Crawford Family Historical Marker

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Crawford Family Historical Marker

Dedicated on November 12 in Emlenton

On Wednesday afternoon, November 12, a new tall blue/gold historical marker recognizing “The Crawford Family” was dedicated in Emlenton in a ceremony at the Emlenton Presbyterian Church. The marker was installed in the lawn of the church, located at 508 Main Street in downtown Emlenton in southern Venango County.

(photo right: Unveiling the historical marker for the Crawford family was, L-R: John R. Phillips, II, President & CEO Oil Region Alliance; Neil McElwee, Historian and Author; Fred Powell, Commissioner PA Historical and Museum Commission; and James Eben Crawford, Partner Waldorf Crawford and grandson of Eben Crawford.)

This marker was co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission; Waldorf Crawford LLC; Petroleum History Institute, Inc.; Emlenton Civic Club; Borough of Emlenton; and the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry and Tourism. Unlike most of the comparable markers across the state, this marker expresses a summary of the combined family’s achievements. Specifically mentioned are Eben Crawford (1821 - 1897), his sons George W. Crawford (1861 - 1935) and Frederick W. Crawford (1863 – 1933), and their cousin Harry J. Crawford (1867 - 1953).

Representatives from the sponsoring organizations and elected officials gave remarks, including an overview of the legacy which this extensive family performed in early petroleum and natural gas industry locally, regionally, and in adjoining states as well. Speaking on behalf of the family was Mr. James Eben Crawford of Idyllwild, California, great-great Grandson of Eben Crawford. He said, “George W. Crawford raised my grandfather and his two sisters in a suite within the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh and the family house here in Emlenton on Hill Street.” He added, “I’m proud of my roots and also proud of how this community has embraced and remembered the Crawford Family. Families are so important, as is knowledge of our history.” He concluded, “Thank you all for the parts you played in nominating and providing this historical marker. Attending today, along with me, is my wife, Marcia Waldorf. We look forward to bringing more of my family to come see the marker, the family mausoleum, and your fine community in person.”

The historical marker reads: “Eben Crawford (1821~1897) was an iron foundry operator and early oil and gas producer. In 1926 sons George (1861~1935) and Fred (1863~1933) organized Columbia Gas and Electric Corp., the world’s largest integrated natural gas company, merging production, pipelines, and distribution properties in several states. Cousin Harry Crawford (1867~1953), banker, producer, and refiner, became first president of Quaker State Oil Refining.”

The Master of Ceremonies was John Phillips, II, President and C&O of Oil Region Alliance. Barry Louise, Council President of the Borouch of Emlenton welcomed everyone to the unveiling. An invocation was given by Emlenton Presbyterian Church’s Pastor, Lori Danielson.

Neil McElwee, Oil Historian and Author of several oil hsitory books and the person who prepared the initial nomination package for the Crawford historical marker, spoke and said, “The recognized patriarch of the Crawford family was Eben Crawford, who after pursuing his fortune in California seeking gold returned to the Allegheny River valley and Emlenton, a little older and a lot wiser, and whose career then focused on black gold and the emerging natural gas industry.” He added, “George W. Crawford and Milo Treat (who was married to George’s sister Laura Crawford) together starting in 1893 formed multiple natural gas businesses, first in Perry County, Ohio and then extending through more of Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, in 1926 George was named the first Chairman of the merged Columbia Gas & Electric Company. By 1930, Columbus Gas had become the world’s largest integrated natural gas system, owning 5 million acres of producing gas lands, 20,000 miles of natural gas pipelines, and serving 900,000 customers in states reaching from Texas to Pennsylvania.”  McElwee added, “When George’s brother Carroll and Carroll’s wife both died as young adults, George took responsibility for caring for their two daughters and one son.”

Concluding speaker was Fred Powell, Commissioner with the Pa. Historical and Museum Commission. Powell stated, “The more than 2,000 blue and gold historical markers across Pennsylvania educate all of us about our history, and the geographical context for the events, people, places, and innovations they describe. Make a point to stop and read them in your travels.” He added, “Thank you for nominating the Crawford family for such recognition, as this ceremony has helped me, too, to better understand Emlenton’s distinctive history and its contributions to the state’s and nation’s oil and natural gas industries.”

A reception was held in the Presbyterian Church with refreshments provided by the Emlenton Civic Club.

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