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Descendent of Knox College’s Founder Visits Campus

Knox College welcomed a visit from Winnie Gale-Crawford, a descendent of the College’s founder George Washington Gale, whose plan to create the College in 1837 resulted in the start of a settlement that would become Galesburg.

Gale-Crawford and her husband, Bob, visited Knox for the first time as part of a project compiling information about her family history for a new book. Assistant Librarian for Special Collections and Archives Joseph Taylor made the archives fully accessible to the pair, bringing out a selection of Gale-related texts and items for research and study. 

Gale-Crawford says she began her research after finding a massive collection of old documents in a family barn in Vermont 30 years ago. She explained that the family wasn’t immediately sure of the documents’ purposes, but once they opened the boxes and started digging through, they realized the collection contained letters, deeds, pictures, and more of the Gale family history. She estimates that there are over 5,000 letters in the collection, among other items. The aim of the book is to connect the family to the pieces of American history found within the collection. 

Winnie explained that they were familiar with Knox College, but did not realize the family connection until researching the contents of the box. This was the couple’s first visit to the College. She and her husband were delighted by the College’s offer to host them for a night in The Gale House and enjoyed a tour of the institution their family founded. 

“I had always been aware that Knox was held in high esteem by my family,” Gale-Crawford said. “When I started doing research, I started to understand the history of Knox and the abolitionist roots, which even more piqued my interest. The campus looks fantastic and all of this historic info they provided us is crucial and simply amazing. This is an incredible place.“

The family is currently working with a Chicago-based history organization on the project and hopes to publish it eventually. 

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Printed on Friday, February 23, 2024