The DNAeXplain 500 – Articles That Is


Time flies when you’re having fun.  Also, apparently when you are blogging.

I started blogging because I manage a number of DNA projects at Family Tree DNA and rather than trying to constantly send group mails to project participants, which generally resulted in my e-mail address being blacklisted as a spammer, it was much, MUCH simpler to simply write “it,” whatever “it” happened to be, once, in a blog, available to my project members and the rest of the genetic genealogy community as well.

Another reason is because I constantly receive the same set of questions, and having a blog article to refer to with the answer is much easier than writing that same answer repeatedly.  Plus, you can do the same thing when you receive these same questions.

I started the blog on July 11, 2012 with the hope that I’d be able to write two articles a week.  Then I officially decided that maybe one article per week would be a more realistic goal.  For those of you who don’t write, that might sound easy.  For those of you who do write – you’re wondering if I am out of my mind.

The answer, by the way, is “yes,” and I’m proud of it:)  Runs in my family.  Probably genetic.  Is there a stubborn gene?

The surest way of getting one of my family members to do something is even to suggest that they can’t, or that it’s impossible.  Fait accompli!

Had I hit my goal, by now I’d have either just over 150 articles at one per week, or just over 300 at two per week.

I have….drum roll please…..519.

Ok, so I might have gotten a little carried away.

That’s the good news….all that info for you.  Now, the bad news is that because there are so many articles, it’s hard for a new person to real all 519 – or even to figure out which ones they should read.

Hmmm…need to do something about this.

There are a couple of answers to this dilemma – ways to effectively and efficiently find just what you’re looking for

Category Searching

category search

Every one of my articles is categorized by search terms.  If you’re interested in mitochondrial DNA, for example, you simply enter the term “mitochondrial” in the search box in the upper right hand corner and the blog will return to you any article I’ve tagged with “mitochondrial DNA,” beginning with the most recent.

category search2

You can see all the categories I’ve used if you scroll all the way down on the right side of the main blog page, but trust me when I say I tag these articles so they can be found in just about any way someone would be interested.

Key Word Searching

Let’s say you remember that you saw an article about using Big Y DNA results in the Estes family history project.  You could search by Big Y, but let’s say you search instead by “Estes.”  Estes is not a DNA search category, but the search engine will still find articles with Estes in the title, then articles with Estes in the text.

key word search

You can see that this article was also categorized under Big Y, SNP and STR, so it would have shown up if you had searched for any of those terms as well.

Search Tags

Because there is more than one way to organize data, WordPress also provides bloggers with something called Tags.  In my case, I use Tags for broader categories of information.  For example, my “52 Weeks of Ancestors” is one tag, as is the “autosomalme” series and the “2013 DNA Trip.”  These aren’t exactly genetic genealogy terms, but they make sense for information groupings in the context of this blog.

Using This Blog As An Educational Tool

In honor of 500+ articles and nearly three years, I’ve introduced some new tags so that articles can be retrieved in a different way.  My goal is to group articles in categories so that they are in essence a group of educational classes.

I’ve grouped articles into the following categories.

  • Historical or Obsolete – these are items that were interesting at the time by aren’t really relevant today – except in a historical context. An example would be the announcement of the Genographic 2 project in July of 2012. You may wonder why I didn’t delete these. Looking back, these are somewhat like a genetic genealogy journal.
  • General Information – these are generally articles about DNA and genealogy. They don’t presume that you’re actually working with the results.
  • Basic Education – this may be basic genealogy or basic DNA fundamentals. These articles provide a foundation for working with your results. Think of it as pre-bootcamp.
  • Introductory DNA – these articles do presume you are working with your results. Bootcamp begins here.
  • Intermediate DNA – these are a little more difficult and you’ll probably need the basics and introductory understanding to be able to work at this level.
  • Advanced DNA – very few articles are advanced. In fact, I try very hard to avoid this, when possible. Mostly, these have to do with advanced autosomal techniques and research.
  • Examples – these are examples of using genealogy and DNA together seamlessly. My 52 Ancestors stories fall into this category. Think of these as story problems that include the answers!
  • Educational – educational opportunities such as classes, books and videos.
  • Entertainment – just for fun, like the Who Do You Think You Are series, some of these have no DNA content.
  • Project Administration – articles written for project administrators at Family Tree DNA. Project administrators, of course, will be interested in all of the rest.

I have gone back and tagged every single article with it’s appropriate tag, and going forward, I’ll tag them as I write them so you can find them in their relevant grouping.  No, that process wasn’t fun, but when I started this blog, I truly had no idea that anything like groupings would ever be necessary.  Let’s just say this blog, as well as genetic genealogy, has taken on an evolutionary life of its own.

In the next several days, I’ll be publishing lists of the articles that fall into the various categories.

So, now, when someone asks for an educational resource, you have another tool to use and another reference.

Cant’s wait?  There are two ways to access posts using these tags today.

To find the posts in any tag group, just enter the name of that tag group into the search engine – for example “Educational.”  What will be returned are articles using the tag “educational,” plus anything else the search engine thinks falls into that category too.

educationalTo see just the articles in the Educational tag group click on the little blue “Educational” link at the bottom of the article preview.  You can see it above, where it says “Tagged.”

You can also see all of the tag groups by scrolling down the right sidebar on the main blog page, past the categories, to the “tag cloud”.  I’m not cracked up about this format, but it’s what this blog theme offers.  The most used tags are the largest.  Just click on the one you want to see.  It’s that easy. tag cloud



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How Much Indian Do I Have in Me???

I can’t believe how often I receive this question.

Here’s today’s version from Patrick.

“My mother had 1/8 Indian and my grandmother on my father’s side was 3/4, and my grandfather on my father’s side had 2/3. How much would that make me?”

First, this question was about Native American ancestry, but it could just have easily have been about African, European, Asian, Jewish….fill in the blank.

Secondly, Patrick’s initial question is a math question, but the real question is how much of a particular ethnicity do you have on paper versus how much you have genetically.

How could they be different?

Lots of ways.

Oral history in families tends to get diluted and condensed over time.  For example, maybe grandmother wasn’t really 3/4th – because her ancestors were admixed and she (or her descendants) didn’t know it.  And how does one have 2/3, exactly, with 4 grandparents.  So, the story may not be the whole story.

For our example, we’re going to eliminate the 2/3 number, because it can’t be correct.  A grandparent would be 1/4th, a great grandparent, 1/8th.  In other words, ancestors fractions come in divisions of 4, or 2, but not 3 – because it takes 2 people in each generation.

So, you could have 3 of 4 ancestors who are native, which would make the person 3/4th, 2 of 4 which would make the person half, or 1 of 4 which would make the person one quarter, but you cannot have 1 of 3, 2 of 3 or 3 of 3, because you have 4 grandparents, not 3.


First, let’s answer the math question.

Math is your friend.

There are three easy steps.

1. Divide Each Generation By Half to Current

Each ancestral generation is reduced by one half, because the DNA is diluted by half in each generation.

So, if Patrick’s mother is 1/8, Patrick is 1/16 on their mother’s side, because Patrick received half of her DNA.  With fractions, you can’t reduce the top number of 1 by one half so you double the bottom number.

If grandfather was 3/4, then father was 3/8 on that side and Patrick is 3/16th.

So, now, add the numbers for Patrick together.

2. Find the Common Denominator

The two numbers you need to add together from the above exmaple are 1/16 and 3/16.  This is easy because the denominator is already the same – 16.  But let’s say you also have a third number, just for purposes of example.  Let’s say that third number is 3/32.

How do you add 1/16, 3/16 and 3/32?

The denominator has to be the same.  If you look at the denominators, you’ll see that if you double the fractions with 16, they become fractions with 32 as their denominator.

So, for this example, 1/16 becomes 2/32, 3/16 becomes 6/32 and 3/32 remains the same.

3. Add the Top Numbers Together

Now just add the numerators, or the top numbers together.

2/32 + 6/32 + 3/32 = 11/32

That’s the answer.  In this example, our person, per their family history, is 11/32 Native or 34.38%.

Patrick, who originally asked the question is 1/16 + 3/16 which equals 4/16, which reduces to 1/4 (by dividing the same number, 4, into the top and bottom of the fraction), plus whatever amount that “2/3” really is.  So, Patrick is more than one quarter, at least on paper.


The next question is often, “how do I prove that?”  In terms of Native ancestry, the answer varies on the purpose – general interest, tribal identification or tribal membership, etc.  I’ve written about that in two articles, here and here.

You can take a DNA test from Family Tree DNA called Family Finder that provides you with percentages of ethnicity, including Native American, as well as a list of cousin matches. They also offer additional testing that may be relevant if you descend from the native person paternally (if you are a male) or matrilineally (for both sexes.)

