Thursday, April 10, 2008


John Franklin Crites - collection of Mildred Fecht
John Franklin Crites (B-221711) (c-47 -s-317) was the eldest son of Josiah (c-46) and Mary Ann (Secrist) Crites (c-79). He was born the 20th of February, 1870 in Noble County, Indiana (probably near what is now called Indian Village). The tiny farm hamlet is located very near the border of Kosciusko County and the town of North Webster, the largest commercial town in the area. Indian Village acquired its name because it was the site of one of the final camps of the displaced Miami people.
John Franklin’s father experienced a lifetime of suffering and debilitation caused by diseases to which he was exposed during the American Civil War. A result of the father’s limited ability to work was that there was little money his son John Franklin’s needs, even when measured against the modest lifestyles of the time. The boy called “Frank” was however able to secure a good education for that time.
For many years “Frank” Crites played the coronet in town bands. The instrument in this photograph however appears to be a small tuba. It was rumored that his coronet had, at one time, been played by the famous American band leader and composer, John Phillip Souza.

1889: Frank Crites grew to manhood around the beautiful lake Wawasee, the largest body of water and popular resort in northern Indiana. He attended a country school and graduated from high school in the village of Ligonier in Noble County. At that time a high school education was a major achievement. Since there was no prosperous farm for his family, Frank moved with his parents to the town of North Webster. Frank was 19 years old when he got his first job working as an “engineer” in a local saw mill.
About the time he met his future wife Leona Belle Weaver, Frank went into partnership with a friend in the grocery store business. During the summer months business was brisk, with the influx of summer vacationers at Lake Wawasee, but winters were a different matter. To cover the “lean times”, he and his partner operated a tourists’ steam ship on Webster Lake.
1895: In North Webster, John Franklin Crites met and married Leona Belle Weaver the daughter of John S. Weaver (c-178) and Elizabeth Ann (Paugh) (c-179). According to the old Weaver “Christmas Book”, John and his mother were twice guests at the Weaver house before their names were moved from the “guests” column to that of “family.” They were wed in the winter of 1895. Leona was the daughter of grist mill operator at Oswego Mills on the Wabash River.

1909: On the 7th of March, 1909, he moved his young family to North Dakota, where he took possession of a meager homestead near the village of Berthold. This venture failed to bring enough income or food to sustain the family, so Frank and Leona moved them into Minot, in Ward County.
Very early in her adulthood Leona Weaver Crites worked as a doctor’s helper. That influenced her daughter Mildred to work as a nurses aid (a job that would be called a licensed vocational nurse.

April the 3, 1919
“At this date Leona B(elle Weaver) Crites is living in Minot, North Dakota” (Old Weaver Family Christmas Book)

Leona Belle (Weaver) and John Franklin Crites had nine children. They were: 1) Clinton Charles, 2) Claude “N”, 3) Etta Mae, 4) Mildred Irene, 5) Mary Elizabeth, 6) John Edward, 7) Howard Dale, 8) Richard Franklin, and 9) Theodore Kenneth Crites.

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