Week 37: #52 Ancestors – On The Farm
By Eilene Lyon
I feel compelled to record stories about relatives who, for one reason or another, left no living descendants. One of these is the brother of my great-great-grandfather, Alton P. Crandall. Alton was the oldest child in the family. Next came a set of twins, Elmer E. and Elma A. Crandall, born in 1862 in Berlin, Green Lake County, Wisconsin.1 The Crandall family members seemed to move around a three-county area: Green Lake, Waushara, and Winnebago.
In 1891, Elmer married Nellie Shiner in Green Lake County.2 Their first son, Fay, was born in the same county in 1895. Their second son, Fred, however, was born in Winnebago County in 1897.
Elmer owned his own farm in 1900 in Nepeuskun Township, Winnebago County, but he had a mortgage.3 The principal crops in the township were typical: wheat, oats, barley, rye, and corn. Dairy rose in prominence in the county in the early 20th century.
By 1905, Elmer no longer had the property and became a laborer.4 (Historic Winnebago County deeds are not available online, so I do not have any records about this property. A newspaper search yielded nothing.)
The 1890s and early 1900s were troublesome years for many farmers, as they dealt with monopolistic pricing by railroads, inflexible banking policies, and corporations buying up land. Losing their home must have been traumatic for Elmer and Nellie.
In 1910, Elmer worked as a grain farmer. He, Nellie, and the two boys lived with Nellie’s mother in Poy Sippi in the early part of the year.5 The reduced circumstances may have put a wedge in Elmer and Nellie’s marriage.
Elmer relocated. He had a residence in Langford, South Dakota, but it is unknown if any of the family lived with him there.6
It appears that 15-year-old Fay may have been incarcerated at the Montana State Industrial School in Miles City, Montana, a “reform school.” It is the most likely explanation for his being so far from his family. The school housed both boys and girls who had been charged with crimes other than murder or manslaughter.
Fay Crandall began to feel numbness or tingling in his extremities, muscle weakness, and/or possibly some back pain. He was put in the care of Dr. W. W. Andrus on September 12, 1910. Dr. Andrus, born in Canada to American parents, played professional baseball in the U.S. before becoming a highly respected physician. He had just completed two terms as Miles City Mayor and served as the county physician and health officer.7
Though Dr. Andrus had impressive credentials, there was nothing he could do for young Fay. Three days later, the boy was dead. Elmer and Nellie had to be devastated at this sudden, unexpected event. The doctor stated the cause of death as Landry’s paralysis.8
This affliction, an auto-immune disorder, is now more commonly referred to as Guillain–Barré syndrome. The paralysis could progress in just hours, or take several weeks—either way, quite rapid. Elmer and Nellie had Fay buried in Poy Sippi, Waushara County, Wisconsin, probably where Nellie and son Fred still lived.9.
A French physician, Jean Landry, first described the syndrome in 1859, and called it ascending paralysis, because it tended to begin in the feet and work its way up the body.10 An earlier infection triggering the immune system to go rogue frequently caused the syndrome. Georges Guillain, Jean Alexandre Barré, and André Strohl did not pursue their research until after discovering a couple cases in 1916—six years after Fay’s death.11
After burying his son, Elmer transitioned from farming to manufacturing farm implements, possibly to avoid traveling away from home as an itinerant farmer. Eventually, he and Nellie moved to South Beloit, Illinois, just across the state line from Wisconsin. Nellie passed away there in 1932 and Elmer in 1943.12
Younger son Fred developed a wandering lifestyle. According to his obituary and death certificate, Fred never married, but he did live with at least two women as husband/wife: Barbara L. Eau Clair in 1930, and Laura C. in 1940 (maiden name unknown; both women substantially older than Fred).13 There is a record for a 1927 marriage to Barbara in Boone County, Illinois, a woman on her sixth marriage.14
Fred Crandall lived at times in South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. Fred had no children, though in 1930 there is an adopted son and an infant girl (listed as a “boarder”!) in the household. He passed away in Butte, Montana, in 1970, single, a resident of the Lennox Hotel, having worked as a factory employee, a clerk, and finally as a ranch hand.15
Sadly, that is where the Elmer Crandall family line ends.
Feature image: Region near Miles City, Montana, where young Fay Crandall died in 1910. (Wikimedia Commons)
- Elmer E. Crandall. Ancestry.com. Wisconsin, U.S., Birth Index, 1820-1907 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000. ↩
- Elmer E. Crandall and Nellie L. Shiner. Ancestry.com. Wisconsin, U.S., Marriage Index, 1820-1907 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2000. ↩
- Elmer Crandall. Year: 1900; Census Place: Nepeuskun, Winnebago, Wisconsin; Page: 6; Enumeration District: 0129; FHL microfilm: 1241824 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Elmer Crandall. Wisconsin Historical Society; Madison, Wisconsin; Census Year: 1905 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Year: 1910; Census Place: Poy Sippi, Waushara, Wisconsin; Roll: T624_1738; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 0108; FHL microfilm: 1375751 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Fay E. Crandall. Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services; Helena, Montana; Montana Death Records – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Two interesting biographies of William Wimar Andrus: https://mightycaseybaseball.com/2019/10/14/happy-birthday-wyman-actually-wiman-andrus/ and http://genealogytrails.com/mon/custer/bio1.html ↩
- See note 6. ↩
- https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/100997463/fay-e-crandall ↩
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Landry_(physician) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillain%E2%80%93Barr%C3%A9_syndrome ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- Nellie Crandall. Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. and Elmer Ellsworth Crandall. Ancestry.com. Winnebago County, Illinois, U.S., Deaths, 1844-1992 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013. and https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/87258605/elmer-ellsworth-crandall ↩
- Fred Crandall. Year: 1930; Census Place: Rock, Rock, Wisconsin; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 0049; FHL microfilm: 2342344 – via Ancestry.com and Year: 1940; Census Place: Melrose, Nez Perce, Idaho; Roll: m-t0627-00751; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 35-35 – via Ancestry.com. ↩
- Fred Crandall. Ancestry.com. Illinois, U.S., County Marriage Records, 1800-1940 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. ↩
- “Fred Crandall is Dead at 72.” The Montana Standard (Butte, MT), March 24, 1970, p. 10 – via Newspapers.com. ↩