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George W. Crowell. Among those men of dynamic force and fine constructive powers who have been foremost in the furtherance of the civic and industrial development and progress of Woods County, Oklahoma, a place of exceptional prominence and distinction must be accorded to the sterling citizen and representative man of affairs whose name initiates this paragraph. Mr. Crowell is vice president of the First National Bank of Alva, the county seat of Woods County, was the founder of the firm of Crowell Brothers, engaged in dealing in lumber and grain; and his extraneous capitalistic interests are likewise of broad scope and importance, as shown by his being president of the Panhandle Grain Company of Amarillo, Texas, and president and treasurer of the Centennial Coal Company of Denver, Colorado.
A scion of staunch southern ancestry, George Washington Crowell was born in Stanly County, North Carolina, on the 2d of February, 1861, his advent into the world having thus occurred about the time when the Civil war was precipitated,–a conflict that was destined to bring his native state into prominence as a stage of military activities and ultimately to bear to it much of desolation and material loss. He is a son of James and Catherine (Russell) Crowell, both likewise natives of North Carolina and members of old and honored families of that commonwealth. James Crowell was born in Stanly County, on the 29th of April, 1827, and in the same county were born and reared his parents, who there passed their entire lives. James Crowell was a prosperous agriculturist in his native county at the outbreak of the Civil war and he promptly subordinated all personal interests to tender his aid in defense of the Confederate cause. He enlisted as a private in a North Carolina regiment and with the same gave faithful and valiant service in the commands of Gen. Stonewall Jackson and the distinguished Gen. Robert E. Lee. He took part in many important engagements, including the battles of Bull Run and Gettysburg, and in after years perpetuated the memories of his military career through his affiliation with the United Confederate Veterans, though he left the South within a short period after the close of the war. In 1849 was solemnized his marriage to Miss Catherine Russell, who was born September 9, 1829, and whose parents likewise were natives of North Carolina. James Crowell devoted his entire active career to agricultural pursuits and the closing years of his life were passed at Pittsburg, Kansas, where he died on the 25th of January, 1906, and his devoted wife was summoned to eternal rest on the 17th of March, 1904. They became the parents of five sons and six daughters, concerning whom the following brief record is given:
Margaret was born September 9, 1851; James Robert was born July 27, 1853, and died July 22, 1884; Josephine was born February 25, 1854, and her death occurred March 9, 1914; Estella was born February 7, 1858; David Henry Baxter was born December 10, 1856, and is now associated with his brother, George W., in the lumber and grain business, under the firm name of Crowell Brothers, his place of residence being Attica, Harper County, Kansas; Franklin, who was born May 18, 1859, is a physician by profession; George W., of this review, was the next in order of birth; and the names and respective dates of birth of the other children are as here noted,–Thomas Jefferson, May 20, 1863; Samantha, January 27, 1866; Sarah Catherine, June 14, 1868; and Mary, April 27, 1871.
The birthplace of George W. Crowell was the old homestead farm or plantation of his father in Stanly County, North Carolina, and he was about eight years of age at the time of the family removal to McLean County, Illinois, in 1868. There his father became a substantial farmer and there he himself was reared to adult age. He continued to attend the public schools of McLean County until he was eighteen years old, in the meanwhile having contributed his quota to the work and management of the home farm. In 1879, at the age noted above, he removed to Crawford County, Kansas, and later he rounded out his educational discipline by completing a course in the Kansas State Normal School at Fort Scott, in which institution he was graduated as a member of the class of 1884. In the same year he entered the employ of the Long-Bell Lumber Company, with the definite purpose of learning the lumber business in all of its details. Within the same year he was promoted to the management of one of the yards of this company, and in 1886 he engaged in the lumber business in an independent way, by purchasing the yard and business of the company at Attica, Kansas, where he effected the organization of the present firm of Crowell Brothers, in which his associate is his elder brother, David H. B. Crowell. The firm now maintains a series of well equipped lumber yards, at different points in Kansas and Oklahoma and the business has expanded to large and substantial proportions under the careful, progressive and honorable management of the enterprising proprietors.
In 1893 Mr. Crowell became one of the large concourse of prospective settlers who participated in the run into the famous Cherokee Strip, or Outlet, of Oklahoma, at the time it was thrown open to settlement. He established his residence at Alva, the present thriving little metropolis and judicial center of Woods County, and the governor of Oklahoma Territory appointed him chairman of the first board of county commissioners of the new county. Mr. Crowell thus played an important part in formulating the system of government for the county and also was influential in the progressive movements made by the board for the furtherance of the best interests of the ambitious county and its people. Mr. Crowell has otherwise given effective service in behalf of the public, and especially through his several years incumbency of the office of member of the city council of Alva. He is unswerving in his allegiance to the democratic party and has been an active worker in its ranks during the years of his residence in Oklahoma, as he has served as chairman of its county committee in Woods County and also as a member of the democratic committee for the congressional district of which Woods County is a part. In 1896 Mr. Crowell represented Oklahoma as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, in Chicago, and in all things he is to be designated as a loyal, progressive and public-spirited citizen as well as a straightforward, alert and substantial business man. In the time-honored Masonic fraternity he has received the chivalric degrees and besides being actively affiliated with the various York Rite bodies, including the commandery of Knights Templar, he is identified also with the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine.
At Girard, Kansas, on the 16th of September, 1885, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Crowell to Miss Etta C. Friend, who was born on a farm in Macoupin County, Illinois, on the 7th of April, 1862, and who was a daughter of Daniel M. and Charlotte (Lewis) Friend. Mrs. Crowell, a woman of gentle and gracious personality and a lifelong member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was summoned to the life eternal on the 9th of June, 1911, and she is survived by six children, concerning whom specific mention is made in the following paragraph
Frank Dee, who was born at Attica, Kansas, on the 24th of December, 1886, completed his education in the Northwestern State Normal School at Alva, Oklahoma, and he still retains his residence in Woods County. He has received the thirty-third degree in the Masonic fraternity, besides being affiliated with the Mystic Shrine. On the 4th of October, 1911, at Alva, he wedded Miss Ethel Noble, who was born at Medicine Lodge, Kansas, November 21, 1887, and they have one child, Robert Dee, Jr., who was born March 30, 1914. Ralph Baxter Crowell, the second son, was born at Attica, Kansas, on the 15th of July, 1888, and his educational advantages included those of both the University of Kansas and Vanderbilt University, at Nashville, Tennessee. August 27, 1912, he married Miss Isis Stone, who was born in Bourbon County, Kentucky, on the 15th of December, 1893. Hazel May, who was born at Attica, Kansas, December 14, 1889, and Helen Lewis, born at the same place, May 29, 1893, remain at the parental home, both having taken courses of study in the Northwestern State Normal School at Alva, Oklahoma. James Monroe and George Washington, Jr., are both natives of Alva, where the former was born July 10, 1900, and the latter October 2, 1903.
On the 1st of October, 1913, Mr. Crowell contracted a second marriage, by his union with Mae Wilcox, who was born at Neosho, Missouri, on the 6th of April, 1884, and who is the popular chatelaine of their pleasant and hospitable home in Alva.