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

 

 

 

James Patterson and Sarah Powers Caulk

Using information from the Ancestry website, here is a time line for James Patterson and Sarah Powers Caulk.

1794

James Patterson Caulk was born about 1794 in Kentucky. His parents were Jacob and Abigail Patterson Caulk. No birth records have been found to document this information.

1802

Sarah Powers was born April 5, 1802 in North Carolina. Her parents were Ephraim and Christiana Cahoon Powers. No birth records have been found to document this information.

1820

Sometime before 1820, James Patterson Caulk and Sarah Powers met and married, probably in Tennessee. When the 1820 United States Federal Census was enumerated on August 7, 1820, James was listed (only the name of the head of household was given) and living in Rutherford County, Tennessee. Data given was one male under the age of 10, one male between ages of 16-25, and one female between ages of 16-25. The child would have been William Henderson Caulk. James was engaged in agriculture.

“From Tennessee, in 1821, came Ephraim Powers and his family, with his sons-in-law James Caulk and Joshua Perkins. The discomfitures of frontier life and the prevalence of disease caused dissatisfaction and they returned to their old home in the south, but in 1824 were back in Macoupin County Powers first settled on the place improved by Richard Wilhelm.” (History of Macoupin County, Illinois)

1822-1829

Between 1822 and 1829, James and Sarah had five more children – Benjamin Franklin, Martha, James Nathaniel, Narcissa Christianna, and Sarah Jane. All were born in Rutherford County, Tennessee.

1830

When the 1830 United States Federal Census was taken, James, Sarah and their family were living in Macoupin County, Illinois. Again the census only gave the name of the head of household. Data on the census indicates there were five children, two boys and three girls. Evidently, one of their children was deceased. I think it may have been Benjamin Franklin.

1831-1842

Between 1831 and 1842, the Patterson family grew. Five more children were born – Allen Monroe, Hardena Sofrony, Mary Abigail, Jacob Harry, and John Lafayette.

1836

A land record from the Illinois Public Land Purchase Records (found on the Ancestry website) indicates that James P. Caulk purchased 8000 acres of land in Illinois on March 7, 1836.

1840

James Caulk and family appear on the 1840 United States Federal Census living in Macoupin County, Illinois. Only head of household is listed by name. Household included 1 male between 5-9; 1 male between 10-14; 1 male between 15-19; 1 male between 40-49; 2 females under 5; 2 females 10-14; 2 females 30-39. James was employed in agriculture.

A land record from the U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907 (found on the Ancestry website) indicates that James P. Caulk purchased land in Illinois on January 1, 1840.

 1842

James Patterson Caulk died on November 30, 1842 in Macoupin County, Illinois. At this time, I do not have a death or burial record for James P. Caulk. His wife, Sarah, was buried in the Kirkland Cemetery in Montgomery County. I contacted the Montgomery County Genealogical Society in 2009 and was told that it is possible he was buried in this cemetery but there was no stone present for James P. Caulk when the cemetery was “read” in 2000.

1850

Sarah Caulk was located on the 1850 United States Federal Census. She was living in Macoupin County, Illinois. Two of her children, Jacob and Hardena, were included in the listing.

1870

Sarah Caulk was located on the 1870 United States Federal Census in the residence of her son, Jacob H., and his wife, Mary Jane. They lived in Madison County, Illinois. I was not able to find Sarah on the 1860 or 1870 censes. It is likely she lived with one of her children.

1878

Sarah Caulk died on April 7, 1878 in Sorento, Montgomery, Illinois. She was buried in the Kirkland Cemetery.

Sarah Caulk Grave Marker

Sources

Ancestry.com. 1820 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT: MyFamily.com, Inc., 2004.

Ancestry.com. 1830 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT; The Generations Network, Inc., 2004.

Ancestry.com. 1840 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT: MyFamily.com, Inc., 2004.

Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generation Network, Inc., 2005.

Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2003.

Ancestry.com. U.S. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907 [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2008.

