Crawford County, Iowa, IAGenWeb


Orville M. Criswell

The development of Crawford county for thirty-seven years past is well known to Orville M. Criswell, who makes his home in Denison, as during the entire time he has been a resident of this county and an interested spectator of events. He has always held positions of trust and responsibility and at the present time is cashier of the Arion State Bank.

He was born in Blair county, Pennsylvania, February 2, 1851, a son of Benjamin and Catharine (Edelblute) Criswell, both of whom were natives of Pennsylvania. The father was reared as a farmer and came to Iowa in 1852, locating in Scott county, where he successfully engaged in agriculture and stockraising for more than fifty years. He died in 1905 at the age of eighty-five years, and the mother of our subject passed away at the age of sixty-five years in 1884. They were both consistent members of the Methodist church.

Robert Criswell, our subject's paternal grandfather, was also a native of Pennsylvania. His wife was Mary Ann McElvain, and they were the parents of eight children: Benjamin, John, Robert, Elizabeth, Mary Ann, Margaret, Thomas and William.

Three children came to bless the home of Benjamin and Catharine Criswell, namely: Orlando B., of Scott county, Iowa; Asbury S., of Charter Oak, Iowa; and Orville M., the subject of this review.

Orville M. Criswell was brought by his parents to Scott county in his infancy and grew to manhood upon his father's farm. He received his preliminary education in the district schools and subsequently attended Cornell College. After leaving college he taught school for several years, but, having decided to devote his attention to farming, came to Crawford county in 1874 and purchased two hundred and forty acres in Charter Oak township, upon which he lived for twenty-three years, bringing it to a high state of cultivation. He sold a portion of his farm for the town site of Charter Oak.

In the fall of 1896 he was elected county recorder of Crawford county and removed to Denison, assuming the office January 1, 1897. He continued in this position for six years, discharging his duties in such a way as to meet the general approval of the people. After retiring from the recorder's office he devoted his attention to the abstract business but since July, 1910, has served as cashier of the State Bank of Arion, although he still retains his residence in Denison. He disposed of his farm and invested in Dakota and Colorado lands, being now the owner of about eight hundred acres in those states.

On the 19th of March, 1873, Mr. Criswell was united in marriage to Miss Flora Belle Hart, a native of Ripley county, Indiana, and a daughter of Hiram and Mary J. (McGuire) Hart. The father was born in Ohio and the mother in Indiana. Mr. Hart owned mills, dealt in land and operated flatboats on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. He and his wife came to Clinton county, Iowa, in 1855 and he died there July 4, 1886, at the age of seventy-eight years, his wife passing away May 17, 1902, when seventy-six years old.

There were eight children in their family, namely: Abram P.; Flora B., now Mrs. Orville M. Criswell; James W.; Cloe M., who married John W. Smith; Charles R. ; Frances M., deceased; John S.; and Mary J., who became the wife of George H. Hollandsworth.

The paternal grandfather of Mrs. Criswell was William Hart and his wife was Annabel Piatt. The maternal grandfather was James McGuire, who married Susan Fleck.

Mr. and Mrs. Criswell are members of the Methodist church, of which he is recording steward. Fraternally he is identified with Live Oak Lodge, No. 543, A. F. & A. M., of Charter Oak, and Ark Chapter, R. A. M. He also belongs to the Odd Fellows and the Knights of Pythias. Politically he gives his adherence to the democratic party. He has held all the minor township offices and was for three years a member of the board of county supervisors, filling the position of chairman of the board for two years. In public and private life he has shown a capability and enterprise that have attracted many friends and few men in the county have assisted more materially in its growth and prosperity. He clearly occupies a place as a representative citizen of this section.

Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.