Sunday, June 8, 2014

52 Ancestors: #23 - Elizabeth DAVIS Crawford

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor.  It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.



Poor Elizabeth Davis.  If it weren’t for a mention in the Rockingham County bond book of 1820, I’d have my doubts that Elizabeth even existed. 

But there it is on page 171:  24 Oct 1820 - Crawford, Jonathan, son of Zachariah, bonded to Elizabeth Davis, daughter of Leonard Davis.

Elizabeth is my third great grandaunt, daughter of Leonard and Mary Marshall Davis.  Her date of birth is unknown, as is her date of death.  But the marriage bond is enough to make me believe that the Crawford family enumerated in Rockingham County in 1830 is that of Jonathan and Elizabeth even though only the head of household was specified.  The 1830 census reflects a busy 10 years of marriage with 10 children:  2 boys and 2 girls under age 5, 2 boys 5-9, 2 boys and 2 girls 10-14.

However, in 1840, Jonathan Crawford was totally alone.  No wife.  No children.  What became of Elizabeth and those ten little Crawfords is anyone’s guess.   Elizabeth can’t be found in the 1850 census, so it’s possible she died.  Or perhaps she divorced Jonathan and even remarried, but I have found no evidence of that.  While some of the children could certainly have married, others were young enough to be at home still, but they were not.  Strange.

By 1850, Jonathan was no longer alone.  In his household for at least the next 20 years was Milley Shiflett and her children.  Milley, the widow of Edmund Shiflett, was the former Milley Wyant, sister of Frances Wyant, wife of Leonard Davis.  In other words, Milley was Jonathan and Elizabeth’s sister-in-law’s sister.    The new living arrangements might have been a matter of convenience, or perhaps Milley was Jonathan’s common law wife.  It wasn’t until 1870 that Milley was enumerated with the surname Crawford.  A 16-year old Samuel Crawford was also in the household, but there is no indication whether he was a son, nephew or someone else entirely, but oddly enough he was not listed in the 1860 census.

This little branch of the Davis and Crawford families has either stumped researchers with the lack of available documents or no one has cared to look very hard.  I’ll admit this family is low on my priority list too.  But I love a puzzle.

To Do List:
  • Look for a death record and/or will for Elizabeth Davis Crawford.
  • Look for a will for Jonathan Crawford.
  • Look for a deed.

11 comments:

  1. Wow, that is maddening! A family of ten children doesn't just disappear and there are so many possibilities.

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    1. That's true -- too many possibilities.

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  2. Interesting...hard to believe she and those children just vanished...possible but odd that there are no other census listings. I am sure you will find out more :)
    Happy Sunday!

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    1. Well, we'll see. Since only the head of household was named before 1850, it's not easy to know whether you've found the right family.

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  3. Poor Elizabeth having 10 children in 10 years. I don't know how those women did it!

    Is it possible there was an epidemic of some sort that would have taken both her and the children - or some of them? You didn't mention the state.... Maybe gendisasters.com might help. You can browse by year and by state.... I hope you find her!

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    1. I just looked at the gendisasters site and it seems to be more disasters than diseases. Here's a link to a list of epidemics and dates: http://www.eogen.com/Epidemics. Maybe....

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  4. Sounds like it's time to switch from government documents to church records. Hard to believe all ten children disappeared along with her, all in that short period of time. Funerals? Burials? There has got to be some trace of a group that size! You say you love puzzles? Well, you certainly do have a puzzle on your hands with this one.

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    1. Honestly, I've been a bit lazy since this family isn't a priority. I looked for Crawford family trees on Ancestry hoping there was a Crawford researcher out there with an ancestor claiming Jonathan, but zip. So for now, I have no children's names to even look for them.

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  5. qwndy, love the idea of the To Do List. Always go to know where we go next!

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    1. Wendy, please forgive my typo with your name. Maybe you can edit that. Oops.

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    2. Ha Ha -- that's ok. I've been called worse. ;-)

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