George Crawford (American businessman)

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George Crawford (1861–1935) was a prominent American businessman of the late 19th and early 20th century.

A senior figure in the energy supply industry, Crawford was the founder and chairman of Columbia Gas & Electric, one of the leading American utilities companies of the 20th century. Crawford is also notable as the father of the late New York socialite Sunny von Bülow, who spent 25 years in a coma, and whose husband Claus Von Bulow was famously charged, convicted and then acquitted of her attempted murder.

George Crawford was the son of Eben Crawford, a farmer from Emlenton, Venango County, Pennsylvania. Eben and his brothers reportedly tried a variety of business ventures and a local Emlenton history records that they had "returned home penniless" from the California gold rush, but the family made a fortune after reserves of oil and natural gas were discovered on Eben's farm in 1901. He and his brothers founded the Emlenton Gas Co., one of the first natural gas companies in the world.[1]

George Crawford married Annie Laurie Warmack in 1927; he was 66 years old and his young wife (a native of St. Louis) was 28. He was 70 when his only child Sunny was born in 1931, reportedly in Crawford's personal railroad carriage. By this time he was the chairman of the board of Columbia Gas & Electric, owner of Lone Star Gas Co. in Texas and a major investor in significant oil and gas reserves in Mexico.

The family had two homes, one in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh and a second home (previously his father's residence) at 304 Hill Street, Emlenton, PA.

When George Crawford died in 1935, he left his four-year-old daughter a fortune valued then (1935) at more than US$100 million (UK£75 million)[2]


  1. ^ "Fortune behind Sunny von Bulow intrigue of ‘80s came from Emlenton." The December 9, 2008.
  2. ^ "Sunny von Bulow obituary." The Independent. December 8, 2008.