On the diagram below, you can see the Y DNA in blue, inherited by males from their father and the mitochondrial or matrilineal DNA in red, always inherited from the mother.  While the Y and mitochondrial tests give you very specific information on two lines, the Family Finder test provides you with ethnicity information from all of your lines.  It just can’t tell you which line or lines the Native heritage came from.

adopted pedigree

Often, due to admixture in the Native population over the past several hundred years, since the Europeans “discovered” America, the amount of Native DNA is less than expected and sometimes is so far back and such a small amount that it doesn’t show at all.

An individual could well be considered a full tribal member, yet have less than half Native heritage.  Examples that come to mind are Mary Jemison, an adopted captive who was European, but considered a full tribal member, and Sequoyah, who invented the Cherokee alphabet.   Even the Cherokee Chief, Benge was at least half European, sporting red hair.  His mother was a member of the Cherokee tribe, so Benge was as well.  Cherokee Chief John Ross, born in 1790, was only one eighth Native.

So, the bottom line.  Enjoy your family history and heritage.  Document your family stories.  Understand that tribal membership was historically not a matter of percentages, at least not until the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Your ancestor either was or was not “Indian,” generally based on the tribal membership status of their mother.  There was no halfway and mixed didn’t matter.

DNA testing can confirm Native heritage.  It can also prove Native heritage in a variety of ways depending on how one descends from the Native ancestor(s), using Y and mitochondrial DNA.  Depending on whether Patrick is male or female, and how Patrick descends from his or her Native ancestors, the Y or mitochondrial DNA test can add a wealth of information to Patrick’s family history.

For some people, DNA testing is how one discovers that they have a Native ancestor.

So, how much Indian do you have in you, on paper and through DNA testing?



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William Crumley the Second (c1767-c1839), Methodist, Miller, Pioneer, 52 Ancestors #75

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.

Fairfax grant

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.

Territory south of the Ohio

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.

Crumley South of the Ohio

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.

Cross Anchor to Wesley Chapel

Let’s start our visit at Carter’s Station, the first place in Greene County to be settled.

Carter’s Station

Carter's Station sign

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.

carter's station cem map

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.

Carter's Station field

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.

Carter's Station cemetery

I particularly love this grouping, marked by a circle of trees.

Carter's Station cemetery2

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.

Carter's Station cemetery3

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.

Carter's Station cemetery4

This monument is just perfect – standing in the middle of the field of unmarked graves, with the mountains in the distance.

Carter's Station cemetery5

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.

Carter's Station cemtery6

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.

Carter's Station church

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.

Carter's Station Lick Creek

This is Lick Creek at Carter Station.

Carter's Station Lick Creek2

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.

Carter's Station Lick Creek3

This old building stands beside Lick Creek on the land where the mill is said to have been located.

Carter's Station Lick Creek4

From the back side, the white building could well have been the old mill or the miller’s home or store.

Carter's Station Lick Creek5

It was Lick Creek that sustained the settlers here, and all of the springs and branches that fed the creek.

Carter's Station Lick Creek6

Did William look off, across Lick Creek, at the mountains in the distance, in Hawkins County, and long to move, once again?

Carter's Station mountains2

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.

Cross Anchor church

Look at the underside of the top of the bell tower.  I love it.

Cross Anchor crossroads

Looking directly across the road – everyplace I look, I see either Baileyton Road or Babbs Mill Road.  This is Babbs Mill.

Cross Anchor new

There are graves on both sides of the road.

Cross Anchor old

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.

Wesley Chapel sign

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.

Wesley Chapel valley

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.

Wesley Chapel valley2

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.

Wesley Chapel old site

The original church stood about 500 feet west of where it stands now, about where this house is located.

Wesley Chapel field

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.

Wesley Chapel today

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.

Wesley Chapel front

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.

Wesley Chapel cemetery

Even today, there are Crumleys and Browns buried here.

Wesley Chapel Crumley Brown

Gazebos are very popular in cemeteries in Greene County.  Summers are quite hot here and a gazebo provides a shady respite.

Wesley Chapel gazebo

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.

Crumley road

And guess what…Lick Creek runs right along Crumley Road.  Now isn’t that convenient.

Crumley Road Lick Creek

It’s also rather flat land, perfect for farming.

Crumley Road field

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.

Crumley Road Crumley House

You can see it up ahead as we pull out from the creek.

Crumley House

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.

Washington Co old station

The owners were extremely gracious letting a couple of crazy women take photos of their house.

Crumley House back

The back of the house.  On the ends, more high windows.

Crumley House end

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.

Year Last First Suffix Acres/Polls Location District
1797 Crumley William 100/2 Capt. Morriss
1798 Crumley William 100/1 Edward Tate
1799 Crumley William 100/1 Edward Tate
1800 Crumley William 250/0 Edward Tate
1805 Crumbley William
1809 Crumley William 200/1 Dry Fork Walter Clark
1810 Crumley William 200/1 Walter Clark
1811 Crumley William Jr 0/1 Walter Clark
1811 Crumley William Sr 200/1 Walter Clark
1812 Crumbley Samuel 0/1 Capt Clark
1812 Crumbley William 200/1 Capt Clark
1812 Crumbley William Jr 126/1 Walter Clark
1813 Crumley William 326/1 Walter Clark
1813 Crumley Samuel 0/1 Henry Bowman
1814 Crumbley* Samuel 0/1 Henry Bowman
1814 Crumbley William Sr 326/0 Tillman’s Fork Capt Bowman
1814 Crumbley William Jr. 0/1 Henry Bowman
1815 Crumbley William 0/1 Henry Bowman
1815 Crumbley William Jr 200/1 Tillman’s Fork Henry Bowman
1815 Crumbley Samuel 126/1 Lick Creek Henry Bowman
1816 Crumly Aron 0/1 Isaac Justice
1816 Crumly Samuel 0/1 Isaac Justice
1816 Crumly William Jr 126/1 Lick Creek Isaac Justice
1816 Crumly William Sr 200 Tillman’s Fork Isaac Justice

*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

John Gass

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.

Wesley Chapel to Union and Baileyton Road

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.

Roaring Fork and Babb's Mill

Kidwell Cemetery

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.

Zopher Johnson 1754 cemetery stone

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.

Hardin Chapel to Cross Anchor

This view below is of the Johnson land right across from the Hardin Chapel Church.

Johnson land

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.

Johnson land2

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.

Crumley stomping ground

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.

Cooper cemetery

None of the original graves are marked with headstones, but they are eternally memorialized today, never to be entirely lost again.

Cooper Cemetery 2

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.

William Crumley Betsey Johnston marriage

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.

Crumley signature comparison

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.

Quaker Record for Abraham Crumley son of William Greene County TN

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

William Crumley

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.

Crumley 1825 receipt signature

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.

Crumley 1826 Hawkins suit

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.

Crumley 1824 land grant

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.)

Crumley Livesay Road

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.

Blackwater to Little Mulberry

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.

Satellite Livesay

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.

Livesay Road

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.

The VA-TN border

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.

Blackwater Creek at 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.

Livesay road drive

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.

Livesay road distance

Here’s the Testerman cemetery, all nicely fenced.  It’s a newer cemetery.

Livesay road Testerman 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.

Livesay Road at Kinsler

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.

Livesay road aerial

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.

Livesay cemetery

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.

Blackwater to Little Mulberry

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?

blackwater road3

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.

blackwater into Virginia

Such beautiful country.  This is likely where Phebe Crumley, my ancestor, the granddaughter of William (the second) was raised.

Blackwater Road2

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.

Blackwater road

This cleared area is where Virginia and Tennessee meet, at least according to my GPS.

blackwater va tn

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.

Great Valley Road

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.

Great Valley Road today

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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And now….Ancestry Health

Yep, Ancestry Health is here – in beta.  We knew it was coming.

I was startled to see Ancestry enter the health arena, given the problems that 23andMe has had with federal regulation, but after I took a look at Ancestry Health, I realized it’s nothing at all like the 23andMe health information.  23andMe provided you with health information based on your DNA test.  Ancestry Health does not.  In fact, Ancestry Health only does two things.

  1. Ancestry Health gathers your health information to tie to your tree and DNA information. This process requests your “informed consent” to provide that information to others. Ancestry didn’t say this, but for example, sold to Big Pharm. This is what Ancestry Health does for Ancestry.
  2. Ancestry Health provides, in picture (tree) and summary format, the health information you input for you and your family. That’s what Ancestry Health does for you.

What benefit is that, to you, you ask?  I was asking the same thing.  Let’s take a look.

