Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Descendants of Henry Fowler Crawford

Henry Fowler, a coal miner, married Jane Carrick, in Hamilton, Scotland in 1871. On May 4th, 1873, Jane gave birth to a daughter, Agnes. Agnes, a domestic servant from Limelands Farm, Glengowan, married Hugh Crawford, a coal miner, on November 28th, 1890.  They were married at Nimmos Row, Longriggend, Scotland. Hugh was 20 and Agnes 17. Hugh was the son of Thomas and Mary Ann Crawford.
On January 16, 1893, Agnes gave birth to a son, Henry Fowler Crawford. Henry, fondly known as Harry, is one of four sons born to the couple. Harry later went on to sire 21 children. This is the story of his descendancy.

On New Year's Eve, 1913, just two and a half weeks shy of his 21st birthday, Harry married Sarah Costello at the Manse in Shotts.
Sarah and Harry had six children. It appears, and was commonly believed, that Sarah died of complications following the birth of the youngest child in July 1924. The baby later died at the tender age of three months.

Following the baby's death, Harry and his brother emigrated to America in 1927, eventually making their way to Detroit. But, according to the stories that have been told, the two were disillusioned by the crime and violence of the "Al Capone" era and after some time returned to the more sedate life of farming in Lanarkshire.

While farming at Forrestburn, Harry met Dorothy Lindsley (Dora), during a trip to Langholm Market. Dora is the oldest of four children born out of wedlock to Maggie Lindlsey. Dora was born in Stanwix on the outskirts of Carlisle, England, close to the border of Scotland, on July 19th 1908.  Dora never spoke of her younger years other than to mention that it wasn’t until she was put into service that she was treated decently. In the summer of 1920, at the age of 12, she was taken to the market place in Carlisle where she was placed along with others in a line, and displayed for the local farmers and landowners of the day.  A shilling of honour was paid and Dora was taken and placed into service.  Along with being a servant to the family she also became a companion to the family's daughter, Ann.

Dora took great joy in relating the many stories of the times she shared with Ann. Dora used to tell the story of how she and Ann would ride into Langholm to the market. Ann was a fairly large girl and therefore she had the larger horse to ride. Dora got the pony, but one day they decided to swap horses and Dora ended up on a horse that she could not handle.  The result was that the horse bucked and Dora landed in the river, much to the delight of her companion, Ann.  Dora said it wasn’t until after all the laughter had stopped that she realized that her knee was broken.  Surgery in the early 20th century wasn’t quite what it is today and the result was that all her life Dora suffered severe knee pain.

Dora remained in service until early in 1928 when, on a visit to Langholm Market, she first saw Henry Fowler Crawford.  He was there selling his produce.  The story goes that Ann and Dora were in a cafe when Harry came in.  Dora forgot her gloves and soon afterwards Harry showed up at the big house with them. Dora fell for Harry's good looks, and he was obviously attracted too. Dora and Harry married on July 3, 1928, in Caldercruix. Dora was just two weeks shy of her 20th birthday and in marrying Harry, a father of five young children, Dora entered full force into family life. At twenty years of age she became the step-mother to five children.
Dora also became the daughter-in-law to Granny Mack.  Dora would often say  "Granny Mack said that if she had sent her sons out blindfolded to find wives, they could not have come back with worse."  Granny Mack was a very overpowering woman, she ruled the roost and all within it. Dora had no choice. She simply had to settle in to her new life at Forrestfield.  It was here that she met her sister-in- law Lizzie, with whom she shared a life-long friendship. Henry and Dora went on to have 15 more children together. The first seven were born at Forrestfield.

After leaving Forrestburn, Harry took a job as the dairy manager with a farm in Roddenlaw. Here, a son was added to the family. From Roddenlaw, Harry & Dora moved once again. This time they landed in Eccles Tofts where Harry had the job as Head Dairyman. While at Eccles Tofts, Harry & Dora added a daughter to their ever growing family.

For the most part, Harry was an easy pleased man. Of course, that often depended on Dora’s interpretation of "easy pleased.” Sometimes it was more like “easily fooled”. Like the time she was caught boiling eggs in tea. When asked why, she replied, “your Da’ says that no self-respecting hen would ever lay a white egg, but his hens won’t lay a brown egg!” So, by boiling the eggs in tea, Dora had Harry convinced that his hens were, in fact, self-respecting enough to lay brown eggs!

