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Paul Crum's Pre-history: William, McDonough, La Fayette and Taylor Crum
Paul's great grandfather was William Crum. We don't know enough about William - other than he was born 30 August 1773 in "Middleton, Orange, New York," (the quotation marks are there because we are not certain how correct that information is) and died on 3 Oct 1832 in Spencer, Tioga County, New York. He is buried in the Baptist Corners Cemetery alongside his wife, Lucinda Hubbard. William and Lucinda were married in 1805 in Au Sable, Clinton County, New York. Lucinda was born on 6 July 1782 in Middleton, Rutland, Vermont, died on 3 Mar 1864 in Spencer, Tioga, New York. We know nothing of their forefathers - to our great frustration. Family stories called the Crums variously Dutch or German or Pennsylvania Dutch or Scottish... we don't know. Yet. We cannot find a definite link backwards in time for either of them. But we will.

Be that as it may, William and Lucinda had several children. Mac was the fifth in line. The family story that was diligently handed down is that Mac's father, William Crum, watched a battle on Lake Champlain during the War of 1812 in which Commodore Downie, the British commander, and Commodore McDonough, the American commander, fought. William was so excited by the battle that he vowed to name his next child

after the victorious American commodore McDonough. Luckily the next child was a boy: McDonough Crum was born in 1815 in Peru, New York, and became a prosperous New York farmer in the Candor area.

Taylor Crum, Paul's father, was born in Candor, New York in 1852, the son of McDonough Crum and Harriet McGowan, Mac's second wife. In October 1852, the month before Taylor was born, a brother Ambrose, age 6, and a sister Alphena, age one and a half, died. Taylor's mother, Harriet, was eight months pregnant and 41 years old at the time, and Taylor appears to have been her only surviving child. Taylor may have been raised as a spoiled, little prince - but that is only conjecture on our part. Certain adventures in his later life seem to point there, however...

Taylor had an older half-brother, La Fayette Crum, who served and was permanently disabled in the Civil War. Taylor must have greatly admired La Fayette, as it was his name who came down in family history as Taylor's father. La Fayette may have been a strong role model for Taylor. We don't know much about the relationship. But admired, older brother he was.

McDonough Crum
Taylor's father
1815 - 1888

La Fayette registered at the age of 18 for active duty in the Civil War and was enlisted in Company H of the 137th in the New York Volunteer Regiment of the United States Infantry at Candor on 21 August 1862. He enlisted for three years. He lasted for less than one.
On the 3rd of July 1863, La Fayette was wounded in action at Gettysburg. Fighting with the rest of his regiment behind the breastworks, La Fayette was badly injured when a musket ball tore into the front of his right shoulder and exited out the back, completely shattering his shoulder joint. La Fayette was discharged from the army - permanently disabled - at the age of 19 on 11 December 1863... and sent back to New York "to return to his previous occupation as a farmer" - with a useless right arm that atrophied with age. La Fayette seems to have been a very strong personality and was well known in the Candor area. Well known and admired. Unable to farm, he eventually took up other means of support. La Fayette married three times - all of his wives preceded him in death - and had six children with his first wife.
La Fayette Crum
1844 - 1934
La Fayette had three sons and three daughters with his first wife.
Emma (1879), Effie (1881) and Maude (1885). Maude is in the middle.
La Fayette Crum standing in front of the monument erected to commemorate his Civil War regiment. (This picture was taken in 1934, the year of his death.)

Those were the role models that Taylor Crum, Paul's father, had in his life. Taylor, however, did not want to be a farmer... though we know he would have loved to have served in the Civil War - or any war, for that matter. But no wars were declared while he was of any appropriate age.

Instead he was educated at the Oswego Normal School (a good public teacher's college that later became a state university campus in New York), beginning his studies in 1872 and graduating in 1876. He then attended the Rochester (New York) Theological Seminary from 1874 to 1876. Taylor and Helen Bixby were married in Campbell, New York, in August 1876. Taylor was ordained in Monroe, Michigan on September 13, 1876, and was pastor in Monroe from July 1876 through March 77. Taylor and Helen's first born, a son, Solon, was born in Newfield, New York in September, 1877. Taylor was a pastor in Newfield, NY, between 1877 and 1879; then in Richburg, N.Y. between 1879 and 81; and finally in Andover in 1881. [Source for the dates just noted: Rochester Theological Seminary General Catalogue 1850 to 1920.]