Here are the intro screens.

ancestry healthancestry health 1 cropancestry health 2

If you click “get started,” the next thing you see is a consent form.

ancestry health 3

You are required to click the “I have read and accept the Terms and Conditions” box, but the “Informed Consent” box, which is optional, is strategically located above the Terms and Conditions box.

The “informed consent” is the portion that gives Ancestry permission to pretty much do anything with your information.  At least, as a consumer, that’s my interpretation.

Now, I’m not a lawyer, and hopefully Judy Russell, The Legal Genealogist, will take a look at this and have some commentary.

If you’re even considering participating in Ancestry Health, please, PLEASE read both the Terms and Conditions and the Privacy Policy, in whole.

Why, because this is what the Ancestry Health site says:

“By using the Service you consent to the collection, use, storage, and disclosure of personal information by AncestryHealth in accordance with this Privacy Statement.”

And from the Ancestry Health Privacy Statement (emphasis is mine):

“Subject to the restrictions described in this Privacy Statement and applicable law, we may use personal information for any reasonable purpose related to AncestryHealth’s business, including without limitation to provide the Service to you, to communicate with you, to provide you information about products and services offered by AncestryHealth and/or any of AncestryHealth’s affiliates, subsidiaries, and other related companies (the “Ancestry Group”), to respond to your requests, to update our product offerings, to improve the content and user experience on the Health Website, to let you know about offers of interest from AncestryHealth, the Ancestry Group, or other parties we think may be of interest to you, and to prepare and perform demographic, benchmarking, advertising, marketing, and promotional studies.”

You need to know what you are consenting to.  Read all of the documents in their entirety, BEFORE you do this.

The link to the terms and conditions and their privacy statement is at the bottom of each page.

ancestry health 4

As far as I’m concerned, these paragraphs from Terms and Conditions are fairly telling.

ancestry health 5

I decided to proceed, WITHOUT, I repeat, WITHOUT signing the informed consent to see what happened next.  The only reason I proceeded is because I can’t very well write this article without proceeding.  Please do not interpret the fact that I participated in the Ancestry Health beta as an endorsement.  It isn’t.

I signed on with my Ancestry account name and ID and Ancestry asked me which of my trees I would like to import?

ancestry health 6

I imported my mini-tree.  The next question was about my height, weight, smoking history and exercise.  They’ve blown it right there….asking people about their weight and expecting an honest response.

ancestry health 7

Next, you select from conditions to associate with your health.

ancestry health 8

The next step asks about your ethnicity….and of course plugs their DNA test.

ancestry health 9

Clicking next takes you to the health condition screen where you associate conditions with the family members in your tree.

I selected Vascular Disease since my mother died of a stroke and then selected Cancer since my grandfather died of cancer.

ancestry health 10

Then I selected Heart Conditions since my father had angina and both of my grandmother’s had heart issues.  Actually everyone in this tree, except for me, had heart issues because they are all dead now…but I’m thinking that’s not what Ancestry meant.

ancestry health 12

This is what you receive at the end.  In your Family Health Tree, your family members are colored with their health conditions.  I already knew this.  In fact, I just input that information.

ancestry health 13 crop

Ancestry also shows you a summary of what you’ve input, which is downloadable.

You can then click on the condition to see what they call the “Family History Effect.”

ancestry health 14

That’s what you get.  Really, nothing that you didn’t already know.  After all, you just entered that information.

What did Ancestry get?  Health, ethnicity and lifestyle information for you and your family to sell along with your DNA information, if you signed the informed consent.  If you don’t sign the informed consent, your information can still be utilized,  just without your identity attached, per the verbiage in their terms and conditions, privacy statement and informed consent documents.

A few minutes after entering my information, I received this e-mail from Ancestry.

ancestry health final

Whoever thought a few years ago when genetic genealogy began that Ancestry would develop such a personal interest in our health and well-being.



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Ancestry Reinvents my Ancestors, Again

Remember, right after April Fool’s Day, when Ancestry gave me two ancestors who weren’t?  I check my account every day, and every day for the past two months, they have been there, looking back at me, making me wonder if somehow I’ve missed something – but with no tools to figure out what, where or how.

Diedamia Lyon and John David Curnutte.

Yes, I was getting fond of John and Diedamia who I was beginning to refer to as my adopted NADs.

new ancestor discoveries

But today, today is different.  Yep, I have the same number of matches, the same number of hints, the same Circles….but my bad NADs are gone.  Bye bye John and Diedamia!

So my New Ancestor Discoveries (NADs) have apparently been undiscovered and have disappeared, or maybe got reburied, just like they never existed.  Poof.  Gone.  Never happened!

Of course, these ancestors didn’t exist in reality, but according to Ancestry they did.  But not anymore.  No explanation.  Just got up one morning and they were gone…slunk off in the night.  Not even a goodbye note.  After two months together.  I’m crushed.

disappeared nad

And look what else I found today.  Why, Ancestry reinvented my family story it seems.  The timing of this announcement is extremely ironic.  But maybe it’s the explanation I was looking for.  Reinvented.  That must be it.

Is this a joke?

reinvented story

So, Ancestry….which time were you wrong?  Two months ago or now?  Were John and Diedamia ancestors, or not?  Just how, exactly, is one supposed to know?

Which “story” is the true one?  Were you “just kidding” when you gave me those ancestors, or now that you’ve taken them away?  Not funny.

You said DNA would confuse people…and by golly…you’re right.  Only it’s not the DNA itself that’s confusing, it’s your conferring and then unconferring of ancestors – with no documentation or tools.  Without tools, we’re forced to believe you…but which version do we believe?

How are we supposed to have any confidence in these hide-and-seek, peek-a-boo, now-you-see-them-now-you-don’t ancestor discoveries?  Did I somehow miraculously stop matching all 5 of the people who descended from John and Diedamia?  Did you, ahem, make a mistake?  Crystal ball broken maybe?  If so, an explanation and maybe an apology would be nice.  You can’t just rip my purported ancestors away from me like that with no explanation.  What if I had really believed you in the first place…that John and Diedamia were my ancestors?

Thankfully, I didn’t believe you because based on 30+ years of genealogy research and chromosome browsers and similar tools provided by other vendors, I’ve confirmed my tree.  But a lot of people will believe you….what about them?

And that lovely story that came along with John and Diedamia.  You mean that story you told me about my ancestors wasn’t true?  But it was MY story…you said so.  It has all those names and dates and places and pictures. How could it be wrong?  It seemed so real.  What happened?  Oh yea, I forgot, you reinvented it.

You know, I’d check on the solidity of those matches myself, but I can’t because, well, you don’t give me any tools…you know….like a chromosome browser…because you’ve implemented a superior methodology for matching.  Instead, you’d much prefer, in fact, you require that I simply trust you based upon the excellent track record and credibility you’ve established.  You’ve suggested that I might not understand how a chromosome browser works and I might make mistakes, and that, of course, would be just awful.  Why, I might even give myself incorrect ancestors.  Thank you so much for protecting me from those grievous errors.

But hey, maybe I’ll get a new NAD soon and we can do this all over again.  Won’t that be fun!  Or maybe John and Diedemia will be back to visit.  One never knows!

Say what Ancestry….how about you don’t give me any more bad NADs or any more NADs at all, because there appears to be no way to tell the difference between authentic ancestor discoveries and bogus ones.  For that matter, don’t gift me with any more re-reinvented stories either based on cumulative bad trees.  I’ll just settle for a chromosome browser instead.  What do you think?  I don’t much care for this new  methodology of incorrect ancestor gifting, retracting and reinventing.  I’d prefer to make my own mistakes…thank you.

rabbit in hat



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Allen County Public Library OnLine Resources

I originally wrote this article for the Native Heritage Project blog, but there are a lot of resources here that apply to all genealogists – and as we all know, the genealogy aspect of genetic genealogy is extremely important.  While DNA is a wonderful tool, it works best in conjunction with traditional research – which has become much easier in the past few years due to increasing numbers of online resources.

The Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne Indiana is far more than a local, county, state or even regional resource. It’s one of the premiere genealogy libraries in the country and draws researchers from all states and Canada with its very large collection and dedication to genealogists.  One of its best features is that many of their resources are available online.  However, if you ever get the chance to visit, absolutely, do – it’s a wonderful place!

The ACPL publishes a free periodic newsletter, Genealogy Gems, published by Curt Witcher,  that you can subscribe to by going to the website: Scroll to the bottom, click on E-zine, and fill out the form. You will be notified with a confirmation email.

This month’s issue included several research tips and hints about African and Native American research which I’d like to share with you.  I’m quoting part of an article written by Curt, and I’m inserting instructions that weren’t part of the original.

