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Unusual Name – Crookshanks

When I was trying to decide what “unusual name” to choose, I kept coming back to those of my ancestors who had unusual surnames.  When you spend a vast amount of time researching men named John Miller, you get really excited when you find a surname that sticks out.  While scrolling through my ancestors list, I kept thinking of the name Crookshanks.  This was, without a doubt, an unusual name so I decided to dig a litter deeper and find out more about this part of my family.  Ironically enough, I connect to the Crookshanks through my 6x Great-Grandfather, John Miller.

As I was learning about the Crookshanks family, I felt myself drawn to one family member in particular.  I found a bit of myself in my 5th cousin 2x removed, Janet Sue Crookshanks.  Janet was born March 17th, 1946 in Chilicothe, Missouri to Joseph Vernon Crookshanks and Helen Virginia Stewart.  Janet had two younger sisters, Mary Marie and Donna Jo Crookshanks.

crookshanks, vernon
Joseph Vernon Crookshanks

Janet was raised in a Catholic family.  She and her sisters attended St Joseph Academy in Chilicothe.  While in school, Janet was a member of several organizations, including the National Honor Society, the pep squad, the glee club, CYO, and the Legion of Mary.  Janet had high aspirations, even though she was small in stature.  According to a newspaper article written her senior year of high school, Janet was “only 5 feet and one half inch” which made her a “small bundle of energy”.  Janet also had unique goals for herself.  Her dream was to go for work at a metropolitan daily newspaper as a sportswriter.  Remember this was long before the women sportscasters of today were even born!

st joseph academy
A photo of inside a classroom at St Joseph Academy

After graduating high school, Janet attended Avila College and studied English.  Focusing on her studies and serving her community were Janet’s main focus.  This desire to serve would continue throughout Janet’s life.  Janet completed her studies at Avila and graduated with an English degree.

It’s not know if Janet ever had any luck in reaching her goal of becoming a sports writer.  After graduation, she went to work for the Mobil Oil Corporation in Kansas City.  Soon after starting her career, she became engaged to Edward P. Milbank.  Edward was a graduate of Yale University.  During his time at Yale, Edward also studied at Cambridge University.  After Edward graduated, he became the vice president and director of Milbank Mills, Inc in Chilicothe.

Milbank Mills, Inc

Janet and Edward were married on August 8th, 1970 at St Columban’s Catholic Church in Chilicothe.  They would not have any children.  Janet and Edward were both considered outstanding citizens in Chilicothe.  The two of them were constantly volunteering and serving their communities in numerous ways.  Janet was a member of the Daughter’s of the Revolution and also served as a board member for the Chilicothe YMCA.

Article from the Chilicothe Constitution-Tribune November 9th, 1983 (page 11)

Janet Sue Crookshanks Milbank passed away on Sep 5th, 1992 in Chilicothe, Missouri.  It’s funny when even distant cousins feel like close family.  I never knew Janet, but her aspirations aligned with mine.  When I was in high school, my goal in life was to also be a sports writer.  While neither of us may have reached our original life plans, we both are determined women, making our own way in the world.

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