Carrie V. McKnew Day Cramblitt Letter

It is a mystery to me that a small bunch of documents remain together through who-knows-what-all turbulence and upheaval to be found by me in an antique store. I mean, I know how it happens, technically: someone dies; someone wants to dispose of unwanted possessions; someone performs the service of removing that stuff; someone tries to make a buck buy selling it to me. The mystery is that of all the documents associated with a life, these few somehow come through. Whatever fates made it possible, I’m glad to have spent a few hours looking back at Carrie’s world 83 years ago.

When Mrs. Carrie V. McKnew Day Cramblitt (1866-1937) wrote her step-daughter, Mrs Hilda May Cramblitt Klages (1896-1970) on 25 August 1933 it was a little over three months after the death of her husband and Hilda’s father, Arthur T. Cramblitt (1861-1933) and two days after a horrific hurricane struck the Maryland and Virginia coasts.

Letter 1

Leonard Walton Cramblitt (1884-1942) and Walter Dewitt Cramblitt (1888-1948) were Hilda’s brothers. Another brother, here unmentioned, was Robert Moore Cramblitt (1888-1865). Carrie was not the biological mother of these Cramblitt children, having married Arthur T. Cramblitt in 1918. The children’s mother, Molly/Mollie Moore, died in 1899. Arthur, Mollie, and Carrie are buried together in Mount Olivet Cemetery, findagrave.com memorials 34413134, 34413140, and 34413135.

Letter 2

Arthur T. Cramblitt was a carpenter. It is easy to imagine that their house in Cedarhurst on the Bay was filled with “the work of his hands.”

Letter 3

Carrie’s description of the storm might seem exaggerated but contemporary descriptions in the Baltimore Sun prove it was quite severe. An editorial on 24 August said, “A wind of violence unequaled in recent memory tore into the beach resorts of Maryland and Virginia and immobilized all water traffic inside the Capes.” A 4 September story reported that MD Governor Ritchie had tasked State Conservation Commissioner Swepson Earle (his obit) to assess the damage. Earle reported hundreds of Chincoteague Island ponies had drowned, leaving only three, and that erosion caused by the storm resulted in the loss of about 1200 acres of land.

I don’t know who Pauline is, probably a neighbor. Shady Side would have been the location of the nearest post office.

Carrie listed her address on the back of the envelope. In the 1930 Census she and Arthur were listed as residents there and her biological son, Milton R. Day, was the head of household.

The other documents in this small batch were associated with Hilda:

  1. A certificate of the marriage of Hilda May Cramblitt to Vernon Charles Klages (1894-1945) on 6 June 1918.
  2. A certificate attesting to Hilda’s confirmation by John G. Murray, Bishop of Maryland.
  3. A couple of letters and documents pertaining to Vernon’s death and burial. Vernon died on 16 August 1945 after the E.H. Koester Baking Company truck he was driving struck a streetcar on Hanover Street in south Baltimore. Hilda tried to sue the E. H. Koester Bakery and the Baltimore Transit Authority for damages. Hilda’s lawyer dropped her case after George Pollar, a passenger on the streetcar, lost his own suit on appeal in 1947 because the court found that Vernon was responsible for the crash.
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Carrie V. McKnew Day Cramblitt Letter

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