Working The Website–Part Two by Curt B. Witcher

Last month, we took some time to explore a number of marque features on We started with the main page, and that is where I would like to start again this month. On the right-hand side, immediately beneath the search boxes for our free databases and our online catalog, one will find a section called “Family History Archives.” This is one “springboard section” I alluded to at the end of my column last month.

This archive section provides one with direct links to copyright-clear materials that have been digitized from the collections of The Genealogy Center. We have digitizing partnerships with both FamilySearch and the Internet Archive. More than 170,000 local and family history publications are available for free use on as a result of this multi-organization cooperative. Thousands of Genealogy Center books are available online through this site. More than 80,000 Genealogy Center books and microfilm are available through the Internet Archive web site, As with FamilySearch, these materials are available for free. One can view the items online, save as PDF documents, and even download to a Kindle.

genealogy center home page crop

Be sure to take advantage of this resource by clicking on “Internet Archive” under “Family History Archives.”  It’s amazing.

internet archive

Just take a look at the most downloaded items last week.

internet archives most downloaded

The internet archives are searchable by key word.

Appreciating the challenges of African American and First Nations/Native American research, The Genealogy Center offers two gateways for those interested in these areas of research. The African American Gateway is organized by states, regions, countries outside the United States, and subjects. Within each area, one will find a significant collection of relevant websites along with a comprehensive list of Genealogy Center resources for the specific state, region, country, or subject in which one is interested. There are nearly 10,000 Internet sites categorized in this gateway. Using this gateway is a good way to quickly access pertinent materials to advance one’s research.

To find the Native American and African American gateways, click on “Databases” at the top of the page on the blue bar.

genealogy center

You will then see the options for both the African and Native Gateways under the “Databases and Files” section.

genealogy center2

The Native American Gateway is organized a bit differently. The first link in this gateway is to short guide on how to begin doing Native American research. Whether just starting or continuing this type of research, taking a quick look at this outline may be quite beneficial.

genealogy center 3

The rest of the links on the left-hand side of main gateway webpage are quick access points to The Genealogy Center collection. The “Microtext Catalog” link takes one to a table that lists all Native American materials in this format. The table begins with a listing of general or multi-tribe materials followed by an alphabetical list of tribe-specific materials. The “Genealogy Center Catalog” link takes one directly to a search screen where one can enter a tribe name, surname, or geographic location to get results specific to The Genealogy Center collection. Under the “Collection Bibliography” link, one will find the additional links of “Tribes,” “Locations,” and “General.” The “Tribes” and “Locations” links are likely the most useful as one can find Genealogy Center-specific materials on more than 150 tribes as well as U.S. states and regions as well as Canada and Mexico. Like the many other snapshots continually updated by Center staff, the Native American snapshot contains major indices and research works to assist one in conducting this challenging research. Further, there are specific materials listed for eight major tribes.

On the right-hand side of the Native American Gateway main page, researchers will find links to “Websites,” “First Nations of Indiana,” “Indian Census Records,” “Cherokee Records,” and “National Archives Guides.” The “Websites” list and “First Nations of Indiana” are not intended to be comprehensive but rather to provide one with some major sites that can offer both solid info and links to other web resources. The “Indian Census Records” section provides several dozen links to important information about First Nations’ enumerations–where they can be found, how to get access them, and how to use that data they contain. The “Cherokee Records” link takes one to the National Archives’ website, “The Dawes Rolls (Final Rolls of the Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory).” More links will be added to this site in the future. This gateway is rounded-out with links to three significant guides to National Archives and Records Administration guides.

Have a great time utilizing these new resources and the best part is that you don’t have to leave at closing time!!!



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Phebe Crumley (1818-1900), True Grit, 52 Ancestors #74

Phebe Crumley was born on March 24, 1818, according to her tombstone, to William Crumley and his wife, Lydia Brown.

Ok, her mother is probably Lydia Brown.  And there is no solid proof her father was William, except geography and oral history.

We have, ahem, a bit of a problem here.  Welcome to The Crumley Curse.

Doggone these men with the same names.

We know, for sure that William Crumley Jr. (the third), the best candidate for Phebe’s father, married Lydia Brown on October 1, 1807 in Greene Co., TN.

William Crumley Lydia Brown marriage

We also know that William Crumley, Senior, and that word “senior” is important, married Elizabeth “Betsy” Johnston in October 1817 in Greene County, TN.  At that time, William Crumley (the second,) born circa 1767, would have been known as Senior and William Crumley (the third,) his son born circa 1785, would have been known as Jr.  If William Crumley (the third) had a son, William, he would have been age 10 or under, born since the 1807 marriage, and would not yet be referred to as Jr. or Sr. in legal documents.  He was not of age, so he would never be referred to in a legal document, unless he was an orphan.  There were no other William Crumley’s old enough to marry or to sign a document in Greene County, TN at that time.

William Crumley Betsey Johnston marriage

Do you notice anything about these two documents?

William Crumley’s signature looks almost identical.  Ok, it looks exactly identical, except the second one is a bit shakey, like an older person.  But if William (the second, about age 50 in 1817) taught William (the third, about age 30 in 1817) how to write, then it’s not unexpected that their signatures would be very similar.  Or am I just trying to justify this??

Or, did William the second sign for William the third in 1807 because he was underage?  The signature itself does not say Jr. or Sr.  In the 1850 census, William (the third) is shown as being a carpenter born in Virginia in 1789, so in 1807, at age 18, he would have needed someone to sign on his behalf.

And look who else signed both.  Jotham Brown.  Why is he important?  Jotham Brown was the father of William Crumley (the third’s) wife that he married in 1807, Lydia Brown.  Lydia’s father died in 1799, but her brother was also named Jotham Brown and he apparently signed both of these documents with his X.  Jotham could not sign his name.

So let’s do some math here.

If my ancestor, Phebe, was born on March 24, 1818, then her mother got pregnant in about June of 1817, which was 4 months before William Crumley married Elizabeth “Betsy” Johnson.

Certainly, that could have had something to do with why he married, if the groom was in fact William (the third), widower of Lydia Brown, who married Betsy Johnson.

But why would William Jr. style himself was William Sr. when William Sr. was clearly still living, and living in the same county?  That doesn’t make any sense.  And that’s not just a little error, it’s a huge legal faux pas when dealing with bonds, money and several people.

So we have one piece of evidence, meaning the nearly identical signatures that strongly argues FOR the groom being William (the third) and three pieces arguing against it, meaning Phebe’s birth four months after the marriage, the fact that the document says William Sr., and DNA evidence that is compelling but inconclusive.  We also have the possibility that the signature are the same, because William (the second) is signing for William (the third), his son, because he is underage.  I personally think this last option is the most likely explanation.

Ok, enough worrying about the Williams, let’s go back to Phebe.

Phebe had a sister, Clarissa, or at least Clarissa is believed to be Phebe’s sister, born in April of 1817.  So, if Clarissa was born in April and her mother, Lydia, died, William (the third) would have had a newborn and no wife.  So he might have been very inclined to marry quickly.  In this scenario, he would have gotten Betsy Johnson pregnant in June and married her in October of 1817.  No moss growing under that boys feet, if this is the case.

If this is the situation, it means that the mitochondrial DNA of Clarissa and Phebe’s descendants (through all females) would be different, because they had different mothers.

If this is not the situation, then it means that Lydia got pregnant for Phebe two months after Clarissa’s birth – certainly possible but unlikely with a nursing child.

Turning to DNA – Answers and More Questions

It took two years, or more, to find a direct descendant of Clarissa through all females – and we’re just darned lucky to have been able to do that.  It took another year to collect her DNA.

The DNA held a surprise – the DNA of Phebe’s descendant and Clarissa’s descendant matched.  Given the signatures, I really didn’t expect a match.  That means either they had the same mother or their mothers shared a common ancestor.

If this is beginning to sound like Peyton Place to you, it does to me too.  Did I mention that this used to be called the Crumley Conundrum, but it has since graduated to The Crumley Curse???

The most logical explanation, which may not be the correct one, is that Lydia did not die in 1817 and William (the third) was not the William who married Betsey Johnson.  Instead, William (the second,) his father, who would have been William Sr., just like the document says, is the William who married Elizabeth “Betsy” Johnston.  Given that scenario, then Lydia got pregnant for Phebe when Clarissa was just 2 months old, which is rather unusual with a nursing baby but certainly not impossible.

Looking at the women’s pedigree charts, we know that Jotham Brown’s wife was named Phebe – and that is the name of the child born in 1818 to William Crumley and his wife.  We know that Elizabeth “Betsey” Johnson’s father was probably Zopher Johnson, or maybe his brother Moses Johnson if not Zopher, and we don’t even know Elizabeth’s mother’s first or last name – regardless of whether her father was Zopher or Moses.

