Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Vintage Thingie Thursday : Mary Elizabeth Craig Unversaw

Welcome everyone to Vintage Thingies Thursday. If you are new to this party, please take the time to read and follow the instructions for participating in Vintage Thingies Thursday, click HERE. I try and keep things fairly simple, so please make sure you follow the instructions. I have gotten a few complaints about people linking in and not doing what is required, please, try and visit each and every participant, that is really important. Please only ONE link per week. Thank you for your cooperation in this. I know we are all busy, but even if it takes a few days to do so, please do that. Lastly, if you link in, LINK back to my blog, so everyone can see all of the vintage goodies being showed that day. If you don't link back here, they won't know who to visit......thanks so much.

I shared with you a few weeks back about a scrapbook I have that belonged to Mary Elizabeth Craig. She graduated from Cripple Creek High School in 1913. If you missed that post, please go HERE to see that post. This is a follow up on that post and I am sure there will be more on this tale in the weeks to come.

I know some of you may not be interested in this type of vintage history, but some might enjoy my rather obsession on finding out about this young girl who graduated from a gold mining town early in the 1900's. It has not been an easy task to say the least, it was as if she did not exists as I could not find any information on her.

However, in my heart, I have known this not to be true. She did very much walk those streets in that mining town and it does not matter I did not know her story, or know what she looked like. For you see, she lived in a story I formed in my mind. Mary Elizabeth is and was real to me, no matter how strange that may sound.

Last week, we were in Colorado and as I promised myself, I started digging a little deeper. I was able to discover much new information on Mary, and it was not until after I got home that I discovered my email full of valuable information to me and my quest to find out about this women who lived in my favorite place on earth, Cripple Creek.

This is a photo of Mary Elizabeth Craig from the 1913 yearbook of Cripple Creek High School. Her nickname was "Mutt." She was a member of the Hesperian Society 1,2,3: High school musician 2,3,4: Senior play 4. Her senior quote "Music hath charms to sooth the savage beast"
It is stated that her future occupation wold be playing the piano.

I am ever thankful to Michael from the local library for his informative help in my search. He is a real gem. Finally, there is a face to put with the name in my book.

From the Census records:

Mary Elizabeth born March 1894

1900 living with her father William E. and mother Julia C. and sister Helen W. on West Whalen St.
1910 Same
1920 Still living with parents and sister, on 106 W. El Paso, occupation: Music Teacher.

From The District Directories:

1896 William E., Miner, Residence 200 W. Whalen
1900 William E., Miner Portland Mine, residence 200 W. Whalen
1902-03 same
1905 same
1907 same
1912-13 Family now living at 106 W. El Paso
1915-16 Craig, Mary E., music teacher, res. 106 W. El Paso
1917-18 Craig, Mary E., music teacher, res. 106 W. El Paso

From the Teller & El Paso Counties Tombstone CD:

William E. Craig died in 1933 and is buried at Mt. Pisgah Cemetery in the Elks Rest
Julia C. Craig died in 1947 and is buried next to her husband in the Elks Rest
Helen Craig Jones, wife of Bryan S. Jones, died in 1938 and is buried at Mt. Pisgah Cemetary. (Mary's sister)

Mary had a sister, a brother in law and two nieces...along with parents.....she was real and experienced great lose by my assumption early on with losing all her family. I have walked this cemetery countless of times. Now, I must return to find these graves. I wonder if I have walked past them before and could have never known they were family of someone I was trying to find.....I just wonder......

In the 1930's Census, we were able to find Mary's sister and brother in law. They had two girls at that time, Gwendolyn G. age 8 (born approx. 1922) and Helen S. age 1 yr 11 mos. (born May 1928) Gwendolyn Grace Jones passed away in 1931 and is buried at Mt. Pisgah Cemetery beside her parents.

After 1920 we were not able to find any more information on Mary, assuming she married and changed her name....we hit a wall.

I could not give up.....I had searched the internet for any possible combination of names and hoped beyond hope of turning something up. Nothing.

