Daniel R. and Anna Margaretta “Margaret” Hipple Croft

Four generations of our Croft family line are well documented. Unfortunately, we reach a “brick wall” when get to Daniel and Margaret Hipple Croft. Even though there are several records for Margaret, only one has been found for Daniel. Because of this lack of documentation, I have not been able to verify the ancestry of Daniel Croft or his country of origin. However, I am inclined to think, that like Margaret, he was of Germanic ancestry.

Fellow researchers of Daniel R. Croft think his parents might have been George or Daniel Croft and a woman whose surname might have been Brollier, Braillier or Brolliars. We speculate they lived in Maryland and moved to Bedford or Blair County, Pennsylvania. I think they had four children – George, Polly, Philip and Daniel.

Note: It is likely that Daniel R. Croft’s oldest brother was named George, and he and Margaret named their oldest son George. This lends to the theory that the name of Daniel’s father was George.

The parents of Anna Margaretta “Margaret” were John and Anna Dils Hipple or Hippel. She was born about 1795 in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. John Hipple’s father, Johan Jacob Hippel, was from Germany. Anna’s grandfather, Johan Peter Dils, was also from Germany.

Several estate records for Margaret Croft were found in Blair County, Pennsylvania. Blair County is located in the south central part of the state, adjoining Bedford County. Blair County was formed from Bedford and other counties in 1846. Its lush farmland and woodlands made it a very attractive site for farming.

There is family lore this Croft line was Dutch which certainly may be the case. However, many German immigrants settled in this area and became known as Pennsylvania Dutch. This was a “cultural group formed by early German-speaking immigrants to Pennsylvania and their descendants…The majority of these immigrants originated in what is today southwestern Germany.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pennsylvania_Dutch)

As mentioned, much research has been done, but little documented information about Daniel and Margaret Croft has been uncovered. There are 1820 and 1830 census records for Woodbury, Bedford, Pennsylvania. One records a Daniel Kroft and the other a Daniel Croft. Census records before 1850 record only the head of household and age ranges for members of the family and this makes it difficult to determine if either of these men was “our” Daniel Croft.

From estate information for Margaret Croft, I found that Daniel and Margaret Croft had seven children – Ann, George, John, Jacob, Catherine, Elizabeth and Daniel. Further research on each of the children verified this information. All the children were born in Pennsylvania. Margaret Hipple Croft estate info (click link)

Note: A marriage record for John Hipple Croft and his second wife, Rebecca A. Scott Rush, was found on FamilySearch. It gives the names of Daniel and Margaret as John’s parents. At this time, this is the only record with have found for Daniel Croft. John H. Croft marriage record (click link)

Unfortunately, no death and burial information for Daniel and Margaret has has been found. Both died before 1858 when Margaret’s estate information was dated. Margaret Croft info – Transcript Letters of Administration (click link)

Sources

Ancestry.com. 1820 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Ancestry.com. 1830 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Blair County, Pennsylvania, Petition for Letters of Administration, Orphan’s Court, Docket Book B, Estate of Margaret Croft, Nov. 30, 1858.

Blair County, Pennsylvania, Petition of Sale, George Croft, Heir of Margaret Croft, Aug. 29, 1859.

Familysearch.org. Nebraska Marriages, 1855-1995, index [database on-line].

Daniel R. Croft Family Group Sheet (click link) Daniel R. Croft FGS

 

 

 

John Hipple and Elizabeth Teeter Croft

John Hipple Croft
John Hipple Croft

John Hipple Croft was born March 30, 1819 in Bedford County, Pennsylvania and was the fourth child of Daniel and Margaret Croft. Bedford County is located in the south central part of Pennsylvania, bordering the state of Maryland. Its lush farmland and woodlands made it a very attractive site for a farming family like the Crofts.

Though much research has been done, little documented information about Daniel and Margaret Croft has been uncovered. There are 1820 and 1830 census records for Woodbury, Bedford, Pennsylvania. One records a Daniel Kroft and the other a Daniel Croft. Census records before 1850 record only the head of household and age ranges for members of the family and this makes it difficult to determine if either of these men was “our” Daniel Croft.

From estate information for Margaret Croft, I found that Daniel and Margaret Croft had seven children – Ann, George, John, Jacob, Catherine, Elizabeth and Daniel. Further research on each of the children verified this information. All the children were born in Pennsylvania.

While living in Pennsylvania, John met his future wife, Elizabeth Teeter. She may have been the daughter of David and Mary Agley Teeter, also spelled Teater. She was born April 18, 1824 in Buffalo Mills, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. I have not located an official marriage record for them, but later census records indicate they were married about 1840 in Pennsylvania, probably Bedford or Huntingdon County.

In my endeavor to uncover information about John and Elizabeth following their marriage, I wandered into lots of blind alleys! They would eventually end up in Nebraska, so I asked myself these questions – “When and why did they leave Pennsylvania? How long did it take for them to get there?” From census records, I found that their first two children, Mary Ann and Margaret were born in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania (1841 and 1845). Their third child, Barbara, was born in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (1847). When John, Jr. was born in 1850, they were in Van Buren County, Iowa, so the move west had begun.

We pick up on the life of John Hipple Croft in 1856. He was living in Appanoose County, Iowa and was listed in the Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836 -1925. From this record, we find he was 37 years old, was married and had lived in the state eight years.

Evidently, John, Elizabeth and their children were a part of a large migration from the east to the state of Iowa during the 1850’s. Excerpts from Iowa Journal of History & Politics provide a glimpse into this event and how it may have influenced John and Elizabeth’s decision to move there.

The decade beginning in 1850 was to witness a migrating tide which was to sweep over the waste places of the State and to inundate the valleys and hills with more than sufficient human energy to build up a Commonwealth of the first rank.