Ancestry.com. Web: Illinois, Find A Grave Index, 1809-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

State of Illinois, Illinois Land Records. [database online] Orem, UT: Ancestry, Inc., 1999.

U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current, http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=35268680&ref=acom

Walker, Hon. Charles A., History of Macoupin County, Illinois, S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1911.

James P. Caulk Family Group Sheet (click link) James P. Caulk FGS

Allen Monroe and Cansada Jones Caulk

Allen Monroe Caulk was born November 11, 1831 in Macoupin County Illinois. He was the sixth child of James Patterson and Sarah Powers Caulk. This large pioneer family migrated from Tennessee to Illinois about 1829.

I first located Allen Monroe Caulk on a marriage record showing that he and Racheal Sackett wed on September 5, 1850 in Montgomery County, Illinois (adjacent to Macaupin County). A son, George Washington, was born October 13, 1835, but their marriage must have broken up after that. The 1860 United States Federal Census shows Allen living in the household of James Kykendoll and working as a farm laborer. Also, when he enlists in the Union army, July 25, 1861, he states he is single. I have found no divorce record.

As previously stated, Allen enlisted in the Union army July 25, 1861. He was in the 7th Regiment, Illinois Infantry, Company D and was ranked as private. He served three years and was discharged July 29, 1864 when his term of service had expired.

Military record for Allen M. Caulk. Caulk was a private in the Union army from July 25, 1861 until his term of service expired July 29, 1864.

ALLEN MARRIES WIDOW CANSADA JONES CISCO

After his time in the military, Allen remained in Montgomery County, and during that time, he met a widow named Cansada Jones Cisco. She had been widowed twice, once in 1861, and again, in 1865. Her first husband was Samuel Stokes and her second was William Cisco. She had one son with each husband, Jasper Stokes and Joseph Cisco. Allen and Cansada married on September 6, 1866.

Marriage record for Allen M. Caulk and Causada Cisco.

Cansada Jones was born October 12, 1842 in Tennessee and was the daughter of Joseph and Elizabeth Sneed Jones. Like the Caulk family, they migrated to Illinois, probably in the 1850’s.

When the 1870 United States Federal Census was taken, Allen and Cansada are living in Bear Creek, Montgomery County, Illinois. Along with Cansada’s two sons, Jasper and Joseph, they have two more children, Alice (5) and Albert (2). Allen’s mother, Sarah, was also living with them.

During the following ten years, the Caulk family expanded “its ranks.” By 1880 the census shows they have five more children. The name on the census is mistakenly recorded as “Cork.” Listed are: A.M. Cork (48), Cansada (37), Joseph W. (16), Alice (13), Albert (11), Theodosia (9), Arthur (7), Rosette (4), Lillie (2) and Sarah (8m). The family resided in Seminary, Fayette County, Illinois, northwest of Montgomery County.

THE CAULK FAMILY MOVES TO NEBRASKA

Sometime before 1885, Allen and Cansada left Illinois and moved west to Nebraska. He was located on the Nebraska State Census, 1885, in Lone Tree, Clay County. Lone Tree was a prairie town located in the south central part of the state. I do not know their reasons for the move with their large family, but it could not have been an easy journey. Following is a bit of information that lends some insight into the reasons people were drawn to Nebraska.

During the 1870s to the 1880s, Nebraska experienced a large growth in population. Several factors contributed to attracting new residents. The first was that the vast prairie land was perfect for cattle grazing. This helped settlers to learn the unfamiliar geography of the area. The second factor was the invention of several farming technologies. Agricultural inventions such as barbed wire, wind mills, and the steel plow, combined with good weather, enabled settlers to make use of Nebraska as prime farming land. By the 1880s, Nebraska’s populations had soared to more than 450,000 people. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebraska) By 1900, Allen and Cansada’s household had greatly diminished. The census record shows they have only two children living with them, a son, Henry (19), and a daughter, Bertha (15). However, I think the ages are incorrectly recorded. Later census records for them give their birthdates as – Henry, 1881 and Bertha, 1884. Evidently, the ages on the 1900 census should be Henry, 9 and Bertha, 5. All of the older children had married and established homes of their own.

