Used by permission from the Arizona Historical Society
Cordelia Adams Crawford was three years old in 1868 when she came by wagon train with her parents, brothers and sisters to present-day Phoenix. She had been born on February 27, 1865, in Lampadsas, Texas. Her father, John Quincy Adams, a captain in the Confederate Army, lost everything, including his farm, in the Civil War. At the end of the war, neighbors asked him to lead a group of settlers west. This group was the first to settle permanently in the Phoenix area. John Adams made a home for his family on 90 acres near the end of the Swilling Ditch and what is now Van Buren Avenue. There he planted corn, oats, barley and hay. The Adams family, in addition to Cordelia and her father, was composed of her mother Emily, a sister Saphrona, and three brothers James Monroe, Andrew Jackson and Jefferson (Jeff) Davis. Another sister, christened Texas, was born about five months after the family’s arrival in Phoenix.
Cordelia was 15 when she married Bushrod Foley Crawford in 1880. The couple established a ranch in the Tonto Basin. They grew hay and oats, which they used for their cattle, mules and horses. Crawford sold his cattle in San Diego, and the trip over there and back took six months. During the times he was gone, Cordelia was left in charge of running the ranch. She had to deliver her own babies three times because the nearest ranch was 40 miles away. With neighbors and towns so far away, it was only natural in those days that Cordelia learned to deal with sickness and injuries.
Over the years, she developed a great friendship for the Apache women in the area. Because they trusted Cordelia, they would bring their sick children to the Crawford ranch for her to heal. Family reminiscences tell how the Apache women would sit under a tree at the bottom of the hill in front of the ranch house.
Cordelia would go down to meet them, and they would lay the sick child in her arms. Sometimes it took several days before the child was well enough to go home, but the women waited there under the tree. “I asked her what she did,” recalled a grandson, Emery Crawford Johnson of Tucson. “First, she bathed the child in warm water, then she administered a homemade tea or whatever medicines she thought suitable from her homemade remedies.” Often the child had suffered a broken bone, and Cordelia set and splinted it, Johnson said. She was their friend, and because of this, the women always warned her of Apache raids. Cordelia took her babies and hid in the fields until the attack was over.
The Crawford ranch, however, was never burned or damaged in any way by the Indians. In all likelihood, it was because of Cordelia’s kindness to the Apache women that the ranch and the family were saved from destruction and death. Cordelia Adams Crawford died at age 77 on January 31, 1943. Family and friends remember her as a “remarkable woman of courage, tall and straight as an arrow, who was as easy on her horse as she was in a rocking chair.”