A Twentieth century history and biographical record of Crawford County, Kansas, by Home Authors; Illustrated. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL : 1905. 656 p. ill. Transcribed by staff and students at Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas.

1905 History of Crawford County Kansas


John Crites, proprietor of the Crites Hotel in Arcadia, is one of the prominent old-timers of Crawford county, and one who has resided within its boundaries since the Civil war period, and even during those troublous times his duties as a soldier led him over this part of the state. His career has been one of self-achievement, beginning with the age of eleven years, and through many ways and experiences time has brought him with honor to the last years of an active and useful life.

Mr. Crites was born in Niagara county, New York, November 20, 1832, a son of William and Ruth Crites, who were born in Pennsylvania. From New York his parents moved to Illinois, and thence to Iowa, and both are now deceased.

Mr. Crites was educated in the New York state schools, but his early training was terminated at the age of eleven, when he left home and became a driver on the Erie canal. Two years later found him in Wisconsin, employed during the summer in rafting logs down the Mississippi as far as St. Louis. After two years he located at East Troy, Wisconsin, and did farm work for two years. In 1850 he drove a wagon across the plains to California, and ten years were spent in mining, one year of which, 1857, he passed along the Fraser river in British Columbia. In October, 1860, he returned to New York by the water route, and from Chicago went to Princeton, Illinois, thence to Wyanet, in the same state, and during the following year was engaged in the saloon business at East Troy, Wisconsin. He was ready for duty when the Civil war came on, and in 1861 enlisted in Company D, Third Wisconsin Cavalry. Eleven men of this regiment were killed in a railroad wreck while they were en route to Chicago. From St. Louis they were ordered to Leavenworth, Kansas, thence out on the plains to Fort Learned; from there to Fort Scott, and then to Lost Springs. From this last point Mr. Crites made a trip as bearer of dispatches to Fort Scott in one day. He was chosen lieutenant of his company after being in the service for six months. From Fort Scott he was sent to Stalls Creek, thence to Saline, Missouri, and returned to Fort Scott on July 4, 1863. On the following 23d of July he established the military post at Baxter Springs, where he was reinforced by Company A of the Second Kansas Colored troops. He was in the battles of Cane Hill, Pea Ridge, and several others. On October 5, 1863, he was summoned to Fort Scott as a witness in a court martial. Major Pond, of Company C, Third Wisconsin, relieved him at Fort Scott, and after five months of sickness he obtained a furlough of twenty days, which was extended to forty days. On his return to Fort Scott he took charge of the provost guard, which he retained for six months. He then rejoined his regiment and took command of his company. During Price's raid he was called to Fort Scott, and with twenty men was sent to Balltown, Missouri, thence to Pappenville, to Germantown, and to Warrensburg and Sedalia, and then after four days and three nights' marching rejoined his regiment at Mound City. From there he was sent to Paoli, Kansas, thence to Hickman's Mill; was ordered to Lexington, Missouri, where he fought against Price; after going back to Independence, he fought Price all day along the Little Blue, was in the following fight at Westport, and later participated in the capture of seven hundred of Price's men. His regiment was then sent to Fort Scott with their prisoners. From there he took a supply train to Fort Smith, Arkansas; thence back to Fort Scott, and three months later to Wyandotte, Kansas, where he was given charge of three hundred troops to go out on the plains. At the close of hostilities he was sent to Madison, Wisconsin, and mustered out with an excellent record in every part of army service to which he had been assigned.

In 1866 Mr. Crites came to Lincoln township, Crawford county, and began farming. Fourteen years later he moved to Arcadia, where he was engaged in the hotel and livery business, but after a year sold his hotel. He continued the conduct of his livery for twenty years. During both of the Cleveland administrations he served as postmaster of Arcadia. In 1880 he was elected to the office of justice of the peace, and has been in the office ever since, being also at the present time police judge. He established the Crites Hotel in Arcadia about six years ago, and has conducted this as the leading public house of the town, with a fine patronage and with profitable results.

Mr. Crites has been a loyal Democrat since casting his first vote. He is a Mason and affiliates with St. James Lodge No. 42, at East Troy, Wisconsin. He was married at Fort Scott, Kansas, January 1, 1865, to Miss Caroline R. Harris. Her father, William Harris, came to Kansas and located at Baxter Springs in the pioneer year of 1857. Mr. and Mrs. Crites have the following children: Florence, the wife of T. W. Gaffney, an attorney of Seattle, Washington; William, of Arcadia; Ruth, the wife of Chauncey Nichols, of Oklahoma; Mary, the wife of J. D. Sheffield; and Josephine, who is attending a dramatic school in Kansas City, Missouri.