At the turn of the century

Photographs document founding of Craig Girls' Tennis club by woman, girls from town

Near the turn of the nineteenth century, social clubs were sweeping America and the effects were felt even in remote areas of the country.

A woman who spent the summer of 1899 in Craig had an influence on a number of the girls in town, and together they formed the Craig Girl's Tennis club.

Mrs. Cramer came to Craig in April of 1899 with her husband, Frank, a civil engineer.

At the time, the sport of lawn tennis was beginning to become popular in America, and clubs formed; however, they were much more than athletic endeavors.

They were social gatherings that included reading literary passages and playing musical selections, along with hosting picnics and dinners.

Photos recently turned over to the Museum of Northwest Colorado from the Chuck Stoddard collection brought to light a picture of local women in uniforms consisting of skirts and long-sleeved blouses, several with matching hats. Research by Jan Gerber at the museum has helped to paint a portrait of the club, and the girls who were members, including Gerber's grandmother, Myrtle Van Dorn.

Mrs. Cramer's home at 581 Lincoln St. was where the society was first organized, according to articles in the Craig Courier.

Somewhat secretive at first, the club soon began entertaining, playing games and reading literary selections during its meetings.

Photographs in the Stoddard collection show the group held a picnic in a grove of trees on the Fourth of July and newspaper articles invited the town to attend.

Members of the Craig Girl's Tennis club include:

Cassie Hayes

Cassie Hayes was a well-known Craig resident. Her family moved to Craig in 1880 to the old Tilton place located where the airport now sits.

Cassie married George Woolley in 1901 and lived on his ranch three miles east of Craig.

In 1917 she was united in marriage to Judge Charles Herrick. After his death, she married Fred Hayes in 1950. She was an avid rock collector and had samples sent to her from men in the armed services. She was the sister of William Finley, for whom a street in Craig is named. She is second in the back row in the photograph.

Nellie Ledford

Nellie Smith was in Quincy, Ill., when her sisters wrote about a tall, handsome gentleman who was brother to the Craig sheriff and whom they thought would make a fine catch for her.

The 20-year-old rushed to Craig and met the Welshman. She married Virgil Ledford in 1900.

In 1911, Virgil began working for the post office and was appointed postmaster by President Woodrow Wilson in 1915.

Nellie Ledford died in 1968, two months after her husband and daughter. She had 10 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren.

Ledford Street is named after her husband.

She is the third woman in the back row in the photograph.

Cullie Walsh

Cullie Walsh lived in Craig nearly 100 years, passing away in 1987 at 104 years of age.

She came to Craig by stagecoach and covered wagon, and was the daughter of Mrs. Melugin, who ran the hotel in town.

Cullie served meals for 50 cents and rented beds for $1. She learned to dance from Winnie Davidson, a young girl from the Fortification area, and could two-step, waltz and polka.

Cullie called Craig people "high class," and couldn't recall a bad thing happening during her years at the hotel. She married Ora Biggs in 1902 and homesteaded on Waddle Creek. Biggs died in 1929 and she married Edward Walsh.

Together they ranched on the west side of town. Cullie's house is the current site of the Christian Church Parsonage building on Victory Way.

Walsh is the fourth girl in the photograph's back row.

Myrtle Van Dorn

Myrtle Bryan came to Moffat County with her parents in 1885, over Gore Pass and down the Williams Fork River and on to Sunbeam.

She worked at the Hugas Company store in the dry-goods department for eight years. Myrtle recalled Indians and cavalry soldiers in Moffat County, and living in Craig during the Browns Park Cattle Wars. She enjoyed photography and developed her own photos. She married Carl Van Dorn.

She is the third girl in the middle row in the photograph.

Edith Howard

Edith Overholt came to Craig around 1893 with her family.

She married Peter Howard on Christmas Day 1894. They leased the Taylor ranch north of Craig and then the Ranney ranch west of town. They purchased the Cooper ranch east of Craig and ran a freight business until the railroad came to town.

Peter managed Moffat County Mercantile and later he and his wife operated the Center Grocery Store until Peter's death in 1933.

Edith Howard is the third woman in the front row of the photograph.

Maude Moss

Maude Kittell was born in Wet Mountain Valley, Colo., in 1884.

She came with her family to Northwest Colorado at age 3. She married Lee Winslow, and after his death married Frank Moss.

They ranched at Fortification and then purchased a ranch southeast of Craig. Maude Moss is the fifth girl in the middle row in the photograph.

Mrs. Cramer

Mrs. Cramer left Craig shortly after the Fourth of July picnic in 1899, following her husband's work to Battle Lake, Wyo.

The Craig Girl's Tennis club held a lawn social later that month, and raised enough money to purchase a lawn tennis set.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com.

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