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CREWS, LAURA ELLA (1871-1976)

The last of the Cherokee Strip Land Run participants to die, Laura Ella Crews, born January 23, 1871, in Pierce City, Missouri, was sixth of seven children of Franklin and Louisa Waddel Crews. In 1872 the family moved to Chautauqua County, Kansas. Franklin Crews died in 1873, leaving Louisa with seven children to raise. Two of Laura's brothers, Charles and Frank, and a brother-in-law, Lafeyette Campbell, made the Land Run of 1889. Charles and Lafeyette staked claims nine miles east of Guthrie. Frank was successful in the Sac and Fox-Iowa-Pottawatomie Land Run of September 1891, as was Laura's mother, Louisa, both making claims fifteen miles east of Guthrie. That winter, Laura came to Oklahoma to live with her mother and work as a school teacher.

Laura and her brother Will Crews entered the April 19, 1892, Cheyenne and Arapaho Opening but did not file on any land. They participated in the Cherokee Outlet Opening of September 16, 1893, making the run from near Orlando. They staked a claim halfway between Garber and Covington. Later, her brother James and his wife died, leaving six children, which Laura and Louisa raised. Laura later discovered that she had homesteaded on part of the Garber-Covington oil field. The production royalties enabled her and her family to move to Enid. Laura E. Crews never married, but the six children she raised and all her other nephews and nieces looked to her for help, which she gladly gave. When she died in 1976, at the age of 105, many people, not only relatives, remembered her smile and called her "Aunt Laura."

SEE ALSO: WOMEN IN LAND RUNS, PETROLEUM, WOMEN.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Laura E. Crews, My Kinsfolk (Enid, Okla: Privately printed, 1941). Robert N. Gray, The Cherokee Strip of Oklahoma, A Hundred Yesteryears (Enid, Okla.: Sons and Daughters of the Cherokee Strip Pioneers, 1992). Lynette Wert, "The Lady Stakes a Claim," Persimmon Hill 6 (Spring 1976).

Glen McIntyre

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