About 20 years ago, when I was really starting to dig into the Crumley line, one of the other researches on either the Crumley rootsweb or Genforum list said something very prophetic.
“Wow, it looks like these William Crumleys need a lot of work.”
I should have stopped right there and given up genealogy. That was an understatement if I’ve ever heard one. I had no idea how large an understatement it was. Today, I fully comprehend.
The man who said that has now gone on to meet his ancestors, and the rest of us are left here with that pile of work. We’ve done a lot in the past couple decades to unravel the mess, but we could surely use some assistance from the other side….if you’re listening!
Frederick County, Virginia
William Crumley (the second) was born about 1767, four years after the end of the French and Indian War, in what is now Berkley County, West Virginia, but which was then Frederick County, Virginia, on the Lord Fairfax tract, to William Crumley (the first) and his first wife, Hannah Mercer.
The Library of Congress map, shown below, shows the extent of the Fairfax Grant, including the portion in Frederick County, of which Winchester was the county seat, near the top.
William (the second’s) mother, Hannah, died when he was a boy of about 6, in about 1773. He must have been devastated. I can see the small child, standing by his mother’s coffin in the cemetery, perhaps with a handful of flowers to put on her grave, maybe not entirely understanding the finality of death.
In 1774, William (the first) married Sarah Dunn who would be the step-mother to William (the second) and would raise him along with his 4 siblings.
We don’t really know what religion the family would have been. William (the first) was raised Quaker, but when he married Sarah Dunn in 1774, she was disowned by the Hopewell Friends Church for marrying “contrary to discipline.” Obviously they weren’t practicing Quakers after that and apparently William (the first) wasn’t before the marriage, but his parents were Quakers. In 1774, William (the first’s) mother was still living but his father had passed away a decade earlier. So William, the second, would have known his grandmother, Catherine Gilkey Crumley. In fact, Catherine lived until after 1790, passing about the same time as the father of William (the second,) so Catherine may well have provided William comfort after his mother’s untimely passing.
Having said that, I don’t think this family was ever too far away from the Quakers. That could be in persuasion and it could be in geography, or both. I mention this because William’s grandson, Samuel, through his son Abraham was indeed Quaker too, in Nebraska, albeit a quarrelsome one.
Nebraska Monthly Meeting: Quaker Records:
- 6-28-1884 Samuel Crumly & w Catherine & ch Mary S , Cynthia A , Wm R, Ida J & Owen M , rocf Richland MM, IA , dtd 6-7-1884
- 12-26-1885 Samuel Crumly, (Crumley ) relrq
- 7-30-1887 Samuel M Crumly, recrq
- 11-26-1892 Samuel M Crumly, Catharine, Wm R, Owen M, & Ida, dismissed for departure from plain teaching of the Gospel by quarreling among themselves.
- 1-28-1893 Samuel M Crumly, reinstated
William (the second) would have been a teenager in 1781 during the Revolutionary War when his father, in a later Public Service Claim, was “allowed 5 pounds for 8 days in actual service as a received in collecting the cloathing and provisions for the use of the state.” At about age 14, William (the second) would certainly have been old enough to help his father in this endeavor and he assuredly had a clear memory of the war effort. He and his father may have talked about the war and what it meant to them in terms of freedom and opportunity as they rode from farm to farm on a wagon pulled by horses to collect supplies.
Although there were no battles or military engagements in Frederick County during the Revolutionary War, the area was very important. General Daniel Morgan, who lived in eastern Frederick County (now Clarke County), and his “Long Rifles” played a prominent role in many battles of the Revolutionary War, including the Battle at Cowpens in South Carolina. Many citizens furnished troops with goods and supplies, including ammunition.
A decade later, William (the second) lost his father. He probably looked back and cherished those days riding in the wagon with his father.
William (the first) died sometime between the time he wrote his will on September 30, 1792 and when it was probated on September 17, 1793. He must have known he was ill. He was only 57 – certainly not an old man by today’s standards.
William (the second) is shown on the Berkley Co. tax records only once, in 1789. He likely married about 1788 and moved before 1790. It appears that William (the second) may have already left Virginia when his father died.
Territory South of the River Ohio
William (the second) migrated with his wife and 2 sons, William (the third) and Samuel, to an area known as “The Territory South of the River Ohio,” organized in 1790, which was the area that would, in 1796, become the state of Tennessee.
An undated page torn from a Territorial Circuit Court document headed “Territory of Ye United States South of Ohio, Green County” rescheduled to Ye 2 Monday of August next, a charge of assault by David Veger? (Weger) on Joseph Williams signed by Elisha Baker, JP. The document was witnessed by William Crumley, placing him in Greene County, in what would become Tennessee, when he was about 30 years old, before Tennessee became a state in 1796.
Greene County, Tennessee
According to Irmal Crumley Haunschild in the book, “The Crumleys of Frederick County, Virginia and Greene County, Tennessee,” published in 1975, William’s grandson wrote that William (the second) had come from Virginia to Tennessee and settled in Browns Town. Browns Town is not a place today, at least not in Greene County, but it certainly could have been a neighborhood at that time, and might well explain why so many Crumleys married Browns. The Browns settled in Greene County, TN in 1805. Irmal included a copy of the original letter, a portion of which I’ve transcribed below, quaint spelling and all.
In a letter written on August 13, 1936, Thomas Atkins Crumley, born November 19, 1852, states the following:
“My great-grandfather with a cabiny of others from across the waters some what probby Scotland Irish decent. In prospecting for a location tha cam to Lick Creek Greene Co, East Tennessee. That part was a wilderness in that day. Tha pitched camp. Game was plentiful. Tha hunted and fished. Tha wer plenty black maple or sugar trees, up and down Lick Creek. So tha located in that part made their own shugar from the maple trees. Right in thar is a place called Carter Station. Right in this old settlement Carters Station is a burial ground where some of the old set of Crumley men wer buried. But further up Lick Creek and a few miles from the creek a place or settlement called Browntown, or guesses shid, an old campground or meeting place. Thare is whare Father’s Brothers and sister are laid away. My grandfather and great grandfather names Aron Crumley and Abraham Crumley. I think my grandmother’s maiden name was Brown on father’s side. I never saw her, my grandfather Crumley.”
Thomas goes on to say that his father was born May 15, 1823 and his mother on March first, 1824.”
Note the comment about “guesses shid.” It will be important shortly. I didn’t understand it when I first read it, but rereading it later…it all makes sense. Gass’s Shed was an old campground and meeting place. John Gass deeded a communal, nondenominational meeting house and he is buried at Cross Anchor.
Thomas was correct. Aaron Crumley’s wife was Lydia Brown. Aaron Crumley was the son of William (the second). Aaron’s son was Abraham who is buried at Cross Anchor Cemetery.
It’s true that this family came to this area quite early, indeed, when it was still a wilderness.
William (the second’s) son Abraham was born on March 10, 1793 and Aaron followed two years later on January 26, 1795.
Which Way is Up?
I was able to visit Greene County in 2007 and was lucky enough to have cousin and fellow researcher, Stevie Hughes, as a guide She spent years researching and documenting these families, as they settled and spread through this area, and then as their children and grandchildren moved on. Stevie is not a Crumley descendant, but she is a Johnson, Brown and Cooper descendant. Johnsons and Browns are mine as well through Lydia Brown who married William Crumley (the third), or through Betsey Johnson, in case she married William (the third) instead of William (the second.) These families lived adjacent, intermarried and were connected through their land, their children, their churches and their culture.
This map of Greene County, provided by Stevie, shows many of the locations that are important to the Crumley family. Unfortunately, Carter’s Station is not shown here, but both Cross Anchor and Wesley’s Chapel are on this map, just north of Greeneville, the county seat.
On the map above, you can see the Cross Anchor Cemetery near Wesley’s Chapel above Greenville, both places we’ll be visiting. On the map below, they appear to be about 4 miles apart.
Let’s start our visit at Carter’s Station, the first place in Greene County to be settled.