There seemed to be information on all the family except Mary. I assumed by what the Census said, she must have taught school at one of the local schools. I called the State of Colorado and was told back then, the teachers were not licensed. Another dead end.....I was sure if she had a license to teach, a new married name would follow her on the license. Was not to be.

Michael from the local library wrote me and said he searched through the school board minutes from 1916-1922 and did not find anything that stated Mary was hired by the school district or was employed as a teacher for the district. I was confused on this......

.....after discussing this with my husband, he suggested she taught privately in her home...perhaps piano. After thinking on this news, that must have been the case. She taught privately in her home to students.

Somehow, that fits with the image in my mind. But what happened to her? I need to know...I want to know where her life took her. Did she have a family?? I am not finished with this is important to me.

This afternoon, June 7, 2010....I got a solid piece of information I have been looking for. It was far more than I could have ever imagined.....truly. This is a insert of the obituary from:

Cripple Creek Times Record Friday October 31, 1947

Services Held, Wednesday for Mrs. Julia Craig, Cripple Creek Pioneer

The final chapter of the history of another Cripple Creek Pioneer was closed by the death Sunday evening, as Mrs. Julia Craig passed away quietly in her home at 106 W. El Paso Stetet after an illness of several weeks.

Mrs. Craig, who was born in Oshkosh, Wisconsin March 24, 1870 came to Cripple Creek in 1892, when the newly discovered camp was just being built. She married William E. Craig that same year. He died in 1933.

Mrs. Craig was a member of the Baptist Church.

Surviving are a daughter, Mrs Mary C. Unversaw of Albuquerque, New Mexico......

There it was....Mary married sometime after 1920 and before 1947. Her last name was Unversaw and she lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1947. BINGO.

Quickly, I typed in her name on the internet to see what I would find.....I found something right away.....burial records. I cried. Now, I am not for certain this is her, but I feel in my heart it is. The dates are correct for the birth, the town correct, I feel it in my heart it is her and her husband. The information stated is as follows:

Sunset Memorial Park
Albuquerque, Benalillo County, New Mexico
10       19      UNVERSAW       John       1893 (b)      1986
10 19 UNVERSAW Mary C 1894 (b) 1970
I spoke with the employee of the cemetery today, he said Mary was buried June 13, 1970 and John was buried February 19, 1986. He advised me to contact the local library for any further information.

Well, there it was in black and white. And any far fetched notion I held in my heart that possibly she could still be living were gone in a flash. I was 8 years old when she passed away after her living a full life. I know the possibility was slim, but still one can wish, and oh how I wished for this to be. Like I said, I cried a good bit this afternoon.....why? I have no idea......

I know that this sounds silly, crying over someone I never knew, and only know in the romantic stories in my mind....but none the less....I cried....maybe because I am a little closer to discovering who this girl was and hopefully finding a child or grandchild of Mary who can answer some of my questions. Ultimately, I'd love to return this book if the family really wants to have it.

The time line makes sense to me, the person I purchased the book from originally said she purchased it in the early 1970's from an antique store. Mary passed away in 1970. Her husband out lived her by 16 years. What or how did that book leave his hands? Did he sell her things and move? Did he have a huge sale like my husband always jokingly threatens to do and sell all her precious things??? Lord, Please don't let that be the case....makes my heart race. Did they not have any children? If so, where are they?? So many questions.......

I will have to wait until next week as the library is under renovations in Albuquerque and I have to call back then to see if they can help me locate the obituaries for either John or Mary.

Michael at the library in Cripple Creek is forwarding me the copy of the whole obituary of Mary's mother that ran in the paper, as he said it lists more relatives. He is also trying to locate the obituary of Mary's father, William. Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, I will know more information and if there are family living.
I can not wait to piece the missing pieces to this puzzle together and discover more about this girl who grew up in a gold camp high in the mountains of Colorado.

And for the record.....if I have not mentioned this here, I have ALWAYS wanted to visit Albuquerque, for years I have talked about doing I have a visit Sunset Memorial Park and pay Mary a visit, I have a lot to tell her about how I found her after purchasing her school girl book online years ago and what she and this book have meant to me.....maybe I'll even bring her book along for the trip........maybe.

