Tuesday, November 27, 2007

CRAPSEY Photos...and a Rollerskating Bear

A week and a half ago, I posted some transcribed news clippings about my ROBBINS ancestors and their extended family who lived in Southbrook Township, Cottonwood County, Minnesota from the mid-1870s to the early 1880s. These were sent to me by Mike Kirchmeier of Windom, Minnesota, who is working on a genealogical project of Southbrook Township citizens. He also sent me some photographs, as well as some genealogical information on these family members. I was very excited to get all of this. These have helped to "flesh out" some of the people in my family tree who were little more than names, dates, and locations to me.

First a little background: one of my paternal 4th-great-grandmothers was Lura Ann JACKSON (1826 - bef. 1900), whose earliest residences I've found have been in Potter County, Pennsylvania. She first married my ancestor, Nelson H. PECK (c. 1819 - 1849), and they had one child, my 3rd-great-grandmother, Viola Gertrude PECK (1848 - 1918). After Nelson died, Lura Ann married a widower, the Rev. John CRAPSEY (1816 - 1903), who had one child, Angelo M. CRAPSEY (1842 - 1864), by his previous wife. The family moved to neighboring McKean County, Pennsylvania, to land adjoining that of the ROBBINS family in Liberty Township. Angelo's best friend was Charles H. ROBBINS, and the two signed up together after Fort Sumter was fired upon, and served in Company I of the First Pennsylvania Rifles (a.k.a. the Bucktails). Angelo was captured during a battle and spent some time in Libby Prison, the infamous Confederate prisoner-of-war prison in Richmond, Virginia. Although released later, he was there long enough to lose his mind, and tragically committed suicide after several unsuccessful attempts, at the home of a family friend, Laroy LYMAN, in Roulette, Potter County, Pennsylvania.

Charles and Viola were wed at the war's end, married by her step-father, the Reverend CRAPSEY (see the photograph likely taken at that time, here). First, the ROBBINSes accompanied Charles' parents to Oceana County, in Western Michigan, but later removed to Cottonwood County, Minnesota, where Viola's mother, step-father and half-siblings were living. Angelo and his friend Laroy had purchased some land in Minnesota before his death, and that may have been what prompted the CRAPSEYs to move to that state. Charles and Viola lived about eight or nine years in Cottonwood County, on land neighboring her parents and also some of her adult half-siblings. By 1884, the ROBBINS had returned to the Oceana-Newaygo County area in Western Michgian. They named one of their sons Angelo, after their friend/step-brother. He is Angelo Merrick ROBBINS, Sr., the father who is mentioned in the "Polar Bear posts" I have been writing.

Viola's younger half-siblings (John CRAPSEY and Lura Ann JACKSON's children) were:
  • *Alice (CRAPSEY) HANDY McBAIN (1855 - 1905)
  • *William "Willie" Merrick CRAPSEY (1858 - 1946)
  • *Harriet "Hattie" or "Suky" (CRAPSEY) HARDY (b. 1860)
  • *George Bayard CRAPSEY (b. 1863)
Below is a photo of Willie in 1940:



SOURCE: Crapsey, William "Willie" Merrick. Photograph. 1940. Digital image. Privately held by Michael Kirchmeier, Windom, Minnesota, 2007.

Here is a photo of George and his wife Carrie [--?--]. She's the one in the skirt!



SOURCE: Crapsey, George Bayard with wife Carrie [--?--] and trained bear. Undated photograph. Digital image. Privately held by Michael Kirchmeier, Windom, Minnesota, 2007.

Mike tells me that George found this bear as a cub while living in Wisconsin. He trained the bear and used to travel all over the country--possibly the world--to feature him in shows. Now isn't this some fun information to add to my family history? Seems like the Robbins family and bears are destined to go together...first the rollerskating bear with my Great-great-great-grandma Robbins' half brother; then my Great-grandfather Robbins' experiences as a Polar Bear in Russia; and, oh yes! the bear that kept raiding my parents' Alaskan farm back in 1975...but that's another story...maybe even another blog altogether.
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