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In Search of Teddy Crombie: Who is Teddy?

Apr 05, 2017

This is part one of a three-part series about the discoveries made about a young admirer of Theodore Roosevelt, Teddy Crombie.

In February of 1912, a boy named Teddy Crombie wrote to Presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt from Pompeys Pillar, Montana. An excerpt from that letter reads, "I hope that you will be president and I will try to grow up into as good and honest a man as you are. I wish you success and a handshake."

Roosevelt responded personally to this letter, writing, "I hope that if I get to Montana again, you will be able to get to the railway depot, and that I may have the pleasure of shaking hands with you."

Later that year, both parties saw their hopes realized. Twelve-year-old Teddy Crombie not only shook TR's hand but also accompied him on the train from Pompeys Pillar to Billings.

This series of original letters, which were recently acquired by the Theodore Roosevelt Center, sparked a search for Teddy Crombie that led to some interesting discoveries about the boy who rode the train with TR and heard him speak in Billings. Who was Teddy Crombie?

Census records and additional research prove that Teddy Crombie's given name was actually Richard. Why he was nicknamed "Teddy" was unclear, but his obvious admiration for Theodore Roosevelt certainly makes it appropriate.

Richard Joseph Crombie was born in 1900 in Carrington, North Dakota, to Louis Preston Crombie and Ava Louise Poole. Richard's half-sister, named Ava like her mother, was 9 years older than he. His sister Maxine would join the family 2 years later.

The 1910 U.S. Census lists Teddy's mother Ava as the head of the household in Pompeys Pillar, and her profession as "stockraising" consistent with Teddy's first letter to TR, in which he says he lives on a ranch 5 miles from town. It is his second letter, however, which provides evidence that "Teddy" is actually "Richard," as the second page of the letter contains a drawing of a young woman titled "Ava Lee." Richard's half-sister Ava had married John Milton Lee of Pompeys Pillar in September 1909.

Posted by Sharon Kilzer and Shanna Shervheim on Apr 05, 2017 in History  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)  |  Share this post

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