ROBERT W. CRAWFORD, M. D., capably practicing medicine and surgery at Muenster, Texas, and also the head of the firm of J. S. Crawford & Company, dealers in general merchandise and grain and cotton buyers, was born in Pontotoc county, Mississippi, March 11, 1866. He was reared on his father’s plantation and acquired a good elementary education in the common schools, after which he engaged in teaching for one term. His youth was passed under the parental roof, his parents being Thomas J. and Susan Crawford, the former a native of South Carolina and the latter of Mississippi, in which state their marriage was celebrated. They were distantly related, being about fourth cousins. Thomas Crawford was a son of Robert Crawford, a native of Scotland and a representative of an honored family of that land. With two brothers Robert Crawford emigrated to America, one settling in the state of New York, one in Pennsylvania, while Robert took up his abode in South Carolina. This was during the colonial epoch in our country’s history, and Robert Crawford served in the American army throughout the Revolutionary war, after which he made a permanent settlement in South Carolina, becoming an extensive land owner and prominent planter there. He prospered in his business undertakings, acquired a handsome competence and his death occurred upon the old homestead in his adopted state. In his family were seven sons, all of whom served in the Civil war: David and Wesley, who were killed in the army; Thomas; Franklin; Henry; John H.; and Samuel.
Of this family Thomas and John settled in Mississippi, becoming prominent planters and slave owners of that state. Thomas filled some federal appointments before the Civil war but he strongly advocated the principles of secession and his influence was for the Confederacy. At the opening of hostilities he assisted in raising the Second Regiment and was chosen captain of his company, serving throughout the war. The regiment was assigned to the Army of the Virginia and he was always on active duty, frequently in the front ranks. He took part in many skirmishes and hotly contested engagements, including the battles of Manassas and Gettysburg and the seven days battle before Atlanta. He was in nearly all of the engagements that were fought on Virginia soil and he was three times wounded, first by a bullet in his hip, second by a bullet in his shoulder, and on the third occasion a bullet pierced his elbow. He remained in the hospital, however, only as long as he was forced to do so. He never fully recovered from the wound in his hip, which occasioned him considerable trouble throughout his entire life. On one occasion, although he was not wounded, his has was pierced by nine bullets, showing that he had various narrow escapes. He was never a prisoner but he saw hard service and underwent many of the deprivations of war. Following the surrender he returned to Mississippi and joined his family. He found that his two hundred negroes had been freed and that nearly everything upon his farm was gone, much valuable property having been destroyed, while his teams had been taken and his plantation altogether badly demoralized. He soon began the work of re- construction, however, and again placed his plantation in good condition. As the years passed by he prospered. The fact that he was a kind and faithful master is indicated by the fact that some of his slaves never left him even after they were granted their freedom. In this community he was recognized as an enterprising business man and was prominent and popular. His fellow townsmen recognizing his worth frequently called him to fill offices of honor and trust. He served as chancery clerk for a number of years, several times represented his district in the state legislature and was widely known and highly respected. He left the impress of his individuality for good upon the public life of the state and moreover he was numbered among the consistent and exemplary members of the Masonic fraternity and of the Presbyterian church. In the latter he served as elder for more than twenty years and he was a delegate to the Presbytery at New Orleans, where he was taken ill. Returning to his home he died in 1900. His wife yet survives and now finds a good home with her son, Dr. Crawford, at the age of sixty-two years. The old homestead in Mississippi has been sold and she is now comfortably situated in Texas. Mrs. Crawford is also a worthy Presbyterian. She was a daughter of Samuel Crawford,who was born in Alabama and settled in Mississippi, where he became a leading planter, having a large and valuable tract of land. His entire life was devoted to agricultural pursuits, and he never sought nor desired office. He held membership in the Primitive Baptist church. His children were: Jane, who became the wife of Captain T. Williams; W. H. D., who served throughout the Civil war; and Mrs. Susan Crawford, who is now the only one living.
