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Friends, neighbors gather for 100th birthday of historic Chromo house

Last Saturday, members of the community of Chromo and Edith celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Crowley Ranch house with an old-time dance and party for friends and family.

The Crowley Ranch and house, now owned by Barbara and Steve Schoonover, has changed through the years, from different owners to the addition of modern niceties and home makeovers, to the land being divided and sold; however, the core of the original ranch house still remains and with it the story of the Crowleys in Chromo.

Families old and new to Chromo, some having lived their lives there and raising their children, others recent arrivals who spend part of their year there, listened to stories of the history of the area, shared their experience and most of all, shared their love of the Chromo area.

“Barbara (Schoonover) and some people were sitting around talking last summer,” Toby Hinson, Chromo resident and part-time Crowley ranch hand, said. “As we were talking, we realized that the house was going to be 100 years in 2011, and Barbara thought it should be celebrated.”

Hinson said she became interested in the history when she first became a full-time Chromo resident three years ago. After getting a part-time job at the Chromo post office and helping out with the Schoonover’s horses, she met many people in the town and the history began to unfold.

“It was natural that I would write something on the history,” Hinson said.

And so, Hinson begins to tell the story of the Crowley house.

Pet Crowley moved to the Chromo area in 1902 and the following year married Sarah Russell. After marriage, the couple looked for a place to call their own, a place to raise a family. Pet acquired 15,000 acres, which now includes the Navajo River Ranch and Crowley Ranch Reserve properties, in 1903, by way of a land grant. The house Pet built by himself, straight out of blue prints purchased from the 1908 Sears and Roebuck Catalogue.

The house saw several generations raised, from Pet and Sara’s six children, to their children and some of their children. The house stayed in the family until 1998. Pet’s son, Irwin, and wife Bernice took over the property in 1950. Their son, Russell, and wife Roberta lived in the house when Russell’s parents passed. In 1998, the property was subdivided as part the Navajo River Ranch and sculptor Vic Payne purchased the Crowley house.

At the celebration, many of Pet and Sara’s descendants were in attendance — Betty Shahan and her family, as well as Donnie Shahan and his family. Both Betty and Donnie are well known in the Chromo area, still ranching after all these years. The families and the stories that the house has birthed have become part of the Chromo landscape.

“It was so great to see everyone come together,” Hinson said of the party. From the smiles, the laughing and the dancing, it was clear that the Crowley house’s 100th anniversary was well celebrated.

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