Elizabeth Johnston pedigree chart

The good news is that we also managed to find a mitochondrial DNA candidate for Phebe, the wife of Jotham Brown.  Phebe Crumley and Phebe, the wife of Jotham Brown and Clarissa Crumley are exact matches.

Now, there is a rumor afoot, or maybe better stated, a strong suspicion, that Phebe, Jotham Brown’s wife, is Zopher Johnson (the Elder’s) daughter – and she could be – they did live in the same place.  These families were heavily intermarried.

Phebe Lydia Phebe DNA

So let’s add the mitochondrial DNA path to the Zopher chart, in yellow, passed from mother to daughter, assuming that Phebe, wife of Jotham is the daughter of Zopher and that Clarissa and Phebe are the daughters of Lydia Brown and William Crumley (the third.)  This is the most likely scenario, but it’s not the only possible one.

Note that on the charts above and below, Zopher’s wife gave her DNA to daughter Phebe (who married Jotham Brown) and her sons Zopher and Moses, whichever was the father to Betsey Johnson – but Zopher’s wife’s mtDNA does not pass on through son Zopher to Betsy.  It stops with son Zopher (or son Moses) because the wife’s mtDNA gets passed to the children.

This also means that if we could find someone who descends from Zopher (the elder) and his wife, name unknown, through all females to the current generation (which can be a male,) we could confirm or refute the theory that Phebe (Jotham’s wife) is the daughter of Zopher (the elder) and his wife.  Actually, if their DNA matches, it would confirm that they share a common female ancestor in a relatively close timeframe.  It can’t confirm that we have a mother daughter relationship – meaning it could also be first cousins, etc.  But still, it would make a compelling case AND it could positively refute the entire thing.  In this case, yes means probably or possibly and no means no.

Zopher wife dna pedigree

We do have one more fly in the ointment with Clarissa who married in Greene County (in 1834), as did her brother William (in 1840), also attributed to William (the third) and Lydia Brown.  If she was the child of William (the third) and Lydia Brown, why was she living in Greene County?  Maybe she was visiting and decided to stay, fell in love, married there and the rest is the history we know.

Or, maybe she wasn’t the child of William Crumley (the third) and his wife.  But if not, whose daughter could she be? All candidates in Greene County are eliminated by virtue of knowing who their children are.

William Crumley (the second) had a son, Isaac, who married in 1816, who also moved with the family to the Lee County/Claiborne County area.  It’s possible that Clarissa or Phebe could have been Isaac’s daughter.  Keep in mind that Clarissa’s DNA matches that of Phebe, thought to be William (the third’s) daughter, so we have to find a way to explain that.  Plus, there is still the question of why Clarissa was living in Greene County and how Phebe and Clarissa could both match the DNA of Jotham Brown’s wife, Phebe.  Isaac’s oldest proven daughter, Lydia, also went back to Greene County to marry, so these families kept in touch.

Isaac’s wife was Rachel Brown, daughter of Sylvanus Brown and Ruth Johnson.  See the chart above and below.

Ruth was the daughter of Moses Johnson and an unknown wife.  Moses Johnson was the son of Zopher Johnson (the Elder) and if in fact Clarissa was the child of Rachel and Isaac, that would mean that Zopher (the elder’s) wife was from the same maternal line as his son, Moses’s wife, because in the chart below, Moses does NOT pass on the mtDNA to Ruth, his wife does.  If Ruth’s mtDNA matches that of Zopher’s wife, it means that those two women share a common ancestor.  While it’s possible, it’s also a huge leap of logic.  Again, the most likely scenario is the one where William (the third) has both Clarissa and Phebe by wife Lydia Brown.

Clarissa Phebe alternate DNA pedigree

Unfortunately, Clarissa did not name any of her children Jotham, Zopher, Isaac, Sylvanus, Rachel, Ruth, Moses or Lydia, so we don’t have any clues?  What was she thinking???

For that matter, Phebe didn’t name a child Lydia either although Mary’s middle initial was L.  However, given that her name was Phebe, it certainly infers that she was named for Jotham Brown’s wife, Lydia Brown’s mother, Phebe.  If a second wife was going to honor a first wife, her cousin, you would have thought she would have named the child Lydia, not Phebe.

It would be wonderful if we could find a mitochondrial candidate for the wife of Moses Johnson and Zopher Johnson (Jr. and Sr.) too – and we could positively confirm whether or not Lydia Brown and Elizabeth Johnson came from a common female – or not.  Worst case, we could eliminate some possibilities.

Unfortunately, I think that all of the research and steps we’ve taken so far have simply created more confusion and made things more complex – if that was possible.

Bottom line to this problem – I think the parents of both girls, Phebe and Clarissa were William (the third) and Lydia Brown.  And even if Clarissa wasn’t, Phebe lived in the Lee County VA/Claiborne Co., TN area, was raised there and the only other person who could have been her father was Isaac.  He was not present in 1820 in Lee County and the Greene Co., TN 1820 census does not exist.  He is in Lee County in 1830 with two females 10-15, but he reportedly had a daughter, Rachel, in that age category as well.  Phebe named a son William, not Isaac.  No grandchildren named Isaac, Rachel or Lydia either.  Phebe’s father’s name as William is handed down orally in the family, but unfortunately, her mother’s name wasn’t.  Makes me want to pull my hair out!!!

Phebe’s Early Life

Since Phebe Crumley was born in 1818, and her parents did not move to Claiborne County until about 1819, it is likely that she was actually born in Greene Co., TN.  She probably has no memory of living there as she was unquestionably raised on the Lee County/Hawkins County borders.  However, there seems to be a lot of interaction between those families, even though they do live about 60 miles apart.

By 1820, William Crumley (the third) was living in Lee County, Virginia with one male under age 10, 1 male age 10-16, one male 26-46 (himself), 3 females under 10, one female 16-26 and one female 26-45.

We don’t know much about Phebe before her marriage to Joel Vannoy on January 18, 1845, in Claiborne County.  This was just before that part of the county became Hancock County.

We know that Phebe’s father, William (the third) may have been a miller, and her grandfather William likely was a miller, and his mill was very near the now Hancock County/Lee County, Virginia line on Blackwater Creek.  In fact, his property straddled the state line.  Blackwater was dead center in the middle of the Melungeon community where William (the third) is living, noted as a carpenter, two doors from the miller, in 1850.

Blackwater road

The last child known to be born to William and his wife, presumably Lydia, Aaron,was born about 1821, just three years after Phebe was born.  He did not name a child Lydia (or Elizabeth or Betsey,) but he did name a child Jotham.

When Phebe was about 10 years old, about 1828, her oldest brother, John, married a woman named Mahala.  The first child to marry must have resulted in quite a celebration.  The next child, Jotham, didn’t marry for another 6 years.

In the 1830 census, William (the third) is living in Pulaski County, KY, about 100 miles west of Lee County, VA.  Why?  Darned if I know.

By 1840, the family is back in Claiborne County.  They could have lived in Pulaski County just briefly, or for as long as nearly 20 years – although it would have been unusual for William not to have taken his sons with him.  Keep in mind that John married in 1828.

In 1834, in Lee County, Phebe’s brother, Jotham Crumley married Ann Robinette, so the family may have been back in the area by that time.  Both families probably celebrated the happy event and Phebe, then age 16, may have dreamed of when she would have her own wedding.

In August 1841, Phebe’s brother, Jotham died in Lee County, VA.  We don’t know the cause of death, but he was married and had 3 children. It must have been a very sad day.

In 1845, Phebe married Joel Vannoy and in the 1850 census, we find Joel and Phebe living in Hancock County.  Phebe is listed as having been born in Virginia, so her parents may have been living in Lee County by 1818.

Vannoy 1850 census

By 1850, Joel and Phebe already had three children, Sarah Jane, Elizabeth and William G.  They lived next door to John Gilbert, a well-known Baptist preacher in Hancock County.  John was the pastor at Mulberry Gap Church, which is not far from the land that Joel Vannoy owned, so we can probably extrapolate that this is the church they attended.  This was also the closest church to where they lived at that time.

Mulberry Gap Baptist Church from Mulberry Gap School (road leads to gap)

This photo, taken by Phillip Walker taken from Mulberry Gap shows the Mulberry Gap Church nestled into the hills on the far right side of the photo.

Mulberry Gap Baptist Church2

The Mulberry Gap church minutes are not known to be in existence, but given that their neighbor was the preacher, Phebe’s membership here is a good bet.

