Alfred, who spent his active career as a range cattleman in Kansas and Colorado, afterwards was in the train service of the Santa Fe, and later engaged in the contracting business at Los Angeles, California, where he is still living; Frank M., who for many years was an associate and partner with his brother Harry in the ranch operations at Coolidge, and who died at the age of forty-six, unmarried; Harry S., who was the next older in age to Frank; and James Ford, now a mail contractor from Syracuse to Conant, Colorado, and living at Syracuse, Kansas.
Charles B. Crittendcn went west from Anna, Illinois, where for a number of years he had been employed as an agent and operator of the Illinois Central Railway. During the war he had been a telegrapher in the Union army. One of his associates in telegraphy was the old chief dispatcher of the Santa Fe Railway, Brice McMurtrie, who is now a pensioned employe of the company living at Topeka.
Charles B. Crittenden went into the west in 1875, and was one of the first settlers of Bent County, Colorado, which was then a territory. At Granada, Colorado, he engaged in business as a small stock man, hotel keeper, and during 1875-76 as local agent of the Santa Fe Railway. In 1878 he filed on a quarter section of land adjoining the Coolidge community in Hamilton County, Kansas. His daughter filed on another quarter of the same section and that was the beginning of the Crittenden activities in this region. In December, 1880, the family moved to Coolidge. On moving to Coolidge Charles B. Crittenden became proprietor of the Occidental Hotel. The building had been moved bodily from Granada, Colorado. It was torn down, the material brought to Coolidge, and was set up here where it still stands, its occupants serving meals to the passing travelers. Charles B. Crittenden had a brief experience as a landlord and then moved to his daughter's claim and lived there the rest of his life. Cattle were his chief possessions and in ranching his sons gained their early experience and laid the foundation for the big enterprise which has grown up under their direction in later years. Charles B. Crittenden spent his last years as an invalid, having contracted telegrapher's palsy while in the railroad service. His death was due to locomotor ataxia. For many years he served as township clerk at Coolidge, and never had any opposition for that office. He was a man greatly esteemed, had no enemies, never uttered a profane word and exercised a good influence by cautioning his sons and other young men with whom he came in contact as to moderation in their conduct. He was a charter member of the Masonic Lodge of Coolidge and while not affiliated as a churchman his life was in accord with the teachings and practices of the Scripture. A man of very much the same type was his son Frank, who lived his forty-six years without gaining a single personal enmity, and much credit was due him for the development of the Crittendon ranch enterprise now directed by his brother Harry.
Harry S. Crittenden was born at Anna, Illinois, February 28, 1867, and was eight years of age when the family moved to Colorado and thirteen when they came to Kansas. He secured his early education at Granada, Colorado, and when only eleven years of age began earning his own living as a sheep herder in the employ of Carl Schmidt on what is now the old McMillen ranch near Granada. His next employers were the Beaty Brothers. "horse wranglers" at wages of $22.50 a month. This was the last firm that employed his services as a wage earner, and since then he has been doing for himself or has been in business in connection with the family. About the time he reached his majority he entered ranching as an independent business at Coolidge. In the early days the family had no surplus means, and they developed a herd of cattle by the slow process of raising the calves. There were hard and long years of effort involved in getting established independently, and one of the means which tided the family over that early period was the boarding house managed by Mr. Crittenden's mother.
Harry Crittenden is widely known as a breeder and grower of White Face cattle. He is also a trader and dealer, and his ranch of approximately a township of land lies northeast of Coolidge. Much of this land he owns personally and all of it is under fence. Agriculturally he devotes his land chiefly to the production of cattle feed, milo maize, cane and hay. His long experience enables him to give some interesting figures concerning livestock prices at the Kansas City markets. For a number of years during his visits there the markets offered for cattle prices ranging from $2.50 to $3.00 a hundred, and the takings were not prompted by any eagerness. In 1917 the same kind of cattle sold on the same market at $8 a hundred.
Mr. Crittenden is a member of the Colorado Stock Growers Association, and that has brought him into close contact with its proceedings in convention. It was at his behest and through his active efforts that the present cattle inspection law for the western end of Kansas was enacted. He had much to do with outlining the bill in its chief features, but when the Legislature got through with the measure its form was not altogether what was desired by the promoters.
The Crittendens have always been republicans and have been quite active in local politics in Hamilton County. Mr. Crittenden cast his first presidential ballot for Benjamin Harrison in 1888 and has followed the party and supported its efforts ever since. For many years he has been chairman of the Republican County Central Committee, and was nearly always a delegate to the county and state conventions. He twice served as commissioner of the county and is now a member of the board, having been elected in the fall of 1916. The chief business enacted by the board has been road improvement and concrete bridge building. Mr. Crittenden was one of the five citizens of his locality who built the main ditch which carries the water of the Arkansas River along the north bluff of that stream to irrigate a region for eight miles down the valley. Mr. Crittenden is serving as worshipful master of Coolidge Lodge No. 316, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, for his seventh term and is also a member of the Royal Arch Chapter and Knight Templar Commandery.
At Denver, Colorado, October 4, 1892, he married Miss Hallie M. Smith. Her father, Charles Smith, was a native of Athens, Ohio, and spent his life there as a farmer. His widow, Mrs. Susan (King) Smith, afterwards came into Western Kansas and proved up a homestead in Hamilton County and was a resident there for several years. He is now living at Athens, Ohio. Mr. and Mrs. Crittenden have two children, Harry Lance and Miss Leslie. The son is now associated with his father in ranching.
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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