MsC 150.01

Collection Dates: 1909 -- 1938
1.5 linear ft.

Collection Guide

This document describes a Manuscript Collection held by the

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries

Guide Contents

Administrative Information

Biographical and Historical Information

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Related Materials

Acquisition and Processing Information

Box Contents List

Administrative Information

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

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Biographical Note

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.

Thanks to Jane Rothfuss Reid, Denton Crowl's granddaughter, for this biography.

May 2005

Scope and Contents

This collection includes many documents relating to Crowl's work on the lecture circuit. Correspondence and schedules from chautauquas, correspondence about chautauquas, appointment diaries recording his schedule, and chautauqua programs make up a part of this collection. Photographs document moments on the road and other events and performers, most notably a large format photograph of the conference of the International Lyceum and Chautauqua Association of December 1922. Clippings by and about Crowl record performances as well as reveal his political leanings. A Republican, he was active in the 1930 presidential election, and there are several files relating to that campaign as well as his work on a drive for a national sales tax. Promotional materials he developed are included. His writings make up the largest section of this collection and include the texts of at least two of his platform impersonations as well as speeches and newspaper editorials.

Photographs: Series five.

Related Materials

Records of the Redpath Lyceum Bureau, MsC 150  Please note the list of additional mini-collections of Chautauqua material at the end of the Redpath finding aid.

Acquisition and Processing Information

These papers were given to the University of Iowa Libraries by Jane Reid in 2005.

Guide posted to Internet: May 2005

Box Contents List

Appointment diaries

Biographical materials

Cartoon drawing of Crowl by MAC of janitor crew 7

Chautauqua materials

Community Chautauqua. Correspondence, 1920

Crowl's schedule

1911 -- 1912







International Lyceum and Chautauqua Association. Lecturer's conference. Washington, D.C., December 7, 8, and 9, 1922. See also large photograph listed under Photographs.





Brochure for Ali's Quick Detachable Suitcase Carrier

Rand-McNally Indexed Pocket Map and Auto Road Guide, Tennessee

Small expense account book

National sales tax


Georgia (Tredway) Crowl & Denton C. Crowl, circa 1908, note “Ali Carrier” wheels on luggage

Family home of Denton C. Crowl in Urbana, Ohio; Denton is 3rd from right, Georgia is 2nd from right

Camping on the Chautauqua Circuit: Denton Crowl, Kathryn Crowl, Georgia Crowl; Comment on Bottom of picture: “Side Show”

Denton C. Crowl

Tent on Chautauqua Circuit

Camping on Chautauqua Circuit, left to right: ?, Denton Crowl, Kathryn Crowl, Georgia Crowl; Comment on the back of picture: “Gypsy style life, ha!”

Country home of Denton C. Crowl on Horace Tredway Farm near Metamora, Ohio

Father Vaughn

Denton C. Crowl, circa 1940

Tabernacle Chautauqua Park; Mountainair, New Mexico

Chautauqua audience, circa 1910

Letter to the public by Samuel P. Jones on Friday 9th 190?

Large photograph in map case drawer "Rolled Oversized Photos", Map Case 13, labeled "Conference of International Lyceum and Chautauqua Assoc. on Visit to President Harding, Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 1922"

Large format photograph of a chautauqua group (?) n.d., n.p. Located on top of Map Case 13

Publicity. See oversized box

Publications containing mentions of Crowl

Republican Party

Election 1930



Pamphlets and printed matter

"The Spirit of Republicanism." Speech delivered to the Republicans of Lucas County

Scrapbooks. 2 folders. See also oversized box


Miscellaneous writings. Includes the texts of his Davy Crockett and Sam Jones impersonations

"Pages From Memory"

Political writings

"Scrambled Business" and "Scrambled Taxation"

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