Update:  Well, it seemed like Phebe would have been a member of the Mulberry Gap Church, but she wasn’t.  The minutes have been discovered beginning in 1852, including a list of members, although earlier church minutes and records have been lost.  Between 1852 and 1860, neither Phebe Vannoy, nor any of her family except for her brother John Crumley and her sister Belinda “Melinda” Crumley Davis are members of this church.  Brother John was reported by the family to be a minister, but in the church notes, he was a member excluded for “profane swearing.”

We don’t really know when Phebe’s mother, probably Lydia Brown, died.  We know that in 1840, William is shown living with a woman about his own age, along with two unmarried adult daughters.  Phebe would, of course, have been one of those.

Phebe’s brother, John, was reportedly a Baptist minister, although the above information from the Mulberry Gap Church casts doubt on that.

Did John preach his mother’s funeral or did his uncle Isaac Crumley, who was also a preacher, do those honors?  Did they stand at the graveside in the heat of the summer or the snow in winter and sing Amazing Grace?  Did they each throw a handful of dirt onto the coffin, hearing the hollow thunk that one comes to recognize as a sadly unique sound.

What we do know is that Phebe’s father, William, is shown in the 1850 census as having been married within the last year to a woman named Paa or Pqa, also later noted as Pequa, born in 1797.  Unfortunately, Hancock County records have burned, so we have no way of knowing anything more.  Given this information, it would appear that Phebe’s mother passed away sometime between 1840 and 1849 when her father remarried.

Finding the Land

On the map below, you can see with the bottom left arrow where Joel and Phebe Crumley Vannoy lived, where the church is located in the center, and where Phebe’s father owned land, at the far right.

Crumley land map

Phebe lived about 10 or 12 miles from her parents, so she probably didn’t get to see them often.  Maybe on Sundays at church if they both attended the same church.

Phebe’s sister, Sarah “Sallie” married Edward Walker in 1848.  They lived just a mile or so down the road, in a log cabin that still stands today.

Walker Crumley homesteads

The exact locations of the homesteads are shown on Mulberry Gap Road, also called Brown Town Road.  Sallie Crumley Walker lived at the arrow on the left and Phebe at the arrow on the right.

Walker cabin from road

Sally married and lived with Edward Walker in this cabin.  Certainly, Phebe was here many times to visit.  Edward Walker died in 1860 and Phebe and Joel likely tried to help her sister Sally who had 4 small children to raise.

As luck would have it, on the day we were looking for the Vannoy land, we stumbled on the Walker cabin.  We turned in the driveway to ask directions and for information, and the very gracious owners told us about the cabin, the original owner, and offered to show us around inside.  Against every lick of my better judgement I ever had, and despite teaching my kids about “stranger danger,” my friend and I took them up on their offer.  No murderous crazy people would have taken the time or money to restore an old and very dilapidated log cabin.  (Don’t tell my kids…OK???)

So, while we can’t visit Phebe’s cabin, we can surely visit sister Sallie’s, where Phebe visited, which was surely much like Phebe and Joel’s cabin in that same timeframe.

There is a cemetery above the Walker cabin, and it’s likely where Sallie is buried, but there are no marked graves and no one really knows for sure.

Update:  Phillip Walker discovered that Sallie is not buried at the Walker homestead, but lived beyond 1880, moved to Tazewell (in Claiborne County) then on to Cocke County where she died on January 11, 1898 and is buried in a marked grave in Union Cemetery.

Here is the view of Powell Mountain from the cemetery above the house.  This land is breathtakingly beautiful.

View from Walker Cemetery

Below is the current front of the Walker house.  By the way, the front used to be the back when the road ran between the house and the Creek. Years ago, they changed the location of the road, so the back is now the front.

front of Walker house

The original house ended half way through the upper windows and the at one point, a few feet in height was added all around..

Inside, the cabin is mostly original.

A type of well basin exists and the water one of several springs springing from the hillside behind the house would be diverted into the basin inside the house.  It also drained out, so this was the earliest form of running water.  Rather ingenuous and Sally probably considered herself very lucky indeed.

Walker spring box

You can see the basin at the left with a basket and bowl sitting inside.  It’s quite large, maybe 2 by 4 feet.  The original inhabitants would have used it to keep things like butter and milk cool.  They call it the “spring box.”

There are bullet holes in the upper part of the cabin, and a place for guns to be leveled and shot.  There is even a secret room, or secret compartment, also with gunshot holes.  Wouldn’t you love to know that story!!!

Update:  Phillip Walker, a descendant of Edward Walker, tells us that the secret room was accessibly only through the attic and was actually the space between the two walls and the chimney dividing them.  Ironically, Edward’s great-granddaughter told Phillip about the secret room, and that they hid valuables in that room during the Civil War, but she knew nothing of the house still standing today.  There are bullet holes into that room as well, and holes to shoot, but they might have had pegs at that time as to not give away the location of the shooter.

Walker upstairs

The original fireplace still exists as well with the original masonry, logs and beams.

Walker fireplace

What you can’t see here is that the fireplace is actually a double chimney.  If you walk around to the other side, down that hallway, there is another fireplace on the opposite side of the first.  This was a deluxe cabin in its day.

Mulberry Creek

Mulberry Creek, the lifegiving creek that ran behind the Walker homestead and then on down to the Vannoy lands.

The Vannoy family lived on land on Mulberry Road in Hancock County that had been patented by Joel Vannoy and adjoined his father, Elijah Vannoy’s land.

After leaving the Walker homestead, about a mile further down the road, to the northeast, you come to an area where the creek crosses back under the road to the right.  Originally, the road simply followed the creek, but when they paved the road, they straightened it out a bit.

First, you’ll notice a house with a bridge and a barn very close to the road.

Mulberry Creek at Vannoy bridge

As you pass that first house, Mulberry Creek loops very close to the road and you’ll see that you are between two old houses, the one with the bridge is to the right and the second older home is immediately to the left, on that loop.

Mulberry Creek across from Vannoy property2

Turn around.  Across the road, immediately, you’ll see farm lane and a gate and that is the Vannoy land.  I don’t know if they owned any on the flat side of the road.  This Google maps link should take you right there.,-83.333346,3a,75y,339.57h,88.14t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sOK54QBbbJMeh0De-JistCQ!2e0

Vannoy land Mulberry Gap Road

I wish their home still stood, but nothing remains today.  I suspect there is a graveyard back in there as well, but if so, no one knows the location and it has been committed back to the hands of nature.  We know that Joel’s parents died while living here, so they certainly had to be buried someplace and in these parts, everyone had their own family cemetery.  People were just buried on their own land, generally behind the house on high ground.

Harold on Vannoy land

This picture of cousin Harold was taken while discovering and visiting this land some years back.  Finding this land, again, was no small feat.  None of the people currently living knew where it was.  We lose so much with each generation that passes.

It must have been a devastating blow to Phebe when her mother died, sometime between 1840 and 1849.  Phebe may have still been living at home, as she married in 1845.  But her grief was not to end there.  In 1851, William Crumley, then between the ages of 61 and 66, sold out, pulled up stakes and moved to Appanoose County, Iowa with his new wife.

I suspect that there were discussions among all of the children, all then married, about who would go and who would stay. It appears that only one child, Aaron, married and with a large family, accompanied his father.  So in addition to losing her mother to death and burying a brother in 1841, Phebe also lost her father and a second brother to the frontier.  Brother William and sister Clarissa, assuming they were siblings, lived back in Greene County, so that left only Phebe with siblings Sallie, Belinda and John.

William didn’t live long after the trip to Iowa.  He died sometime between 1852 and the 1860 census.  Phebe must have received notice of his death by letter.  The 1850 and 1860 census tell us that she could not read and write, but according to the 1870 census, Phebe could read but could not write.  Someone may have had to read that letter to her.  If reading was difficult for her, she surely would have had a second person read it to make sure she understood correctly. What a horribly sad letter to receive.  I can see her hands shaking as she read those devastating words.  It would make you hesitant to open letters in the future, uncertain of what they might hold.

By 1860, Joel and Phebe have 6 children.  The original 3 children shown in the 1850 census are all still living.  Mary is age 9 and was born in 1851, but there is a gap between Mary and the next child, K. M., age 4.  It looks like Joel and Phebe lost at least 2 children, whose names we’ll never know.  The last child, only a few months old, Nancy, would be their last child.  It also looks like they lost a child between K.M. and Nancy.  So by 1860, Phebe buried at least one and maybe as many as 3 children, probably in the same lost cemetery, someplace on the Vannoy land.

The census is extremely faint and K. M. it appears becomes James Hurvey Vannoy in later records. It’s also not unheard of in this region for someone to simply change a child’s name.