Carter’s Station is one of the earliest locations settled in Greene County. It is located at the intersection of Babb’s Mill Road and Lonesome Pine Trail, current TN 70, the main road through Bull’s Gap to Rogersville in Hawkins County.
The Carter’s Station Cemetery is located at the red arrow.
Notice the familiar names, Brown Spring Road, Lick Creek, Grassy Creek, Roaring Fork. You’ll be hearing those again shortly.
The land here is beautiful and relatively flat, all things considered.
One can see why this location was chosen for a settlement. There is water and land flat enough to farm.
The Carter’s Station Cemetery holds many unmarked graves.
I particularly love this grouping, marked by a circle of trees.
My imagination can run wild as to whose grave this was, they the trees are in a circle and the significance of this group of graves.
Another area is stacked with stones, similar to a cairn.
In the distance, to the left of the cairn, you can see a wedge shaped monument.
This monument is just perfect – standing in the middle of the field of unmarked graves, with the mountains in the distance.
Something about this visage reminds me so very much of Scotland. Of course, the people who erected this stone in 1943 would have had no way of knowing that.
What a lovely tribute to all of those who repose in this meadow.
Across from the cemetery is Carter’s Station UMC Church, established later. By 1805, however, camp meetings were being held here.
If our William Crumley (the second) and his sons did live here, or even close by, he certainly would have participated in Camp Meetings. Outside of court, these were the only social events in the region. People came from miles around and stayed for days or weeks to hear the traveling preachers.
We know that William bought land on Lick Creek in both 1797 and 1805. There is no question about that. What we don’t know is exactly where this land was located. Thomas Crumley, who wrote that letter, was born in 1852 and he would certainly have been in a position to know that William was a miller and where his mill was located.
Later documents suggests that at least one of William’s tracts abutted the Carter land, and the Carter land was on Grassy Creek, and Grassy Creek actually circles this church on three sides. So we’re close, very close.
When Stevie and I visited the Carter’s Station area, very near where the station was located, where Lick Creek crosses under what is now Tennessee 70, and was then the main road, there is still evidence that a mill was once located there.
This is Lick Creek at Carter Station.
In the South, old buildings don’t get torn down, they just get repurposed over and over and patched until none of the original building still remains, but it’s still called “the old shed,” or whatever.
This old building stands beside Lick Creek on the land where the mill is said to have been located.
From the back side, the white building could well have been the old mill or the miller’s home or store.
It was Lick Creek that sustained the settlers here, and all of the springs and branches that fed the creek.
Did William look off, across Lick Creek, at the mountains in the distance, in Hawkins County, and long to move, once again?
William Crumley was first shown on the tax list of Greene Co in 1797 in Capt. Morris’s Company as an owner of 200 acres of land with 2 white polls, meaning males age 21 and eligible to vote. However, a deed cannot be found in Greene Co. for more than 50 acres. This may be explained by the custom of the time for new settlers to stake out a claim 200 acres of unoccupied land, the minimum required as the qualification as “resident” and inclusion on the census that required a minimum of 60,000 residents for statehood.
William purchased 50 acres on the waters of Lick Creek from Jacob Gass on January 20, 1797 for 27#10s Virginia currency. Jacob Gass is the brother of John Gass, of “Gass Shed”
In 1805, William bought an addition 200 acres of land originally patented to Gass, and then in 1812, either he or his son, William (the third) bought an additional 126 acres. William Crumley, either the second or the third, also received 2 Tennessee land grants, one on February 9, 1820 for 10 acres on Dry Fork of Lick Creek and a second for 20 acres on Filmore (is this really Tilman?) Creek on the waters of Lick Creek.
According to Greene County researcher Stevie Hughes, the Gass family was well established in Greene County, having arrived in 1783. The Gass, Babb, Maloney, Brown, Johnson and Crumley families appear to live in close proximity, based on Greene County tax lists and other records, the Babb family also having arrived in 1787 from Frederick Co., VA.
Stevie goes on to say that the “old part” of the Cross Anchor Cemetery, across the road from the church, was originally called the “Gass Shed” and was the old Gass burial ground. The new part of the cemetery, on the side where the church is located in where several Crumley people are buried reach back to the 1840s or earlier. This land was deeded to the church in 1842 by Robert Maloney. The Maloney family would marry into the Johnson family as well.
Cross Anchor Cemetery
The Mount Pleasant Cumberland Presbyterian Church is found at the Cross Anchor Cemetery.
Look at the underside of the top of the bell tower. I love it.
Looking directly across the road – everyplace I look, I see either Baileyton Road or Babbs Mill Road. This is Babbs Mill.
There are graves on both sides of the road.
Thomas’s letter was right again, in that there are many Crumleys buried here, including his grandfather at least one of his grandfather’s siblings, just like he said.
In addition to several generations of Crumley’s, there is one that stands out.
Clarissa Marinda Crumley Graham was reported to be the sister of Phebe Crumley, the daughter of William Crumley (the third) and Lydia Brown. By process of elimination, she really cannot be the child of anyone else, although it begs the question of why she lived and married in Greene County when her father and grandparents moved to Lee County, VA on the Hawkins County, TN border. The mitochondrial DNA of Clarissa’s descendant matches that of Phebe’s descendant, which matches that of a descendant of Jotham Brown’s wife, Phebe, the mother of Lydia Brown who married William Crumley (the third) in 1807 in Greene County.
I love the way they spelled her name on her marker. You know that’s exactly what they called her…Clerrissee.
Sometimes trying to piece families together requires piecing the neighborhood together. Clarissa was born in Greene County in 1817, but there are no Clarissa’s in the known family. Who was she named after? And is that even relevant? The answer is…maybe. In the Kidwell Cemetery near Hardin’s Chapel Methodist Church, which we’ll visit later in this article, we find a burial for Clarissa Hardin. After the Kidwell Meeting House burned, the new church was called Hardin’s Chapel and it is located directly across the road from the Johnson land. In fact, Zopher Johnson is buried in the Kidwell Cemetery. Clearly, Clarissa Newman Hardin, born in 1787, was somehow close to Lydia and William Crumley (the third) – close enough for them to name their daughter after her. Was she related? We still don’t know the identify of the mother of William Crumley (the third.)
In case there is any confusion regarding the church as Cross Anchor, the Crumley’s were not Presbyterian. They were Methodist. So, too, were the Johnsons. Of that, we have proof.
Wesley’s Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church
William Crumley (the second) was a trustee and co-founder in 1797 of Wesley’s Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church in Greene County and reportedly raised his children in the Methodist faith. It’s interesting that the first church at Carter’s Station was also Methodist, as were those camp meetings that were taking place in 1805. John Carter was one of the two Carter men to found Carter’s Station.
Notice all of the Babb men. We don’t know who William Crumley (the second’s) wife was. It’s certainly possible she was a Babb, or a Johnson, or a Brown. The Babb family is on the 1782 Frederick County, VA tax list along with Zopher Johnson, Jotham Brown and William Crumley (the first). These families migrated together and were very likely related before arriving in Greene County.
These men would have lived in relatively close proximity to each other and to the church. This land is what they would have seen then, as they looked out to the horizon, minus the power infrastructure of course.
The history of Wesley’s Chapel UMC says that the church land was granted on a North Carolina land grant and was owned by John Weems in 1792. Many of the Weems married into the Brown family and are buried in the cemetery here. The church stands on a hill overlooking several miles of Lick Creek Valley and was known as the church on the waters of Lick Creek.
I’m turning in a circle here, standing at the sign so that we can drink in what William saw in 1797, minus the contemporary houses. Maybe there were cabins there then, or maybe nothing at all.
The original church stood about 500 feet west of where it stands now, about where this house is located.
The cemetery has no early burials, so either they are all unmarked or the cemetery was established about the time the new church was built.
The new church and cemetery carry on the legacy of the original Wesley’s Chapel Methodist Church. William Crumley would be proud and pleased to see the church he helped to found survive for more than 200 years. This church is a big part of his legacy.