UPDATE: Today, June 9, 2010....Michael from the Cripple Creek Library emailed me a copy of the obituary of Mary's father that he was able to locate. Seems my hunch was indeed correct....and I have confirmation that I have found Mary. I still have lots of questions, but I have indeed found her and that is a start.

Cripple Creek Times Record Oct 9, 1933

William E. Craig Dies Sunday Eve

William E. Craig, 73, one of the most widely known residents of Teller County died at his home in south Cripple Creek Sunday evening following a lingering illness due to paralysis.

Mr. Craig came to Cripple Creek in 1901 and was the first commissioner of streets after the town was incorporated. For a number of years he was road overseer in various parts of the county. He engaged in mining also during the greater part of the time.

He was born in Rosendale N.Y. February 10, 1860. Shortly after coming to Cripple Creek he was married here. Surviving him are his widow, Mrs. Julia Craig, two daughters, Mrs. Bryan Jones of Cripple Creek and Mrs John Unversaw of Albuquerque N.M.


Have a great Vintage Thingie Thursday, I hope you enjoyed the old buildings and signs that are on some of the buildings at Cripple Creek......and hope you enjoyed some of the vintage history of Mary I have just discovered. For the record, I am not as creepy as I may sound. I am just a romantic at heart and if you could know the story of Mary I have formed in my mind, you too would love her as I do!!!


  1. If you're creepy then I am too because I find this to be a lovely story and can't wait to hear if you find out more information. There used to be a tv program called "If Walls Could Talk" on one of the cable channels. Your search reminds me a lot of what the people who currently lived in the various houses did to find out about the lives of the original occupants.

  2. Would you care to search for my relatives??? Amazing story, and amazing it all came together so quick. I can not wait to find out the end of this tale...I so hope you find her family....and I was secretly wishing too she might have lived to be over 100, how amazing would that have been to lay the book back in her lap after all of these years. *sigh* I can only imagine.

    Loved this post, one of my favorites!

  3. Oh what a wonderful thing, to buy the scrapbook and to find and follow her. I so love this.


  4. Terrific historical're quite the detective Suzanne. Thanks for the update.

    Loved the pictures from Cripple Creek!

  5. Suzanne, you are quite the detective. I can identify with your need to know. I would have searched high and low for information, also.

    I would like to invite you to visit the cottage, and join in on the fun for all three of my linky parties:


    You can get the details here:

    Each party runs for six days, so come on by!

    Hope to see ya there!
    Liz @ the Brambleberry Cottage

  6. I'm glad you were able to find out what happened to Mary/

  7. I was so intrigued by this whole article. You are quite the researcher. I love the pictures of the old town and can't wait to find out more.

  8. Not creepy at all, Colorado lady. It's a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing the whole thing with us.

  9. Hi Suzanne!

    I read every word you wrote. Totally enthralled! Then I head to reread it out loud to my husband. I am thrilled to share this "journey" with you and am so happy you are sharing it with us! I hope you continue to share any news you get about Mary and her life!

  10. These are two wonderful posts. Real treasures. I read every word, and enlarged several photos. You are the exact same kind of romantic as I am. I found the picture of a young woman during a trip to Arizona and I researched her history too. I also do our family's genealogy -- all 4 sides for my husband and me, plus all the many smaller branches.
    I hope you do find a romantic relative, or perhaps the Cripple Creek Library or Historical Society, maybe even CC High School. There might not be any living relatives given that so many died young, one of the nieces even died in childhood. If there are, just because someone unromantic, or overwhelmed by the shock of grief got rid of it in the 70s, doesn't mean that a relative today wouldn't be interested -- they might not even have been born yet back in the 70s.
    Again, great post. Keep us posted with more info when you have it. :-)

  11. What a fascinating bit of history! Really enjoyed the pictures of Cripple Creek, both past and present.

  12. What a fantastic story- I love how much this means to you and all the investigative work you've put into it. I hope the puzzle pieces continue to reveal themselves to you; I for one can't wait to read more! Happy VTT!

