Crawford Family


Crawford Family


Koerber Family

Crawford Packing Company

By Cathy Fiorini

The Crawford Packing Company originated in 1921 when Carlton Crawford and his father, John Wesley Crawford, began canning figs in their own home with a consumption comparable to their facilities and equipment for production. Consumer demand continuously increased, and in 1925 Crawford Packing Company was incorporated, with Carlton Crawford as president; P. K. Taylor, vice-president; and Rowland Burton, secretary-treasurer. The slump of the fig market closed the fig canneries on the Gulf Coast; however, this company continued canning chili and tamales under Uncle Ollie’s Brand and in 1927, after enlarging their facilities, branched into the shrimp-canning business. The company operated from 40 to 50 boats, employed approximately 500 persons, and shipped around two million pounds of shrimp annually to every state in the United States and points in Canada and Great Britain.

In 1953 Crawford’s began quick-freezing, the latest in commercial seafood preparation and distribution. A new 240’x60’ one-story structure was completed which accommodated the company’s fleet of boats. The plant’s own shipyard repaired the old boats and built new ones. The largest boats in Crawford’s fleet were the Louise Crawford and the Henry Barrett, both 65-foot trawlers. This fleet scanned the Gulf for 450 miles along the coast, and its “catches” enabled the company to continue shipping over two million pounds of shrimp per year. All shrimp shipped now were frozen instead of canned.

The plant had facilities for processing, freezing and packing shrimp. The plant also made and stored its own ice using a 3,000-pound-block ice-storage vault. The shrimp were quick-frozen at 40 degrees below zero, loaded on trucks, and shipped to all parts of the United States. Forty thousand pounds of shrimp could be frozen every 24 hours.

Besides employing many persons, the company published an inspirational booklet entitled “Driftwood.” Crawford’s also had its own football team, the Crawford Bluejackets, that played many teams in the area. In addition, Crawford formed a musical band comprised of employees and friends. Crawford Packing Company was a major economic force in the Palacios area for many years.

Historic Matagorda County, Volume I, pages 556-557

Uncle Ollie's Mexican Style Beans

Uncle Ollie's Old Fashioned Stew

Uncle Ollie's Hot Tamales
With Chili Gravy

Label images courtesy of
Larry and Carol Lohn

John J. Crawford
Feb. 1839 - 23 Feb. 1908
Palacios Cemetery



John James Crawford was born in February 1839 to John and Cassandra Baker Crawford at Knox County, Kentucky.  He was the first born of six children.  His siblings were: Andrew Hamilton, Mary, Nancy J., Sarah Minerva and Charity S.

In 1860 the family was living at Harlan Courthouse, Harlan County, Kentucky. John and his brother Andrew joined Company B, 49th Regiment of Kentucky Infantry (Union) at Camp Nelson, Kentucky on September 19, 1863; he joined  as a Corporal. In October 1864 he was reduced to Private by a Regimental Courts Martial for unauthorized absence. He was discharged from the regiment on December 26, 1864.

From October 1863 until January 1864 the regiment remained at Somerset, KY. They moved to Camp Burnside, KY in January 64 and remained there until August.  The unit was at Lexington in August and then moved to Camp Nelson until October.  The regiment was ordered to TN October 1st and performed railroad guard duty near Murfreesboro and between Wartrace and Mill Creek, TN until November. The unit returned to Lexington, KY where they were mustered out on December 26, 1864. The regiment lost during service one enlisted man killed and one officer and 74 enlisted men died from disease, for a total casualty count of 76 men.

After the war he returned home and in 1868 married Lizzie J. Crawford. They resided in Bell County, Kentucky from their marriage until sometime after 1880. Of this union they had eight children: Louise, Fred  L., Dorah, Ollie (daughter), Conie E., Minnie, John M. and Albert L.

In 1900 John and Lizzie had moved to Victoria County, Texas with two of their sons, John and Albert.

It is unknown where the family was living when John died on February 23, 1908, but it is presumed to be either Jackson County or Matagorda County.  He is buried at the Palacios Cemetery, Palacios, Matagorda County, Texas.  It is also unknown when his wife Lizzie died or where she is buried.  Their son Fred L. Crawford was residing in Palacios when he died in 1923 and is buried in the Palacios Cemetery.

* Middle name obtained from Fred L. Crawford’s death certificate.

