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 John Wallace “Captain Jack” Crawford

John Wallace “Captain Jack” Crawford

Death 28 Feb 1917 (aged 69)
Woodhaven, Queens County, New York, USA
Burial Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA
Plot , 7575
Memorial ID 2587040 · View Source
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Gold miner, 1870s army scout, "Poet Scout of the Black Hills," author, and raconteur.

The Sun, New York, New York, 01 Mar 1917, Thursday


Pneumonia Is Fatal to Man Who Won Fame as a Frontiersman


News of Death of Buffalo Bill, His Early Teacher, Depressed Him

Capt. Jack Crawford, who succeeded Col. Willim F. Cody as Chief of Scouts of the United States army, died yesterday at his home, 745 Thrall avenue, Woodhaven, Queens.

Pneumonia caused his death, his remarkable constitution postponing the inevitable for weeks after physicians had passed sentence upon him.

As he lay in bed ill from a complication of diseases he got the news that Col. Cody, with whom he had ridden in many a wild charge against the Sioux, had gone over the great divide. It depressed him.

"So Bill Cody has gone?" said Capt. Jack. "I guess they will be sounding over me pretty soon. Well, when we meet Tall Bull and that tough old codger Sitting Bull on the other side and stick up our hands palms forward, and say "How, Kola!" there will be a lot to talk about.

And so to Capt. Jack death was merely the last great adventure. He would have liked to stay longer in this world, but almost all of the great figures of the Old West, the men with whom he had ridden and fought--Custer, Crook, Merritt, Sheridan, Cody--are all in the other world, and firm believer as he was in the future life, Jack Crawford looked forward with keen anticipation to meeting them again.


He was one of the fearless company who pushed the frontier ever westward, but [un]like Buffalo Bill was ever reticent in the matters of his own exploits. He much preferred to talk religion--Capt. Jack was extremely pious--or to recite poetry--he had written much himself in earning the title "the Poet Scout"--than to recall the old days when he led thin dusty files of United States cavalrymen into the sagebrush strongholds of the hostiles. But the records have preserved the achievements of the old scout permanently, one may hope.

He was born in Ireland in County Donegal on March 4, 1847, and came to the United States when he was a mere slip of a boy. Then the civil war began and John Wallace Crawford, only 16 years of age, ran away from home to enlist. The recruiting officers turned him down time after time, but he finally blarneyed the recruiting officer of the Forty-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteeers and in hard service received wounds that almost finished him. As he lay in a hospital in West Philadelphia the Sisters of Charity taught him to read and write.


Recovered from his wounds he went West, impelled by love of adventure; presented himself before Gen. Crook, who was then, in 1870, always busy with troublesome Indians, and got an appointment under Crook as Scout. Buffalo Bill was Crook's chief of scouts and under Cody Crawford rode and fought many a year. When Cody retired from the Scout service in 1876 Capt. Jack got his place as scout chief. He served in numerous campaigns against the Sioux and the Apaches, and knew, as many another Indian fighter of that period knew, what it was to take the dust of the wily Geronimo. Crook, Merritt and Custer had a great affection for Capt. Jack and ranked him as one of the nerviest, most resourceful trailers that ever went after bad Indians.

He quit the scout services in 1886, mined and ranched in New Mexico for ten years and then got the Klondike fever. Two winters in Alaska failed to pan out, and Capt. Jack came back to the States. In the subsequent years he took up lecturing, with which the sale of his poems and contributions to the magazines, earned him his living. At one time he was a special agent of the Department of Justice.

Among his writings were "The Poet Scout, a Book of Song and Story," 1885; "Campfire Sparks," 1888; "Tat," a drama in three acts, 1900; "Fonda," a drama in three acts, and "Col. Bob," a drama, in 1909; "Private Brown," "Whar the Hand 'o God Is Seen" and other poems, in 1911; more than 100 short stories and a dozen songs set to music and published.

Capt. Jack is survived by his widow, Mrs. Maria Crawford, who is in San Marciel, N.M.; three children, Mrs. Eva Reckhart of El Paso, Tex.; Harry W. Crawford, of Clovis, N.M., of which town he was formerly Mayor, and Miss May Crawford of San Marciel; two brothers, Austin Crawford of San Marciel and William Crawford of Philadelphia, and two sisters, Mrs. John Boyson of Philadelphia and Mrs. Elizabeth Natress of San Marciel.

The funeral will be held to-morrow night at 8 o'clock in the Nostrand Avenue Methodist Church in Brooklyn. The Rev. H. B. Munson will officiate. Services also will be held by the Elks and the G.A.R. post to which Capt. Crawford belonged. Interment will be in the national cemetery at Cypress Hills Saturday morning.

Family Members




  • Maintained by: Paul Hedren
  • Originally Created by: US Veterans Affairs Office
  • Added: 3 Mar 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2587040
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Wallace “Captain Jack” Crawford (4 Mar 1847–28 Feb 1917), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2587040, citing Cypress Hills National Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA ; Maintained by Paul Hedren (contributor 46974937) .