Taylor, Helen, and their oldest son, Solon, are listed in the 1880 New York census with Taylor's occupation listed as that of a minister. At the time of the census, Helen was heavily pregnant with Paul, who was born the 6th of August 1880. One more son, Leon, was born in October, 1881.

However, although it seems Taylor was an eloquent orator, preaching does not seem to be what Taylor wanted most out of life. In the dead of winter in December of 1881, Taylor, Helen, and three very small little boys moved to the frontier that was North Dakota, where Taylor had been hired as principal of the Fargo schools. They lived briefly in Buffalo, North Dakota, before moving to the Fargo/Moorhead area and settling. At some time during his employment with the schools, he began to study law and was admitted to the North Dakota bar.

In 1884, after a nearly fatal fall from a window, Helen left Taylor, eventually taking the children and moving to Santa Cruz, California, to be with her family. Tragically she died on the 25th of October 1885 - as a result of long term complications from the fall from the window. Fall or defenestration? Whatever the case, Helen was far too young to die. At the age of 29, she was forced to leave behind three sons, also far too young to be without a mother. The boys remained with their maternal grandparents. Simon Bixby, Helen's father, was declared guardian.

Taylor remained in Fargo and practiced law. His oratory skills proved to be just as useful in the courtroom as they had been from the pulpit. He was a colorful character and very well known for many things... some of which were his outbursts in court and his sometimes dubious methods of practicing law. It seems that in about 1895 he married Ida M. Lyman, who was the first woman to practice law in the Dakota Territories. She was possibly as firey an individual as he - at any rate, he proved to be more than she was willing to put up with... the marriage ended in divorce sometime in 1898.

Taylor had some rough times before and after that, but he did manage to survive. If nothing else can be said of the man, it can be said that he was a survivor. He married a third and last time to Eva G. Fitzgerald.

Taylor died at the age of 81 on the 13th of October 1934. Only nine and a half months after his greatly admired, older, half brother La Fayette. Behind him remained a legacy that at least one son had a very difficult time living with and rising above...

So many questions and so many unsolved mysteries surround the man who was Taylor Crum. We may never solve them. But we keep trying. For those who came after.

Taylor in 1880
principal and minister in New York
Four years after he married Helen
Taylor in 1889
Attorney in North Dakota
Four years after Helen died
sometime between
1905 and 1908
Fargo, North Dakota
14 June 1908
Taylor Crum
1852 - 1934

In one of the "biographies" we have found of Taylor (all of which seem to have been written by Taylor), he says - along with many strangely distorted versions of his life - that the ground on which his homestead was located was needed by the city of Fargo for the site of a city post office. That site may be where he and Helen Bixby Crum, Paul's mother, lived with their three little boys - and perhaps where she "was thrown out the window" ... If only we could get some hard facts about that defenestration.
This is the post office that was built in Fargo in 1887: the picture on the left is the original post office building; the one of the right shows the changes made when they added a third floor and removed the bell tower. In the middle is Helen, who died with her family in California after about a year a pain from ... a fall from a window:

The Daily Surf; Santa Cruz, CA; Monday, October 26, 1885; page 3, column 1:

"Mrs. Helen V. Crumb, a daughter of S. S. Bixby and niece of N. A. Bixby, died at three o'clock Sunday afternoon of neuralgia of the heart. The funeral will be held at two o'clock tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon, at the family residence on Ocean Street. Mrs. Crumb left three little children, the oldest being 8 years of age."

Here is the house Taylor then purchased in Fargo - surrounded to his satisfaction
"by the wealthy and prominent members of Fargo society"

(This drawing was found on
1909 - Broadway, looking west
Taylor's law offices were here

(This photograph was found on
Eva G. Fitzgerald Crum, Taylor's 3rd and last wife.
Taken in front of the home above - in 1922.

(Wish we had a picture of Ida, the 2nd wife who divorced him.)

Taylor was buried by his third wife, Eva G. Fitzgerald Crum, and she was buried four months later
next to him by Taylor's oldest son, Solon Crum. They are in Riverside Cemetery, Fargo, North Dakota
(These photographs of the gravesite were taken by a wonderfully generous woman I only know by email.)

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