I love the ancient trees in cemeteries. If they could speak, they could tell us about our ancestors, about conversations held beneath their branches, and about many funerals – long forgotten. The trees could tell us when the cemetery was established and whose grave isn’t marked. They could tell us who brought flowers, and who didn’t. Whose graves were visited, and whose weren’t.
Even today, there are Crumleys and Browns buried here.
Gazebos are very popular in cemeteries in Greene County. Summers are quite hot here and a gazebo provides a shady respite.
The Crumley House on Crumley Road
Because things aren’t confusing enough in this family, in addition to the confusion created by the men with the same names, land deeds and tax lists, we also have a Crumley Road, and it’s not far from Wesley’s Chapel Church.
The first land purchased by William Crumley (the second) was in 1797, a 50 acre tract from Jacob Gass on Lick Creek. The proximity of Lick Creek, the Wesley Church that was also founded in 1797 and Crumley Road certainly make me suspect that William’s 50 acres was in this area. In 1820, William sells 54 acres to Abraham Crumley, so this land could have been in the Crumley family since 1797.
And guess what…Lick Creek runs right along Crumley Road. Now isn’t that convenient.
It’s also rather flat land, perfect for farming.
When we drove down Crumley Road and talked to the local folks, they told us that the “old Crumley House” still stands and they took us right to the house.
You can see it up ahead as we pull out from the creek.
We were excited to see just how old this house is. It’s very old. I wonder at the windows in the top – if they weren’t once defensive structures in the old “stations” or “forts.”
Below is a picture of the end of an old station house or private fort built by a pioneer in Washington Co., VA about the same time. Notice those high windows.
The owners were extremely gracious letting a couple of crazy women take photos of their house.
The back of the house. On the ends, more high windows.
We know that Monroe Crumley lived here in the 1900s. We also know that roads were named originally after the early or pioneer families who lived there and settled on this land, so the name “Crumley Road” would have been “original,” even though the roads weren’t officially named until the 911 system was implemented.
We tracked Monroe’s lineage back to William (the second’s) son Aaron who married Lydia Brown. The deed work needs to be done on this property, but it’s possible that this land was part of the original Crumley land. William sold his land to son Abraham, not Aaron, but we don’t know what happened after that.
This house is old enough to be an original house from that time period. Brick structures that early were rare, but the original Wesley church was brick as well, built with bricks baked on site, or so the church history tells us. William was involved with building that church, so maybe he built his own home of brick as well.
William Crumley (the second) appears several times in Greene Co. court records and was appointed a Justice of the Peace, served on juries and grand juries and was overseer of road work. In other words, he was a normal pioneer citizen.
Which William is Which?
One of our challenges in Greene County is separating the records of William (the second), and his son, William (the third.) William (the third) was born about 1789 in Virginia. I don’t use the terms Jr. and Sr., unless I’m transcribing, because those terms change, for the same person, as they age. In other words, Jr. often becomes Sr., based on whether another man by the same name lives there, and who is older or younger.
William (the third) came of age while living in Greene County, married and apparently owned land as well. I say apparently, because the two Williams and land ownership becomes very confusing.
Stevie graciously compiled the Crumley entries on the Greene County tax lists from 1797 through 1816, where available. I have put them in table format. Some lists are known to be incomplete.
*Noted as being in the service of the US.
On the 1798 tax list of Capt. Edward Tate’s Company, William (the second) had only one white poll, raising the question of the second adult male and what happened to him after 1797.
William Crumley (the second) was reportedly a miller by trade and built a mill near Carter’s Station after February 9, 1805 when he purchased 200 acres on the branch of Lick Creek from William and Andrew Blackwood.
This Indenture Made this Ninth Day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five. Between William Blackwood and Andrew Blackwood of the Counties of Clayburn and Jackson and State of Tennessee of the one part, and William Crumley of the County of Greene and State aforesaid of the other part Witnesseth that the said William and Andrew Blackwoods for and in Consideration of the Sum of One hundred pounds to them the said Blackwoods in hand paid down by said Crumley, the recipts Whereof is hereby acknowledged, hath and by these presents, Doth Grant, Bargain, Sell, alien, enfoeff and Confirm unto the said William Crumley his heirs and assigns forever a Certain tract or parcel of Land Containing two hundred acres situate in Greene County on a Branch of Lick creek. Beginning at a post Oak in a Conditional line between John Gass and John Waggoner running thence West Sixty three Chains twenty four links to a White Oak, thence North thirty one Chains Sixty two links to a Stake, thence East sixty three Chains twenty four links to a Stake in said Waggoners line, thence South thirty one Chains sixty two links to the Beginning – it being the Same tract of Land that was Conveyed to said Gass from North Carolina by a Grant bearing date the twenty fourth of Septr. one thousand Seven hundred and Eighty Seven, as Reference thereto will more fully appear, together with all houses, orchards, inclosures, waters, ways, and also the Right, interest, property, use, Clame, and Demand, Whatsoever of them the Said William and Andrew Blackwoods, Either in Law or Equity, to have and to hold the Said Described two hundred acres of Land and premises and every part and member thereof to the only use of him the Said William Crumley his heirs and assigns forever, and the said William and Andrew Blackwoods for themselves and their heirs, doth further covenant and agree to and with the said William Crumley that the now at the time of sealing an delivering of these presents seized of a good sure perfect and indefeasible Estate of inheritance of and in the premises and that the(y) have good power and absolute authority to Grant and Convey the same according to the manner aforesaid and the said William and Andrew Blackwoods will warrant and forever defend to William Crumley his heirs and assigns in witness whereof we have hereunto set out hands and affixed out Seal the day and Date above Written
Witnesses William Blackwood
Jesse Mosley Wm. Blackwood impow’d for A. Blackwood by power of attorney
State of Tennessee April Sessions. 1806
Greene County Court
Then was the execution of this Conveyance duly proven in open court by the oath of Jesse Mosley, a subscribing witness, and admited to Record.
Let it be Registered
Val Sevier, Clk
Registered this 26th Day of June 1806. By George Brown, RGC
(BK 7, p 63, Greene County Land Records)
An earlier researcher indicated that he believed that the Sylvanus Brown land was at the west side of Union Road and Baileyton. William Crumley’s land was near Sylvanus’s land, which was also located on Tillman’s Branch. Sylvanus Brown was the older brother of Lydia Brown who would marry William Crumley (the third) in 1807. William Crumley (the second) had three children who would marry children of Sylvanus Brown.
On the map below, Wesley Chapel is shown at one end of the blue line, and the intersection of Union Road and Baileyton at the south end of that blue route.
The 1809 tax list tells us a little more in that William (the second) is noted on Dry Fork.
Based on the Greene County Civil District definition for Civil District 11, we know where Dry Fork was located, roughly.
Beginning at RODGERSVILLE ROAD at POGUES MILL, Thence up LICK CREEK to the mouth of the roaring fork, Thence up said fork to BABBS MILL ROAD, Thence up the road to the DRY FORK, Thence up said fork to the mouth of the branch that comes from WILLIAM MALONEYS SPRING, Thence up said branch to the head near an OLD SCHOOL HOUSE, Thence with the KNOBS that extends up between BABBS MILL and the WATERS OF LICK CREEK to the road that passes between PHILIP BABBS and ISAAC BABBS PLANTATION.
Tracing this pathway, we find the intersection of Roaring Fork and Babb’s Mill Road at approximately 1101 Babbs Mill Road today. The instructions were to continue down Babb’s Mill Road, which ends when it intersection current day 93, Kingsport Highway, so William’s initial land had to be someplace in this general vicinity.
In 2007, Stevie took me to the Kidwell Cemetery, near the Hardin Chapel Methodist Church located at Baileytown Road and Roaring Fork Road. On the map below, you can see Hardin Chapel Church. Just north, the next road is Brown Loop Road. Less than a mile away, off of White House Road, you can see Gass Memorial Church. So the Johnsons, Browns, Gasses and Crumleys all lived in this area.
