Abel Justus Crawford was a pioneer to the area, having lived in or near Lea County for almost 70 years when he passed away in 1969. Mr. Crawford was born November 10, 1867 in Mount Giliad, Kentucky.
He recalled his first job, that of picking cherries for 15 cents per day. As a youth, he was an industrious and diligent worker who worked in a variety of jobs, from sanding piano legs to piloting a ferryboat on the Ohio River. When he was 17, he left home to come to the southwest. He took a job herding sheep for a rancher named Sam Brookshire who had a ranch near Abilene, Texas. He later purchased 125 sheep from Mr. Brookshire to begin his own sheep ranch operation in Lea County.
At around the age of 30, he returned to Kentucky to marry Minnie Campbell, his childhood sweetheart. When the couple returned to the southwest, they settled in Carlsbad where they made their home for the rest of their lives.
Among his various interests, Crawford owned the Buckeye Sheep Ranch in Lea County. In addition to his ranching activities, he acquired an interest in six banks: El Paso National Bank; Carlsbad National Bank; City Bank and Trust of Kansas City; the Valley National Bank of Phoenix, and the Bank of America in California. He also built or acquired a number of hotels in West Texas and New Mexico including a number that bore the Crawford name in Carlsbad, New Mexico, Midland, Big Spring and Colorado City, Texas.
When Mr. Crawford died in 1969, he was 101 years old and had lived in southeastern New Mexico for almost seven decades. His wife Minnie had predeceased him in 1961.