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Mrs. F. S. Cravens is the proprietor of the Cravens School of Music at Emporia, and for a number of years had been one of the leaders in musical circles of that city. She is a native of Kansas and one of the notable women whom this Sunflower commonwealth had produced.
The daughter of a pioneer citizen of Manhattan, where she was born in February, 1866, she exhibited unusual musical talents when a girl, and by careful training and study both in America and abroad had long enjoyed a high position both as an individual artist and as a successful teacher. Her maiden name is Etta Dent. After attending the public schools of Manhattan she went back to the old home of her family at Galesburg, Illinois, was a student in the high school there and also spent one year in the Musical Conservatory of Knox College.
She was married at Manhattan to S. F. Cravens, who was born in Kearney, Missouri, and died at Phoenix, Arizona, in 1906. He was a musical director and teacher. Mr. and Mrs. Cravens taught music in Kansas City, Missouri, later established the Cravens School of Music at Topeka, and from there went to Denver, Colorado, where they were directors of music in the Denver University. Subsequently they were again in Kansas as directors of the Conservatory of Music of Ottawa University, and from there removed to Phoenix, Arizona. Mr. Cravens, on account of ill health, was no longer able to keep up the active work of his profession, and Mrs. Cravens assumed all the burden of teaching while there. After the death of her husband she returned to Kansas, and in 1908 located in Emporia. For seven years she was director of the musical department of the College of Emporia.
Then in 1915 she organized the Cravens School of Music, which had its studio at 523 Merchant Street. On account of the prestige associated with her name because of her successful work at Emporia and elsewhere this school had grown rapidly and at the end of the first year had over 100 pupils. It is one of the best schools in the state for broad and thorough musical instruction. One feature of its management are monthly recitals by the pupils, and these recitals have always attracted large audiences and the programs are arranged not only to furnish experience for the pupils in solo and ensemble work, but also as an exhibition of many of the best things written in music, including both instrumental and vocal numbers. Mrs. Cravens also had a chorus for her students and a music study club.
At all the places where she had taught Mrs. Cravens had directed a church choir, and is now director of the choir in the Christian Church at Emporia. She is herself a member of the Presbyterian Church, and her wide range of interests is shown by the fact that she is president of the Women’s Bible Class and president of the Research Club, one of the best known literary clubs of Emporia. She is a member of the program committee of the Fortnightly Music Club. The Emporia Women’s Chorus, of which she is the director, sang the “Highwayman” in the music festival at Emporia in April, 1916, this festival being an annual event of interest, not only to Emporia but to a wide territory around the city.
Mrs. Cravens had constantly kept up with the best in music, and had not only had thorough training at home, but in 1892 she went to London and studied with Shakespeare and Beringer, two of the ablest teachers of the time, and she again went to London in 1910 for further instruction. Mrs. Cravens’ only child, Francis, died at the age of seven months.
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Her father, William Dent, was born in Kent, Westmoreland, England, in 1838. He came to America when a young man, lived for some years in Brantford, Canada, afterwards at Monmouth, Illinois, where he married, and in 1865 came to Kansas and became one of the pioneers at Manhattan, where he lived until his death in 1880. He was a merchant all his active years. After coming to the United States he was a republican, and at one time served as mayor of Manhattan. He was also active in the Baptist Church and one of its deacons.
Mrs. Cravens’ mother, whose maiden name was Lucinda Harding, represented an old English family in this country. Her grandfather, Stephen Harding, was an early settler in Yates County, New York. A miller, he one day went to his mill and nothing was ever heard of him afterwards, and it is not known whether his disappearance was due to his being murdered by the Indians, who were then plentiful and hostile, or whether it could be accounted for on some other grounds.
Jones Harding, the maternal grandfather of Mrs. Cravens, was born December 12, 1799, in New York State, was reared and married at Rushville in Yates County, and died in Galesburg, Illinois, in August, 1896. In 1837 he went to Ypsilanti, Michigan, when that part of Southern Michigan was a sparsely settled wilderness. Six months later his family came on in a prairie schooner. One of the family on this migration was Lucinda Harding, mother of Mrs. Cravens. Later Jones Harding moved to Illinois and acquired a tract of school lands belonging to Knox College at Galesburg. He was not only a farmer but also a contractor in stone and brick masonry. In 1849 he went out to California, where he remained 2½ years, and gained some profits as a prospector and miner. He was much interested in the Congregational Church and politically was a whig and afterwards a republican. Jones Harding married Mary Angeline Rowley, who was born in New York State in 1807 and died in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1849. Their six children were: Ann Elizabeth, who married Levant Dilley, who for thirty-five years was in the machine shops of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad at Galesburg, where both he and his wife died; Mary Angeline, who married M. P. De Long, and both died on their farm three miles from Galesburg; Roderick Rowley, who is a veteran soldier of the Civil war and now resided at Port Angeles, Washington, where at one time he was postmaster; Lucinda, mother of Mrs. Cravens; Antoinette, who married R. C. Walter, and both died at Amorita, Oklahoma, where they homesteaded; and Albert N., who for many years was an engineer of the Wabash Railroad and died at Moberly, Missouri. Lucinda Harding, mother of Mrs. Cravens, was born October 20, 1838, at Rushville, Yates County, New York, was educated in Knox College at Galesburg, and is still living at the age of seventy-eight, with her daughter in Emporia. She is a member of the Baptist Church.
William and Lucinda Dent had three children: Ella, who was born at Monmouth, Illinois, August 10, 1863, and is now living at Denver, Colorado, the wife of George Cool, who was a contractor and builder; Mrs. F. S. Cravens; and Emma, who was born June 18, 1876, and is the wife of R. L. Jones, an attorney and abstractor at Emporia.