Note: On the 1900 census, Cansada gives information that she was mother of twelve children and only eleven were living. I was not able to determine who the twelfth child was or when he or she was born. There was an Edna Pearly Caulk, born November 23, 1886 in Fairfield, Nebraska and died October 20, 1895 in Benton County, Arkansas. Her grave marker in the Decatur, Arkansas Cemetery has the inscription which says she was the daughter of A.M. . and C. Caulk. Could this be the unidentified daughter? If so, what was she doing in Arkansas?

Allen farmed for many years, but by 1910, he was retired, and he and Cansada lived in the town of Lone Tree. The 1910 United States Federal Census shows they were living in a house with two boarders, John and Jamas Bell, and a servant, Ena Jones. At this time, several of their children were also living in Clay County, so they had family to keep them company. Their daughter, Alice, and her husband, William, had thirteen children, so there were many grandchildren nearby.

Allen Monroe Caulk died on December 3, 1913 in Fairfield, Clay County, Nebraska. His death certificate gives the cause of death was acute bronchitis. He was survived by his wife of 47 years, Cansada, ten children and one stepson. Allen was buried in the Fairfield Cemetery.

Following Allen’s death, Cansada remained in Fairfield. The next year she married for the fourth time to a widower named Michael Sweeley. He also had a number of children; so undoubtedly, they enjoyed and shared their sixteen years of marriage surrounded by their large families. Cansada died December 24, 1930 in Fairfield, Clay County, Nebraska and was buried beside Allen Monroe Caulk.

Grave marker for Allen and Cansada Caulk.
Grave marker for Allen and Cansada Caulk.

Sources

Allen Monroe Caulk, death certificate no. 10509, Nebraska Health and Human Services System, Lincoln, Nebraska.

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

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.

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. Nebraska, State Census, 1885 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002.

Ancestry.com. Web: Nebraska, Find A Grave Index, 1854-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

Dodd, Jordan, Liahona Research, comp. Illinois Marriages, 1790-1860 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.

Jordan Dodd and Liahona Research, comp.. Illinois, Marriages, 1851-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

Historical Data Systems, comp. American Civil War Soldiers [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 1999.

Montgomery County, marriage license, Montgomery County Clerk’s Office, Hillsboro, Illinois.

“Macoupin County, Illinois,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macoupin_County_Illinois

“Nebraska,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebraska

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2015

Allen M. Caulk Pedigree Chart (click link) Allen M. Caulk Pedigree Chart Scan0001

Allen M. Caulk Family Group Sheet (click link) Allen M. Caulk FGS – Document

 

William and Rebecca Kirkpatrick Bowton

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William Bowton was born August 3, 1819 in England. Some family researchers believe the location was Essex County, northeast of London. He immigrated to America with his parents, Mark and Mary Ann Nash Bowton, when he was nine years old (1828). William’s obituary states that upon arrival, the family moved to Dearborn County, Indiana.

By the time the Bowton family arrived in Dearborn County, Indiana in about 1829, it was a thriving center of agriculture and business. Following both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, people migrated into the area in large numbers seeking cheap land, many building homes along the Ohio River on the southeastern border of county. (McHenry)

I have not been able to discover how or when they met, but William and Rebecca Jane Kirkpatrick found each other. She was the daughter of Hugh and Nancy Baird Kirkpatrick. She was born May 3, 1828 in Ohio, but evidently her family had moved to the Dearborn area. William and Rebecca married January 15, 1846 in Dearborn, Indiana.

WILLIAM AND REBECCA MOVE TO ILLINOIS

There are no family letters and diaries to lend “color” to the Bowton story, but other information tells us they moved from Indiana to Illinois (via Ohio) sometime between 1852 and 1855. I imagine they traveled by wagon, perhaps with others going west. This description gives us picture of life on the wagon train.