There were several things which encouraged migration during this period. Railroad lines had been completed to the Mississippi, and so the eastern border of Iowa was easily reached. It was during this decade also that the railroads began advertising western lands. Land speculators and land companies offered inducements which appeared most alluring to the land hungry men of the more densely populated areas farther east. Guides for emigrants were published in great quantities, and articles containing glowing accounts of the beauty, advantages, and fertility of the Iowa country appeared in hundreds of Eastern newspapers until the name “Iowa’ became a household word…

Immigration to Iowa is astonishing and unprecedented…For miles and miles, day after day, the prairies of Illinois are lined with cattle and wagons, pushing on toward this prosperous State. At a point beyond Peoria, during a single month, seventeen hundred and forty-three wagons had passed, and all for Iowa. Allowing five persons to a wagon, which is a fair average, would give 8715 souls to the population.

These people came into Iowa by the hundreds of thousands during the decade ending in 1860. The majority passed on through the settled area to the frontier; others moved into the intervening spaces between the older settlements; themselves joined the canvas-covered trains that were traveling toward the West.

When the 1860 United States Federal Census was taken, John and Elizabeth had moved to Monroe County, Iowa and had a family of seven children – Mary A. (18), Margaret (15), Barbary (12), John (10), Caroline (7), Eli (5) and William (2). John’s occupation was recorded as Gunsmith. Other things interesting to note: John owned real estate valued at $400; Elizabeth could not read or write; Mary Ann was a School Teacher; and Margaret was a Domestic Worker.

As we know, America was embroiled in the Civil War between 1861 and 1867. Undoubtedly, along with other folks in Monroe County, Iowa, the lives of John, Elizabeth and their children were affected by this conflict. Information from the US GenWeb Archives gives us insight into how this war impacted people living in this area.

The outbreak of the Civil War did not disturb the settlement and prosperous growth of Monroe County, although many volunteers from the district served in the Union forces. Some were vigorous young farmers and mechanics; most of them were sons of the settlers who had been cultivating the region since the early 1840’s.

In Monroe County, as in general throughout Iowa, popular sentiment upheld the Union and the North, but a few families were known to have sympathized with the southern cause. No conflicts or hostile incidents have been recorded, however, possibly because the men who were of military age are said to have ‘skipped to the far west’ to avoid the draft. The quota of volunteers requested from the State of Iowa was listed at 49,405, of which Monroe County’s share was 617.

In 1870, John and Elizabeth still lived in Monroe County and were recorded on the United States Federal Census as “Croff.” They had two more children, Edward (8) and Isabel (6). The older children, Mary, Margaret, Barbara and John, were no longer living in this household. Because the digital quality of this census reproduction was very poor, I could not read what occupation was recorded for John.

After living in Iowa over twenty years, John and Elizabeth made the decision to move to Nebraska in the mid 1870’s. They settled in Lone Tree, Clay County. The township’s name certainly describes the landscape of this part of the United States. At the time, it was a sparsely populated prairie land in south central Nebraska, and a major industry was corn and wheat farming. John, Elizabeth and their children, Eli (22), William (21), Edward (19) and Isebel (16) are listed in the 1880 United States Federal Census. A biographical sketch of John published a history of Clay County indicates that he was engaged in farming.

John Hipple Croft
John Hipple Croft

John and Elizabeth, along with five of their children, would live out their days in Clay County, Nebraska. I found two different written accounts that shed light on the man, John H. Croft. LaRhee Montgomery Lewis, great-granddaughter of John, wrote a family history which included this bit of information shared by her mother, Grace Croft Montgomery.

The reason my grandfather (William Teeter Croft) did not have an education was because of the alcoholism of his father. My great-grandfather’s name was John Henry (incorrect) Croft, and my great-grandmother’s name was Elisabeth Teeter Croft. My mother (Grace Irene Croft) often told us the stories her father used to tell. My great-grandfather would come home drunk. If the table was set ready to eat, he would upset the table. My great-grandmother used to say to my grandfather and his brothers, ‘Well, boys, see what alcohol does.’

Because of his childhood experiences, my grandfather was very intolerant of alcohol. He passed the feeling down to his children, and my mother was also very intolerant of alcohol. I admit, my mother had an influence upon me, also.

The biographical sketch included in the Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Adams, Clay, Webster and Nuckolls Counties, Nebraska gives this account of John H. Croft:

He has always identified himself with all feasible enterprises, and has contributed liberally of his means in their support. Although formerly a Whig in his political views, he has been a Republican since the organization of the party, and his first presidential vote was cast for William Henry Harrison. He and his wife are members of the United Brethren Church, and their union has been blessed in the birth of nine children.

Though very different accounts, they offer us both the private and the public persona of John Hipple Croft.

After over fifty years of marriage, John’s wife, Elizabeth, died on November 2, 1890. Fortunately, he had many family members living in the area to lend support and comfort. Since 1890 census records are not available, we have no information about him and whether he continued to live on his farm.

I discovered that John remarried on March 6, 1892, to a widow named Rebecca A. Scott Rush in Thomas County, Nebraska. Their time together was cut very short when John died on August 19 of the same year. He was buried next to his wife, Elizabeth, in the Clay Center Cemetery, Clay County, Nebraska.

Sources

“American Occupation of Iowa, 1833 to 1860,” Journal of History & Politics, Vol. 17, No. 1, Jan 1919. http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/America/United_States/Iowa/Texts/journals/IaJHP/17/1/American_Occupation_of_Iowa*.html

Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.1880 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2010.

Ancestry.com. U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2007.

Ancestry.com. Nebraska, State Census Collection, 1860-1885 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Biographical and historical memoirs of Adams, Clay, Webster and Nuckolls counties, Nebraska, Goodspeed Publishing Company, 1890.

Familysearch.org. Nebraska Marriages, 1855-1995, index [database on-line].

“History.Monroe County.” http://files.usgwarchives.net/ia/monroe/history/monroewpa.txt

Lewis, LaRhee Montgomery, “LeRhee’s Legacy.”