Zopher Johnson’s son, Zopher, is buried in the Kidwell Cemetery. He is probably the father of Elizabeth “Betsey” Johnson that William Crumley (the second) married in 1817.
Johnson and Brown Land
This land, across from the church, is Johnson land. Stevie says that as you proceed north, the Browns owned the property on both sides of Baileyton Road, all the way to Cross Anchor Cemetery. Sylvanus Brown’s land was supposed to be located near the intersection of Union Road and Baileyton Road, about half way between these two locations.
This view below is of the Johnson land right across from the Hardin Chapel Church.
You can see the Roaring Fork, although it’s not roaring today, in the picture below running parallel with the main road. It just looks like a mild mannered stream, more like it has been subdued into a ditch.
Clearly, this is the Johnson, Brown, Crumley neighborhood.
The Crumley Stomping Ground
We have several indications that William Crumley (the second) was a miller by trade. Indeed, there was a mill at Carter’s Station. Given the apparent close proximity to Sylvanus Brown, I’m not entirely convinced that William’s mill was at Carter’s Station, but clearly, it was someplace in this vicinity. This seems to be conflicting information, but remember, there were two Williams and more than one piece of land involved.
Paul Nichols, a Crumley researcher, his information no longer online, tells us the following:
The huge stone wheels of a mill had grooves cut into them. The grooves would need to be maintained to grind grain properly. This is done by running a tool along the grooves with one hand and smoothing away the stone chips with the other. Frequently, stone chips would become embedded in a miller’s hand. To judge how much expertise a miller had, he would proudly show his left palm. That’s where the term “to show one’s mettle” came from.
Sounds painful to me.
I wonder what William’s left palm looked like.
In 1812, William obtained another 126 acres, according to the tax list, although this is believe to be land purchased by William (the third), designated as Jr. on the tax list, but in 1813, all 326 acres were paid for by one William Crumley, the second William not being mentioned at all.
In the Greene County Court minutes, on page 39 in the book including minutes from 1812-1844, William Crumley petitioned the court that a jury be appointed to view the road…and to establish said road straight to his house…and that two public roads already laid through his plantation to the injury of his tillable land. If one was a miller, one would certainly want the road to some directly to one’s house. This tells us that he lived someplace where three roads are found in close proximity.
I asked Nella Myers, who unfortunately passed away before she could publish her Crumley book, if she had any direct evidence that William (the second) was a miller. She answered me as follows:
“Reading through about 100 pages of Civil War records for Daniel Patton and John Crumley, sons of Wm. Crumley IV and Rebecca Malone, I discovered that in 1912 John stated he was born “July 16, 1844 at Albany, Greene Co. Tennessee” and in 1914 he stated he was born “at what was known as William’s Mill in Greene Co. Tenn.” On an old surveyor’s map of 1953 we found Albany, which is located approx. 3-4 miles NW of Greeneville on the Old Rogersville Rd. on the southern bank of Lick Creek just before reaching Carter’s Station, often called Carter’s Chapel. Mosheim is a bit further. So, it appears that this was the location of the Crumley mill (whether Wm. III or IV).”
Albany is the current name for the area where the old Carter’s Station Cemetery is located.
I don’t particularly follow Nella’s logic that the William’s Mill is the Crumley Mill, because there were always a number of mills and millers. In the book, “Remembering Greene County Mills,” published in 2013 by Carolyn S. Gregg, there is no reference to a Crumley Mill. Carolyn went through “every known record” to identify all of the Greene County mills.
Furthermore, Nella obtained the following information from from Carter Cousins, Vol. II, by Marie Thompson Eberle and Margaret Henley, which reads as follows:
“192. William Crumley II b. c1765 Old Fred. Co., VA m. in VA, name of wife unknown. The family moved to Greene Co., TN, where they settled at Brown’s Town. The Jotham BROWN family went from Berkeley Co., VA to Montgomery Co., where Jotham died. His widow and children moved to Greene Co., TN before 1800, settling on Lick Creek. William Crumley built a mill on Lick Creek near Carter’s Station sometime after 1805, when he first purchased land of William & Andrew Blackwood (9 Feb. 1805), and his first appearance on Greene Co. Tax Lists is 1805.”
The Carter information is slightly incorrect. Phebe, with her daughter, Jane Brown Cooper and family moved to Greene County in 1803, followed by her sons in 1805.
We have a bit of a geographic challenge here, because Carter’s Station is on Lick Creek, but it’s about 5-7 miles on west of the Cross Anchor area. However, looking at the map below, you can clearly see the familiar names nearby – Brown Springs Road, John Graham Road. Carter Station, very close by Carter’s Station United Methodist Church, is at the crossroads of Rogersville Road, leading to the county seat of Hawkins County, and Union Road leading to Greenville, the County seat of Greene County.
DNA testing has sorted through part of this confusion. The Brown family of Brown Springs Road near Carter’s Station and the Brown family of Cross Anchor were not related to each other. The Y DNA haplogroups are entirely different. So, finding Browns in both locations is not connecting glue.
Furthermore because of the confusing tax lists, we don’t know for sure which William owned which land.
In 1811, both William Crumley’s are enumerated on the tax list separately, with William Sr. owning the 200 acres of land and William Jr. with no land but one poll.
What happened to the 100 acres in 1797-1799 and the 250 acres in 1800, we have no idea.
In 1812, William (Sr., but not designated as such) is shown with 200 acres, William Jr. with 126 acres and Samuel with no acres and one poll.
In 1812, the US engaged in warfare with Great Britain and her Indian allies. This war was really fought on three fronts – the north, New York area, the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf area, Louisiana. In the south, the war included warfare with the Creek Indians. Tennessee militia were drafted or volunteered for stints lasting about 90 days, although some were longer. Most men from Tennessee would march to Alabama, on foot, and fight there. Three of William (the second’s) sons fought in the War of 1812. William (the third) enlisted, but became ill and returned home.
Sons Aaron and Samuel served as well. Aaron also become ill and was dismissed, but was eventually awarded bounty land regardless.
However, in 1813 and 1814 all 326 acres on Tillman’s fork were listed as the property of William Sr. (the second) with William (the third) Jr. owning no land.
In 1815, William Jr. (the third) is shown with 200 acres on Tillman’s Fork and William (implied Sr.) with none. Samuel, however, is shown owning the 126 acres on Lick Creek. What the heck happened that year?
In 1816, Aaron is of age too, but neither Aaron or Samuel have land. William Jr. (the third) is shown with 126 acres on Lick Creek and William Sr. (the second) with 200 on Tillman’s Fork.
Did these Crumley men play poker and constantly lose their land back and forth to each other?
Of course, Tillman’s Fork was also where Sylvanus Brown lived, and those two families were very busy intermarrying. I’d bet dollars to donuts their lands were adjacent.
One of Sylvanus’s sisters, Jane, married Christopher Cooper, from whom cousin Stevie descends. The Old Cooper Cemetery and cabin is located on Spider Stines Road, half way between Hardin Church and Cross Anchor. Stevie located the previously lost Cooper Cemetery and placed a marker in the midst of the overgrown fieldstones.
None of the original graves are marked with headstones, but they are eternally memorialized today, never to be entirely lost again.
Sylvanus Brown’s other sister, Lydia, married William Crumley (the third) and they are my ancestors. Stevie and my common ancestors are Jotham Brown and his wife Phebe, 6 generations back from me. Assuming Stevie is about the same distance removed, we would be about 5th cousins.
I think if you just drew a big circle around this entire area on the map above and labeled it “William Crumley, Brown and Johnson Stomping Ground,” you’d be dead right.
William’s Wife or Wives
It’s time to talk about William’s wife or wives because we don’t know who they were. William (the second) may have only had one wife, or he may have had two.