The pioneers from Pennsylvania, Ohio and the southern states betrayed their nativity and prejudice in the schooner-shaped wagon box, the stiff tongue, the hind wheels double the size of the forward ones and closely coupled together, the whole drawn by a team of four or six horses guided by a single line in the hands of the teamster riding the nigh wheeler…

The contents of the immigrant wagons were astonishing indeed in amount as well as variety of articles. A glance under the canvas covering disclosed a startling array of baggage if ‘women, guns, rifles, boys, girls, babies and other knick-knacks’ may be called baggage. Below on the axles of the wagons dangled pots and kettles of all forms and sizes. Sometimes dogs and even cats were included among the movables of the immigrating families. To the Yankee mover, a plough, a bed, a barrel of salt meat, a supply of tea and molasses, a Bible and a wife were the indispensable articles. (Pooley)

I found very little reliable information about William until I located him on the 1860 United States Federal Census as William Boton. He, his wife, Rebecca (36), and their five children were living in Orion, Fulton, Illinois. The children listed on this census are William (12), John Taylor (8), Hugh Taylor (5), Mary Taylor (3) and Nancy Taylor (1/12). I do not know why four of the children have the “Taylor” name. This particular census does not give the relationship to Head of Household, but I am reasonably sure they are William and Rebecca’s children. William is farming and has real estate valued at $2000 and personal estate valued at $500.

Note: The misspelling of names on the census was not uncommon. Enumerators often spelled phonetically – they wrote down what they heard. Those giving the information may have had a foreign accent, such as the case of William Bowton (British). Also, those taking or giving the information may have had limited education.

It is helpful that the 1860 census gives a place of birth for each person. From that, we find that Rebecca was born in Ohio; William and Rebecca’s oldest son, William Henry, was born in Indiana; their son, John, was born in Ohio; and Hugh, Mary and Nancy were born in Illinois. This information sheds light on William’s whereabouts during his earlier years. The travel pattern was somewhat confusing, but perhaps the moves went something like this:

1828 – Bowton family immigrates and settles in Indiana.

1846 – William and Rebecca marry in Dearborn, Indiana.

1846 – William Henry is born in Indiana.

1852 – John is born in Ohio.

1855 – Hugh is born in Illinois.

1857 – Mary Emma and Nancy are born in Illinois.

Though we have little information about William and Rebecca’s life during the 1860’s, we do know that the United States became embroiled in the Civil War. Illinois paid allegiance to the Union. I found no military record for William, and his sons would have been too young to serve. Nevertheless, it goes without saying, the Bowton family must have felt the impact of the war on their lives and livelihood. It is likely they had friends and neighbors who enlisted, and perhaps some of these men gave their lives for the Union cause.

When the 1870 United States Federal Census was taken, the Bowton family was still residing in Orion, Fulton County, Illinois. It is not a surprise to find the family had grown with the birth of two more sons. The name is misspelled as Bonton. Listed are: William (51), Rebecca (42), Henry (22), John (18), Mary (13), Nancy (10), Charles (7) and Andrew (5/12). Note that William Henry was listed as “Henry.” Other information in the census given in this census was the value of real estate ($5000) and value of personal estate ($1000). William is still farming and his older sons are farm laborers.

Note: We know from information given on the 1900 United States Federal Census, William and Rebecca had nine children. Two of the children are not enumerated on any census record. Due to the distance in ages between Charles and Andrew, I think the two children may have been born between 1860 and 1870 but did not survive. Some Bowton family researchers think their names were Albert and Cynthia.

William and Rebecca’s family had changed a lot when the 1880 census was taken. They were still farming in Orion, Fulton County, Illinois, but the older children had married and established their own homes. The three youngest children, Nancy (19), Charles (16) and Andrew (10) are still residing with William and Rebecca. One new bit of information found on this census was the fact that Rebecca’s mother was born in Ireland and her father in Ohio. However, I have not determined the names of her parents.

