In another post on this blog, I tell the story of how I became interested in genealogy as a junior high and high school
student in my hometown, Vandalia (Fayette County), IL. My grandma, Grace (Pilcher) Crawford, who lived out in the country from Vandalia in Otego Township, had been inspired by her cousin who compiled the Pilcher family genealogy, and so Grandma considered writing up the history of the Crawfords. She had a wonderful collection of family photos, clippings, and information. I hoped to help her with the work. After her death, I carried on the work and dedicated the family history to her.
That history consisted of the descendants of my 3-great-grandparents, Paul and Susan Crawford. We knew little about Paul; family tradition indicated he was killed by Indians in Ohio (surely a legend; most Indians were gone from Ohio by that time). Susan brought their eight children to Otego township —which is the location of several of my mother’s ancestral families (as I wrote about elsewhere on this blog) like the Pilchers, Mahons, Williams, and Washburns, Grandma had great information about seven of the eight children except for #6, Jacob Crawford, who had settled in Brown County, Illinois.
As it turned out, a genealogist named John Denhalter contacted me in around 1974, as I was putting the finishing touches on the “family tree.” He had information about Paul Crawford and his father, and also information about Jacob Crawford’s family. But he had little concerning the rest of the family. So we were able to supplement each other’s research!
I typed up the material as best as I could. I was seventeen in 1974 and not a very good typist. I also finished copying all the inscriptions in the Pilcher Cemetery. I still have the manuscripts, current only to 1975, but they are still handy for remembering the relationships of various cousins. While working on the material, I became interested in the history of Fayette County generally, and thus I embarked on research about Vandalia’s period as state capital, which eventually became my first published book.
But the summer of 1974 shines in my memory. I had my own car, such as it was; I was enjoying the hobby of genealogy; I tried to go barefooted as much as possible (figuring that copying inscriptions in a country cemetery didn’t require shoes); and I felt a fresh, meaningful sense of place that has remained with me throughout the years, becoming (as Frank Zappa put it) a kind of “conceptual continuity” for all my subsequent work.
Back to the Crawfords. As Mr. Denhalter informed me, my 4-great-grandfather was William Crawford, who was born January 3, 1785 in New Jersey, and died March 19, 1853 in Waldo, OH. Where’s Waldo? It’s a tiny village in Marion County, on U.S. 23 north of Columbus. A man named James Crawford was probably his father. William is buried in Waldo: here is his page. His wife was named Mary (b. 1788 in Pennsylvania), and they had children:
1 Priscilla (b. 1804 in PA), m. Andrew Straub on March 3, 1825
2 Jacob, b. 1806 in PA, m. Julia Ann Miller on Dec. 10, 1829
3 Hanna, b. 1807 in PA. Married John Powell on Dec. 29, 1829
4 Paul, b. 1809 in Ohio, m. Susanna Straub
5 Ebenezer, b. 1810 in Ohio. Married Catharine
6 William, b. Oct. 6, 1812. Unmarried.
7 Peter, b. 1814. Married Hanna.
8 Margaret, b. 1816, married Stephen Curren on April 7, 1836
9 Calvin, b. 1818, married Elizabeth Moses on April 5, 1839
10 Elijah, b. 1820. Married Elizabeth Claypold on June 7, 1854.
Paul Crawford, my 3-great-grandfather, was born March 16, 1809 in Marlborough (Delaware Co), Ohio and died April 16, 1847 in Waldo, OH. Mr. Denhalter told me that the blank, white stone beside that of William Crawford in the Waldo Cemetery is the grave of Paul Crawford. He married Susan (or Susanna) Straub, my 3-great-grandmother who brought their eight children to Fayette County, IL, thus establishing our Crawford family in the Vandalia area.