Unto the parents of Dr. Crawford were born seven children: Jane C., who is now Mrs. Davenport and resides in Mississippi; Robert W. of this review; John S., who is a partner of his brother Robert in the mercantile business in Muenster; Thomas H., a practicing physician of Austin, Texas; Thomas H., a practicing physician of Austin, Texas; Maggie P.; Dwight W., who is a merchant at Fort Worth, Texas; and Ervin, a grain dealer of Muenster, Texas. All were reared in and now affiliate with the Presbyterian church. Robert W. Crawford, after completing his education and teaching one term of school in Mississippi, came to Texas. He lived at Vernon and for two years read medicine under the direction of Drs. Jonas and Robertson, pursuing a full course of lectures at Vanderbilt University at Nashville, Tennessee. He was graduated form that institution in 1893, after which he returned to Vernon, Texas, where he remained for a short time. In the spring of 1893 he came to Muenster, where he began the practice of his profession, giving his entire attention to the mastery of practical science and to the capable performance of his daily duties. His close attention to business and his able service won him the confidence of the colony of people at this place and the residents over a large surrounding country. He has a well equipped office with all modern appliances and practices along scientific lines both as a physician and surgeon, meeting with his education and skill the needs of the people, his success being displayed in the liberal patronage accorded him. For six years he gave his undivided attention to his studies and practice and then joined his brother John S. in opening a general merchandising establishment, which they yet conduct under the firm name of J. S. Crawford & Company. They also operated a mill until it was destroyed by fire. The buy produce of all kinds and make a speciality of buying produce of all kinds and make a specialty of buying produce of all kinds and make a specialty of buying grain and cotton, handling the two latter commodities in large quantities. They also operate an elevator and the members of the firm are prominent dealers in Muenster. Dr. Crawford never neglects his professional duties under any circumstances but when not engaged with active practice gives his attention to his other business interests and investments. His success in every way has been almost phenomenal for when he started out on his own account his capital was very limited and he has won an excellent reputation and accumulated a large property in Muenster. He also has two fine farms in addition to his large mercantile, grain and cotton interests. The town of Muenster was founded by a colony of German emigrants, the original promoters of this German Catholic colony being the Fleuscher brothers, natives of Westphalia, Germany, who on emigration to America first located in Iowa. They came to Texas in 1889 and secured the agency for twenty-two thousand acres of land belonging to Jot Gunter and Mr. Wellesley. This they advertised and they succeeded in planting in 1889 and they gave it the name of the principal town in the Westphalia province of Germany—Muenster. Soon German colonists form Iowa and other states began to arrive and in 1890 quite a goodly number of families had settled here and in the spring of that year began the erection of a suitable place for worship, putting up a frame structure. The first priest was Father Blume. The congregation was making rapid progress along various lines of activity, when, in 1891, the house of worship was destroyed by a wind storm. A second edifice was erected which is now used for a school house. It continued to serve as a church until 1895, when they began the erection of a more elaborate church edifice of brick. It is today one of the best structures of the kind in northern Texas, and is elaborately furnished. There is also a handsome and commodious parish residence and a fine hall. There are likewise two good schools, the parish school and the public school in town and since the establishment of the colony great progress has been made here in all desirable lines. The church communicants number one hundred and fifty-four families or about twelve of fifteen hundred members in all. The colony is increasing rapidly, people coming to Muenster from Germany and from the different states of the Union. The town of Muenster was platted in 1889 and in 1905 the population was eight hundred and fifty. The Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad runs through the town and there are three elevators, a cotton gin, two hotels, blacksmith shops, implement store, three general stores, two grocery stores, two hardware stores, one bank, five saloons and a lumber yard.
Business interests of all kinds are flourishing here and although many of the colonists come with very small means they have met with success and are in comfortable circumstances, many having fine farms which are well improved. They are also buying more land from time to time and the farms are now adorned with large and attractive residences, big barns, windmills and all the accessories of model farm property.
Dr. Crawford, who has resided in Muenster from an early period in its development, was married at Henrietta, Texas, to Miss Ida Sims, who was born at Council Grove, Kansas, in 1880 and is a daughter of John Sims of the state of New York, who came west at an early day, making his way to Texas. He did much trading in stock at a time when it was sparsely settled, when the Indians were still numerous in this portion of the state and when game of all kinds was plentiful. Later he settled at Council Grove, Kansas, where he engaged in merchandising for a number of years. During that time he also served as high sheriff of the county and was one of the highly respected, prominent and popular people of his locality. He is a broad-minded, active business man and an enterprising and public-spirited citizen. He held membership in the Masonic fraternity. His wife died in Kansas in 1898, and in 1900 he removed to Texas, where he is now engaged in the cattle business, his home being in Beaver county. His children are: Emma, now the wife of John S. Crawford, of Muenster; James W., a ginner at Myra, Texas; Ida, the wife of Dr. Crawford; and John, who is with his father in Beaver county, Texas. This union has been blessed with two interesting children: Margaret S., who was born 14, 1903; and John T., who was born August 16, 1905. Both Dr. and Mrs. Crawford have a wide circle of friends in the community and he has commanded uniform confidence and respect by reason of his capability in his profession and his unfaltering allegiance to high and manly principles.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, 664-667.