Crawford Family


Koerber Family

Crawford Packing Company

By Cathy Fiorini

The Crawford Packing Company originated in 1921 when Carlton Crawford and his father, John Wesley Crawford, began canning figs in their own home with a consumption comparable to their facilities and equipment for production. Consumer demand continuously increased, and in 1925 Crawford Packing Company was incorporated, with Carlton Crawford as president; P. K. Taylor, vice-president; and Rowland Burton, secretary-treasurer. The slump of the fig market closed the fig canneries on the Gulf Coast; however, this company continued canning chili and tamales under Uncle Ollie’s Brand and in 1927, after enlarging their facilities, branched into the shrimp-canning business. The company operated from 40 to 50 boats, employed approximately 500 persons, and shipped around two million pounds of shrimp annually to every state in the United States and points in Canada and Great Britain.

In 1953 Crawford’s began quick-freezing, the latest in commercial seafood preparation and distribution. A new 240’x60’ one-story structure was completed which accommodated the company’s fleet of boats. The plant’s own shipyard repaired the old boats and built new ones. The largest boats in Crawford’s fleet were the Louise Crawford and the Henry Barrett, both 65-foot trawlers. This fleet scanned the Gulf for 450 miles along the coast, and its “catches” enabled the company to continue shipping over two million pounds of shrimp per year. All shrimp shipped now were frozen instead of canned.

The plant had facilities for processing, freezing and packing shrimp. The plant also made and stored its own ice using a 3,000-pound-block ice-storage vault. The shrimp were quick-frozen at 40 degrees below zero, loaded on trucks, and shipped to all parts of the United States. Forty thousand pounds of shrimp could be frozen every 24 hours.

Besides employing many persons, the company published an inspirational booklet entitled “Driftwood.” Crawford’s also had its own football team, the Crawford Bluejackets, that played many teams in the area. In addition, Crawford formed a musical band comprised of employees and friends. Crawford Packing Company was a major economic force in the Palacios area for many years.

Historic Matagorda County, Volume I, pages 556-557

John & Emma Crawford


Uncle Ollie's Mexican Style Beans

Uncle Ollie's Old Fashioned Stew

Uncle Ollie's Hot Tamales
With Chili Gravy

Label images courtesy of
Larry and Carol Lohn

John J. Crawford
Feb. 1839 - 23 Feb. 1908
Palacios Cemetery


Another Carload Of Uncle Ollie's Tamales Ordered

Beaumont, Tex., May 14, '23

Home Products Co.
Palacios, Texas


We received your shipment of 25 cases of Uncle Ollie's Tamales and we frankly say that this is the best Tamale we have ever seen. We believe that there is a possibility of working up a large business on this piece of merchandise and we would be very much interested in securing the exclusive representation for this territory.

Please advise us how many cases make a minimum car and also what other articles you pack also if you are in a position to give us your line exclusively.

Yours very truly,

Heisig & Norvell, Inc.

L. M. Josey


The above letter from one of the largest wholesale houses in the South is evidence of the fact that the Home Products Company is an assured concern, and Mr. Koerber received a telephone message Thursday morning from them, ordering a car load of Uncle Ollie's Tamales, to be shipped at once.

Only a few weeks ago a car load was shipped to Houston and many small orders have been filled. The popularity of this very extra fine product is going to grow in every section of the country, ...

Palacios Beacon, May 18, 1923

Crawford Fig Co.

A big new boiler has just been installed in the Crawford Fig Company plant which, together with quite a few other changes, puts this fig plant in first class shape and when the figs get ready they will be prepared to take care of all the figs in the county. They are urging every one to keep their fig trees watered and cultivated; also to keep the suckers cut away from around the bottom of the trees, and be sure to spray when necessary.

They will use both the Magnolia and Celeste figs, and the price this year will be the same as last year, five cents for the Magnolia and four cents for the Celeste.

Palacios Beacon, May 24, 1923

Crawford Fig Preserving Plant Opens Today

The immense cauldrons in the Crawford Fig Preserving Plant were filled with figs and set bubbling today for the first time this season. The Crawford plant has recently been completely overhauled and greatly enlarged and is fully equipped to take care of the enormous crop of figs that will be gathered this year. Several huge copper kettles and other new machinery has been installed and the plant was never in a more thoroughly sanitary and up-to-date minute condition.

The fig crop will exceed all previous records both as to quantity and quality, the fruit being far superior to that usually produced; due perhaps to the fact that the rains fell and the sun shone at just the right times to produce figs of unusual juiciness and sweetness. Weather conditions have been favorable too; to the nursery stock, of which there is a large acreage near Palacios.

Palacios Beacon, July 3, 1924

Crawford Packing Co. Operating at Full Capacity

The Crawford Packing Company has been running with full force for the past ten days and last week was a banner one for Uncle Ollie's tamales. The tamale crew put out 121,000 during the week, the big day being Friday, when 25,000 tamales were put up. Most of these have already been shipped out.

The Crawford Packing Co. is to be commended for the enormous out-put of tamales, chili and other cannery work being done there. The service is A-1 standard and they are filling orders as rapidly as the products can be made ready for shipment.

Palacios Beacon, March 7, 1929


Copyright 2011 - Present by the Crawford Family
All rights reserved

Dec. 7, 2011
Dec. 7, 2011