At the Clackamas County Historical Society we have several volunteers working on the genealogy of the Crawford and Stevens families. Muriel “Mertie” Stevens, granddaughter of Capt. Medorem Crawford of the Emigrant Escort Service, left her family home to the Clackamas County Historical Society at her death. The house and contents are now available to tour – Stevens-Crawford Heritage House, Oregon City, OR.
As part of the story of the house we are filling in the stories of the Stevens and Crawford families. Capt. Medorem Crawford was one of three sons of Samuel Gillespie Crawford of Havana (Montour Falls), Schuyler County, New York to emigrate to the Oregon Territory in the mid-1880’s. Many of the descendants of these three brothers have pursued military careers or, in the case of female descendants, have married military men.
Medorem’s oldest son, Medorem, is noted as the first appointee to West Point from Oregon and at the time of his retirement had achieved the rank of Brigadier General.
Brigadier General Medorem Crawford, his two sons, Colonel Medorem Crawford Jr. and Colonel Lawrence Carter Crawford, and one daughter, Delores Crawford, as well as several of their spouses, are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. One great-nephew, Wallace William Crawford, also attended West Point.
And to add to the military achievements of the family, Robert MacArthur Crawford, Medorem’s great-nephew (grandson of his brother Ronald C. Crawford) wrote the words and music to “The Army Air Corps” know to us at “Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder”.
Robert Crawford is Dead at 61;
Wrote ‘Army Air Corps” Song
New York Times – March 1961
Robert MacArthur Crawford, a singer, author, musical conductor and composer of the son “The Army Air Corps” died yesterday in Memorial Hospital after a brief illness. He was 61 years old.
Mr. Crawford, who retired from the Air Force Reserve as a lieutenant colonel, lived in South Miami, Fla. He had been in New York while completing the composition of a musical about Alaska.
The Air Corps song, which begins “Off we go into the wild blue yonder-“, was written in 1939. It won a year-long $1,000 competition conducted by the old Liberty magazine for a new song for the service, now the Air Force.
Mr. Crawford’s service songs also included “Mechs of the Air Corps”, “Cadets of the Air Corps” and “Born to the Sky” the official song of the Air Transport Command.
His other compositions included “Pagan Prayer”, “To Everyman”, “Nadege”, “Rust on the Moon”, Behold What Manner of Love” and “Les Etoiles.”
Born in Dawon, Yukon Territory, Mr. Crawford spent his childhood in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Always interested in Alaska, he was an official guest at the ceremony marking the territory’s admission to statehood.
After attending the Case Scientific Institute in Cleveland, Mr. Crawford attended Princeton University, where he wrote the words and music for the Triangle Club shows of 1924 and 1925. He was also director of the Princeton Glee Club and conductor of the university orchestra.
Mr. Crawford, who graduated from Princeton in 1925, later studied and taught at the Julliard School of Music here and studied composition at the American School of Music in Fontainbleau, France.
In 1923, he learned to fly. While piloting his small plane to various parts of the United States, he was presented at concerts as “The Flying Baritone.”
When the United States entered World War II, Mr. Crawford joined the Pan American Air Ferry at Miami, which delivered planes across the South Atlantic for the Army Air Corps. After the ferry unit was taken over by the Air Corps, he flew thousands of miles of the Air Transport Command.
In 1947, Mr. Crawford joined the music faculty of the University of Miami, where he remained for ten years before withdrawing to concentrate on composing.
Surviving are his widow, the former Hester Keen; four sons, Robert M. Crawford, Jr., Ronald Leroy Crawford, Samuel Stuart Crawford and Lowell Crawford; a brother, Samuel, and four grandchildren.
(Other biographies include a note that he tried to become an aviator in the United States Army Air Service in World War I but was discovered to be underage.)
Visit our growing family trees of Clackamas County Families: CCFHS.tribalpages.com