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Harriet (Brownell) CRABBE


Posted By: Sarah Thorson Little (email)
Date: 4/20/2021 at 14:37:01

Harriet Brownell Crabbe
21 June 1868 ---- 7 November 1951

Mrs. Harriet B Crabb [Crabbe], 83, died in the Park hospital, Mason City, Wednesday morning, November 7th about 10:00. She had been seriously ill and in the hospital for the past month. A coronary thrombosis suffered about a week before her death proved fatal.

Mrs. Crabb [Crabbe] moved to Eagle Grove in 1941 to make her home with her son and his family. Previous to that she had taught in the Mason City schools for 18 years and before that in the Grinnell Iowa schools.

Starts Art Department

In Mason City she inaugurated the high school art department in 1923. Under her direction it grew from one beginning class in art to five classes and a two-year course. While there she also painted a portrait of Supt. of Schools, F. C. Vasey, which still hangs in the school's administration building.

In Eagle Grove she has exhibited many of her paintings on various occasions and also has spoken to various women's clubs on the subject of art.

She was a member of the local Congregational church, the D.A.R., and an exhibitor with the Iowa Artists League.

Mrs. Crabb [Crabbe], was born Harriet Alice Brownwell, daughter of Hector and Anna Bailey Brownwell on June 21, 1868 near Barry, Illinois.

Moves to Grinnell

Following her father's early death, the family moved from the farm home to Barry where she attended schools and helped in the care of her invalid mother. Following the death of her mother she and her two brothers moved to Grinnell, Iowa to attend school. At Grinnell she attended Grinnell college academy and Grinnell college.

From Grinnell she moved to Chicago where she graduated from the Chicago Art Institute. After another stay with relatives at Grinnell she again attended the Chicago Art Institute taking advance work.

At Grinnell she had met James Maurice Crabb [Crabbe] and on Sept. 25, 1901 they were married in Chicago while he was attending Rush Medical college and she was taking work at the Art Institute.

On completion of her husband's internship they moved to Ashton, S. D. to start a medical practice. Dr. Crabb [Crabbe] died there in November 1905. Mrs. Crabb [Crabbe] and her three months old son moved to Grinnell following his death where there were relatives of her family.

Taught Art Classes

In Grinnell she gave private lessons in oil, watercolor, pastel, and china painting until she joined the staff of the Grinnell public schools in 1918.

Art in its various phases was her life work and her hobby. She studied with the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts, spent several summers in an artist's camp near Saugatuck, Michigan, was also a student in the artist's summer classes at Stone City near Cedar Rapids. She also studied several summers with Grant Wood at the State University of Iowa. Many of her later paintings show the Grant Wood influence.

She is survived by one son, Maurice and two grandchildren Alice Margery and James Maurice Crabbe of Eagle Grove. Also, two brothers, Rev. William and Rev. James S. Brownell of Boulder, Colo. Also, one nephew, Rev. John S. Brownell of San Diego, California and one adopted sister, Mrs. W. D. Witham of Baylis, Ill.

Funeral services will be held Saturday, November 10 at 2 p.m. in the First Congregational church. Rev. Walter Ross will have charge. Burial will be in Rose Hill cemetery.

EAGLE GROVE EAGLE ---- Eagle Grove, Iowa
Thursday, November 8, 1951


Born into a Quaker, farming family near Barry, Illinois (1868), Harriet Brownell experienced the loss of both parents while a young child and soon relocated, with her siblings, to the community of Grinnell, Iowa. There she completed high school (Grinnell Academy) and her undergraduate studies (Grinnell College). Harriet then enrolled and graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago (1894-1897), briefly returned to Grinnell, and decided on advanced studies at the Institute (1900-1901). Brownell married James Maurice Crabb, a recent graduate of Rush Medical School (Chicago), in 1901; the couple settled in Ashton, South Dakota, where he operated a family practice. The pair's marriage was a short one; following Maurice's death in 1905, Harriet and her three-month old son moved back to Grinnell, where she remained close to her mother's brother (Jesse Lord) and his family, operated a boarding house, and offered painting classes. Private lessons in oils, china painting, and watercolor afforded extra income until her appointment as an art teacher in the local school system (1918-1923). Her husband's younger brother, Dr. George Crabb, was moving his family to Mason City, Iowa, and Harriet decided to join him, bringing her young son.

Upon settling in Mason City, Harriet Crabb was offered the first, art teaching position at the local high school, an appointment she held for almost two decades (1923-1941). While teaching, Crabb was enrolled for summer studies at the Minneapolis Art Institute (1931) and Chicago's School of Fine Arts, attended an art colony in Saugatuck, Michigan (1938), and came to the Stone City Art Colony in its last session (1933). As a member of the Mason City school system, Crabb launched the high school's fine arts program, developing classes and a curriculum reflecting various media. In 1934, she received a personal invitation from Grant Wood to enroll in his mural painting classes offered at the University of Iowa and heartily accepted. The sessions afforded her a rare opportunity to work with the master painter and to assist on the Parks Library (Iowa State University) murals commission, a WPA project. Her notable, Iowa showings included the Chicago American Artists Annual Exhibit (1897), the Iowa Artists Club (1933), and the Iowa Artists Exhibit in Mount Vernon (IA) in April 1938, and the Iowa State Fair's Art Salon (1940). Crabb's retirement from the Mason City school district occurred in May 1940.

By 1941, Crabb had left Mason City and relocated to Eagle Grove, Iowa, where she lived with her son (Maurice, a noted journalist, editor, and publisher of the Eagle Grove Eagle) and his family. In this community, Crabb was active with her local church, social groups, and the Iowa Artists League. She resided in Eagle Grove at the time of her death in November 1951.

Source: http://projects.mtmercy.edu/stonecity/otherartists/crabb.html


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