Harry loved the farming life, but after a farming accident at Eccles Tofts, he was forced to give up this career. The family then moved to Sherwood in Midlothian.
It was while living here that the family expanded once again to include five more children. While living at Sherwood, Harry worked as a coal miner. He later worked for a brief time with the Gas Works and then as a firewood salesman.
From Sherwood, the family moved to Bonnyrigg, where the birth of another daughter (finally) completed the family.

Harry also had a special connection to his granddaughter, Christine, perhaps because she, too, had been a bairn who lived under his roof. Apparently Harry had missed not having a baby in the house over the seven years since his youngest was born, and he just doted on Christine. When her parents made the decision in 1960 to emigrate to Canada to live, Harry tried to convince them to leave the bairn with him until they got settled. Christine’s mum and dad knew that if they did that, Harry would never send her over to Canada, so they told him they were all going to travel together. Since that hadn't worked, Harry accompanied them to the airport. Harry told them that he was going to take Christine for a wee walk while they checked themselves in. Some time later, they realized Harry and Christine weren't back and went looking for them. They found Harry and the baby on the way to the train station. Harry told him he was heading home with the bairn. Dora said that Christine moving to Canada was a big heartbreak in Harry's life, and there were times that she would find him wiping away a tear. When she'd ask what was wrong, he'd say he was just thinking about the bairn and hoping that she was alright.

Harry suffered from Silicosis. He died during a trip to see his son in Fort William in 1966. He was 73 and is sadly missed by his children and grandchildren. Harry is buried at Cockpen Cemetery.

After Harry's death, Dora raised the children who were still at home on her own. Dora had hated the move from Eccles Tofts to Sherwood. She said it took her nearly seven years to get used to living in a town. However, she developed close and lasting friendships not only with the other women in Sherwood but also her neighbours from Bonnyrigg. With Harry's death, Dora had to give up her home and moved to a smaller Council house, where she remained for some 35 years.  Dora never had an easy life, but overall she found fun in her life through her kids. There was never a difference made between Sarah’s children and the children she had given birth to. To Dora, they were all brothers and sisters. She never had a lot of materials in her life. Her wealth was in her children.  She was a bright and active woman, a good mother, a good neighbour and a loyal friend.  Dora had a wonderful sense of humour, a quick wit and a brilliant smile.  She was always there, the kids never had to worry about where their Ma was.  At night she would be surrounded in bed with her kids, listening to their stories and relating her own. 

If the kids needed someone to turn the skipping rope Dora was there.  She was never one to be tied down by a large family. She and the other women would take the kids on the train to the seaside or on picnics down the Glen or off to a Highland dance competition, with the girls all in outfits that Dora had made herself.

Dora always had a penny for a toffee apple, or a cake from the baker. A woolen scarf or jersey that Harry had knitted would be sneaked to the bairns to go get a balloon from the Rag Man.  She would laugh along with the other women on the street at the antics of the kids, pretending to be drunk from their home made sugarally, a concoction made from liquorice sticks, sugar and water.  She would save what little money there was to buy the younger kids a new Easter outfit and an egg to go roll down the Knowe Hill in Bonnyrigg.

Dora took the children on all the outings sponsored by the Coal Miners. She always enjoyed New Years Eve, known as Hogmanay. The kids all got to stay up and bring in the New Year. Never a smoker or a drinker, Dora did love a wee nip of Brandy before bed in her later years.  She loved Bingo, and over the years had a few little wins. She enjoyed a good waltz as well as a good sing song. One of her favourite things to do in Canada was have a sing song with her son in law playing the mouth organ as her accompanist! And she loved a good game of cards. All of her grandchildren grew up being the only ones in their world who knew how to play "stop the bus."

Dora was a kind woman, but she also had quite a temper when need be.  She suffered many a heartache at the loss of her children who passed on before her. There were also days when Dora missed Harry terribly, but she was always thankful that she had her children to keep her company. Dora hated the thought of being alone. She enjoyed her children and took great pride in them. Dora celebrated her 80th birthday, surrounded by family and friends, at the Danderhall Miner's Club in 1988.

Dora first took sick in 1989 but this only slowed her down. It wasn't until her 90th year that she became frail. She enjoyed her 90th birthday, again surrounded by family and friends, at her home in Poltonhall. Dora had a full and happy life. She was a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great grandmother. Dora died peacefully in her home on June 6, 2000. Her ashes are buried in Cockpen Cemetery, in the base of the headstone marking the grave she shares with her husband of 38 years, Henry Fowler Crawford.

Harry sired 21 children. This is an amazing legacy for any man. Dora mothered 20 children. She loved them, took pride in them and missed them when they weren't around. She was adored, loved and admired in return. Perhaps Harry's greatest legacy to his descendants was the woman he chose to mother them.

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