It is not known who William (the second’s) first wife was. She was the mother of William (the third) and for that matter, all of his known children. The family reports that she may have been an Indian although we have dispelled that myth by mitochondrial DNA testing a descendant who descended from her through all females. Her haplogroup is H2a1, very clearly European. However, that does not exclude her from having Native heritage through a different line. Mitochondrial DNA is inherited from one’s mother, who inherits it from her mother, etc., on up the tree. The mitochondrial DNA haplogroup only tells us about this one line, but it tells us very clearly that she was not Native on her direct matrilineal line. It’s odd, we know more about her DNA than we do her name.
In 1817, William Crumley Sr. (as stated on the marriage document, shown below) married Elizabeth “Betsey” Johnson in Greene County. This marriage has stirred a great deal of controversy within the Crumley researchers. Betsey was the daughter of either Zopher Johnson, buried in the Kidwell Cemetery, or his brother, Moses, who lived in Hawkins County. We believe she was Zopher’s daughter, and given where these families lived, near Roaring Fork and Baileytown Roads, that certainly makes the most sense.
It has been debated for years within the Crumley research clan whether the groom was William (the second) or his son, William (the third).
The problem is that the signatures on the two bonds, one from William Jr. (the third’s) 1807 marriage to Lydia Brown and this 1817 signature for William Sr. are for all intents and purposes, identical. Furthermore, there are two additional signatures in 1814 and 1816, both identified as Jr. in the comparison provided by a Crumley researcher, shown below, which don’t match the 1807 and 1817 bonds.
These signatures have fueled a lot of speculation, but the most reasonable explanation I can find, with the least amount of stretch, is that if William Jr. – meaning the third, was born in 1788 or 1789 as the 1850 and 1852 censuses indicate, he would have been underage in 1807, only 18 or possibly 19 years of age. His father would have had to have signed for him. The William Crumley signature itself doesn’t say Jr. or Sr. The document only says that William Jr. is getting married. In 1811, the first year William Jr. (the third) is shown on the Greene County tax list, he would have been age 22,, born in 1789 – so this is very likely the answer. Otherwise, where was he on earlier tax lists?
One last document, William’s witnessing of his son Abraham’s marriage, may or may not be William’s actual signature. Looking at the similarity of the writing in this document from the Quaker notes from the New Hope Meeting in Greene County, TN, I have to wonder if the names were copied into the minutes by the clerk and this is not William’s original signature.
We performed mitochondrial DNA testing, which is detailed in Phebe Crumley’s article, but in summary, descendants of Clarissa, Phebe’s sister born in 1817, Phebe, born in 1818 and Jotham Brown’s wife, Phebe, are matches, meaning that they share a common matrilineal ancestor. In this case, that can be interpreted to mean that the most likely common ancestor is Phebe Brown, the mother of Lydia Brown, who is the mother of Phebe and Clarissa both. Of course, Clarissa was born in April of 1817, William (the whichever) married Betsey Johnson in October of 1817 and Phebe was born in March of 1818. Subsequence census removed William (the second) and his wife as potential parents for Phebe Crumley, so the matching DNA suggests that the women are sisters delivered of the same mother – both daughters of Lydia Brown who was the daughter of Phebe, wife of Jotham Brown.
One last piece of DNA information that is not entirely conclusive but certainly suggestive is that I have several DNA matches with individuals who descend from Jotham Brown through other children, not Lydia, and who aren’t related through any other lines. Unfortunately, many of these matches are at Ancestry and have not downloaded their results to either Family Tree DNA or GedMatch where we have triangulation tools to prove descent from a common ancestor, so while the results are suggestive, they are not conclusive.
Taking all of this together, based on mitochondrial DNA evidence, the dates of the births of the children of William (the third) and the bond and marriage dates, I believe that the groom in 1817 was William Sr. (the second), not William (the third), but barring that Bible for sale on e-bay, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know for sure. We discussed the possible options and the DNA evidence at length in the Phebe Crumley article.
I have not given up entirely and was hopeful that existing church records in Hancock (formerly Hawkins) County, TN would provide the answer. Unfortunately, those records only began in 1852, so we’ve struck out once again.
My only avenue left to find the name of the wife of William (the third) after 1820 is in the Pulaksi County, KY records. Never before have I ever had a situation where the only way to prove who the father DID marry was to prove who the son DIDN’T marry. And to think that the identity of Phebe’s mother, my ancestor, depends on this.
Moving to Lee County, VA
The “Early Settlers of Lee County” book says that William Crumley Sr. from Greene Co. bought 250 acres of land from William Sparks on November 11, 1819 for $250, lying on the west fork of Blackwater Creek (Deed book 9 page 6). It was witnessed by William Crumley Jr. The William Sr. in this case must be this William (the second) and Jr. must be his son William (the third.) Therefore, we have now confirmed that William (the second) did in fact move to Lee Co, along with his son, and where he lived.
William (the third) was listed in the 1820 Lee Co., Census as age 26-44 with his family, but William (the second) was not included, probably having returned to Greene County to sell 54 of his 200 acres to his son Abraham on Nov. 25, 1820 and 134 acres to Joshua Royston on March 21, 1821.
November 25, 1820 – William Crumley of Greene Co., to Abraham Crumley of same for $333.33, 54 acres and 46 poles on Lick Creek, part of 200 acre tract of land granted to John Goss by State of NC Sept, 24, 1787 and conveyed unto Wm and Andrew Blackwood and then conveyed to William Crumley Feb. 9, 1805.
In March of 1821, William Crumley Sr. (the second) sells the 200 acre Lick Creek tract in Greene County to Joshua Royston.
This Indenture, Made the Thirty First day of March in the Year one Thousand and Eight Hundred and Twenty One, between William Crumley Senr. of the County of Greene and State of Tennessee of the one part, and Joshua Royston of the County of Greene and State aforesaid of the other part – Witnesseth, that the said William Crumley for and in Consideration of the Sum of Six Hundred Dollars to him in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, hath and by these presents doth Grant, Bargain, Sell, Alien, Enfeoff and Confirm unto the said Joshua Royston his Heirs and assigns forever, a Certain Tract or parcel of Land Containing one Hundred and thirty four Acres, more or less, Lying and being in the County of Greene and State aforesaid, on the waters of Lick Creek. Beginning at the place where a post oak stood – it being the beginning corner of the Original Grant from North Carolina to John Gass Number 399, for Two hundred acres – thence with said original Line West one hundred & seventy two poles to a small Hickory Sapling, a Dogwood, sugar tree and Iron wood pointers, thence off from the Original Line and Conditional Line North one hundred and Twenty six poles to a White Oak on the Original line of the old survey aforesaid, thence with said Line East one hundred and Seventy Two poles to a Stake, thence South one hundred and Twenty Six poles to the Beginning, with all and singular, the woods, waters, water-courses, profits, commodities, hereditaments and appurtenances whatsoever to the said Tract of Land belonging or appertaining, and the reversion and reversions, remainder and remainders, rents and Issues, thereof, and all the estate, right, Title, Interest, property, claim and Demand, of him the said William Crumley, his Heirs and assigns forever of in and to the same, and every part or parcel thereof, either in Law or Equity: To Have and to hold the said one hundred and Thirty four acres of Land, more or less, with the appurtenances, unto the said Joshua Royston his Heirs and assigns forever, against the Lawful Title, claim and Demand of him the said William Crumley Senr. and all other persons whatsoever, will Warrant and forever Defend by these presents- In Witness whereof, the said William Crumley Senr. hath hereunto Set his Hand and Seal the Day and Year above written
Signed, Sealed and Delivered
In presence of
George T. Gellaspie,
[BK 12, p 284, Greene County Land Records]
The William Crumley as a witness must be William Crumley (the third.)
Also, in 1821, we find a tidbit that ties William Crumley (the second’s) land to Carter Station. On March 6th, a land sale between William Luster and Thomas Justice, for $200, 100 acres on Lick Creek adjoining the lands of Hugh Carter and William Crumley. Witnesses, James Patterson and James Gass.
