Every once in a while, I’m drawn back to my massive Williams project that I began in the early 1990s. I was determined to piece together my husband’s Williams family from pre-Civil War days back to the earliest Virginia origins I could document.
Today’s sketch is about Charles Williams Crouch, who is NOT one of Dave’s ancestors. I’ve always thought he must have had an interesting life because of the places and time period he lived.
Charles Williams Crouch was born c1807 (I’ve seen 12 September 1806 cited on line, which could be accurate), in Virginia – Probably Pittsylvania County.
His parents were John Crouch, born c1767, and Susannah Williams, born c1778, who married on 20 October 1794 in Pittsylvania County. Because there were quite a few Crouch families in the neighborhood, including several Johns, Charles’s father’s line hasn’t been proven back many generations.
His mother, Susannah, was the daughter of Captain Charles Williams, a soldier of the American Revolution, and Ann Hill. Charles’s military title wasn’t an honorific, given to many old soldiers. He actually held the rank of captain during the war.
Charles W. Crouch was most definitely raised as a Southern young man and held the unfortunate view that it was okay for human beings to be enslaved.
His father, John, was a farmer, but also worked as an overseer on a local plantation.
However, life changed quickly for the Crouch family, as they, along with Susannah’s siblings headed to western Tennessee for a new life on what was very much the frontier wilderness.
By 1811, John, Susannah, along with children Polly, John, William, Charles and Peter, were settled in Williamson County, Tennessee. One more child, Thomas, was born shortly before John Crouch died i December 1813.
Therefore, young Charles probably remembered little to nothing about Virginia and had but few memories of his father.
His mother, Susannah, married (2) Ephraim Brown, 6 May 1823, in Williamson County, after having been widowed for almost a decade. Although John Crouch was about eleven years older than his wife, Susannah’s second husband presented even more of an age gap, having been born c1764.
A decade of widowhood meant Susannah raised her seven children pretty much on her own until each reached adulthood.
Ephraim also pre-deceased Susannah, dying in 1840 in Williamson County, Tennessee.
Susannah passed away five years later, on 23 February 1843, leaving an interesting nuncupative (orally dictated) will. According to court records, on her death bed and in front of witnesses, she called her son John E. into the room and stated that she wanted him to inherit her estate as he had always been a dutiful son. How large or small her estate was I’ve no idea as there is no inventory to be found.
Whether she was of sound mind or not, the court apparently decided from witness statements that she was and her will was recorded.
By the time Susannah died, Charles had already left Tennessee for greener pastures.
He married (1) Lucretia Nash on 6 June 1827 in Williamson County. Their first two children, John E. and William H., were born c1832 and c1834, respectively, in Tennessee. However, their third child, daughter Elizabeth, was born c1837 in Mississippi.
Where in Mississippi the family lived hasn’t been determined, but sometime between 1837 and 1 February 1838, when a land patent was issued to him, Charles moved his family to San Augustine County, in the Republic of Texas, yet another frontier and a foreign country until statehood! Remember the Battle of the Alamo had only happened four years earlier and Texas wouldn’t achieve statehood until 29 December 1845. The young family had literally moved to the Wild Wild West and Charles was set to make his fortune.
Before moving on to Charles’s second wife, I’ll share the details of his three children born to Lucretia:
John E., born c1832, Tennessee (probably Williamson County); died 19 December 1861, Bentonville, Benton, Arkansas. He had enlisted in the 6th Texas Cavalry, Company A, Confederate Army on 10 September 1861, just three months before his death. John married Mary Priscilla Moore, c1857, probably in Kaufman County, Texas. By 1860, they were parents of two year old Charles W. Crouch, born c1858, and Mary E., born c1859. There was apparently a third child, son John, born c1861.
Sadly, these children were orphaned by 24 February 1862, when Charles Crouch was appointed administrator of the estates of John E. and Mary P. Crouch, both deceased.
By 1870, Charles was living with his maternal grandparents and his younger siblings, Mary and John, were living with a maternal uncle’s family.
William H., born c1834, likely in Williamson County, Tennessee; died 1890, San Augustine County, Texas; married (1) Jane E. Smith, 13 April 1858, San Augustine County, Texas (2) Penelope Edward Thomas, 1 April 1867, San Augustine County, Texas.
William was the father of two daughters, Nora and Anna, with Jane and of one daughter and one son, Penelope and William H., with Penelope.
Elizabeth L., born 12 December 1836, Mississippi; died 2 January 1908, Kaufman County, Texas; married (1) John A. Shaw, c1857. They were the parents of three children, Catherine, William and Lula. John enlisted in the 12th Texas Cavalry, Company G and was killed in action during the Civil War. (2) John Perry Bishop, 15 September 1867, Kaufman County, Texas. Elizabeth had three sons, John, Charles and Walter, plus one child who died young, with John Bishop.
Back now to the story of Charles Williams Crouch. In 1840, Charles was found on a tax list of San Augustine County, Texas, taxed with one poll (white male over 21), four enslaved persons and one wood clock.