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2014

John Hipple Croft Pedigree Chart (click link) john-h-croft-pedigree-chart

Elizabeth Teeter Pedigree Chart (click link) elizabeth-teeter-pedigree-chart

John Hipple Croft Family Group Sheet (click link) john-h-croft-fgs-document

William Teeter Croft

William and Alice Croft with children.
William and Alice Croft with children.

John Hipple and Elizabeth Teeter Croft can certainly be counted among the pioneer folk who traveled long distances to set up their homesteads in early settled territories. They moved their family across three states from Pennsylvania to Monroe County, Iowa sometime between 1847 and 1860. Their first three children were born in Pennsylvania and the last six children were born in Iowa.

When John and Elizabeth’s eighth child was born on April 26, 1858, they were living in Appanoose County, Iowa. They named him William Teeter. Note the use of his mother’s maiden name. This county borders both Monroe County and the state of Missouri. In 1896 Frank Hickenlooper wrote poetically about the landscape of this prairie land in An Illustrated History of Monroe County Iowa. His words set the scene for us.

The old settlers whose faith in the future of Monroe County was unshaken by the midnight chorus of the wild wolves, the sting of the winter frost creeping through the “chinking” of the cabin walls, the sweep of the prairie fires, the depleted meal-chest, the stroke of the prairie rattlesnake, the pall of the “deep snow,” and the loneliness of the prairie cabin – husbands and wives, youths and maidens, whose brave, true hearts and willing hands defied the wilderness; and in after years made it to blossom as the rose, this volume is most sincerely dedicated….

It will seem strange at this day that the beautiful prairies (the word “prairie” in French means “meadows”) of Monroe County, growing in grass and studded with wild sweet Williams, asters, and golden rod, and a profusion of other flowers, should for several years remain untenanted by those who had come here to acquire homes.

Our southern neighbor, Appanoose County, with her wooded ridges and brushy pastures, may be said to define the physical limits or mark the boundaries, in a physical sense, of the North and South.

Note: William’s death certificate gives Keokuk, Iowa as his place of birth. Since his father is listed in the Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925, living in Appanoose County in 1856, I think the information on the death certificate may not be correct.

At the time of the 1860 United States Federal Census, William was 2 years old. The Croft family was living in Monroe County. Recorded on the census were John H. (41) Elizabeth (34) Mary A. (18) Margaret (15) Barbary (12) John (10) Caroline (7) Eli (5) and William (2). John H. recorded his occupation as “Gunsmith.” Other interesting bits of information were given on this census. Value of Real Estate – $400; Value of Personal Estate – $150; Occupation of daughter, Mary Ann – School Teacher; and Person over the age of 20 years of age who cannot read and write – Elizabeth.

Aside from the difficulties that the Croft’s faced in settling in new territories and providing for their family, it was a tumultuous time in the history of the United States. As we know, the Civil War broke out in 1861 and lasted until 1865. Along with all people in that time and place, they must have been greatly impacted.

Iowa was the 29th state to join the union in 1846 and sided with the North in the Civil War. As a part of the Union, it played an important role by providing food, supplies, and troops for the troops. In the 1850’s, the Illinois Central and the Chicago and North Western Railway developed, and this meant Iowa’s fertile fields were linked with the Eastern supply depots during the Civil War. Manufacturers in the east Iowa, as well as farmers, could get their products to the Union army.

Again I turn to Frank Hickenlooper to provide insight into this tragic time. Even though he wrote about Monroe County, the situation was much the same for all in the southern counties of Iowa.

On the breaking out of the Civil War, Monroe County, from her close proximity to the pro-slavery border, was one of those new counties upon which the evil stroke of war fell with a heavy hand. She was ill prepared at the time to make the great sacrifice, but the record of her soldier boys, and of her fathers, upon whose locks time had left its frost marks, shows that they not only took their lives in their own hands, but bowed to a still greater sacrifice, in leaving behind, in privation, their wives and little ones, to battle with hunger and possibly to suffer at the hands of guerrilla hordes from across the Missouri border.

William was only 3 years old when the Civil War began, but his father and older brothers may have been called on to serve in some capacity. I have not located military records for them at this time. Though it is only a supposition on my part, it is possible that as a gunsmith, John Croft  may have provided his services to the army in some way.

In 1870, John and Elizabeth Croft and their family were recorded on the United States Federal Census. Their name was misspelled, but this was not uncommon. We also discover that two more children had been born since that last census was taken. Listed are John Croff (53) Elizabeth (48) Caroline (14) Eli (12) William (11) Edward (8) and Isabel (6).

JOHN AND ELIZABETH CROFT MOVE TO NEBRASKA

At some point in the next ten years, the Croft family headed to Nebraska. When the 1880 United States Federal Census was taken, they were living in Lone Tree, Clay County, Nebraska. The township’s name certainly describes the landscape of this part of the United States. It was a sparsely populated prairie land in south central Nebraska, and a major industry was corn and wheat farming. The census records John and Elizabeth and their four youngest children – Eli (22), William (21), Edward (19) and Isabel (16). The enumerator recorded John’s occupation “Not at home” and the sons’ “Working on farm.” It was recorded that Elizabeth can neither read nor write.

Evidently, when John and Elizabeth migrated to Nebraska, four of their older children also moved. Evidence gleaned from census records show that Jacob and Margaret Croft Hager; Andrew and Barbara Croft Clark; John and Dora Croft; and Nathaniel and Caroline Croft Graham lived in the Clay County.

WILLIAM CROFT AND ALICE CAULK WED AND START A FAMILY

A young woman named Alice Madora Caulk also lived in Clay County. Her parents were Allen Monroe and Cansada Caulk. Like the Crofts, they were a farming family. Sometime in the early 1880’s, she and William met. After a courtship, they married November 12, 1885.

