Crysler Family

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Dr. and Mrs. Crysler in Auto 1909
Dr. and Mrs. W.C. Crysler, c.1909.

Walter C. Crysler was born in Chicago on February 6, 1870. His future wife, Ada Briggs, was born in Burnsley, Lancastershire, England, March 10, 1867. Her father, James Briggs, brought the family to Minneapolis when Ada was fifteen. It was in Denver that Walter and Ada met. By then Ada's father was a railroad mechanic for the Union Pacific Railroad, and Walter Crysler was a bookkeeper for the Santa Fe railway. He had graduated from Harvard in 1893. The Crylsers were married in Manitou, Colorado June 29, 1892. Their son, Edwin, was born the following year.

Dr. W. Crysler in the early days of his practice. Date unknown
Dr. W.C. Crysler in the early days of his practice. Date unknown

Young Crysler decided to take up medicine and returned to Chicago where he studied medicine at night for years while working for the Phoenix Life Insurance Company. He graduated from Harvey Medical College in 1901. While in Chicago he joined the Masonic Metropolitan Lodge #860. He received his Colorado medical license in 1902 when his address was given as Denver. The family came to Littleton about 1903 or 1904, and Dr. Crysler joined the local Masonic Lodge in 1906.

Dr. Crysler bought the practice of Dr. Farnsworth and set up his office on the first floor of the old Town Hall that stood where the 1920 Benedict Town Hall is now at 2450 West Main Street. The city offices were on the second floor.

Littleton Drug Company on 2490 W. Main St. The second floor was occupied by Dr. W.C. Crysler, physician.  late 1920s
The Littleton Drug Co., 2490 W. Main St. The second floor was occupied by Dr. W.C. Crysler, physician. c.late 1920s.

Dr. Crysler's medical practice was to continue here for over forty years. He estimated that he had delivered over 1,900 babies in that time, and, of course, as they grew, he also treated their chicken pox and mumps. For some period prior to the 1930s, he occupied the second floor of the Spotswood building at the southeast corner of Nevada and Main Streets. By 1932 his office was in the Coors Building at the northeast corner of the same intersection.

Walter Crysler served Littleton as mayor twice, from 1908-1910 and again from 1924-1926. When the Littleton State Bank was organized on June 29, 1909 and opened for business in the Coors block, he became its first president. He was also the first president of the Littleton Optimists Club when it was founded in 1926.

The Cryslers lived for many years at 186 North Nevada (later 5612 South Nevada) Street in the house that became the St. Mary's Catholic rectory. (A modern building was built on the site in 1990.) About 1922 they built a handsome home at 605 (now 1890) West Littleton Boulevard that still stands.

For nineteen years Dr. Crysler and his brother-in-law, A. E. Gray, were owners of the Littleton Drug Store that was sold to Ben Servey after Mr. Gray's death in 1929. More on the Gray family appears below.

Ada Crysler was president of the Littleton Woman's Club. She was a leader in Eastern Star and president of the local Manzanita chapter, as well as active in PTO. She and Dr. Crysler joined the Littleton Presbyterian Church in 1906 where she was prominent in the Ladies Aid Society, and he was a church officer for many years.

Dr. and Mrs. W.C. Crysler home at 1890 W. Littleton Blvd. 1930-1940
Dr. and Mrs. W.C. Crysler home at 1890 W. Littleton Blvd., c.1930-1940.

Ironically, both Dr. and Mrs. Crysler died on the same day, August 4, 1944. The newspaper reported, "For fifteen months Dr. Crysler had kept to himself the knowledge that his wife had a fatal illness, and when she was taken to the hospital a week prior to her death, he broke down and was removed to the same hospital [Porter Sanitarium] the following day...physicians informed him of her death [in the early morning hours of August 4] and he died at eight o'clock that evening...They had lived for one another for fifty-two happy years...Out of respect to the former mayor and his wife, the businessmen of Littleton closed their doors during the funeral." Both Dr. and Mrs. Crysler are buried in the Littleton Cemetery.

Their son, Edwin Crysler, was proprietor of the Crysler Drug Company in Englewood, Colorado at the time. Dr. Crysler's sister, Cora Crysler was also in the Englewood store. Edwin had gone to college at Ann Arbor, Michigan and had married Mildred Cummings. Edwin died August 6, 1987, and Mildred's death followed two months later, on October 12, 1987. They are also buried in the Littleton Cemetery.