Based on Mr. Denhalter’s research, I wrote in the Crawford history: “Susanna’s great-grandfather, Andreas Straub, was born along the southern border of Germany. He attended Catholic schools to become a priest, according to hsi parents’ wishes. BUt in early manhood, he left Germany for America, arriving on the brigantine Mary on August 25, 1742. He sttled at what later became Columbia in Lancaster Count, PA, where he purchased land and became a successful farmer. The History of Northumberland Co., PA, indicates, ‘He was a good neighbor and true friend, and was on very friendly terms with the Wright brothers, the founders of Columbia and Wrightsville.’ His children were Andrew, Valentine, and daughters Mrs. Hougendobler and Mrs. Merkle.
“Andrew Straub was born Feb. 14, 1748 in Columbia, and died Aug. 2, 1806 at Milton, PA. He married Mary Eveline Walter on May 1, 1787. As a boy, he was bound out to Mr. Bashore to learn the millwright trade. Bashore, however, made him work the trade in the day and split rails at night. After four weeks of this, Andrew took up the trade with the wrights. Before the war, Andrew built his first mill on the Chillisquaque creek above Northumberland, bringing iron from Columbia by canoe. He also built a mill on the White deer creek, in teh present Union county. He enlisted in the Continental Army and after he war, he moved to MIlton and in April 1784 to Columbia. Andrew donated much land in Milton for churches and schools. His philanthropic gestures significantly advanced businesses there.”
Here is the Find-a-Grave page for Andrew, with a link to Mary—my 5-great-grandparents. According to Mr. Denhalter, the children of Andrew and Mary Straub were:
1 Andrew, d. after Aug. 20, 1827. Married Barbara
2 Joseph, b. Feb. 10, 1793. Married Elizabeth Follmer
3Abraham, b. Dec. 9, 1794, d. Aug. 21, 1864. Married Nancy Billiet on Nov. 29, 1821.
4 Isaac, b. Dec. 9, 1794, d. Dec. 17, 1875. Married Harriet
5 Susanna. Married — Rhodes
6 Esther. Married — Lawrence Rachel, married —Jodon
7 Mary, married — Smith
8 Christian, and also three infants
The children of Andrew and Barbara Straub were:
1 Andrew, b. 1798 in Northampton. Married Priscilla Crawford on March 3, 1825
2 Joseph, born 1800
3 Susannah, born 1809. Married Paul Crawford.
I continue: “The 1850 census for Marion County, OhIo lists Susannah Crawford with children Mary Ann, Andrew, Susan, Sarah, Jcob, Martin, and Calvin; apparently Barbara [the second child, after Mary Ann] was already in Fayette Co., IL and married, since her first child was born there in April 1850. They are all found in the 1860 Fayette Co. census save Jacob, who was living in Brown Co., Illinois.”
The rest of my material was from Grandma. The traditional date of the Crawfords’ arrival in Fayette County is 1852 or 1853, and traditionally, Susanna is said to have settled in the area of Otego township south of what is now the Agronomy Research Center of University of Illinois. Later she moved a mile or two northeast, to what is called the Mahon District
(around section 14). “It is said that Susan attended a quilting one day, took sick, and soon died. Her death was not recorded in county records, which begin in 1877.”
My family “tree” consisted of the descendants of the eight children of Paul and Susanna. The eight were:
1 Mary Ann, born Sept. 30, 1825, Died March 1, 1856. married Martin Scrote. Children: Adaline, Dvid, Tabitha
2 Barbara, born March 9, 1829, died January 25, 1873 married Edmonson M. Williams, who was born c. 1824 and died in Kansas, place and date unknown. Edmonson was my great-great-grandfather Josiah Williams’ brother, as explained here. Children: Susanna, Marian, Andrew, Ada, Morris, Barbara Ann,
Sarah Jane, Paul Ira, May, John
3 Andrew, March 11, 1831 or 1832, died Sept. 30, 1880, married Caroline Mahon, who was born April 4, 1844 and died in1921. Children, John, Alice, Rosella, Paul, William, Andrew (Andrew and Caroline are my great-great-grandparents; their
son John is my mother’s paternal grandfather. John married Susan Williams, whose father was Josiah Williams, just mentioned. Susan’s mother was Margaret Brown Williams, and I discuss the Brown family here.) John and Susan’s children were: Josiah, Marvin, Charles, Adeline, Ruby, Mary, Nell, and Ruth. I never knew my grandfather Josiah, nor his brother Marvin (who died young in 1909), but the other six children were my beloved great-uncle and great-aunts, very dear people to my growing-up years.