There is not an 1890 Federal census available, but from family records, we know that William and Alice started their family in 1887. Their first child, Oscar Cameron, was born on June 19 in Fairfield, Nebraska. During the next thirteen years, Alice would give birth to six more children – Paul Harold, Vede Weaver, George Allen, Edna Ruth, Elmer Glenn, and Fred Dewey. Along with Oscar, all except Elmer, were recorded on the 1900 United States Federal Census. Shortly after the census was taken, their eighth child was born and named Frank Monroe. Elmer was the only child of these eight who died within his first year. We know that Croft family would continue to grow, so they were certainly on their way to becoming a dynasty!

William and Alice Croft with family
William and Alice Croft with family

By 1910, William and Alice Croft were parents of twelve living children. During the years since the last census, Floyd, Grace, Blanche, Hope, and Russell were added to the fold. All were recorded on the 1910 United States Federal Census. The five oldest sons ranging in ages 11 to 22 were assisting their father William on the family farm.

William and sons on Nebraska farm, 1914
William and sons on Nebraska farm, 1914

Having such a large family seems unbelievable to us today, but it was quite common in earlier times. There is family lore that William wanted to form a type of family commune with each son or son-in-law helping in a certain capacity on the farm. I have read the commune idea was often utilized in remote farming areas, so perhaps his idea was not unique. Not everyone had farming skills but could assist in other ways such as carpentry or machinery repair. Cynthia Croft Wood is William’s great granddaughter and shared this family story passed along by her father Lloyd Ollie Croft.

Their dad (William Croft) never voted for a winning politician – always for the socialist candidate. Hence this was his desire to implement the communistic concept of “each contributing according to his ability and each taking according to his need”. It was Oscar that decided that they “needed” an airplane to dust the crops. I recall Dad saying that the rest of the family wasn’t consulted and this decision caused a rift within this “utopian” commune.

Lone Tree land platte for W.T. Croft farm property.
Lone Tree land platte for W.T. Croft farm property.

During the years between 1914 and 1918 all the world’s great powers were engaged in the First World War, sometimes called “The Great War.” In 1917 and 1918, all men between the ages of 18 and 45 were required to register for the draft. Several of William and Alice’s sons fell in that category, and their World War I Draft Registration Cards are provided on Ancestry.com. I have not checked other records for them, but I do not think any of them served in the military. Nevertheless, with America engaged in a world war, it must have affected their lives and the farming industry.

When the 1920 United States Federal Census was taken, William, Alice, and seven of their children were still living in Lone Tree Township. Fred D., Frank M., Floyd M., Grace X., Blanche M., Hafe (Hope) and Russel W. were listed with their parents. Several names and initials are incorrect, but as mentioned, this often occurred. The sons were working on the farm with their father.

Croft Nebraska farm.
Croft Nebraska farm.

History tells us that many folks began to experience hard times in Nebraska during the 1920’s. A reason is stated in this excerpt from an article entitled “Nebraska – History” found at  www.city-data.com/states/Nebraska-History.html

 Tilling of marginal land to take advantage of farm prices that had been inflated during World War I caused economic distress during the 1920’s. Nebraska’s farm economy was already in peril when the dust storms of the 1930’s began.

THE GREAT DEPRESSION AND DUST BOWL HITS NEBRASKA

It was quite likely that the farming Croft family was impacted by these circumstances. Family sources indicate that beginning in the latter part of the 1920’s and into the 1930’s, the large Croft family began to disperse with each family group moving in different directions. Some traveled northwest, others east, some to the southwest, and a few to Kansas. It is surmised that the reason for the dispersion was the combination of the terrible drought and the historical United States depression. We know that Nebraska was one of the states that felt the brunt of the Dust Bowl that occurred in the early 1930’s, so it is entirely possible the Crofts felt the early effects of it in their area. If that was the case, we can understand their need to seek “greener pastures.”

The 1930 United States Federal Census tells us that William and Alice were still living in Lone Tree Township, Nebraska. The household included only William, Alice, Russell and his wife, Mary. Some of the Croft children and their families were still living in the area but began leaving in 1930’s. Some traveled to Washington and others to Kansas, Oregon, Texas, and New York. Family stories indicate that it took them a while to reach their destinations. As we know, the nation was in the midst of the Great Depression.

Croft Family Reunion, Fairfield, NE, 1935
Croft Family Reunion, Fairfield, NE, 1935

When reading his obituary, I found it interesting that William taught school in Lone Tree for many years. It does not mention what grade he taught, but it is likely the school was small and a class may have included several grades.

Even though we have no records or written stories to guide our thinking, William and Alice must have endured some terrible experiences when Nebraska and other plains states were being besieged by the horrendous Dust Bowl. The description written by Dorothy Creigh gives us a glimpse of what people experienced.

Some of the beginning of the Dust Bowl went back to the time of World War I, when marginal land was plowed to produce $2 wheat, for in years to come when the rains stopped, that land lay bare, despoiled, and eroded. But most of the origins of the Dust Bowl years came from the geological and climatically characteristics of the vast inland area bounded by the Gulf of Mexico on the south, the Rocky Mountains on the west, and what geographic barriers existed on the east and north. The land of high winds and sun, intense temperature extremes, and cyclical patterns of rainfall had known dust storms before; archeological excavations show that almost 500 years earlier, a heavy mantle of dust had driven off the semi-nomadic people who then populated the area. In the early 1930’s, drought, heat, and high winds combined in such a way as to produce a similar dramatic natural catastrophe. Although the semi-arid region had known drought and heat before, when seeds could not germinate or develop, and had known wind for most of its existence, it was the coming together of several forces that created the incessant dust storms of the 1930’s.

