Harriet Critzer Plummer

Harriet Critzer was born in July of 1856, the eldest daughter of Leander and Almeda Critzer. At the age of four, Harriet was enumerated with her family in the Owsley county census in the town of Proctor. The census taker documented Leander Critzer’s occupation as Blacksmith and noted that the value of his real estate at $50 and personal property as $300.

Less than a year later, the War between the States was declared and Harriet and her family no doubt found themselves in the midst of Kentucky’s struggle to remain a neutral state. At the time of this writing, there is no documentation to tell us whether the Critzer family members served during the war or where their loyalties lay. We do know that when the war officially ended in May of 1865, hostilities in south-eastern Kentucky did not end as Confederate guerrillas and Morgan’s Raiders continued to conduct raids throughout the area.

In 1870, Owsley county’s boarders changed and Harriet and her family either moved or the county line did, because we find the Critzer family living in Lee county, Kentucky in the area known as the Coal Branch precinct. Harriet’s father Leander is listed as a Gunsmith, and also holds the title of being Lee County’s first jailer in 1870.

The day-to-day events of Harriet’s younger years are unknown and we can assume that she at some time attended a rural Kentucky school. We do not know much more about Harriet other than as oldest daughter in the household, her chores and responsibilities grew each year with the birth of at least nine siblings, Franka, Leander, William, Emily, Polly, Lou Ellen, Margaret and Ida Mae between the years 1862 and 1878.

At the age of 23, Harriet is once again enumerated in her father Leander’s household in the 1880 census. However, at this point in time, Leander is enumerated as a farmer, with his son’s Leander, William and John also listed as “working on farm”. Harriet’s occupation is not listed; however it does state that she “works for support”

Twelve days after the census was taken, on June 27, 1880 Harriet wed Samuel Plummer.

Over the next 20 years, Sam and Harriet spent the majority of the years raising their own children. Family notes tell us that their first children were twins that died at birth or shortly thereafter. When their daughter Callie arrived in December of 1882, she must have been a welcome blessing to both the Plummer and Critzer families.

At some point, Sam and Harriet did move their family to Missouri, for what reason or for how long, we do not know. What we do know is that their son Harden was born in Missouri in October of 1886. Chances are that they chose to name him after his Uncle Harden, Sam’s younger brother, who was also living in Missouri at the time.

Around this same time period, the majority of Harriet’s siblings began leaving Kentucky, some of them headed Northwest to Washington territory and some headed to Oklahoma and Texas. What prompted the family to leave Lee county is not known; however, we do know that in 1887 Harriet’s brother William was sentenced to two years in the Kentucky State Penitentiary on charges of manslaughter. It would be 40+ year until Harriet and her brother once again reunited in Crandon.

It was also during this time-frame that Kentucky folks began thinking about heading north into the woods of Northern Wisconsin. Harriet’s brother John Critzer is actually the first family member to have owned land in Forest county, purchasing land and a home in the town of North Crandon in 1899. Members of the Plummer family followed him, with the William Matt Plummer family being enumerated in the Crandon census in 1905.

What eventually made Harriet and Sam decide to move to Wisconsin in 1914? We do not know for sure, but many things point to family connections. We know that after the 1910 census, many Plummer family members had decided to make Forest county their home. By the 1920 census Sam Plummer, Anderson Plummer, Harden, Callie, Junas and Reck were all living in Forest county and having families of their own.

Harriet, a big sister to at least ten younger siblings, a mother of ten (three dying in childhood) eventually became a grandmother to many. As a sibling, mother, and grandmother Harriet’s life was not an easy one. There were times of tragedy, including the loss of her grandson Eugene at age 12 when he was living with his grandparents at their farm in the Town of Nashville.

In 1930, Harriet and Sam celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a large family get together. The pictures that exist from this event paint a picture of a large, happy family. Additionally, knowing that many of the Plummer family photos that exist today were from Harriet’s own collection, and we can tell that Harriet spent quite a bit of time corresponding with family and neighbors back in Kentucky. Newspaper accounts tell us that Harriet and Sam did return to Kentucky at some point in their golden years, but chose to return to Forest county where their family ties were the closest.

Harriet lost her husband Sam in 1933 at the age of 78. Harriet spend the last four years of her life surrounded by her children and grandchildren. dying at the home of her daughter Mattie in October of 1937 at the age of 81. She is buried next to her husband Sam in the Lakeside cemetery in Crandon.

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