Crawford Family

 Abel Crawford     Courtesy Conway Library

                                                  The Crawford Family: Three generations of Pioneers

                                                                                 By Rick Russack

It's safe to say that one cannot begin to talk about White Mountain history without giving the three generations of the Crawford family a great deal of credit.  They were just about the first settlers in Crawford Notch;  they provided food and shelter for early travelers, they built the first roads and turnpikes, they opened paths to the summit of Mt. Washington as early as 1819, and they guided hundreds of early visitors safely up the mountains.  In spite of their place in history, they appear not to have been astute business men and most of their ventures turned out to be financial disasters.  Their story is fascinating and the full scope of their contribution is just now coming to light.

                                                          Double clicking these images will allow you to enlarge them.

  Abel Crawford's Mt. Crawford House, c.1870                                           The Notch House. Built by Ethan Allen Crawford and his Father, Abel                                                                                                                         Crawford, about 1828.  It was run by Ethan's berother, Tom Crawford.


Abel Crawford was the first to settle in what was then known  as the White Mountain Notch, in about 1793. 

Eleazar Rosebrook, his father-in-law, soon followed andAbel moved 12 miles south to Hart's Location, at the

Bartlett end of the Notch.  His son, Ethan Allen Crawford, inherited the Rosebrook farm at the time of Rosebrook's

death in 1817. 

Both Rosebrook and Abel Crawford provided shelter and accommodations for early travelers in the Notch. Early

travel journals discuss the accommodations. Ethan continued taking in travelers.  In 1819, he started guiding

visitors up Mt. Washington and built the first path up themountain.  Ethan and  his father, together built the Notch

House (pictured at the top of this page) in 1828, andEthan's brother Tom was installed as the manager.  The

Crawford family, at that point, become the first of the hotelchain owners, with three taverns along the twelve miles of


All three Crawfords were instrumental in the construction ofthe roads through the Notch.  Their journals and day books,

just now coming to light, are full of references to work on the Cherry Mountain Road, the Tenth New Hampshire Turnpike, 

the Littleton Turnpike and the Jefferson Turnpike  In addition to actually building portions of these roads, each also owned

stock and participated in managing these roads.

As mentioned earlier, their efforts did not bring financial security.  Ethan was jailed for debt and lost his property. 

Abel's large farm and Mt. Crawford Tavern were foreclosed  on a few years after his death.

The story of this family, and their contribution to the White

Mountains will be told in more detail shortly

Ethan Allen Crawford Grave site. It's just off the road  to  

the Base Station of the  Cog  Railway.  Lucy is buried next to her husband.


     Abel Crawford, and his wife Hannah are buried at Notchland, the remarkable granite mansion, at the southern  end of Crawford Notch.       Notchland, now an Inn, was the former home of  Dr. Samuel Bemis.

               Suggested  Reading

 Lucy Crawford's   "History of The White Mountains" was published in 1846 and been reprinted a number of times since.  It's the basic reference on the Crawford family, although essentially concentrating on her husband, Ethan Allen Crawford.