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Riley C. Crawford

rc crawford

17 January 1817 - 18 November 1910
Conference Cane: 1906
Age at death:  93 years, 10 months

Rev. Riley C. Crawford

Riley C. Crawford was born January 27, 1817, at Richmond, Ontario Co., N.Y., and died at Clark Memorial Home, Grand Rapids, November 18, 1910.

When he was two years of age his parents removed from New York state to Canada where they resided for six years, and then came to Michigan in March, 1825, settling on a farm in Troy, eighteen miles from Detroit. Later, in 1836, his father moved to Burns, Shiawassee County, where he remained with his father until he was twenty-one years of age. Simultaneously with his conversion came his call to preach. This call was as distinct as his conversion was clear. He yielded willing obedience to the heavenly vision and receiving an exhorter's license he at once began holding meetings in school houses.

In 1841 the Pontiac Quarterly Conference licensed him to preach and recommended him for admission to the Michigan Annual Conference. The same year he was admitted and appointed junior preacher on the Palmer circuit. In 1843, at the conference session held at Ann Arbor, he was admitted to the full membership and ordained deacon by Bishop Soule.

He served the following appointments: Palmer, Richmond, Shiawassee, Livingston, Almont, Port Huron, Lapeer, Utica, Birmingham, Detroit City Mission, Battle Creek, Jackson, State Prison chaplaincy, Niles, Ionia, Kalamazoo, Albion, Coldwater District, Centerville, State Prison chaplaincy, St. Joseph, Allegan, Cedar Springs, Ionia District, Grand Rapids East Street, Grand Rapids Ames, Holland — a total of forty-seven years closing his effective ministry.

January, 1842, he was married to Mary L. Warren and his wedded life was a love story continued through fifty-five years. His companion shared his forty-seven years of itinerancy in perfect sympathy with her husband's work, and then from the cottage home in Grand Rapids she took her triumphant departure. After her death Brother Crawford found a home with his sister, Mrs. Lewis, at Byron, but at the opening of Clark Memorial Home he took up his abode there, where he finished his earthly pilgrimage.

He held the dual dislinction of being the oldest Methodist minister in the state and serving the longest in conference membership. At the conference of 1906 he was presented with the conference cane which afforded him much gratification.

Long years brought experiences in secular and religious life which fall to the lot of few men. He was a speaker at the founding of the Republican party "under the oaks at Jackson," and for many years took an active part in the State Historical Society.

There was a completeness in all his work and two great aims in his ministery, to instruct the church and bring salvation to men. He loved to pray — and to pray aloud, and at morning and evening the inmates of the Home would hear, from his room, his voice in worship.

His going forth is well expressed in the closing lines of a poem which he wrote for his ninety-third birthday anniversary. It follows:

"And if it shall please Him to close out the journey
Before this, my ninety-fourth year comes to an end,
I am sure He will take me to that better country
Where I will be greeted by scores of old friends."

The funeral was conducted by the writer, assisted by Revs. Graham, Hamilton, Birney, Nease, Kendrick, DeGraff and Carlisle. Many others of his ministerial brethren were present. We laid him to rest in Oak Hill cemetery, where his loved wife had been laid when separated from him, but now united in heaven. When called from labor to rest we too shall meet them again.


- Michigan Annual Conference minutes of 1911, pp. 542-543