Posts Tagged ‘Craighead artwork’

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




Preserving the Craighead Kitchen Artwork

July 13, 2015

A photo of your humble blogger explaining the “Hooping Cough” piece on the north wall of the Craighead House kitchen adorns the front page of today’s Carlisle Sentinel—above the fold, just below an article explaining how the county poor house evolved into a “modern care facility.”

The reporter conducted the telephone interview for the last article of his career at The Sentinel (he’s already moved on for an editor’s position at another paper) Thursday morning . The photographer came out later that day to shoot video and still shots of the art. This article discusses the fact that Craighead House Committee is cataloging the over 250 drawings, paintings, sketches, and doodles that cover the four walls of the kitchen. To date, I have identified each of them—a few probably mistakenly because I couldn’t figure what they’re supposed to be—and am now trying to determine who made each one, when, and with what. Several have stories behind them that I’m also trying to recover.

If you have information, especially if you were one of the artists or observed someone adding a piece, please contact me. Two donors have given enough money to preserve the west wall, the one in the most perilous condition, but more is needed to do the rest. To help, send a check to:

Craighead House Committee
PO Box 335
Boiling Springs, PA 17007


Donate on-line at:

Link to article:

Link to video: