Hood County News – January 15, 2001

by Christopher C. Evans


This was going to be a light and fluffy little column about how the community of Cresson acquired its interesting if odd assortment of street names. The topic occurred to me several months after I moved here 15 months ago from Where the West Begins, when I realized in mid-thought one day that I don’t merely live in Cresson. I live, ahem, at the corner of Broadway and Altoona in Cresson!

I felt better about my station in life already. Then it occurred to me that some folk in Cresson live on East Lancaster, others on Crook Street, still others on Juniata, Mifflin and Braddock.

I must, sadly, report two things right off regarding said research and Cresson street names: We got our street names in 1887 from a Yankee railroad man who didn’t even stick around. Further, Cresson has been teeming with Crooks since at least 1887 — and once had a doctor who was a Crook.

According to Shirley R. Smith’s book Cresson: Community Crossroads, the “best-liked story” is that T.W. Jackson, a Fort Worth and Rio Grande Railroad land agent, named Cresson for his hometown of Cresson, Pa.

It would stand to reason, then, that Jackson also named the streets — all but a couple, at least — for Pennsylvania places with which he was familiar.

Lancaster, Altoona, Braddock and Pittsburgh are Pennsylvania cities — and thus the Cresson street signs that say “Pittsburg” rather than Pittsburgh are likely in error.

Mifflin is a Pennsylvania county, Mifflinville is a town. Juniata — not “Juanita” as street signs now read — is the name of the county Altoona is in and Juniata Gap is a suburb of Altoona, Juniata College a Pennsylvania institution.

That would leave only Broadway, which we assume land agent Jackson took from the New Yawk thoroughfare of the same name, and Crook, the only other non-highway street running north and south in Cresson.

As for Crook, it appears there might have been so many people of that surname here, even in 1887, that Davis perhaps didn’t have any choice but to name the thriving thoroughfare on which sit all three of Cresson’s churches today.

According to Smith’s book, Dr. Lee M. Crook practiced medicine here in 1887, when the streets were named. Other Crooks in the area in the late 1880s or earlier included farmer James S. and Lizzie Anderson Crook, several of whose descendants still live in the area. Further, Wiley M. Crook, who served two stints as Cresson postmaster beginning in 1888, was co-proprietor of the Crook & Vickers General Store in the same period.

Interestingly, there are no Crooks in the Cresson phone directory today.

Here’s hoping there are no crooks, either.

SIDETRACKS: Residents of Bluebonnet Hills, Scenic Ridge, Clearview and Cresson are invited to attend what is being described as a “very important” 7 p.m. Tuesday Jan. 23 meeting at the school to discuss the possibility of incorporating. Flyers explaining the purpose of the meeting are to be distributed door to door beforehand in the areas affected. Residents are encouraged to air their opinions and concerns. Meeting will be chaired by Motorsport Ranch owner Jack Farr, who has headed a committee that has drawn possible municipal boundaries and checked out legal questions involved. If the Cresson incorporation quest of several years ago is any indication, it might be good to bring along a pillow (sleeping bag?) for this one…The Cresson Community Organization, which oversees maintenance of the historic but architecturally unwieldy Cresson School, will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday Jan. 18 in the heated front west classroom at the school. Business will include updates on the much-needed work being done under auspices of the Hood County Adult Probation Dept. Helen Long, keeper of the school, said several probationers have completed the nasty task of tearing out the stained and sagging ceiling tile in the rear west classroom, with putting in new tile next on their task list. Long said kudos are due John Roberts, who heads the Adult Probation Dept., and Bruce Cornelius, the school project superintendent, for getting work done on the school “for nothing.” She said the planned replacement of the center brick arch of the Alamo-style building may not occur as soon as expected because of some sags in the still-standing arches that “may need to be braced.” Long said volunteers Dennis Benton and Ron Pekarski are looking into solutions to the sagging-arch dilemma. Once it’s solved, replacing the middle arch which blew down in the 1960s should commence as matching cream-colored bricks have been donated and a mason selected…The Cresson Volunteer Fire Department is offering highway-type reflective green street number signs for $20. “We started doing it mainly with the idea of it being a fundraiser for the department but we do have situations out in the country where you can’t find the house because there is no highly visible number from road,” said firefighter Bob Cornet, who added that the $20 “includes numbers on both sides of the sign, the post and we’ll put it in.” Cornet said the department has sold about 100 signs. To get one, call Cornet at (817) 396-4221.