Growing Up In Missouri


Marilyn Sue (Crawford) Easley


(February, 2000)

I was born Marilyn Sue Crawford  in a small town in west-central Missouri called  El Dorado Springs.  The town was founded around 1881 by early settlers around a "spring" that was said to have therapeutic and miraculous healing benefits.  People traveled from far and near to avail themselves of these benefits, and the village grew.

     My grandfather, Dr. Robert Oliver Crawford, eldest son of Franzo K. Crawford and Sarah (Wheeler) Crawford came to El Dorado Springs in the late 1800s and became the town doctor in 1901 where he served the medical needs of the area until just prior to his death in 1957 at the young age of 91.  Franzo Crawford, my great-grandfather, was the eldest of ten children and one of the leading farmers in Cedar County Missouri and was born in Dade County April 28, 1844 to a blacksmith named John N. and his wife K.E. (Julian) Crawford from Kentucky.  These among several other members of their families were among the early settlers of Dade County and lived there the remainder of their lives.

     My grandfather received his medical Doctor of Medicine degree in 1894 at the Barnes Medical School in St. Louis. He was an ambulance doctor for a while in St. Louis, then in 1901 returned to El Dorado Springs.  One of his special interests was the diagnosis and cure of skin diseases in addition to general practice and was of the old school and visited his patients on horseback and later by car his entire career. He was  widely known as a physician and surgeon.  He had an uncany ability to diagnose and treat various skin diseases, and it was a common occurrence over the years for patients to travel from a number of states for treatment.  He also was a devout  republican.  In recognition of his outstanding achievements in the treatment of skin diseases, the New York Medical Society, in 1903, presented him with a gold medallion for his work.  The medallion is at present in the possession of my brother George Crawford who lives in Dallas, Texas.

    On March 19th, 1905, Dr. Robert Crawford married Miss Ella Jane (Jennie) McClintock.  They were  married at the bride's home in El Dorado Springs.  Just after the wedding, Grandpa Crawford built a fine home for them to live in and included all of the most "modern" conveniences and architectural niceties of the time.  However, because the town could not provide sewage hookup facilities to the new house because their lines had not reached that far yet, the Crawfords never did get to live in their new home.  They, instead, were forced to obtain another home closer in and live there and raise their family. They sold the big house  and never did get to enjoy living in the splendor it would have provided them, the beautiful staircase, the chandelliers, the fancy indoor plumbing on both floors and all the many other luxurious items planned and built into it. The home has again been purchased by a new owner who has restored it to its original condition and it still stands occupied to this day at the corner of Spring Street and Park Street on the southwest corner of the intersection, a most beautiful home.  Grandma Jennie was the daughter of a civil war infantry officer, Major Absolem Hall McClintock (died 1884) and his wife Harriet Fishell (died January 14, 1914 in El Dorado Springs)  of McComb, Ohio.  Great-grandpa McClintock was a member of the Civil War "Dragoons" stationed at Fort Scott, Kansas.  He is buried in an old cemetery a few miles west of Fort Scott and a couple of miles north of highway 54.  We have visited the cemetery and stood in awe and humbleness as we viewed the grave stones of those who fought there.

    My father, Ralph Hall Crawford, was born and raised in El Dorado Springs.  He was educated at Pittsburgh State University, Pittsburgh, Kansas, and minored in vocal music.  He was well known for his singing ability and performed at many occasions as well as a regular vocalist for the El Dorado Springs Band performances at the gazebo in the city park for many, many years. To earn a living, he was employed as a mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service where he retired in 1969.

    My mother, Theo Nadine (Morris) Crawford, was the daughter of George Marshall Morris and his wife Ollie Alice Morris, and was born on July 28, 1911.   Mother was  born and raised in Jerico Springs, Missouri some 20 miles south of "Eldo".  Grandpa George Morris was a very good and interesting person and lived an interesting life and had a family who consisted of all musicians.  At the time of his death on November 16, 1957, he was the person who had lived in Jerico Springs longer than any other person.  He was 79.  Great Grandpa  and Grandma Morris were a pioneer family and had sixteen children.  All of the children of this remarkable family were musicians.  They had their own family orchestra.  When this large family came from Ohio to Missouri, part of the trip was made on a barge down the Ohio River. At night, when the barge was tied up, this family of musicians would entertain crowds of people along the river bank. My grandparents were always interested in giving their children a good education and they were justly proud of the musical ability of his children and grandchildren.

    I imagine that is where I inherited MY musical ability as well.

    Mother and Dad both attended Pittsburgh State University where they met.  They courted for eight years, as each worked; she as an elementary school teacher and he as a mail carrier.  They married on May 31, 1938 and spent their honeymoon in Kansas City.  I was born to them on July 27, 1939 in El Dorado Springs.

    By the time I was three years old I had lived in three different houses in "Eldo".  The last house was to be my folks' home for many years. They sold it to move into a smaller house right across the street    I was an only child for seven years until my brother George was born.  Then, four years later, my younger sister Jeanette was born.  Because I was seven years old when my brother came, I was the "little mother" to him, and that continued when my sister came.  I treated them both as though they were MY children.  I took them for walks in their strollers and finally, when they had learned to walk, they were with me a lot.  This was because mother was so occupied giving piano lessons.

   As I was growing up, I started piano lessons myself when I was seven.  Mother tried to teach me, but that just didn't work out, so  they took me to the town of Nevada (pronounced Nevaida), some 19 miles west of "Eldo", to take lessons from a teacher that taught music at Cottey College.  My mother gave piano lessons to a great number of the local kids, but she finally retired from the teaching of piano in the late 60s.  From the time I was small I always remember all the piano lesson kids.  I got to play with them before their lessons if they happened to come a little early.  I also remember  hearing the same pieces over and over and over.  As for me, I didn't like to practice unless I got real mad, then I would really play the heck out of the piano.  I wanted to quit many times, but mother always said to dad, "She has it in her to be a good pianist, and I'll not let her stop."  I am so glad she didn't give up on me.  I only wish now that I had practiced so much more and had learned a lot more.

    I had a great childhood.  All of my relatives with the exception of  aunt Helen, dad's sister, and her husband, uncle Ted, who live in Tulsa, Oklahoma, lived within 18 miles of us.   My dad's parents, Dr. and Mrs. R.O. Crawford lived only two blocks away.  Every time I was  sick, my grandfolks would come to check on me and always "brought me candy".  When I was three, I had the German measles and whooping cough within three months of each other ,  and my eyes crossed as a result.  I had to go to an eye specialist in Kansas City and finally I had to have surgery on my eyes when I was five.  It took almost five or six hours to travel to Kansas City back then as the roads were very bad and cars were slower then. The round trip took all day, leaving home at 6 AM, and we arrived back home after dark, I remember.

    After church on Sunday, we would always go to Jerico Springs to visit mother's folks and her brother and family for a big dinner.  All my cousins would be there, too, and I'll never forget the homemade whipped cream we always put on Jell-O salad; and the wonderful fried chicken.  MY...was it ever GOOD!!!!!

  What wonderful memories from childhood and growing up in the most wonderful small town of  El Dorado Springs, Missouri...a place we hold high on our list to revisit often!