William Teeter Croft lived with his wife Alice on their Nebraska farm through many very tough years. Their pioneer stock was tested mightily when the country went through war and depression and the land was crippled by drought and dust storms. If he had hopes for a large family farm commune, those hopes were not fully realized. Nevertheless, through the years they were able to witness their children develop successful livelihoods. It is likely they were will acquainted with many of their grandchildren and great grandchildren which must have brought them great satisfaction and pride.

WILLIAM AND ALICE RETIRE TO TEXAS

When the 1940 United States Federal Census was taken, William and Alice were retired and living on South Railroad Street in Port Isabel, Cameron County, Texas. Perhaps the cold Nebraska weather or ill health was the reason for their move to a warmer climate. Their oldest son, Oscar, and grandson, Lloyd, lived in San Antonio, so they had family for occasional visits.

Four generations of Croft men - William, Oscar, Lloyd and L.K.
Four generations of Croft men – William, Oscar, Lloyd and L.K.

On January 11, 1942, William and Alice were visiting family in San Antonio, Texas when he died at the age of 84. He was buried in San Antonio at the Mission Burial Park South. William was survived by his wife of 57 years, Alice M. Caulk Croft, their twelve children and numerous grandchildren. Here is his obituary, transcribed from photocopy of a newspaper clipping by Mildred Croft (wife of Keith Croft, grandson of William Teeter Croft).

Funeral services for William Teeter Croft, 84, of Fairfield were held in San Antonio, Texas, Wednesday, Jan. 14. Mr. Croft passed away Jan. 11, 1942, after a short illness in San Antonio at the home of his son, 1616 North Flores, where he had been for the last two months.

Mr. Croft was born April 26, 1857, in South Central Iowa, coming to Clay County in 1872, where he homesteaded five miles northwest of Fairfield. Here, he spent the rest of his life, except for the last few years which he spent traveling and seeing the country.

He married Alice M. Caulk on October, 1885. To this union, thirteen children were born, twelve surviving him.

He taught school at Dist. 15, Lone Tree a number of years and [was] well thought of [as} a man during his life time.

Those surviving him are: his wife, Mrs. Alice M. Croft of San Antonio, Texas; daughters, Mrs. Ruth Durfee, of Washington, Kansas; Mrs. Grace Montgomery, of Prosser, Wash.; Mrs. Blanche Mumford of North Port, Nebr.; Mrs. Hope Thompson of North Platte, Nebr.; sons, O.C. Croft of San Antonio, Texas; C.H. Croft and Frank Croft, both of Los Angeles, Calif.; V.W. Croft and Fred Croft, both of Glen Aubrey, N.Y.; G.A. Croft of Kansas City, Mo.; Floyd Croft of Fairfield, Nebr.; and Russell Croft of Dallas, Texas; thirty-four grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren, and a host of friends and other relatives.

william-t-croft-gravestone-img_0318

Sources

Ancestry.com. 1860 United States Federal Census [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. 1870 Unites States Federal Census [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com and The Church of Latter-day Saints. 1880 United States Federal Census [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2005.

Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database online] Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations. Inc., 2000.

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2002.

Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

Ancestry.com. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.

Clay County, marriage license, Clay County Clerk’s Office, Clay Center, Nebraska.

Creigh, Dorothy, “Dust Bowl Years,” Adam County (Nebraska) Historical Society.

“History-Nebraska,” http://www.city-data.com/states/Nebraska-History.html

Hickenlooper, Frank, “An Illustrated History of Monroe County, Iowa 1896,”www.usgennet.org/usa/topic/historical/Monroe/Monroe_1htm

Wikipedia The Free Encylopedia, “Iowa in the American Civil War,”www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iowa_in_the_Ameri

William Teeter Croft, death certificate no. 397, Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

Wood, Cynthia Croft, Personal Recollections of Croft Family, clebleuwood@gmail.com

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011

William T. Croft Pedigree Chart (click link) scan0007

William T. Croft Family Group Sheet (click link) william-t-croft-fgs-document

 

Oscar Cameron Croft

Oscar Cameron Croft
Oscar Cameron Croft

Oscar Cameron was the first of thirteen children born to William Teeter and Alice Caulk Croft, on June 19, 1887 in Fairfield, Clay County, Nebraska. The first time Oscar appears on a United States Federal Census record was in 1900 (The 1890 census record is not available). He was 12 years old and living with his family in Lone Tree, Clay County, Nebraska. The township’s name certainly describes the landscape of this part of the United States. At the time the Crofts lived in the area it was a sparsely populated prairie land in south central Nebraska, and a major industry was corn and wheat farming.

By the time the 1910 United States Federal Census was taken the Croft family had grown by leaps and bounds. Recorded are William and Alice with their twelve children – Oscar C., Paul H., Vede W., George A., Fred D., Frank M., Grace I., Blanche M., Hope C., Russell W., and Ruth E. A son named Elmer died in 1897, the same year he was born. This was a formidable household, to say the least!

In so many historical accounts of this era we read that the children were engaged in the work on the farm and was a major reason for such large families. They provided a type of workforce. Since Oscar was the oldest, undoubtedly his parents expected a great deal of him. More than likely, he and his brothers began at an early age helping their father in various capacities on the wheat farm. In fact, there is family lore that the Croft’s formed a type of family “commune.” Here is the story as related by Oscar’s granddaughter, Cynthia Croft Wood.

Their dad never voted for a winning politician – always for the socialist candidate. Hence this was his desire to implement the communistic concept of “each contributing according to his ability and each taking according to his need”. It was Oscar that decided that they “needed” an airplane to dust the crops. I recall Dad saying that the rest of the family wasn’t consulted and this decision caused a rift within this “utopian” commune.

Oscar Croft beside crop-duster airplane
Oscar Croft beside crop-duster airplane

Sometime in the 1908 or 1909 Oscar met a girl named Ethel Mae Mohler. She was the daughter of Thomas Jefferson and Mary Mohler and her family lived in nearby York County. We do not know how they met, but evidently they were attracted to each other and courted for a time. On October 5, 1910 they married in York County, Nebraska.