In spite of Charles’ somewhat difficult life growing up, he received enough of an education that he started appearing in court records as “esquire,” so was an educated, respected member of the community.
Lucretia (Nash) Crouch likely passed away sometime during 1843 or in early 1844 because Charles married (2) Martha Ann (Winn) Smith on 28 November 1844, San Augustine County, Texas.
Martha lived fewer than five years after marriage. In that time, she gave birth to two daughters:
Lucinda C., born c1846, died between 1870-1893, in Texas or possibly Franklin Parish, Louisiana; married John S. Murphy, 28 January 1864, Kaufman County, Texas. Lucinda had one known son, Charles Crouch Murphy.
Martha Ann, born 18 June 1847; died 18 March 1911, both in Kaufman County. She married John Fender, 23 January 1872, also in Kaufman County. She was the mother of five children – Laura, Josephine, Cora M., Robert W. and James E.
Charles soon married his third wife, Amanda Norwood, 28 January 1849, San Augustine County, Texas. Amanda was born c1830, North Carolina and died in 1859, probably Kaufman County, Texas, likely from the effects of childbirth.
She was the mother of Charles’s three youngest children, all daughters:
Alice M., born c1856; died after 1920; married (1) William L. Fowler, 1 December 1872, Kaufman County, Texas. They were the parents of at least 6 children – Harriet J., Alice, Minnie, William L., Robert C. and Fred. William, Alice and children are found in the 1885 census of Las Vegas, San Miguel, New Mexico state census. By 1900, Alice was in Kansas and stated first that she was widow, but by 1910, that she was divorced. (2) James J. Dobbins, 17 February 1890, Bourbon County, Kansas.
Laura A., born 26 December 1857; died 2 July 1922, Dallas, Dallas, Texas; married James Tate McGuire, 31 October 1878, Kaufman County, Texas. They were the parents of five children, but only three surviving in 1900 – Delbert, Ray N. and Jane E.
Amanda, born c1859; died 17 February 1930, San Antonio, Bexar, Texas; married John W. Diedrick, 4 September 1878, Kaufman County, Texas. They were the parents of two children – Willie Mae and Allen B.
Charles married (4) Jane Stark/Storke, 29 August 1861, Dallas County, Texas+. She was born c1831, England and survived him, passing away in 1913 in Dallas County, Texas.
Although Jane was about 30 years old when she married Charles, there is no record of children born to them that I have found. In 1900, Jane, living with Laura and James McGuire, reported having given birth to three children, but none living in 1900.
Now that we’ve covered Charles’s four marriages and eight children, let’s see what the census records tell us about his occupations and work life.
Charles and his family spent at least a decade living in San Augustine County, Texas, as he appears in the 1840 tax record and the 1850 federal census.
His occupation is listed as farmer in 1850, 1860 and 1860 and I mentioned that court records, along with legal notices in newspapers, mention his name often, with the title “esquire.”
I also mentioned early in this post that Charles was not only a supporter of the Southern way of life, he unfortunately saw nothing wrong with the concept of slavery.
He reported that his real estate was worth about $1200 in 1850. The 1850 slave schedule includes C.W. Crouch as the owner of 16 enslaved persons – F 35, F 32, M 30, M 30, M 16, M 16, F 13, F 13, M 9, F 7, F 7, F 7, M 6, M 5, F 3, M 8/12.
By 1860, his wealth had skyrocketed, with real estate valued at $2240, but his personal estate valued at $22,650 (over $700,000 in today’s dollars) C.W. Crouch is again found in Kaufman County with 17 enslaved persons – F 41, F 41, M 40, M 25, F 19, F 16, F 16, F 16, M 13, F 12, M 10, M 8, F 6, F 4, F 1, F 1.
Charles W. Crouch is last found in the 1870 census. With slavery abolished and enslaved persons emancipated, his real estate was valued at $1000 and his personal estate as nothing.
Interestingly, wife Jane’s real estate was valued at $2000 and her personal estate at $1000.
I have found no probate record for Charles Crouch, who reportedly died on 6 January 1871, broke in Kaufman County. An online website includes the note that he lost his real estate before he died because he couldn’t pay the taxes.
In terms of family, Charles had the enjoyment of seeing eight children grow to adulthood and all provided him with grandchildren so there are many descendants today.
In terms of material wealth, Charles started life in a family that had little, he grew up on the Tennessee and Texas frontiers, amassed tremendous wealth on the backs of enslaved persons’ labor and died with nothing.
His story is one of the more unusual ones that I’ve come across, although he is a distant collateral cousin of my husband’s.
If you have have ancestors who lived in Kaufman County and were possibly enslaved there until the end of the Civil War, check the 1870 census carefully as I found a long list of Crouch families who were enumerated as black.
Most of Kaufman County records on FamilySearch are locked, but there might be other records of interest to help trace your enslaved families into the pre-Civil War era.