Aunt Winnie to many, grandma to me
Family was important to Winnie Crawford. It was her quest to know more about her grandmother (her mom’s family) that started my genealogy journey. At the time, it was hard for me to imagine growing up without knowing your grandparents — or at least something about them. Even though my Briles grandfather died when I was 4, I grew up hearing stories about him. That was not true for Winnie. All of her grandparents had died before she was born.
Winnie Letha Currey was born in 1903 in Leavenworth County, Kansas. She was the seventh child born to Hiram and Winnie (Hutchinson) Currey. As a young child, Winnie’s contact with family members was limited to her immediate family. Both the Currey and Hutchinson families dispersed around the turn if the century leaving few aunts, uncles, cousins living in the vicinity during Winnie’s childhood.
Around 1908, Winnie’s family moved from Leavenworth County to near Plainville, Kansas, where her dad rented land to farm. By 1913, the family left western Kansas and moved back to Olathe, Kansas.
Winnie’s letters provide the best picture of her childhood:
I don’t know for sure but the Hutchinson family were around Liberty Mo and Dad went there to William Jewell and met my mother. The Currey place was a few miles form Lansing Kansas. The kids all left but after Gma & Gdad Currey died Uncile Will stayed on married & raised his family there. Aunt Jesse died before we left Lansing for Plainville Kas. My dad was a barber at Lansing owned his shop but sold it to farm at Plainville.
… I went with mother when Earnest was a baby to visit Aunt Nora & I faintly remember an old lady smoking a corn cob pipe, who she was I wouldn’t know.
Mother died in May. We went to the Children’s Home June 11 — Herb didn’t go and Myrtle wasn’t there long til she went to Aunt Mary’s in Denver Col.
Mary and I stayed together till she got married. But to go back – The court took Littens license away so dad had to take us back till Mary & I finished grade school. Then he was going to put us back into a home. I got Aunt Joe De Shazer to take Alma & found a home for Earnest. Then Mary & I lied about our ages went to work. I always kept track of the kids as I do now.
We were on the farm when Alma was borned. Just renting. We were burnt out for 4 straight years. So we moved to Olathe & dad went to hauling freight in Kansas City. The reason I stay with Liberty because Aunt Nora (mother did too) would tell me about their dances and one time got to KC form N KC and an old man came and set by me & called me Winnie and began to talk of the past. So that in itself told me mother lived around there.
My dad was a jack of all trades except for his carpentery. In that he was tops. He could heal a headache, backache and aches of all sorts with his hands. He did it only for his family. I don’t know what it was in the census. But he was a barber while we were in Lansing. Had a barber shop of his own till he sold & we went to Plainville on the farm. When we were on the farm there was a hill not far from our hose & dad tunneled into it lined it with straw and stored our spuds, cabbage & spuds etc in it. They kept all winter.
Winnie married Leon Crawford in Dodge City in 1919. When asked about how she got from living with a cousin in North Kansas City to Dodge City, she said she went to Dodge to help Myrtle because Myrtle was having her first baby. (Myrtle was married in Dodge City on 24 Mar 1917. Dorothy, Myrtle’s first child, was born in Feb 1918 in Ford County, Kansas.) When asked about meeting Leon, Winnie said he would come over to Myrtle’s house and the four of them would play cards. Winnie and Leon were married in Myrtle’s living room on Christmas Eve, 1919.
Winnie and Leon lost their 1st child, Betty Jean, on the day she was born in 1921. Six years later, their son Eugene was born. Eleven years after that, their youngest son, LR, was born and she would bury him in 1961.
Winnie was a typical wife and mother for that time period. She raised a garden and canned the produce to help put food on the table. During World War II, Winnie opened a room in their house so that wives of the US Army pilots would have someplace to stay. When the family moved from Avenue G to 2nd street, Winnie continued the practice of renting out rooms. The bedrooms on the second floor were rented to students going to college across the street. When those same students couldn’t make it home for Thanksgiving, they would be included at the family table.
Winnie hosted family dinners on a regular basis. She was a good cook and enjoyed baking. Pecan, pumpkin and cherry pies were always part of a holiday meal. Homemade noodles, gum drop cookies, and frozen salad were some of the family favorites. Even when she traveled to Emporia for those holiday dinners, she would bring the pies, the gumdrop cookies and the frozen salad.
Winnie was also a quilter. She hand embroidered quilts for her son and granddaughter. Her grandsons also were beneficiaries of one of her quilts. Her green pom-pom quilt was her pride and joy. She created this quilt for their bedroom. This quilt has been repurposed into table runners by her great-granddaughter and shared with the family.
Winnie and her husband, Leon Crawford, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1969. Seven years later, Winnie would sell the family home, move into an apartment and bury her husband.
Winnie later moved to a first floor apartment in the high rise on Central where she tended the flowers on the East side of the building. It was in this apartment that my genealogy journey began. We would sit and discuss my findings, go thru the albums and talk about her life. I will always treasure my memories of those weekends spent with her.