Oscar and Ethel Croft
Oscar and Ethel Croft

It is likely that after their marriage Oscar and Ethel lived on or near the family farm land. Ethel’s father was also a farmer so she was familiar with the lifestyle. While still living in Fairfield, Clay County, Nebraska, their first child, Lloyd Ollie, was born  February 9, 1913.

During the years between 1914 and 1918 all the world’s great powers were engaged in the First World War, sometimes called “The Great War.” In 1917 and 1918 all men who between the ages of 18 and 45 were required to register for the draft. Oscar fell in this category and he did his duty by registering June 5, 1917. It is interesting to note that he claimed two disabilities – weak eyes and a heart ailment.

Evidently Oscar made the decision to leave farming because on the 1920 United States Federal Census, he, Ethel, Lloyd, and Keith are living in Hastings, Adams County, Nebraska. It may have been a family rift that caused him to leave the farm, or perhaps it was the realization that he was not cut out for the farming life. Nevertheless, the census recorded his occupation as automobile salesman. Later that year, their second son, Keith Lyle, was born November 15, 1920.

Oscar and Ethel with sons, Lloyd and Keith
Oscar and Ethel with sons, Lloyd and Keith

Sometime in 1929 Oscar and Ethel opted to leave Nebraska. Family sources indicate that during the latter part of the 1920’s into the mid 1930’s the large Croft family began to disperse with each family group moving in different directions. Some traveled northwest, others east, some to the southwest, and a few to Kansas. It is surmised that the reason for the dispersion was the combination of the terrible drought and the historical United States depression. We know that Nebraska was one of the states that felt the brunt of the Dust Bowl that occurred in the early 1930’s, so it is entirely possible the Crofts were feeling the early effects of it in their area. If that was the case, we can understand their need to seek “greener pastures.”

OSCAR, ETHEL CROFT AND SONS MOVE TO TEXAS

Oscar and Ethel moved to San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas in 1929. We do not know what drew them to this part of the country, but perhaps it was the promise of better employment opportunities and living conditions. Oscar, Ethel, Lloyd, and Keith are recorded on the 1930 United States Federal Census and are residing at 1625 Broadway. This residence must have been a rooming house because five other individuals are recorded at this same address. Ownership of the house is not indicated. The census also gives the information that Oscar’s occupation is District Representative in the automobile industry.

1937 was an important year for Oscar and Ethel Croft. They embarked on a new venture with their son Lloyd when together they founded the Croft Trailer Company at 1423 North Flores Street in San Antonio. Later they developed a trailer rental business and became a part of the Nationwide Trailer rental chain. Oscar’s brother and sister-in-law, George and Lena Croft, lived in Kansas City, Missouri and founded a branch Croft Trailer Company there, too. The company was quite successful and the San Antonio branch was in business for over 70 years. In its 70th year Oscar and Ethel’s grandson L.K. Croft submitted an article to the San Antonio Express News and it was published on July 10, 2007.

Happy 70th anniversary to Croft Truck Equipment and Accessories…

Seventy years in business is always worth noting.

The company began in 1937 when Lloyd O. Croft and his parents, O.C. and Ethel Croft, founded the Croft Trailer Company at 1423 N. Flores Street.

It originally focused on making trailers and hitches. Later as the trailer rental portion of the business grew, it became part of the Nationwide Trailer rental chain.

The part of the business specializing in custom truck accessories also grew.

In 1972, a cousin, Mary Ann Balzer, and her husband, Harvey Balzer, purchased the company. The rental portion of the business stopped a decade later as the company moved into selling trailer hitches and truck accessories In 1991 the Balzer children, Mike and Sandra, became president and vice president of the company.

Now at 1503 N. Brazos, the company has 135 employees, with a distribution center in Houston.

croft-trailer-company-1958

Note: At this time (2011) the Croft Truck and Equipment Accessories is no longer in business.

In the years following the founding of Croft Trailer Company Oscar was very involved in developing the business. Though it was no surprise to family members, Ethel worked right beside him assisting with the bookkeeping and other office tasks. It was a team effort. Eventually they even moved into a house next door to the company.

Ethel and Oscar Croft
Ethel and Oscar Croft

When asked to describe his grandfather L.K. Croft shared that he remembers him as having a light-hearted demeanor. In fact, he added that his grandfather’s brothers were also very outgoing and fun-loving.

In the late 1940’s Oscar developed heart disease causing a gradual decline in his health. He died in San Antonio on April 19, 1952 and was buried at Mission Burial Park South.

croft-oscar-c-2

Sources

Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census, [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2004.

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census, [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations. Inc., 2000.

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census, [database online]. Provo UT,

USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census, [database online]. Provo UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. World War I Draft Registrations Cards, 1917-1918 [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2005.

Oscar C. Croft obituary, Express News, San Antonio, Texas, Apr. 20, 1952.

Clay County, marriage record, Clay County Clerk’s Office, Fairfield, Nebraska.

Oscar Cameron Croft, death certificate no. 16167, Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

Tijerina, Edmund, “Around Town”, San Antonio Express News, July 10, 2007, San Antonio, Texas.

Wikipedia The Free Encylopedia, “World War I.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WorldWarI

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011

Oscar Cameron Croft Pedigree Chart (click link) scan0003

 

Lloyd Ollie (Olie) Croft

Lloyd Ollie Croft

Lloyd Ollie (Olie) Croft was born February 9, 1913 in the prairie town of Fairfield, Nebraska. He was the first child of Oscar Cameron and Ethel Mohler Croft who were part of a large wheat farming family in Clay County Nebraska. In fact, Oscar was the eldest child of William and Alice Croft who had a family of thirteen children, all living in the area at the time their son Lloyd was born. Family lore says the family formed a kind of commune, all assisting in various capacities on the farm.