No obituary could be located for Mr. Crawford.                                          Photo courtesy of Kenneth L. Thames


My name is Emma Tennessee Shelton Crawford. My father, George Wesley Shelton was born in 1814. He came to Texas as a volunteer with David Crockett and was actively involved in the Texas War of Independence. He received a grant of land in the Corsicana area after the war. I was born and raised there and married John Wesley Crawford in 1879. We moved to Palacios in 1912 with our six children. Although I am proud of all my children, let me tell you about my son Carlton Wesley Crawford. He graduated from Palacios High School in 1916. Went into the Navy during WWI and served on the USS Harrisburg. When he returned home, he attended University of Texas and studied  business. In 1921 he opened a business preserving figs. The business expanded to canned vegetables, Uncle Ollie’s chili and  tamales, and finally shrimp. The Crawford Packing Company shipped canned shrimp to all areas of the United States. Carlton was a good man and was always ready to help those who needed assistance. During WWII, he was one of the first to convert to frozen seafoods because of the shortage of cans. He was active in the National Fisheries Institute, the Shrimp Association of the Americas, and the Shrimp Canner’s Association. He was a member of the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, served on the Palacios School Board, Director of the U. S. O. Council and served as a state representative from this district for two terms. He was also one of the organizers of MOPS (Men of Palacios) a loosely organized group of men who were concerned with the future of Palacios. I died in 1938 and missed a lot of my son’s career. But a proud Mother none the less.     Palacios Cemetery Tour

John Wesley (1853-1930) & Emma Tennessee Shelton (1861-1938)


Marker photo courtesy of Renee Huff

J. W. Crawford

J. W. Crawford passed away at his home in this city early Monday morning, following a lingering illness. Funeral services were held at the Presbyterian Church conducted by Dr. T. F. Driskill, a life long friend of the deceased and who is to prepare an obituary which will be published next week. Mrs. W. O. Beal, of Petrolia; Mrs. T. W. Swafford, of Peoria, daughters; J. N. Crawford, of Houston and R. S. Crawford, of Houston and S. R. Crawford, of San Antonio, sons, and Mrs. Wilcox, Mrs. Roberts and Mrs. Bertie Chambers, of Houston, nieces, were here for the funeral services.

Palacios Beacon, April 24, 1930

Obituary of J. W. Crawford

By Dr. T. F. Driskill

The many friends of J. W. Crawford for quite awhile, realized that the end was near at hand, yet, death always brings a certain shock to the loved ones and the friends of the deceased. It has been the writer's pleasure to know Brother Crawford for many years, even before he, (the writer) was married. Our first acquaintance came through the Y. M. C. A. and the S. S. Work, for his zeal knew no bounds in these lines. At that time our religious activities brought us in close relationship and sympathy. Then a few years elapsed and it was my privilege to locate in Corsicana, when I became the family dentist for all the years that he remained in that city.

On locating in Corsicana we found no organized Christian Church, and for six months or more, because of such friends as Brother and Sister Crawford and others that formerly knew, it was our pleasure to attend the Presbyterian Church with the understanding that at the proper time we would likely have an organization. Then when I opened an independent Mission for Sunday work, Brother Crawford and his good pastor gave us every encouragement. He was a fine singer, and always co-operated in our protracted meeting  as well as in other churches of the city the same as if it were his own congregation.

He took great interest in our city schools, and he was always up to date in civic matters. As a business man, he ran a large and a successful department store. After several years elapsed he disposed of his business and accepted a traveling salesmanship for the Texas Novelty Advertising Company of Hillsboro, Texas, L. J. Thompson, president, also editor of the Hillsboro Evening Mirror. On first coming to Texas, Mr. Thompson located in Corsicana and edited a paper there. Like Brother Crawford he was active in S. S. and church work and he became so interested in Brother Crawford that when he gave up his Corsicana business, Mr. Thompson lost no time in trying to interest his friend in the Hillsboro enterprise for he felt that a man like Mr. Crawford would be a real asset in his new undertaking. I will here quote from Editor Thompson in the Hillsboro Evening Mirror on April 21. He says of Brother Crawford:--"He was a good salesman, and by his talent as such, helped very materially in establishing the reputation of his house for fair dealing and prompt filling of orders. He worked hard during the week and wherever the Sunday overtook him he put that day in Sunday School rallies looking forward to the next district or State Convention. He seldom stayed over Sunday in a town without getting all the young people of the various churches of the place in a Sunday School Rally."

After about fifteen years service for that company, he resigned and located in Palacios, where he and his family have made many, many friends. He never lost interest in the church and the Sunday School work, but was faithful to the end. Brother Crawford's life furnishes us a fine example of what all Christians might do, whether at home or abroad. He was a missionary and a real evangelist when on the road. He did not wait to be found and invited to some church, but he worked up the S. S. and the church and threw his whole soul into the work. If all our visitors to Palacios were imbued with the same spirit it would be a wonderful place.