Notice that H. Carter, likely Hugh, also witnesses the deed where William sells to Royston.
Also, further connecting William to the Carter’s Station area are two 1820 indentures that his son Samuel Crumley witnesses for transactions by Joseph Carter, Sr., the man who established Carter’s Station on his land and hosted those camp meetings, and John Olinger, his neighbor, for land on Lick Creek, on the west side of Grassey Creek. This is where Carter’s Fort and Station were located, and very near where the Cemetery is located today.
The Hawkins County Lawsuit(s)
If there is a way to make a situation complex, the Crumley men find a way to do it.
There are two suits in Hawkins County, neighbor county to Greene, that involve William Crumley. One is very short and sweet, and the second is long, drawn-out and juicy.
I am greatly indebted to Jack Goins, Hawkins County archivist, for finding these original documents.
First, let’s look at the 1825 juror signature. This signature does not look like any of the other William signatures. Sigh.
This signature was a result of William being a witness in the case of the State vs Andrew Coker, Littleton Brooks, James Willis and James P. McCarty tried in October of 1824.
I remember when I was a young married wife, back when we actually picked up a paycheck, signed the check and physically took it to the bank. Typically I picked hubby’s check up at lunch and took it to the bank in the afternoon, because by the time he got off work, the bank was closed and there would be no money for the weekend. Yes, this was before the days of ATM machines. The only “ATM” was writing a check “over” for $20 or so at the grocery store where, of course, everyone knew you. One week, my husband signed his own check and took it in to be cashed. The tellers quizzed him mercilessly, and then the branch manager, because his signature did not match any of his other paychecks and they had never seen him before. I had been signing them on his behalf. He found no humor in this situation. So as I look at this signature for William Crumley, in fact, all of them, especially the ones that don’t match and “should,” I wonder if William actually always signed for himself.
The 1822 lawsuit is much more interesting, albeit with no signature from William.
The Hawkins County lawsuit begins in Greene County in 1819 with a legal complaint document, William Crumbly vs Johnston Frazier, as follows:
On the 28th day of October 1821 I promised to pay Thomas G. Brown $50 to be discharged in grain at the market price delivered (unreadable) this day bought of him it being for value received of him this 27 day of December 1819. Signed by Johnston Frazier and witnessed by John Scott.
This is followed by a document on March 14, 1820 that says:
I assign my interest of the within note to William Crumbly for value and witness my hand and seal. Thomas G. Brown, Witness Lettice Self.
William Crumley would come to regret that day.
Both Thomas Brown and Johnson Frazier were summoned to court. Witnesses were Jesse Self, Christopher Kirby, Jacob Sands and John Scott and the trial lasted for 6 days – or at least that’s how long the longest witness was paid for. Some were paid for only 5 days.
Summarizing the suit, Frazier says that he measured out the grain (102 bushels of corn, 6 bushels of wheat and 12 bushels of oats) on the day before the note was due but the plaintiff was not at the location. He left the grain out overnight and “over Sunday” and by Monday the grain was problematic.
Depositions follow from people to whom he offered to sell the grain about the quality and the price. Some said it looked to be weevil-eaten. Some said the wheat had lumps and was hot if you put your hand in the pile. From my experience on a farm, that means it was fermenting and had “soured” and couldn’t be used. That, in fact, was the crux of the lawsuit. Did Frazier genuinely try to pay his debt to Crumley, or was he trying to scam him all along?
There may have been some previous bad blood between Crumley and Frazier, because the testimony is stricken, but you can still see that Christopher Kirby testified, among other things, that the William Crumley said he “had been used badly the year before by the defendant” and he wanted to take advantage, although the exact wording surrounding “take advantage” is not entirely legible.
On February 19, 1822, William Crumley appeals in Greene County court to transfer the venue of this appeal of this case to Hawkins County “owing to prejudice against him in Greene County and which has been greatly fomented by persons who have greatly injured him” and that he “cannot have a fair and impartial trial of the above case in Greene County.” He says he also believes the same extends to Washington County where the defendants relatives live.
The next document is dated March 12, 1822 and is styled, William Crumley, appellant, vs Johnson Frazier, so he apparently lost the first case in Greene County. This document says that attached is a transcript of the proceedings in this case and it is signed by the Greene County Clerk of Court.
William Crumley had a really bad half-decade. There is a barely legible document written in 1825 that states in essence that the court has found against William.
One final document, that is very legible and dated April 1826 commands the sheriff of Hawkins County, which tells us that William is living in Hawkins County at this time, to confiscate the goods and chattels of William Crumly to make the sum of $269 and 20 and a half cents which John Frazier recovered against William Crumley. The sheriff is to have the said money ready to render to the court on the first Monday of October, 1826 in Rogersville.
William would have been a lot better off to simply forget about the $50 debt. He not only got nothing for the debt he paid a huge difference in costs.
I’m sure of one thing. William Crumley was not a happy camper.
William’s commentary about how people felt about him in Greene County might well have had something to do with why he moved to Hawkins County. I was hoping that this suit might give us confirmation as to whether William Crumley (the second) was a miller, as well as his wife’s name, but it does neither.
The timing of this also makes me wonder about whether this suit really is William (the second) and not William (the third) because William (the third) leaves this area between 1820 and 1830 and moves to Pulaksi County, KY. If he lost his land and/or possessions, he probably doesn’t feel any obligation to stay in Hawkins County. It might have been a good time to move on.
Let This Be A Lesson
I was so excited when I visited the genealogy library in Knoxville, TN to find a list of deeds out of Hawkins County that included William Crumley. I greatly imposed on a friend in Hawkins County to copy those deeds and send them to me.
There are several deeds spanning years from 1823 through 1830 and calling him William Crumley of Claiborne County. Furthermore, this land was on Big War Creek, in Hawkins County, not near where we know William (the second) and (the third) lived.
Even more confusing, we know where both William the second and the third lived in 1830. One was in Pulaski County, KY and one was in Lee County, VA. But these deeds all referred to William Crumley of Hawkins County and then of Claiborne County. Now, granted, Lee, Hawkins, Hancock and Claiborne are all neighbors and closely tied together with a network of mountains, valleys, rivers and creeks.
Another confusing factor was that the one Crumley witness whose name I could read was Hugh Crumley. There is no Hugh Crumley.
Then, I decided that something clearly wasn’t right. These deeds are all hand written of course.
I decided to look for Hugh in the Claiborne County census, and what I found was Hugh Crawley, CRAWLEY, not Crumley, and sure enough, there was William Crawley right beside him. I looked back at those deeds, and I can see why they were indexed as Crumley. The writing was ambiguous. But, given that I had found both William and Hugh Crawley, together, where the deeds said they lived – and my William Crumley’s are both accounted for elsewhere – I knew these men were not Crumley men.
If you get that little nagging “something’s not right here” sense, heed it – even if you don’t want to hear it.
Lee County, VA
There is no mention of William the second or third, by any name, after 1821 in Green County following William’s land sales.
We know William (the second) purchased land on the west fork of Blackwater Creek in Lee County in 1819.
Five years later, on June 30, 1824, William Crumley filed for a land grant in Hawkins County for 50 acres on Blackwater near where Walter Sim’s or Sinit’s lives, Rice’s line. It was surveyed on August 5, 1824. This part of Tennesee was Hawkins County before it became Hancock County. My original assumption was that this land was near William’s 1819 Blackwater Creek land, but as it turns out, it wasn’t – not even close.
William (the second) appears on the 1830 Lee Co census age 60-70 when he would have been about 62 years old with 2 females in the household, his wife age 50-60 and a girl age 5-10, possibly a final child after marrying Betsey Johnson in 1817. Next door to William (the second) we find Isaac, his son, with 2 males under 5, 1 male 5-10, 1 male 30-40 (Isaac), 1 female under 5, 1 female 5-10, 2 females 10-15, 1 female 20-30. This tells us that Isaac married between 1815 and 1820.