Note: Lloyd’s middle name was spelled “Olie” on his birth certificate, but family members always spelled it “Ollie.” I found no other documents with his middle name spelled out.

William and sons on Nebraska farm, 1914
William and sons on Nebraska farm, 1914

On the 1920 United States Federal Census Oscar, Ethel and Lloyd are living in Hastings, Adams County, Nebraska. It is interesting to note that Oscar is no longer farming, but is recorded as an automobile salesman. Later in that same year on November 15, the Crofts had another son, Keith Lyle.

Lloyd and Keith Croft
Lloyd and Keith Croft

During the latter part of the 1920’s into the mid 1930’s, William and Alice’s large family began to disperse with each family group moving in a different direction. Some traveled northwest, others east, some to the southwest, and a few to Kansas. It is surmised that the reason for the dispersion was the combination of the terrible drought and the historical United States depression. We know that Nebraska was one of the states that felt the brunt of the Dust Bowl that occurred in the early 1930’s, so it is entirely possible the Crofts were feeling the early effects of it in their area. If that was the case, we can understand their need to seek “greener pastures.”

On the Adam County (Nebraska) Historical County website there is an article entitled the “Dust Bowl Years” by Dorothy Creigh and it gives us some insight into the prevailing catastrophic conditions. Here is an excerpt:

 It was darkness at noon-impenetrable clouds of red, or yellow, or brown gritty dust swirling across the countryside, carrying with it topsoil, seed, and the hope of the Great Plains farmers. It was inescapable heat in mid-summer; it was parching drought, furnace-like winds. It was the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s. Whereas the Great Depression of the early 1930’s affected almost all Americans in one way or another, the Dust Bowl years that followed were the affliction of the Great Plains, a phenomenon peculiar to that geographic area. That the people were able to survive the twin calamities of the Depression, then the Dust Bowl, is a measure of their vigor, tenacity, and strength.

OSCAR CROFT FAMILY MOVES TO TEXAS

Like other family members, O.C. and Ethel decided “to pull up stakes” in Nebraska and move to San Antonio, Texas in 1929. Lloyd was 16 years old. We do not know what drew his parents to this part of the country, but it was probably the promise of better employment opportunities and living conditions. Oscar, Ethel, Lloyd, and Keith are recorded on the 1930 United States Federal Census and resided at 1625 Broadway. This residence must have been a rooming house because five other individuals are recorded at this same address. Ownership of the house is not indicated. The census also gives the information that Oscar’s occupation is District Representative in the automobile industry.

Upon arrival to San Antonio, Lloyd enrolled in Thomas Jefferson High School. His high school transcript shows that he had average scores in math and mechanical drawing and below average in English and physical education. His best subject was music and he participated in both the Glee Club and Orchestra. Knowing that later in his life he found great success as a businessman building and renting of utility trailers, this seems a bit ironic. However, we do know that as an adult he enjoyed music and had a beautiful singing voice. He also loved ballroom dancing and acting in a local theatre group, so his talents did not go to waste! Lloyd was in the first graduating class at Thomas Jefferson High School, June 1, 1932.

While in high school Lloyd met a very lovely girl named Gertrude Koenning. They began dating, and as the saying goes, “the rest is history.” During the next few years, the relationship grew more serious. A year after Gertrude (Gertie) graduated from Jefferson High School, they married. The ceremony took place on February 9, 1934, at the Austin Street Methodist Church in Seguin, Texas, with the Reverend L.J. Rode officiating.

Lloyd and Gertrude "Gertie" Croft
Lloyd and Gertrude “Gertie” Croft

Later in life both Lloyd and Gertie shared stories about their early married life, and according to them, those were difficult economic times for them. Gertie’s brother, Mel Koenning, was a photographer with the San Antonio Light (newspaper) and helped Lloyd get a paper route. For several years he delivered newspapers to residential customers and Gertie worked as a clerk at Woolworth’s.

One year after they married Lloyd and Gertie had their first child, Lloyd Koenning Croft, born February 12, 1935. They used the nickname, “L.K.” One time Lloyd told L.K. that his birth was their first wedding anniversary gift.

CROFT TRAILER COMPANY IS FOUNDED

In 1937 Lloyd embarked on a new venture, and though he did not know it at the time, his life and fortune were about to change. With his parents, O.C. and Ethel Croft, they founded the Croft Trailer Company at 1423 North Flores Street in San Antonio. His daughter, Cynthia Croft Wood, tells how the story unfolded in this personal account.

 Croft Trailer got its start because of Dad. He was delivering papers at the time, and someone on his route knew that he was a good auto mechanic and asked if he would make a trailer for him. Dad went to a junk yard, got a car axle for almost nothing, and figured out how to put sides on and a make-shift hitch. Instead of selling the trailer to the man, Dad rented it. It seems the guy was moving, as so many did during the depression, and after he moved, he brought the trailer back. Someone else wanted to rent it immediately. Pop (O.C. Croft) funded the purchase of more axles and lumber. The Crofts had scattered to the four winds–Kansas City, West Coast, New York–and Dad got them to accept a trailer coming to their area and then returning it with a rental.

Croft Nationwide Trailer Company, 1958

Initially the company manufactured trailers and hitches. During World War II, it was considered an essential business supporting agriculture, particularly the cotton and cattle industries. Later they developed a trailer rental business and became a part of the Nationwide Trailer rental chain. Lloyd served as president of the Nationwide for several years. His uncle and aunt, George and Lena Croft, lived in Kansas City, Missouri and founded a branch Croft Trailer Company there, too. The company was quite successful and the San Antonio branch continued in business for over 70 years. In its 70th year L.K. Croft submitted an article to the San Antonio Express News and it was published on July 10, 2007.

Happy 70th anniversary to Croft Truck Equipment and Accessories

The company began in 1937 when Lloyd O. Croft and his parents, O.C. and Ethel Croft, founded the Croft Trailer Company at 1423 N. Flores Street.