The fine tribute in attendance of our business men, and I may say, of the whole city, at the funeral service showed the estimate our citizens placed upon J. W. Crawford after fifteen years sojourning with us. Yes, every business house in the city closed during the funeral hour.

A devoted husband and a kind father has laid down all his tasks of this life, but the loving wife and the faithful sons and daughters accept with grace and confidence the promises of Him who died, but lives for ever and ever more.

The following notes will further emphasize the foregoing:--

J. W. Crawford was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas, March 2, 1858, but has lived in Texas the greater part of his life. He was married to Miss Emma Shelton in Corsicana, April 20, 1879. To this union were born seven children: Mrs. Charlsie M. Crawford, of Dallas, who passed on to her reward April 28, 1929; Marion Samuel, who died in infancy; Mrs. Belma Beall, of Petrolia; Mrs. Beulah Swofford, of Hillsboro, Texas; J. Norris Crawford, of Waxahachie; Raymond S. Crawford, of San Antonio; and Carlton W. Crawford, of Palacios.

Seventeen grand-children and one great grand child have blessed their lives.

Brother and sister Crawford moved to Palacios in 1912 and have become much attached to their home here.

Brother Crawford has been an Elder in the Presbyterian Church for many years and has been an ardent worker in the Sunday School, at one time being State organizer of Sunday Schools and has helped establish numerous Sunday Schools over the State.

Brother Crawford passed to his Home above April 21st, 1930, at 1:45 a. m.

Brother and Sister Crawford have been members of the Presbyterian Church since 1883.

Palacios Beacon, May 1, 1930

Mrs. J. W. Crawford

Funeral services were held this Thursday morning from the Presbyterian Church, for Mrs. J. W. Crawford, who died at her home in this city Wednesday morning. Rev. C. E. Metcalfe was the officiating minister and interment was made in the Palacios Cemetery.

Palacios Beacon, August 25, 1938

Mrs. J. W. Crawford

Mrs. Emma S. Crawford, wife of the late J. W. Crawford, died at her home in this city, Aug. 24, 1938 at 6 a. m. following an illness of some duration.

Emma Tennessee Shelton, a native Texan, was born February 14, 1861, at Corsicana. She was married to J. W. Crawford and in 1912 the family moved to Palacios. This city continued to be their home and they were active in making it a more desirable place to live. They were vitally interested in the building of our schools and Churches, and especially the Presbyterian Church of which both were devout members.

Mrs. Crawford was a devoted wife and mother and her home was often the gathering place of friends, both young and old.

She was an active member of her Church as long as health permitted. Ever ready to do her part she served in Sunday School and all the other services. Kind and thoughtful of neighbor and friend as well as members of her family her presence will be sadly missed.

Mrs. Crawford is survived by two sons, Carlton Crawford, of this city; J. N. Crawford, of Harlingen, and one daughter, Mrs. W. O. Beall of Austin and several grand children to whom we extend our deepest sympathy.

On Thursday morning, August 25, at 10 o'clock an impressive service was held for the departed in the Presbyterian Church, Rev. C. E. Metcalfe, officiating, with Prof. J. D. Park is charge of the music. Interment was made in the Palacios cemetery under the direction of the Brandon-Duffy Funeral Home with Messrs. Ernest Wehmeyer, Charles Luther, T. A. Elder, Arnold Burton, H. C. Lewis and Howard Campbell as pallbearers.

The large crowd of sorrowing friends who attended these last sad rites and the many beautiful floral offerings attested the love and esteem held for Mrs. Crawford by all who had ever known her.

Palacios Beacon, September 1, 1938


Carlton Wesley Crawford Family

John Wesley (1853-1930) and Emma Tennessee Shelton (1861-1938) Crawford, had six children, Charlsie, Velna, Beulah, Norris, Raymond, and Carlton. Emma Tennessee Shelton's father, George Wesley Shelton (1814-1882), came to Texas as a volunteer with David Crockett, and was actively involved in the Texas War of Independence. He received a grant of land in the Corsicana area after the war. Carlton Wesley Crawford was born January 22, 1898, in Corsicana, Texas.


The family moved to Palacios in 1912 where Carlton was graduated from Palacios High School in 1916. During World War I, he enlisted in the Navy and served for two and a half years on the USS Harrisburg as mail clerk. As such, he was one of a few who would buy souvenirs and sell them to his shipmates, and was able to return home with money. He was a member of John Phillip Sousa's band stationed at Great Lakes Naval Station and traveled extensively with the band playing first cornet.