  13. Oh Suzanne I completely understand how you feel. It's all so very intriguing. Can't wait to hear more.

    I've been researching my family and just last weekend went to the cemetery where my father's family is. It was quite an adventure because the cemetery is huge (largest in Canada / 3rd largest in North America)and the offices were closed so I was on my own. Armed only with the site number, I drove in circles and circles and circles but I found them!

  14. Wow, you really found out a lot about this lady! I also found it interesting that Mrs. Craig was born in Oshkosh, which is about an hour's drive from here. Suzanne, I totally understand how you can get emotionally invested in people you haven't even met. When I was doing genealogy, I had to take frequent breaks. Life really is so short!

  15. So interesting, as your posts always are. I love reading them and seeing all your CO pics.
    When we lived there we'd take drives up to Cripple Creek just for the scenery. The town is so beautifully nestled with fantastic mountain views all around.

    Have a great evening!

  16. When I read I put myself right in there with the characters. I live right among them and share their losses. I have cried so hard I could not see to read anymore. Their grief was real to me. That is how you are about this lady. Only difference, it is not in book form. The way you are going you will have your own book if you do not get hauled off first.

  17. Don't you think that there might be some connection to this woman? You are so involved with finding out about her and maybe there's a reason for this.
    I sure wish you could have met her.

  18. Thanks for your interesting post, and for hosting!

  19. Hello Suzanne, That is an intresting story with great pic's of the old bulidings. Thank You for hasting VTT. Have a great Thursday.......Julian

  20. Good morning Suzanne, I am so intrigued by your story of Mary. I remember the post about her yearbook. You have done a remarkable job of bringing her back to us. I would have cried too.
    We never made it to Cripple Creek last summer. Bo went home early and we were supposed to meet and spend the night there. We canceled our reservations and went on to your cabin. I was so sad about not meeting Bo and visiting Cripple Creek. Such is life I guess. Now, I want to read more. I know you will not be done with Mary until you know if she had children. I want to know too. Smile. Thank you for this wonderful bit of history.

    Hugs Jeanne

  21. I've been following your saga, and find it so compelling! I can identify with your search, I do the same thing when I get attached to a project. So far it hasn't been with people! but things that are passing away into obscurity! I feel the need to preserve history.
    Thank you for hosting VTT it is a place on the net that I can identify with..feel like I'm home!

  22. Suzanne,

    This was absolutely the BEST Vintage Thursday EVER!

    All this research and history and all your hard work and perseverance found her---with more to come.

    When I saw the name and picture this early a.m., I had a jolt of recognition---thinking she was someone I knew personally (blame that on the early hour and the VERY lively company of three Grands in the house this week). And your seeking and finding---it's like a wonderful story with a close in a remarkable sunset.

    Thank you for sharing this, and for caring so much about someone whose life meant much, and whose name is whispering away to Time, save for your memories, and now ours.

  23. I love this! What a wonderfully amazing story :) I think you and I are kindred spirits in this respect...I can totally see myself desiring to take on a quest like this ;) In fact, I do have a certain *someone* that I feel the same sort of attachment to...maybe someday I'll blog about baby Helen. She was buried in a mountain cemetery in Sumpter, Oregon in the late 1800s after her death at age 2. I discovered her shortly after losing a child to miscarriage... Yeah, I'm inspired, maybe I will do a little research next month when I'm up there.

    Have a wonderful VTT!


  24. Ohhh dear Suzanne,
    If you only knew...that I so know how you feel. You see, I have worked on both sides of my families genealogy for maybe 10 years now.. and though they are long deceased..they are as real to me as can be. I have delved into their lives,their records, the stories and newspaper clippings, census records os often, it's though I have known them,walked beside them in their lives....and I mourn their deaths.
    A good friend of mine came across an old Bible
    in a junk store and there was so many records in there..anyway she bought it. It took the two of us 3 years to find the Bible's family...the family offered to pay,tried to pay,insisted on paying for the Bible..but Glenna said no..finding it's family was what she wanted,
    I don't think you're weird,nor creepy... you simply have become involved in her life... and you won't be satisified till you find the books rightful home and find out all you can on Mary.
    You have touched fingertips with the past... and like any good will never be the same. Good luck with your search...