It originally focused on making trailers and hitches. Later as the trailer rental portion of the business grew, it became part of the Nationwide Trailer rental chain.

The part of the business specializing in custom truck accessories also grew.

In 1972, a cousin, Mary Ann Balzer, and her husband, Harvey Balzer, purchased the company. The rental portion of the business stopped a decade later as the company moved into selling trailer hitches and truck accessories In 1991 the Balzer children, Mike and Sandra, became president and vice president of the company.

Now at 1503 N. Brazos, the company has 135 employees, with a distribution center in Houston.

 Note: At this time, the Croft Truck and Equipment Accessories is no longer in business.

LLOYD CROFT’S FAMILY LIFE

Just as the San Antonio business developed and expanded, Lloyd and Gertie’s family life also blossomed and changed. To their delight Lloyd and Gertie’s became parents again when their daughter Cynthia Elaine was born on October 17, 1940.

Lloyd and Gertrude with son, L.K., and baby daughter, Cynthia
Lloyd and Gertrude with son, L.K., and baby daughter, Cynthia

During the next years much of Lloyd’s time and energies were consumed by his business while Gertie tended to their home and the needs and interests of L.K. and Cynthia. Normally as children grow and mature, there is an increased involvement in school, church, and community activities, and that was certainly true for the Crofts. Both Lloyd and Gertie did their part in assuring that L.K. and Cynthia lived a full life in a healthy and wholesome home environment.

Lloyd was so proud of his children, L.K. and Cynthia. Even though he worked long hours seven days a week, he would always make time for them. When they were teenagers he enjoyed meeting their friends and attending various school or community activities in which they were involved. L.K. shared that as he matured he looked a great deal like his dad. Lloyd teased and said he welcomed the opportunity to introduce L.K. as his younger brother!

In her autobiography Lucy Ann Nance Croft wrote about her father-in-law, Lloyd Ollie Croft.

Father impacted my life in many ways. But it was his sense of humor that I loved the most. Perhaps his showmanship revealed itself in his humor, or maybe it was his way of showing affection. He loved to tell jokes, some silly, some a little off-color. He could be quite a tease, too. Telling family stories was one of his talents, and some were hilarious and quite embellished, I’m sure. We wish now that we had recorded some of those old family tales.

His children and grandchildren were his pride and joy. He loved to brag about their accomplishments. He always introduced L.K. as “my son, Dr. L.K. Croft.” When we visited their home, we knew that at some point he would take our children to visit his friends so that he could show off his grandchildren. This also became a forum for his storytelling. He had great pride in his family, and I adored this about him.

A responsibility that Father took quite seriously was caring for his mother. Even though she was a very independent woman and lived alone until her death at the age of ninety-seven, he called or saw her almost every day. He was so thoughtful where she was concerned and made sure her home was secure and her car in good repair. He did not hover, primarily because she would not put up with it, but he was there for her when she needed him. His devotion to his mother impressed me greatly.

I have such fond memories of Father and the part he played in all of our lives. His great smile, teasing manner, eagerness to help, and practical, down-to-earth way of dealing with things all made a lasting impression on me. He could be a lovable clown or a rock of strength, depending on the situation. (Croft, 100-101)

 Lloyd and Trudy Croft
Lloyd and Trudy Croft

Life for Lloyd was extremely good, but as with most people, it was not without troubles and grief. Following his retirement from his business in 1972, his health began to fail and he tried unsuccessfully to deal with his alcoholism. In addition, Gertie had a recurrence of mental illness that had plagued her in the 1950’s. Undoubtedly, the greatest sadness he had ever experienced occurred on January 5, 1977 when his beloved Gertie took her life.

Following Gertie’s death Lloyd grieved, but with the help of family and friends he adjusted to his life situation fairly well. His friends stayed in close touch and included him in regular social gatherings. It was at one of these occasions that he renewed a friendship with a former acquaintance, Helen Cochral. Following a brief courtship they married April 17, 1978 in Richardson, Texas in the presence of his children and grandchildren.

Lloyd and Helen Croft, Christmas 1977
Lloyd and Helen Croft, Christmas 1977

Helen brought a great deal of joy and comfort into Lloyd’s final years. She was totally embraced by his mother, children and grandchildren and they grew to love her dearly. She had no children, but Lloyd’s family became 100% hers. Her large family of siblings, nephews, and nieces adored him, too. Even though he had many good days, Lloyd’s health issues continued to worsen over the next years. Helen lovingly cared for him to the last days of his life. He died of congestive heart failure on January 5, 1987 in San Antonio, Texas. He was buried in the mausoleum at Mission Burial Park North next to his dear wife, Gertie.

Sources

Ancestry.com. 1920 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Ancestry.com. 1930 United States Federal Census [database online] Provo UT, USA:

Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. Texas Marriage Collection, 1814-1909 and 1966-2002 [database online]

Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.

Creigh, Dorothy, “Dust Bowl Years,” Adam County (Nebraska) Historical Society.

Croft, Lucy Ann Nance, Looking Back: Reflections On My Life, 2007.

Guadalupe County, marriage record, Guadalupe County Clerk’s Office, Sequin, Texas.

Lloyd Ollie Croft birth certificate no. 2940, State of Nebraska, Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of Census, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Lloyd O. Croft obituary, Express News, San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 6, 1987.

Lloyd O. Croft student transcript, Jefferson High School, San Antonio Independent School District.

Lloyd O. Croft, death certificate no. 00190, Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

Tijerina, Edmund, “Around Town,” San Antonio Express News, San Antonio, Texas, July 10, 2007.

Wood, Cynthia Croft, “Personal Recollections of Croft Family, clebleuwood@gmail.com

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011

Lloyd Ollie Croft Pedigree Chart (click link) scan0002

Lloyd Ollie Croft Family Group Sheet (click link) lloyd-o-croft-fgs-document