After returning to civilian life, he attended The University of Texas where he studied business and was a member of the Acacia Fraternity.


Preserving figs was the beginning of his business career. Beginning in 1921, his canning business included products such as figs, vegetables, Uncle Ollie's chili and

tamales, and finally shrimp. The Crawford Packing Company canned shrimp which were shipped to all areas of the United States.


Carlton was supportive of his employees, and hosted an annual picnic at his Live Oak Farm, sponsored a football team called the Crawford Blue Jackets, and

was always ready to help those who needed assistance. He also published an inspirational booklet called Driftwood.

During World War II, he became one of the first to convert to frozen seafoods because of the
shortage of cans. He was very active in all of the seafood organizations including the National Fisheries Institute, the Shrimp Association of the Americas, and the Shrimp Canner's Association.

He was an active member of the Presbyterian Church where he served as Elder, and was a member of the Rotary Club, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Palacios School Board. He was a director of the U. S. O. Council, and served as a state representative from this district for two terms. He was also one of the organizers of the MOPS (Men of Palacios) a loosely organized group of men who were concerned with the future of Palacios.

When Carlton was 19, he was determined that 14 year old, Mary Louise Pybus would someday become his wife, and although each had several other romances in the interim, on January 22, 1927, they were united in marriage at the Presbyterian Church. Except for two years in Galveston, the couple lived their entire married life in Palacios, rearing four children: Mary Carlton, January 9, 1928; John Lacy "Buddy," December 17, 1932; Jack Wesley, August 28, 1938; and Norris Raymond, March 14, 1942. The esteem with which the town held Carlton was evident during his funeral. All the downtown businesses closed to honor his memory.

Mary Louise Pybus was born in Bay City, Texas, on September 14, 1902, to John Lacy and Martha Eleanor "Mattie" Pybus, and was the granddaughter of J. E. and Sarah Jane Lacy Pybus, whose father William Demetrius Lacy was a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836.

When she was only a few months old, Louise moved with her parents to Palacios where she was the only child in town for a number of months. She was graduated from Palacios High School in 1920, and then continued her musical studies at Salem College, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She completed her studies in Chicago. She spent several years teaching music at Runge and Bishop, Texas.

Louise was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and was vital to all the activities there. She not only played the piano and organ for forty years, but sang in the choir and taught every age group in Sunday School at one time or another. During World War II, every Sunday night their kitchen was filled with the young people's group from the church, which included some soldiers from Camp Hulen.


Louise was the first woman officer of the Presbyterian Church and the first woman to be selected as "Woman of the Year" by the Palacios Alpha Club.


Historic Matagorda County, Volume II, 1984, pages 111 - 112


C. W. Crawford, Leader Of Area, Taken By Death

Death the morning of September 24 took the life of one of Palacios’ most outstanding citizens and civic leaders, Carlton Wesley Crawford.

The community was shocked at the passing of a man who had been prominent in business, politics and church for nearly half a century.

Mr. Crawford was a native of Corsicana born January 22, 1898, but moved to Palacios with his parents, the late J. W. and Emma L. Shelton Crawford in 1912.

Mr. Crawford left his impact upon Palacios in many fields. In business he operated Crawford Packing Company.

Politically he served as state representative in 1946-47. He also served as a school trustee. He was a past president of the Palacios Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce. He has served as the one and only President of the Texas Mid-Coast Water Development Association since it was organized in 1954, was a director and served on the advisory committee of the Intra-Coastal Canal Association, was a member of the Interstate Fisheries committee and a former president of the Shrimp Association of the Americas.

He was a veteran of World War I and for many years was active in Boy Scout activities.

He was a leader in the First Presbyterian Church and at the time of his death was Ruling Elder, and a member of the Christian Education committee. He had served as deacon and Sunday School superintendent.

Funeral services were held in the First Presbyterian Church Wednesday, September 25, at 3 p. m. with the Rev. Richard E. Stone officiating. Interment was in the Palacios Cemetery.

His survivors include, his wife, Mrs. Louise Crawford; one daughter, Mrs. Mary Carlton Simpson of Clarksville; three sons, John of Palacios, Jack of Port Lavaca and Norris of Houston; one sister, Mrs. Bula Swofford of Fort Worth and one brother, R. S. Crawford of San Antonio.

Palacios Beacon, September 26, 1963

Mary Louise Crawford

Funeral services for Mary Louise Crawford, 82, of Clarksville, Texas, will be held at 2 p. m. Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church, Palacios, with the Rev. Doug Blanton officiating. Burial will be in Palacios Cemetery.

