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Crowl, Denton Chester



  • Existence: 1882-1944


Denton Chester Crowl was born June 1, 1882 to John and Effie Crowl in Urbana, Ohio. By the age of eighteen, Crowl had won a speaking contest. He became acquainted with the evangelist Sam Jones, with whom he eventually worked, perhaps as a secretary. Crowl seems also to have had a gift for impersonation, and he created impersonations of Davy Crockett and Jekyll and Hyde, among others. Eventually he acquired permission to impersonate Sam Jones on the platform, and began appearing on the chautauqua circuits. He also worked as a booking promoter for chautauquas.   Sometime before 1908 he visited H.H. Tredway in Metamora, Ohio, to schedule a chautauqua event and met Tredway's sister Georgia. They were married May 18, 1908, and for more than 20 years, the Tredway farms were Crowl's country summer home where he lived with Georgia and her parents when not traveling. A daughter, Kathryn, was born in 1914.   During the winter months, they moved elsewhere while Crowl pursued ventures such as producing and selling Glare Shields for cars and a luggage rack that attached to the running board of a car. He also sold the Ali Carrier, a set of removable wheels for suitcases invented by a fellow chautauqua performer, J. Mohammad Ali, which took the lug out of luggage. At times in the 1920s he owned the Metamora Record, a small newspaper. He also contributed editorials to the Toledo Blade.   Crowl was a staunch Republican, opposed to the League of Nations and the New Deal, who thought chautauquas were an ideal venue for getting Republican ideas before the public. He was frustrated when he could not accomplish this, which may have had something to do with his leaving the circuits. In later years he wrote pamphlets regarding taxation and business. He became involved in the first Florida land boom and wrote curricula and conducted training sessions for salesmen in Coral Gables. In the 1920s, Crowl took to Ohio the idea of The Breakers, a beach resort club in Chicago. He founded the Catawba Cliffs Beach Club near Port Clinton, Ohio. Crowl developed the promotional material and as investors purchased memberships, the club grew, eventually including a marina, beach, bathhouse, and finally a club house and hotel. Unfortunately, by 1933 the wealthy members were wealthy no more as the Depression took hold, and the club's grand opening coincided with a bank holiday declared by President Roosevelt. Crowl eventually lost the club. It is still in existence today as the Catawba Island Club.   During the early 1930s Crowl moved his family to Toledo. His final business venture in the 1930s and 1940s was the Allen-Crowl Company which he organized to produce and distribute drugs and medicines especially for dogs. In March 1941, Crowl suffered a stroke while in Florida. He survived but never recovered completely. He died in August 1944 at the age of 62.

Author: Jane Rothfuss Reid, Denton Crowl's granddaughter, May 2005

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Denton Chester Crowl Papers

Identifier: msc0150.01

Lecturer-portrayalist, salesman and editorial writer for the Toledo Blade, Denton Crowl performed on the Chautauqua circuits and in other venues. This collection includes correspondence, appointment diaries, photographs, and manuscripts, mostly relating to his lecture and political activities.

Dates: 1909-1938