Nov 21 2012
One of my dad’s sisters, Leo Byrd Crabtree, is reported to have married a Wilson Mason Lecil about 1914. Below is an e-mail of mine to a fellow researcher, giving all the details about Lecil I have been able to compile from cousins:
It occurred to me last night that the only first cousin I had not interviewed with regard to Leo was the last surviving child of my dad’s older sister Viola. This cousin is Wanda Rose Benson, who lives in Stephenville. I called her last night. I did not think that she would know much, if anything, about Leo, but I was in for a surprise Wanda said that although she had never met Leo, Leo called her 4 or 5 times in the late 1950s and related some presonal information Here is what Wanda remembered:
Leo married Lecil before WW I and they left soon afterwards for Europe. Lecil was either in Army Intelligence or something equivalent in the US Government. A ship sank enroute to Europe and it was reported that Leo and Lecil had perished. This was not true, but apparently Lecil’s employers wanted to maintain the fiction that he was dead, so the fact that they had survived was withheld. (I suppose this means that Lecil was under cover in some covert activities). Leo resurfaced after WW II, and contacted her mother (“Mammy- to us grandkids), who had never accepted that Leo was dead. Leo and my dad (at least) bought Mammy a house in Whitesboro. Texas, along with one for my dad’s younger brother Ted.
I can personally pin down when Leo resurfaced (after being thought dead for 30 years plus): In 1947 my mother and I visited the family back here in Texas, and Mammy was living in Pottsboro then Two years later, in 1949. we took another tnp back to Texas, Mammy was Hying in Whitesboro then. So Leo resurfaced in 1948, give or take a year. Wanda remembers that Leo called her in the 2 or 3 years after Wanda and her husband built a home in Carrollton in 1955, placing Leo’s contact with Wanda in 1956- 1958. Leo was living in Garland, but not at 1913 Williams Drive. Wanda thinks she may still have Leo’s prior address and will try to find it for me. Leo said that she had a man living with her, who took care of her.
None of my cousins indicated that Lecil was with Leo in Garland, prompting my speculation now that he may have died in Europe. Leo was 55 in 1948, Lecil could have been in his late 50s or 60s by then. Cousin Juanita thought that Lecil was originally from New York and may have been buried there.
If any of this can be believed. it does paint an interesting picture, and opens up the possibility that Leo may have indeed gotten the autographs of Hitler and Mussolini before the outbreak of WW II, as the wife of an American officer or agent. But then, the fact that she and Lecil weren’t dead had to have been known in Europe prior to 1939. “Still a bit of a mystery.”
******Found this that has the “Colonel” name as William, not Wilson?Leo Byrd Lecil died Dec.12, 1978 in Dallas, Dallas Co, TX. Her maiden name was Crabtree. There is no data on man she married – no places, no date, absolutely nothing for him. His name was believed to be (possibly) William “Colonel” Lecil. The “story” goes he was an Intelligence officer for the Army. Question is on which side. He may have been Italian or some other nationality other than American is a guess. He is assumed to have died before Leo as she moved to Dallas area around 1962 by herself.
Leo in 1910 census. I’m guessing the marriage may have been in Texas also.
*1910 United States Federal Census
Name: Leo Crabtree
Age in 1910: 16
Estimated Birth Year: 1894
Relation to Head of House: Daughter
Father’s name: Aaron A Crabtree
Father’s Birth Place: Missouri
Mother’s name: Louisa Crabtree
Mother’s Birth Place: Texas
Home in 1910: Justice Precinct 8, Grayson, Texas
Marital Status: Single
Aaron A Crabtree 55
Louisa Crabtree 36
Leo Crabtree 16
Viola Crabtree 14
Dona Crabtree 11
Hogan Crabtree 7
Ola Crabtree 3
Texas Death Index, 1903-2000 about Leo Lecil
Name: Leo Lecil
Death Date: 12 Dec 1978
Death County: Dallas