Mrs. Crawford was born Sept. 14, 1902, in Palacios and died at 8 a. m. Dec. 9, 1984, at Red River General Hospital, Clarksville.

She is a retired music teacher.

Survivors include two sons, Norris and Jack Crawford of Houston; a daughter, Mary Simpson of Clarksville; 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Family will be at the residence of Kathy Fiorini, 302 Welsh Ave., Palacios.

Arrangements are with Jolley’s Funeral Home, Clarksville.

Daily Tribune, December 10?, 1984

John Lacy “Buddy” Crawford

Funeral services for John Lacy “Buddy” Crawford were held at 2 p. m. Thursday, June 22, in the Palacios Funeral Home Chapel with the Rev. Leslie E. Webb officiating. Interment was in the Palacios Cemetery.

Son of Mary Louise Pybus Crawford and the late Carlton Wesley Crawford, he was born December 17, 1932 in Bay City. A resident to Palacios for 30 years, he was a graduate for 30 years, he was a graduate of Palacios High School and the University of Texas and had served as personnel manager at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for 10 years. He passed away Tuesday, June 20, in the VA Hospital in Houston.

He is survived by his mother, Mrs. Carlton Crawford of Palacios, two daughters Lacy and Caryn Crawford; one son, Scott Crawford, all of Galveston; one sister, Mary Carlton Simpson of Clarksville and two brothers, Jack Crawford of Rome, Italy and Norris Crawford of Houston.

Palacios Beacon, June 29, 1978



Another Carload Of Uncle Ollie's Tamales Ordered

Beaumont, Tex., May 14, '23

Home Products Co.
Palacios, Texas


We received your shipment of 25 cases of Uncle Ollie's Tamales and we frankly say that this is the best Tamale we have ever seen. We believe that there is a possibility of working up a large business on this piece of merchandise and we would be very much interested in securing the exclusive representation for this territory.

Please advise us how many cases make a minimum car and also what other articles you pack also if you are in a position to give us your line exclusively.

Yours very truly,

Heisig & Norvell, Inc.

L. M. Josey


The above letter from one of the largest wholesale houses in the South is evidence of the fact that the Home Products Company is an assured concern, and Mr. Koerber received a telephone message Thursday morning from them, ordering a car load of Uncle Ollie's Tamales, to be shipped at once.

Only a few weeks ago a car load was shipped to Houston and many small orders have been filled. The popularity of this very extra fine product is going to grow in every section of the country, ...

Palacios Beacon, May 18, 1923

Crawford Fig Co.

A big new boiler has just been installed in the Crawford Fig Company plant which, together with quite a few other changes, puts this fig plant in first class shape and when the figs get ready they will be prepared to take care of all the figs in the county. They are urging every one to keep their fig trees watered and cultivated; also to keep the suckers cut away from around the bottom of the trees, and be sure to spray when necessary.

They will use both the Magnolia and Celeste figs, and the price this year will be the same as last year, five cents for the Magnolia and four cents for the Celeste.

Palacios Beacon, May 24, 1923

Crawford Fig Preserving Plant Opens Today

The immense cauldrons in the Crawford Fig Preserving Plant were filled with figs and set bubbling today for the first time this season. The Crawford plant has recently been completely overhauled and greatly enlarged and is fully equipped to take care of the enormous crop of figs that will be gathered this year. Several huge copper kettles and other new machinery has been installed and the plant was never in a more thoroughly sanitary and up-to-date minute condition.

The fig crop will exceed all previous records both as to quantity and quality, the fruit being far superior to that usually produced; due perhaps to the fact that the rains fell and the sun shone at just the right times to produce figs of unusual juiciness and sweetness. Weather conditions have been favorable too; to the nursery stock, of which there is a large acreage near Palacios.

Palacios Beacon, July 3, 1924

Crawford Packing Co. Operating at Full Capacity

The Crawford Packing Company has been running with full force for the past ten days and last week was a banner one for Uncle Ollie's tamales. The tamale crew put out 121,000 during the week, the big day being Friday, when 25,000 tamales were put up. Most of these have already been shipped out.

The Crawford Packing Co. is to be commended for the enormous out-put of tamales, chili and other cannery work being done there. The service is A-1 standard and they are filling orders as rapidly as the products can be made ready for shipment.

Palacios Beacon, March 7, 1929


Copyright 2011 - Present by the Crawford Family
All rights reserved

Dec. 7, 2011
Sep. 13, 2014