As noted above, Dr. Walter Chrysler was long associated with his brother-in-law, Alvin Edward "Ed" Gray, in the Littleton Drug Store. It was at the southeast corner of Main and Nevada streets in downtown Littleton. This is the Spotswood Building where Dr. Crysler had his office on the second floor, probably at the same time he was helping operate the drug store downstairs.

Mrs. Crysler and Mrs. Gray were sisters, Mrs. Gray having been born Grace Briggs January 1, 1875 in England. She married A. E. Gray May 15, 1897 at Golden, Colorado. The Grays came to Littleton about 1909. Both Mr. and Mrs. Gray were active in the Littleton community. Before becoming connected with the Littleton Drug company about 1911, Mr. Gray had served as water commissioner for the Highline Canal and as a printer for the Rocky Mountain News. He had been born in Carthage, Indiana July 31, 1866, and was raised in the Quaker faith. In Littleton he was known for his interest in flowers and his hobby of amateur gardening. The lawn of their home at 215 North Prince (now 5583 South Prince) was one of the beauty spots of Littleton. It was awarded the prize given on Homecoming Day for the most attractive lawn in town. (A brick building for Circle Savings and Loan Association was built on the site at the northwest corner of West Powers Avenue and South Prince Street in 1968-1969.)

Crysler - Walter & Ada Gravestone in cemetery.
Grave site of Dr. and Mrs. Crysler at Littleton Cemetery, c.2001.

Ed Gray saw another outlet for his gardening talent at the Littleton Cemetery that was desperately in need of rescue. He became a director of the Littleton Cemetery Association in the fall of 1922. At his death in 1929 the Cemetery Association published an open letter to the citizens of Littleton in the local newspaper in recognition of his work in rehabilitating the cemetery. It said, in part, "At that time it was a neglected potter's field covered with weeds, and an eyesore to the community. The charter had expired; there were no up-keep funds and no interest being taken. Mr. Gray then planned for the reorganization of the Association and to provide for a fund for perpetual up-keep and improvement of the lots and graves sold...Today [1929] the Littleton Cemetery is one of the beauty spots of Littleton and is almost self supporting...all lots now being sold are provided with a perpetual up-keep contract."

Alvin Edward Gray died September 7, 1929 at his Prince Street home and was buried in the restored Littleton Cemetery. His wife, Sarah (Briggs) Gray, also did her share to beautify Littleton. Her obituary said that she continued her interest in the cemetery after Mr. Gray's death, and also in her yard at Prince and Powers streets, where she mowed her lawn until she was ninety. She lived until 1969, and died at the Cherrelyn Manor Nursing Home. Mr. and Mrs. Gray were survived by a daughter, Mrs. Grace Bartshat, and a son, Walter A. "Bus" Gray, both of Denver. Another son, Harry, died in 1921. Sarah and A. E. Gray, son Harry and daughter, Grace Bartshat and her husband are all buried in the Littleton Cemetery, near the Cryslers.

 

Bibliography

Freemasons of Littleton, Colorado. Weston Lodge Number 22, A. F. & A. M., 1872-1973. Littleton: A. F. & A. M., 1973.

Hoppe, Sandra C. "Nineteenth Century Transitions in American Medicine." Research paper prepared for University of Colorado Department of Anthropology and the Littleton Historical Museum, 1984.

Littleton Cemetery Association office, 6155 South Prince Street, Littleton, CO 80120, telephone interview by Doris Farmer Hulse, January 31, 2001.

Littleton City Directories, 1932, 1934.

Littleton (Colo.) Independent. The Littleton Independent Publishers, 1888-

Littleton Museum. Card File: Crysler, Dr. W. C.

____, Photographic Archives.

McQuarie, Robert J. and C. W. Buchholtz. Littleton, Colorado, Settlement to Centennial. Littleton: Littleton Historical Museum and the Friends of the Littleton Library and Museum, 1990.

Mount Rosa Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Littleton Cemetery, Littleton, Colorado. Littleton: Mount Rosa Chapter, National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1983.

Presbyterian Church of Littleton records. Memberships Rolls, Church Officers, Death Registers, 1883-1982.

Simmons, R. Laurie and Thomas H. Simmons. "Historic Buildings Survey. Littleton, Colorado, Littleton Townsite of 1890." Survey Forms. Three volumes. Denver: Front Range Research Associates, Inc., 1987, 1998.

Photographs courtesy of the Littleton Museum unless otherwise noted. To order copies, contact the museum at 303-795-3950.

 

Compiled by Doris Farmer Hulse

Updated May 2017