In Search of Teddy Crombie: The Crombies in Dickinson

Apr 07, 2017

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

Sometime between 1900 and 1910, the Crombie family lived for a time in Dickinson. In his second letter to TR, Teddy wrote, "I used to live at Dickinson North Dakota and I know Johnnie Goodall and a good many of you're (sic) old time friends there. Mr. Goodall was sheriff then."

How did Teddy come to live in Dickinson and become acquainted with such renowned people as Johnnie Goodall and others of Roosevelt's friends?

The answer lies in the connection between Teddy Crombie and prominent Dickinson resident Richard Hartwell (R. H.) Johnson. R. H. Johnson was born in Connecticut in 1855, and raised on a farm in Minnesota. At the age of 23, he settled on land near Jamestown, North Dakota, and worked his way through college by farming during the summer months and attending college during the winter.

After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1882 and earning his law degree from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1884, he moved to Bismarck, North Dakota, where he practiced law until 1889. There he me Mary Louise Poole. The couple married in 1889, and moved to Dickinson where R. H. had accepted a position as cashier at the Stark County Bank.

The following year, he became associated with A. Hilliard in organizing the First National Bank in Dickinson-the second bank in the state west of the Missouri River. Dr. Victor Hugo Stickney, pioneer physician and friend of Theodore Roosevelt, was the vice president of the new bank.

R. H. Johnson eventually became the vice president of the bank, and was known as an honest man. He was active as a Free Mason and in the Elks Lodge, and served as mayor of Dickinson from 1910 to 1914.

Teddy Crombie's mother Ava was Mary Poole Johnson's youngest sister. Ava and Mary's parents, Joseph and Emily Poole, moved to Dickinson sometime between 1885 and 1900 from LeRoy, Minnesota, to live out their retirement years in their daughter and son-in-law's home. Joseph Poole died in 1900, the year Teddy was born, and Emily died in 1905. Both are buried in the Dickinson Cemetery.

The Johnson family lived in a three-bedroom, two-story house at 507 2nd Ave. W. In addition to their five children and Mary's parents, the household also included her older sister Helen.

Although there is no record of what year the Crombies moved to Dickinson, Teddy Crombie specifically mentioned that Johnnie Goodall was the sheriff then. Goodall was Start County Sheriff from 1900-1904, which would make Teddy four years old or younger when his family arrived.

Whether they moved in with the Johnson family or lived in another house in town, young Teddy would have been exposed to Theodore Roosevelt's friends through his prominent uncle. His letter suggests that he spent enough time in Dickinson to become acquainted with them.

Posted by Sharon Kilzer and Shanna Shervheim on Apr 07, 2017 in History  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)  |  Share this post

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