The UnCivil War

The Civil War was a very difficult time for these families.  Family oral history tells us that Joel Vannoy was a Confederate sympathizer, which means it’s likely Phebe was too – or she was quiet about it if she wasn’t.

There are Confederate records for both William and John Crumley, but it’s impossible to tell from the records currently available online if they are Phebe’s brothers.  There is a William who served out of Greene County and John Crumley, Phebe’s brother, is in the 1860 census in Hancock County, but he is not found thereafter.  Phebe’s daughter, Sarah Jane Vannoy married John Nunn in 1864 and he fought for the Confederacy.

In the 1940s or 1950s, a descendant wrote the story of how the family survived the Civil War, in a letter, telling about when the family took a picnic and went back and visited the old homestead in Hancock County. That was about 1910. She recounts that during the war, they hid everything of value in the caves above their home.

Vannoy Hancock wooded land

The following photo shows James Hurvey Vannoy and Nancy Vannoy Venable in front of the old Vannoy homestead.  Nancy died in August of 1940 so this photo had to have been taken before that time.  The flowers in their hands make me wonder if they were visiting the cemetery that day.

Vannoy cabin visit

The family survived the war intact, as Phebe’s children were all too young to serve.  She must have been exceedingly grateful for that turn of events.  She married a bit late, about age 27.  Had she married and began having children earlier, they would likely have been old enough to serve.  Regardless of how she felt about the war, as a mother, she would have been greatly relieved to have her children home safe with her and not someplace on the battlefield.

The danger wasn’t always from the soldiers either.  Phebe’s niece, Mary Polly Crumly was born in 1829, the daughter of Rev. John Crumley.  Mary Polly married Calvin Ramsey in 1846 and lived in Hancock County.  Calvin was a northern sympathizer, in the midst, it seems, of southern sympathizers.  One night, Calvin, Mary Polly and their baby, also named Calvin were taken out in the middle of the night, disappeared and were never seen again.  One version of this story, told by descendants, indicates that it was southern sympathizing family members who “did the deed.”  Their 8 surviving children were then placed as wards of the court with a guardian being assigned.

The Lawsuit

One of the great things about publishing articles like this is that people get in touch with you, and sometimes have knowledge of new information.

In 1860, Joel Vannoy’s wife’s sister’s husband, Edward Walker, died.  In 1862 an estate sale was held and two items of value were auctioned – a young female slave and Edward’s land, except for his wife’s dower rights.

The Walker family was beginning what would be a very long legal process in which everyone pretty much sued everyone else – and it lasted for decades, including through the Civil War.  For those interested in Edward Walker and his wives, Mahala Tussey and Sarah (Sallie) Crumley, Philip Walker has written a wonderful summary of events.

Phillip was also kind enough to share a chancery suit with me.  In that suit, I discovered that Joel Vannoy, in April 1862, signed as surety, meaning bond, for Robert Woodson who purchased the slave at Edward Walker’s estate sale.  Woodson bid $800 and a note was taken for a period of 2 years, at which time he was to pay the balance.  Obviously, during this time, the Civil War interfered and clearly, Woodson no longer owned Tilda, the slave, because she would have been freed.  Either he couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the debt, but the court ruled that a debt is a debt, regardless.  These court notes are from 1865 after the Union is in control of the government.  The Civil War ended in April of 1865 and for much of this time, the local governments in this region were virtually nonfunctional.  Furthermore, everyone had an allegiance and Hancock County in particular was severely split between the north and south – and everyone felt very strongly about their position.  To make matters worse, marauding bands of soldiers were problematic throughout the county and lawlessness was rampant – as was hunger.  By the end of 1865, these families were only beginning to recover.

In December of 1865, the court ordered the sheriff of both Hancock and Claiborne Counties to confiscate the assets of both Robert Woodson and Joel Vanoy (sic) since Joel was Woodson’s security on the note for Tilda in 1862.  The total owed at that point was $982.94, including costs.

It is unclear in subsequent court proceedings how much they confiscated, if anything, and what happened.

I suspect, strongly, that the reason the Claiborne County sheriff was involved is because Joel Vannoy had already sold his land and was living in Claiborne County.

This also sheds more light on the possible reason that Joel’s land in Claiborne in 1872 was deeded to his wife and children, not to Joel directly.

The documents pertaining to just this lawsuit, excluding subsequent suits, totaled about 220 pages.  There were many depositions, but never was Joel Vannoy deposed in this process, which I found odd.  To serve as the bond for Woodson, Joel was most likely at the sale itself and he clearly signed subsequent documents.

This is highly suggestive that by this time, Joel Vannoy’s mental condition had deteriorated to the point that both sides knew his testimony would be useless if it could even be obtained.

From Phebe’s perspective, this additional drama must have been both troublesome and weighed heavily upon her heart.  Her brother John, and his daughter were both dead, along with the daughter’s husband and child, and her sister was embroiled in what could be termed a life-long feud between her children and their half-siblings.  Eventually, it appears that one of Sarah’s children turned against her as well.  And Phebe’s own family assets were being sought and perhaps confiscated for the Woodson debt – on top of which her husband wasn’t doing well.

We don’t know why Joel was involved in the sale of Tilda to Woodson.  Was he making a political statement within the family, supporting someone’s position – or was he simply trying to help facilitate a sale?

Was the anxiety produced by knowing that note would come due and likely be unpaid part of what made Joel snap?  With the social and economic changes produced by the Civil War, Woodson was likely to default – meaning Joel would be on the hook.  Was this, combined with the wartime generated necessary paranoia part of the equation that would lead to the decline in Joel’s mental health?

Joel seemed to be well enough to sign as a surety in 1862, although there were allegations that adequate security was not taken on the Woodson note.  By the end of the Civil War, Joel is no longer in any court documents until the 1886 record of his commitment to the hospital in Knoxville.

Movin’ On Up

By 1870, the Phebe Crumley and Joel Vannoy family had moved from Hancock County, down little Sycamore Road into the Little Sycamore community.  They bought land and built a house in what is today known as Vannoy Hollow, pronounced Vannoy Holler in Claiborne County.

Joel Vannoy home

If their house in Hancock County was a log cabin, this new, bigger, house was an upgrade.

The 1870 census tells us that Phebe was born in Tennessee, although the earlier census schedules said Virginia.  Their children are starting to marry.

Vannoy 1870

Elizabeth Vannoy married Lazarus Estes in 1867, son of confederate soldier, John Y. Estes, and they lived next door to Joel and Phebe Vannoy.  Elizabeth has two daughters in1870 and the oldest is named after her mother, Phebe, although she wouldn’t live to adulthood.  One of the “old widows” in Claiborne County once told me that it’s extra difficult when the child you name after one of your parents dies.

Just a few months after the census, Phebe’s son, George Vannoy would marry Elizabeth Estes, daughter of John Y. Estes.

The family seems to be doing well, as they purchased a significant amount of land in 1872 – 465 acres – far more than they could ever farm themselves, assuming at least some of it was flat.

Estes-Vannoy Holler

Estes and Vannoy Hollers are separated by a smaller ridge called both Middle Ridge and Little Ridge, depending on who you are talking to.  In this photo, taken on the Estes Holler side, which looks amazing like the Vannoy Holler side, you can see Middle Ridge on the right.  As you can see, almost nothing is flat.  It doesn’t have to be flat, just flat enough to plow a little or graze something.

In 1877, Phebe’s daughter, Mary, died at age 26, having never married.  I wonder if Mary had a life-long medical condition.  She was buried in the Venable Cemetery, now called the Pleasant View Cemetery, located behind the Pleasant View Baptist Church.

Vannoy 1880

The 1880 census again tells us that Phebe was born in Virginia and that she can read but not write. Phebe tells us that her father was born in Tennessee, but that her mother was born in Virginia.  This is interesting because William Crumley was definitely born in Virginia in about 1785 and Lydia was born in Virginia as well in about 1787.  Isaac Crumley, however, was born in Tennessee and his wife Rachel Brown, was born in Virginia.  Unfortunately, the census is an unreliable source, but still…

Phebe had two living sisters, or at least we believe them to be sisters, Clarissa and Melinda (Belinda) and both of them reported that their parents were born in Tennessee.  Melinda, by the way, was born in 1820 and did name a child Lydia.

We also know that Phebe had the flux, which is a historic term for severe diarrhea.  Generally, it means bloody flux which was dysentery and often fatal – but if this is what she had, she recovered and survived, but likely had one miserable summer.

Phebe’s children are all married by 1880 except for Nancy who is still living at home and wouldn’t marry for another 4 years.   William George Vannoy and his wife, Elizabeth Estes live next door.  James H. is living with Phebe and Joel along with his wife and children.  I’m sure the original reason for James living in the household was to help his parents, but as it turns out, Phebe helped raise James’ children from his first marriage since his first wife, Matilda Venable, died in 1885.