  25. sucked me into this story from the first word. I had to read the first post because somehow I missed that. Then, finished up with this one.

    I am with you, I was hoping she was still living, how amazing it would have been to actually TALK with Mary.

    I can not wait to hear what happens and when you find her family what they have to say. I CAN NOT WAIT!!!

    This is the type of tales that just can not be taken for granted...they are historical but so real and you certainly have a way of making HER REAL to me....I love your writing style by the way...IT KEEPS ME WANTING MORE!!!!!

  26. Wow - That is some amazing sleuthing you have done. Love your photos of Cripple Creek and the Mt. Pisgah Cemetary. We live 5 miles from Mt. Pisgah, as the crow flies!

  27. Hi Suzanne! What a wonderful post for VTT. You really brought the story of this young woman to light. Did you read the book about a young woman in New York who found an old diary in the dumpster and bought the author's name to light as well? Your story in fascinating and I will be so interested in it's continuation!! Happy VTT!!

    Susan and Bentley

  28. You are a woman after my own heart. I LOVE geneology, and have traced all 4 sides of our families. I think this is so honorable of you to try and return the lovely book. And your NOT wierd. I felt like crying when I read your wonderful story. I'll be so anxious to see pic of Albuq--we lived there for 4 years from 1966-1970. Have a great day.

  29. Wow what a detailed story. Thanks for sharing it with us. Also thanks for hosting vintage thursday! DE

  30. Hi Suzanne,
    Would you mind linking me up. When I go to choose the picture, if I don't have the option to "crop" it, I cannot post it. Use anything you would like on the post and sorry for the trouble. I will be reading on your post tonight when I sit down with the computer.

  31. Susanne...what a wonderful story. We will be visiting the Albuquerque area (my parents retired to Rio Rancho) in August and I feel very drawn to Sunset Memorial Park and Mary. I too am a romantic.


  32. Absolutely fascinating post. It's so interesting to follow this story. Will look forward to what else you find out.


  33. Wow-I'm so impressed by all of this research. You've really done your homework. I hope you continue to find more information on Mary - And be sure to share it with all of us!

  34. Please keep us posted on your journey to find Mary's family. I hope the cemetery is not a dead end (no pun or disrespect intended).

  35. What a great story! You are quite the sleuth. I can't wait to hear more. I have been on a mission the last few weeks to find the graves of my three great-uncles who died in infancy.

  36. I hope you find her family. How interesting it will be to see this to the finish. Loved it!

  37. I have an award waiting for you at this link:

  38. Oh Suzanne! I was right there with you, heart in my throat. Loved this post! I love a good mystery and a puzzle. I found myself smiling and tearing up too, so I sure don't think you're creepy in the least. I think you're lots of fun and I can't wait for the next installment. :)
    Happy Friday!
    P.S. I had so much fun looking at the scrapbook ... the school yell cracked me up.

  39. I just read your blog about Mary Elizabeth Craig. I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I don't think it's creepy. If you're like me, you have a pretty vivid imagination, and loving old things, you wonder about the people who used and loved the same things you now use and love.

    A little mother-in-law became ill in November 2008, and my husband and I had to move her nearer to us, as well as close out her house, etc., etc. The amazing and wonderful thing is all the facinating family history we found.....and never knew it existed!!! Photos going back to the Civil War!!!! Pictures of grandparents, great grans, and great, great grans --- all of which we knew nothing! Loving history and antiques, this was a challenge and a blessing to me. Luckily, my mom-in-law was still living at the time, so I got to ask lots of questions and hear the stories we'd never heard.

    So, bless you for loving someone you've never met.....Mary Elizabeth was a real person who laughed and loved......and you honor her in researching her story!

  40. I love a good mystery and I love history. Thanks so much for sharing this story. I found myself wanting to go with you to Albuquerque. I did a similar hunt for my own family members and stood on their old plantations and plots of land. I cried too. You are a woman after my own heart.

  41. I missed you Link. I just saw it and came to link and it is closed. Anyhow I am you're newest follower. Thanks for sharing. Richard at My Old Historic House


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