Archive for August, 2015

The Real Ruth Craighead

August 8, 2015

On Monday, I sent a listing of the pieces of artwork on the north wall of the Craighead House to family members and friends who might have information about one or more pieces of the artwork. I soon received an email from Ruth Craighead Muir, who is known to her extended family as Ruth Ann, that she hadn’t done a piece I had attributed to her. The drawing in question looks to me like the front view of a long-winged bird in flight. It is signed “Ruth Craighead Malden, Mass.” I was only aware of two Ruth Craigheads. The older one married Harold Gawthrop shortly after WWI and had gone by her married name almost a decade before the rats first appeared on the kitchen wall. So, I eliminated her, leaving Ruth Ann as the only possibility. Wrong!

A quick search on uncovered several Ruth Craigheads, one of whom, Ruth H. Craighead, lived in Malden, Massachusetts. Searches of censuses revealed that a John Craighead migrated from Scotland in 1856 when he was two years old. His family settled in Rochester, New York where he attended public schools. Afterwards, he operated a music store and served as chief of the volunteer fire department for a number of years. When he was about 40, he moved to Malden, Massachusetts. He married Susie Brooks, with whom he had three daughters and a son. In Malden, he worked for the Home Savings Bank where he was a stock man. He was also active in the Mystic Side Congregational Church, possibly due to a lack of Presbyterian churches in the Boston area.

After John died in 1934, Susie and unmarried daughters Mildred J. (called M. Joy) and Ruth H. continued to live in the family home at 18 Hancock Street. Both Mildred and Ruth took jobs as stenographers after leaving school. In 1910, Mildred worked for a bank and Ruth for a shoe company. Her children grown, Susie worked as a magazine solicitor. By 1920, Ruth worked as a private secretary for a company involved in federal sales. She later joined a bank, possibly the same one where her sister worked. When Ruth became a lawyer isn’t clear yet but the sometime writer of letters to the editor was practicing law by 1944, probably before. She also traveled abroad. How she happened to come to Craighead Station isn’t known but, due to the twins’ articles in National Geographic, she could easily have known about them.

N2-Bird in Flight