The Storm Clouds Burst

There had been a storm brewing for some time.  It’s nothing we can see from the census records, and we only get hints that something is “odd” from the Claiborne County land transactions.  However, an 1886 court records spells it out in black and white.

On Oct. 4, 1886, Lazarus Estes was granted $26 by the court for “conveying Joel Vannoy to the hospital for the insane.”  I had to read that entry several times before I fully grasped the magnitude what it said – and what it didn’t.  That hospital was opened in Knoxville in May of that year.

Joel would have been 74 and Phebe would have been 68 and caring for her grandchildren.

Joel’s condition may well have had something to do with why he did not serve in the Civil War, perhaps why they moved to Little Sycamore and certainly why the land was not in his name, but in his wife and children’s names.  These mental health issues do not tend to simply appear overnight – but build up over time, gradually worsening.  His diagnosis was “preachin’, swearin’ and threatin’ to fight.”  Based on descriptions of his behavior, he was clearly deranged, at least part of the time, and aggressive towards other people.  Today, he would likely have been diagnosed as manic depressive (bi-polar) and possibly schizophrenic.

And yes, mental illness has been known to occur in that family line.  The Vannoy side claims it’s from the McNiel line, Joel’s mother’s family, and the McNiel’s of course claim it’s from the Vannoy side.  Some people just look at you, shake their heads and say, “I’m not going to get involved in THAT.”  It’s obviously not an unfamiliar subject.

Per Lakeshore Mental Health Institute, formerly Eastern State Mental Hospital, Joel Vannoy, age 74, was admitted July 22, 1886.  He had 5 living children and 2 dead.  He was a Baptist and was a farmer.  He was discharged May 16, 1888.

It must have been terribly difficult for Phebe to watch her husband decline in to the abyss of mental illness.  At first, she would have simply thought, “that’s odd” when he did something borderline inappropriate or abnormal.  As time went on, she wouldn’t have “thought” it was odd, but known it was.  However, one just accepted things, chalked them up to the hand of Providence, and went on.  What choice did she have?

Eventually, everyone else would have known that Joel had a problem – to the point that when land was purchased, there was no question about putting it in his name.

At some point, Joel was given the room on one side of the house with a fireplace and family members took turns supervising him all of the time to prevent him from burning the house down and hurting himself or someone else.  I don’t know if this was before he was committed, or after his release.  For the family to place him in Eastern State Mental Hospital, he must have been extremely, exceedingly difficult to manage.

For Phebe, this must have been a living hell.  Without knowing her, we don’t know if she was the kind of person that welcomed the relief that his 2 years at Eastern State provided her, or if she was the kind of person that wanted him home no matter what.  Phebe spent the entire time that Joel was at Eastern State caring for her grandchildren.  James Hurvey remarried in April of 1888, just a month before Joel returned home.

People thought differently at that time than we do today.  I have seen many death records from the early 1900s when death records were first kept where parents refused a doctor’s treatment for children or refused to take the child to the hospital because “they did not want the family split up.”  And the child died – and I don’t mean families living miles away or in another area – but in this very holler.  For this decision to be made, the parent’s feelings had to be very strong and that decision had to be socially accepted, supported and considered “normal” in their environment.  These mountain people were very, VERY resistant to outside influence or “interference” of any kind and were suspicious for the most part of anyone not a member of their community.

So for a family member to be sent to Knoxville to be committed for a period of years was an extremely dire circumstance and likely simply could not have been handled in any other way.

Two years later, Joel would return home.  Without the medication we have today, it’s unlikely that there was much change, except that Phebe had fewer people to help.  Joel was a little older and maybe not quite so physically strong.  Fortunately, Phebe’s children still lived nearby and James Hurvey may have continued to live with Phebe after his second marriage.  The family reported that he eventually inherited the “home place,” so it is likely he lived there.

There is no 1890 census, so that window into the past is closed.

In the fall of 1893, Phebe’s son, William “George” Vannoy who had married Elizabeth Estes, would join his father-in-law, John Y. Estes, in Montague County, Texas.  George wouldn’t survive long.  He died on September 12, 1895.  This clearly was not expected, and this would have been the second “death letter” that Phebe received in her lifetime.

Joel also died in January of 1895.  It had to be a relief to Phebe in some sense.  There was obviously more afoot, because I found a subsequent newspaper article that said Phebe had Joel dug up and his remains moved to the cemetery where she wanted him to be buried.  Clearly, she cared about him no matter what his condition had been.  He was ultimately buried in the Venable Cemetery and Phebe is buried beside him.  I surely wish I knew the story of why Joel was buried in that first location (wherever it was), and clearly where Phebe did not want.  You know it’s a juicy tale!

Venable Vannoy stones

In the photo above, Joel and Phebe’s stones are both clearly visible from the road, having a front row seat to see who is passing by.

Vannoy markers Venable Cem

Phebe, the consummate caregiver, the glue who held everything together, the woman who was supposed to be an Indian, but wasn’t, died on January 17, 1900.  Of the 7 children we know of for sure, and the more likely 9 or 10 she bore, only 4 were living to attend her funeral.  She had a total of 46 grandchildren, some of whom she never knew because they had not yet been born and some of whom were Texans.  Surprisingly, the female grandchild born 10 days after Phebe’s death was not named for her.  The only grandchild named for her died in her teens.  Phebe’s name, now spelled as Phoebe, does still exist in our family today.  Phebe Crumley is the 4 times great-grandmother of the current Phoebe.  Such a beautiful name.

Phebe was an amazing woman, surviving the slow dissipation of her family, followed by the Civil War, including the brutal murder of her niece, her niece’s husband and baby, and then facing a personal war even more devastating, one that could never be won – only outlasted.  I hope she was the kind of person to find peace, comfort and happiness where she could, perhaps in her 5 grandchildren, ages newborn to 8, who she raised when their mother died less than a month after the birth of the youngest.  Hats off to you Phebe.  I think the phrase “true grit” applies to you.

Phebe Vannoy stone

Phebe Crumley and Joel Vannoy had the following known children.  In addition, we know there was at least one additional child whose name we don’t have, probably born between 1851 and 1856, and possibly more.

  • Sarah Jane Vannoy born Dec. 1, 1845, died Aril 24, 1926 and married John Nunn.  They had 12 children.
  • Elizabeth “Betty” Ann Vannoy born June 23, 1847 and died October 25, 1918, married Lazarus Estes.  They had 10 children.
  • William George Vannoy born March 31, 1849 and died on September 12, 1895 in Nocona, Texas.  Married Elizabeth Ann Estes and had 7 children.
  • Mary L. Vannoy born May 4, 1851, died May 18, 1877 and is buried in the Pleasant View Cemetery with her parents.  She never married.  Was her middle name Lydia?
  • James Hurvey Vannoy born February 4, 1856 and died November 11, 1948.  Married three times.  First to Matilda Venable having 5 children.  Second to Martha Lewis having 4 children.  Third to Minnie Sanders having 3 children.
  • Nancy E. Vannoy born September 5, 1859, died August 1940, married James Nelson “Net” Venable and had 5 children.

This article appeared in the Claiborne Progress newspaper and was found in an old scrapbook in the 1980s in the Tazewell library.

“Death rides on every passing breeze and lurks in every flower.” In the evening of life the angel of death has visited earth an plucked another flower to transplant in the kingdom of our Lord.

Sister Phoebe Vannoy was born March 24, 1818, married January 19, 1845, died January 13, 1900. She was a devoted member of the Baptist church about 45 years.

Though Mrs. Vannoy had numbered 4 score and two years, she was, until recently, very active. Seldom missing attending her church meetings.  She rejoiced in doing good and seeing the cause of God prosper.  It was her delight to talk of the great love God has for His children and of the home prepared for all who love Him.  Often during her recent illness she called her relatives and friends to her bedside and asked them to meet her in heaven.

Her husband, Joel Vannoy, preceded her 5 years and 5 days. He also had numbered his 4 score and two years and was a member of the Baptist church about 60 years and a deacon of his church 45 years.

Seven children composed this family. Four are living and were with their mother during her last illness.  We would say to them: Follow the example of your father and mother.

Mrs. Vannoy, not being satisfied with where her husband was buried requested that at her death his remains should be removed to what is known as the Venable graveyard and the funeral services of both be conducted by Rev. D. L. Manis.

Bereaved ones, you will miss that dear old face, her chair is vacant, but weep not for her, your loss is her eternal gain. It will be sweet to meet her in that better land –

“Beyond that vale of tears,
There is a life above:
Unmarred by the flight of years
And that life is love.”



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