4 Sarah, August 19, 1833, died November 26, 1911, married David Washburn (who was my great-great-grandfather George Washburn’s brother; that family is discussed here). David was born Feb. 15, 1825 and died January 30, 1893 Adopted children: Charles, Jeanetta
5 Susan, born April 19, 1836 and died March 5, 1898. Married Leroy Washburn (David and George’s brother), who was born Nov. 19, 1836 and died Dec. 16, 1908 Children: T. S. (Toltin Sylvester), Ira, Roselma
6 Jacob, Aug. 30, 1839, died Dec. 21, 1924. First married Ann Elizabeth Parks (1847-1864). Their child was named Charles. Jacob then married Isabella Briggs (1848-1932) married Isabel Children: Louisa, Myrtle, Emma, Eva, Lula, Ona, Bessie, and Lewis. Jacob was the only one of the eight children not to live in the Vandalia area, and the only one not buried in the Pilcher Cemetery. He was a minister who lived in Brown County, Illinois. His Find-a-Grave page is here.
7 Martin Van Buren Crawford, born May 18, 1841, died Feb. 26, 1904. He first mamarried Elizabeth Bolt (1849-1893). Their chilren were Frank, Paul, Elta, James, Andrew, and Grover. Martin then married Mary Lennie (Apple) King (1862-1938), and their children were Martin and Floyd. Frank Crawford’s son was Cecil C. Crawford, a minister and teacher whose theological writings were influential for me: I write about Cecil and his family here.
8 Calvin (1844-1916), married (1) Harriet Mahon (1853-1884). Their children were: Barbara and Jacob. Calvin’s second marriage was to Rosetta Bolt Mahon (1855-1927). Their children: Bessie, Lewis. Lewis was the first Vandalia-area casualty in World War I; I write about him here.
More interrelationships: Rosetta and Elizabeth Bolt were sisters. Rosetta had been married to Jacob Mahon, who was the brother of Caroline Mahon Crawford, and also of Harriet Mahon. So Calvin was related to Jacob Mahon by being married to (1) his sister and then (2) his widow, and (3) because Calvin’s brother Andrew was married to another of Jacob’s sisters.)
Although I assume it was not intentional, Paul and Susan’s children (except for Jacob, #6) are buried in the Pilcher Cemetery in a more or less straight line (though not always next to each other), in chronological order of birth. If you visit the cemetery, there is a kind of lane through the middle of the small cemetery. On the north part of that lane, on the right (just beyond the place where a great tree once grew), is Mary Ann Scrote, the oldest child, and then to her right (moving south) is Barbara Williams, the second child. Their mother Susan Crawford is buried nearby. Then Andrew (#3) and Caroline, then still moving south, Sarah (#4) and David, and then Susan (#5) and Leroy. My grandmother told me that Martin Van Buren Crawford (#7) is buried in an unmarked grave just to the south of Susan and Leroy’s stone. And last in that line is Calvin (#8) and his family. Across from Calvin and his family are my grandparents, great-grandparents (Crawford and Pilcher), and other close relatives of mine.
One more connection: my great-grandfather John Crawford kept his canceled checks and bills in an oatmeal box. At this end of this essay, I tell how John helped get me interested in Bible study, fifty years after his death. I already acknowledged the role of cousin Cecil Crawford in inspiring me toward religious work.
Finally: isn’t “Martin Van Buren Crawford” an awesome name? He also had a son named Grover Cleveland Crawford. Were they democrats? My Crawford grandparents were very strong FDR democrats. So there is another influence in my professional work, connected back to Otego Township: my grandma wanted me to be interested in Bible study (she gave me a Bible dictionary that I still use in my freelance curriculum writing) and she had an interest in linking faith with social topics, which remained with me, too.