On October 21, 1831, “William Crumley of the county of Lee and the State of Virginia” sold 47 acres on Blackwater Creek in Hawkins Co., Tn. to Peter Livesay of Hawkins Co., signing the deed as “W M Crumley”. This signature of William (the second) may be an abbreviated version of Wm. as written by the clerk who recorded it, although it may also have stood for the middle name of Mercer. Or, it may not have been William (the second) at all, but William (the third.)
The land is likely here, on the Blackwater Creek where Livesay Road runs alongside.
Just like men should not be able to name sons the same name, or marry women with the same first name, Creeks, especially in the same county should NOT have the same name either.
On this map on the far right, with the red balloon, is the Blackwater Creek along Livesay road. In the middle is Blackwater Road, which also runs alongside, you’ve guessed it, Blackwater Creek. The two Blackwater Creeks converge into a larger Blackwater Creek further north in Lee County, VA. The 1819 deed which says the west branch of Blackwater made me think it was Blackwater Road, but the land sale to Peter Livesay and his land on Livesay Road convinced me that it’s the “other” branch of Blackwater.
Later, as I reevaluated these land purchases and sales, again, I realized that William Crumley had actually owned land on both branches of Blackwater Creek. The 1819 land, which says the west branch of Blackwater Creek, also says, when the land is sold, that it’s on the south side of Powell Mountain. Powell Mountain is on the north side of Blackwater Road. Blackwater Road is the only possible location for this tract of land.
On the far left side of the map, you can see Little Mulberry Baptist church which is about a mile on south on the road where Phebe Crumley, daughter of William Crumley (the third) and some of her siblings would live. This journey is about 20 miles, from Livesay Road to Phebe Crumley Vannoy’s home. It just didn’t make sense to me that Phebe, Sarah and John would wind up together, so far from home. It’s very likely that William (the third) actually lived on the west branch of Blackwater – and it’s likely that the entire family lived there as well, meaning William (the second), William (the third) and his brothers, Isaac and possibly Jotham.
William owned the land he would sell to Peter Livesay for 7 years. It’s certainly possible that one of his sons farmed this land during that time. In fact, this land could have been owned by William (the third) or if it was owned by William (the second,) he could have sold it because his son, William (the third) moved to Pulaski County, KY sometime before 1830.
Here’s an aerial of the Blackwater Creek area and Livesay Road at the Virginia/Tennessee border where Lee County, VA and Hancock (then Hawkins) County Virginia intersect.
It’s quite ironic that the “Trail of the Lonesome Pine” also runs very near the Carter’s Station location in Greene County. Or, maybe it’s not ironic at all…maybe it’s meaningful.
In 1836, “William Crumley, Sr.” (the second) was shown in the Hawkins Co. 1836 Civil District tax list, district 5, located South of Powell Mountain and North of the Clinch River. This fits the description of Blackwater Creek and Road exactly.
In January 1837, William (the second) sold his land on the west branch of Blackwater Creek to his son Isaac, apparently shortly before his death as Isaac had to prove the deed in court when it was recorded on October 18, 1841 by the testimony of James Weston, Thomas Stapleton and Thomas Weston (husband of his sister, Hannah Crumley), the same men who witnessed the 1837 sale. This is why there are witnesses – in case the seller can’t make his own proof statement in court.
Thomas Stapleton is likely a relative as well. Mary Brown, Lydia Brown’s sister, married William Stapleton. They too settled in Lee County and are buried on Blackwater Creek, in the Roberts Cemetery, located at the foot of Powell Mountain. Their daughter, Elizabeth, born in 1819, married Thomas Testerman Livesay, son of Peter Livesay who bought William Crumley’s land on the “Livesay Road” branch of Blackwater Creek. Elizabeth is buried in the Testerman Cemetery on Livesay Road, shown below. Oh, what a tangled web we weave. However, now the Livesay sale makes much more sense.
Deed book 9, page 7 – William Crumley Senior of Lee County, VA to Isaac Crumley of Lee County, land laying on the west fork of Blackwater Creek, south side of Powell Mountain, for $230…
Based on this, it would appear that William Crumley owned land on both branches of Blackwater Creek, selling one to his son, Isaac, and the other to Peter Livesay.
Unless these references are incorrect, the pages in the deed books are adjacent for the 1819 purchase and the 1837 sale, so it appears that both were filed at the same time. William (the second) couldn’t sell the land unless he registered the purchase first. So he physically held that deed for 18 years – and we wonder why we can never find some deeds in the books.
Then William Crumley sold some land that we have no record that he purchased.
1837, Feb 20 – Lee Co, Va – William Crumley of Lee Co. sold 100 acres on the south side of the Clinch River in Hawkins Co to William McCullough of Claiborne County and signed the deed seed as William Crumley. The metes and bounds indicate that this land is actually on the Clinch River.
This land has to be different land than the Blackwater land because Blackwater is on the north side of the Clinch River.
Here’s what the deed in Lee County and the Hawkins County land grant tell us – William owned land in both counties in both states. Here’s the state line on Lonesome Pine trail, likely where William owned the land he sold to Peter Livesay.
Since Livesay road runs alongside Blackwater Creek here, and William sold to Peter Livesay, this is assuredly the right place.
Here’s Blackwater Creek where it goes under the road and below, the intersection of Blackwater Creek and Livesay road.
Below, we’ve driven a ways down Livesay Road, which isn’t very long. This is what William (the second), and his son William (the third), would have seen.
While there are certainly hills and mountains all around, the land along Blackwater Creek is flat. It would have been good ground to select for farming.
Here’s the Testerman cemetery, all nicely fenced. It’s a newer cemetery.
Peter Livesay was married to a Susannah Testerman. The Livesay Cemetery is just a few feet up this side road, Kinsler, on the right.
The first Livesay buried here was born in the 1812, the son of Peter Livesay. I have to wonder if this was once the Crumley Cemetery.
This aerial view shows the fenced cemetery with the requisite tree in the middle and the original homestead was likely to the right at the corner.
William bought his land on the west fork of Blackwater Creek first, in 1819, and then acquired this land 5 year later by grant. We don’t know if William, or any of his children, actually lived on this land. However, we do know that the daughter (Elizabeth Stapleton Livesay) of the sister (Mary Brown Stapleton) of the wife (Lydia Brown) of William Crumley (the third) lived and is buried here.
The West Fork of Blackwater Creek
Every single thing about the life of William Crumley (the second and third) has been more complex that one would expect. Often, an ancestor has something that is unusual, but EVERYTHING in both of those Williams’ life is off of the scale.
How many men own land on both branches of a creek in the same county with the same name? Well, part of it is in the same county. The rest of both of the creek branches are not only in another county, but in another state. In most places, two branches of a creek would have two different names, so people could tell them apart. Even if they didn’t, the chances of one man owning land on both is pretty slim. Not in the case of William Crumley.
While the two Blackwater Creeks sound like they are close, because of the layout of the land, with the mountain ranges, you can’t just bop from one branch to the other. It’s a long way around. On the map below, you can see the Livesay Blackwater land with the red balloon.
Look two mountain ranges to the left, and you’ll see Blackwater Creek and Road together. Look on one more range to the left and you’ll see Mulberry Gap Road where two of William (the second’s) grandchildren, Phebe and Sarah lived with their husbands. A third child, John, marries a woman named Mahala, last name unknown, and is found in 1850 living dead center in the middle of the Melungeon community between several Gibson and Collins families. Mahala is a common name in the Melungeon community and much less so otherwise. Newman Ridge is the heart of the Melungeon Community, and Newman Ridge runs along the right side of Blackwater Creek and Road.
Notice also that a James Gibson signed for the marriage bond of William Crumley (the third) in Greene County in 1807. This may or may not be relevant, but why would someone that’s not a relative sign a marriage bond? Signing that bond meant they were on the legal hook if it was discovered that the groom had deceived the bride. Gibson is a primary Melungeon surname.
This was the first land that William (the second) purchased upon moving to Lee County and he assuredly lived here. He didn’t sell this land until just before his death, to son Isaac, and he is likely buried here, someplace, in a lost family cemetery.
On this map, at the top, is the confluence of both branches of Blackwater Creek. At the bottom is Vardy, the heart of the Melungeon homeland. According to court records, William lived in Hawkins County, but his land was deeded in Lee, so it had to be right on the border. To give you an idea of the remoteness of this location, the road is “paved,” but about the size of a driveway with no center line or markings. On the Virginia side, it’s not paved, and it’s more of a one track path. How did William ever find this place?
I visited Blackwater in 2007 and the local people told me that there was a mill right on the border of Blackwater Road between TN and VA. That sounds exactly right.
This is Blackwater Road where it crossed into Virginia. There were sheep grazing in this field when I visited.
Such beautiful country. This is likely where Phebe Crumley, my ancestor, the granddaughter of William (the second) was raised.
The land is beautiful on Blackwater Road, near where William would have lived and where the mill on Blackwater was known to be. Newman’s Ridge is to the right and Powell Mountain is to the left, outside of the photo, above.
This cleared area is where Virginia and Tennessee meet, at least according to my GPS.
Blackwater Creek runs between the road and the mountain here, at the base of Newman Ridge. There isn’t a lot of space to farm as the valley is narrow but it’s stunningly beautiful country. Indeed, it would be a great place for a mill.
In the 1840 census of Lee Co., an older female, believed to be the widow of William (the second) is shown as a female age 60-70 living in the household of her son Isaac. A woman of the same age is also living with William the third.
In 1840, in addition, we show a Sotha (probably Jotham) Crumley, age 20-30 with a wife the same age and 3 children under 5.
Unfortunately, William (the second’s) wife does not appear on the 1850 census which indicates she died before 1850 – because if she had, we could confirm her name.
We don’t know where William (the second) and his wife are buried, but my guess would be on the land he sold to Isaac on Blackwater Creek, in the valley between Powell Mountain and Newman Ridge.
The children of William (the second) and his unknown wife whose haplogroup is H2a1 are shown below.
- William Crumley, Jr. – born about 1775, married Lydia Brown in Greene Co., TN in 1807
- Isaac C. Crumley, Reverend – born between 1787-1797 in Greene County, married Rachel Brown in 1816 in Greene County, TN, died in Greene County, Iowa in 1887.
- Abraham Crumley – born March 10, 1793 in Greene County, died 1846 Greene County, married Mary Elizabeth Marshall in 1817 and Jane McNeese in 1830. Buried in the New Hope Cemetery.
- Aaron Crumley – born Jan 26, 1785 in Frederick Co., VA, married in 1814 to Lydia Brown (cousin to the Lydia Brown who married his brother, William Crumley), died in 1847 in Greene County.
- Samuel Crumley – born between 1790-1800, married in 1819 to Mary Ritta Pogue in Greene County.
- Sarah Crumley – born about 1799 in Greene County, married in 1818 to Moses Brown, died after 1880 in Greene County, buried in the Cross Anchor Cemetery.
- Hannah (or Susannah) Crumley – married Thomas Weston July 1820.
- Catharine Crumley – born about 1805 in Greene County, married John Brown in 1826. Her line provided the descendant for obtaining the mitochondrial DNA of the wife of William (the second).
If the child in the 1830 census with William (the second) and wife was his daughter, we don’t know if she lived to adulthood, or who she was.
Update: The missing daughter in the 1830 census appears to be Mary Brown Crumley, born Oct. 10, 1803 in Greene County who married William Penn Testerman about 1831, probably in Lee County, VA or Claiborne County, TN. She had their first child in 1833, in Lee County. She died in 1881 in Sneedville, Hancock County, TN, having had 8 children.
For a man so difficult to research, we’ve actually found a lot. William Crumley (the second’s) life was spent first on one frontier, then another. In some cases, there were documents, and in other cases, not. Some Frederick County VA records exist, but few do where William moved, in the area being fought over by Virginia and North Carolina known at The Territory South of the River Ohio before Tennessee became a state in 1796. Some of the Greene County records exist, and some don’t. Finding documentation about William was hit and miss. In this situation, absence of records certainly can’t be construed to mean literal absence. As they say, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
William’s life extended from about 1767, just after the French and Indian War, when the Proclamation Line of 1763 was established, forbidding settlers from crossing the line into Appalachia. In subsequent treaties of 1768 and 1770, much of Appalachia was opened, and about 20 years later, William would follow this path into the wilderness.
Before that could happen, William saw the Revolutionary War as a teenager and may have helped his father to gather supplies. The British had discouraged settlement in the mountains, across the divide, as stipulated in the 1763 Proclamation agreement. After the Revolution, the Wilderness Road became the superhighway of migration.
William would have seen settlers by the thousands pass through Winchester, Virginia, considered the gateway to the Shenandoah Valley, leading to Tennessee and all points west. Along with wagons, people walked, animals were herded, the lure of the unknown adventure beckoned. As a child he must have dreamed about joining them, until, one day, as a young married man, he did.
This was not a short trip and certainly not one to be taken lightly or without advance planning. The route, known as the Great Valley Road (below, courtesy of Family Search) took weeks to traverse.
Today, this route parallels I81 closely and is about 400 miles. It would take about 8 hours today, but then, if they made 10 miles a day, it took 40 days, living in a wagon, on the trail to make the journey. These are rough lands. Mountains. This journey is not a walk in the park.
There were surely a group of families from Frederick County who migrated together, because we find their names establishing the Wesley’s Church in Greene County in 1797, one year after Tennessee became a state.
William then suffered through three of his sons fighting in the War of 1812, two returning home quite ill. As a parent, that had to be torturous – to have three of your children in danger at the same time. As sad as he was to have ill sons return, how grateful he must have been to have sons return at all. Many men didn’t.
William endured a 6 year lawsuit, which he lost, and lost in spades. How much he lost – we know in dollars, but we don’t know if he lost his property in the process.
William (the second) lived for nearly another 15 or 20 years, moving to Lee County, VA, on the border of Hawkins County, TN, and started the homesteading process all over again in about 1820. He was no spring chicken when he moved from Greene Co., TN to Lee County, VA. At age 52, now an older man, he likely built yet another mill. William spent his life bouncing from frontier to frontier – a true pioneer. How I wish he had kept a journal. I would surely like to ask him about those experiences, not to mention his wife’s and mother’s names, and yes, to take a look at his left hand.
Work to be Done
Unfortunately, William Crumley (the second) isn’t tied up as neatly as I would like. There is no gift wrap or bow. I’ve made progress, with the help of others, but there is still work to be done on those pesky William Crumleys.
While I’m relatively confident of William’s land location in present day Hancock County, on Livesay and Blackwater Roads, I’m much less confident about the location of his land in Greene County. We still don’t know what happened to the 126 acres purchased in 1812, or two later grants. Some of this land may have been purchased by his son, William (the third.)
Further deed research may shed light on whether William was actually a miller, but I have seen no actual evidence of that so far, outside of oral history.
What really needs to be done in Greene County is that the deeds for both William (the second) and (the third) need to be “run forward,” meaning tracked through sales through time to something resembling current when you have either landmarks or addresses that are currently findable. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn’t. If the land has ever been sold by someone other than the owner, like an administrator of a will or due to tax sale or bankruptcy, the seller will not be the name of the person who bought that land, so the land is very difficult to track in those situations. Often, I resort to tracking the neighbors lands forward in order to see who owned the adjacent land, so by process of elimination, I can figure out who bought the land from a tax sale, estate or bankruptcy. Yes, it is the long way around, but it is often the only way to get there.
Other researchers providing information about the Crumley family include Stevie Hughes, Truett Crumley (now deceased), Irmal Crumley Haunschild (deceased), Larry Crumley and Nella Smith Myers (also deceased, sadly, never having published her Crumley book.)
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