Note: Land records for 1871 and 1895 show that William Bowton owned land in Orion, Fulton County, Illinois.

Since the 1890 United States Federal Census is not available (much of it destroyed or badly damaged by fire, water and smoke), twenty years had lapsed before finding William (80) and Rebecca (72) on the 1900 census. This census confirms they had been married fifty-five years and had nine children. It states that only six of the children are still living. This means they had experienced one of life’s most difficult circumstances – the death of children. As best as I was able to determine, those who died before 1900 were Hugh, Albert and Cynthia. The 1900 census also asks questions about immigration to the United States. William says his year of immigration was 1828 and that he had been in the U.S. for 72 years.

William Bowton died on March 23, 1903 and was buried in the Brunswick Cemetery, Trivoli, Peoria County, Illinois. Here is a transcription of an obituary that appeared in the Glasford Gazette, Glasford, Illinois, April 3, 1903.

The subject of this sketch was born in England August 2, 1819 and came with his parents to America when he was 12 years old.

They soon after moved on to a new farm in Miller Township, Dearborn County, Indiana, when the father died leaving a wife, four boys and one girl. William, then fourteen, being the oldest, was called upon to face the real battles of life in taking the lead in sharing the burden of the family.

He was married to Miss Rebecca Kirkpatrick, January 15, 1846. To this union 9 children were born, 3 girls and 6 boys, six of whom with the mother survive him.

In 1854 he came from Indiana to Illinois and settled in Fulton County on the farm where he lived ever since.

Of the children John T. was born in Ohio, Hugh K., Mary E., Nancy E., Cynthia, Charles E., Albert and Andrew were born on the old homestead in Orion Township.

Many years of faithful toil had made for himself a comfortable home.

Mr. Bowton had been suffering with the grippe and crysiplas (?) but did not consider himself seriously ill. A physician was called just a week before the end came which was March 23, 1903. His age being 83 years, 5 months and 21 days.

Funeral services were held in Brunswick, Wednesday at 1 PM by Rev. Verlander. Buried in Brunswick Cemetery.

Mr. Bowton was held in high esteem by all who knew him as an honest, industrious, upright man and a loving husband and father.

Besides his widow he leaves 6 children, Mrs. Henry Echols of Glasford, Mrs. Mary Mohler of Orchard Township, Charles of Trivoli Twsp., and John of Sheldon, IL, besides a host of friends to mourn his loss.

Glasford Gazette, April 3, 1903

Note: Some of information given in this obituary differs from data found in my research.

Sometime following William’s death, Rebecca went to live with her son, Charles his wife, Olive and five year old daughter, Zelma. They were found on the 1910 United States Federal Census living on a farm in Trivoli, Peoria County, Illinois. Several of her children and their families lived in counties nearby, so I imagine she enjoyed their love and support during her late years.

Rebecca Bowton died on March 2, 1919 and was buried beside her husband in the Brunswick Cemetery, Trivoli, Peoria County, Illinois.

Sources

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. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2006.

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

Ancestry.com. Web: Illinois, Find A Grave Index, 1809-2012 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.

Glasford Gazette, Obituary for William Bowton, April 3, 1903.

“Indiana, Marriages, 1811-1959” index and images, Family Search. http://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XXT3-3HQ

McHenry, Chris, “A Brief History of Dearborn County,” http://www.lpld.lib.in.us/briefhistory

Pooley, William Vipond, “The Settlement of Illinois From 1830-1850,” 1905. http://archive.org/stream/settlementofilli00poo

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2015.

William Bowton Pedigree Chart (click link) william-bowton-pedigree-chart-scan0001

William Bowton Family Group Sheet (click link)william-bowton-fgs-document

 

John Adam and Lydia Ann Shambaugh Mohler

John Adam Mohler was born March 9, 1810 in Washington County, Pennsylvania. There is some information indicating his parents, John Adam and Anney Irich Mohler, were also born in this beautiful part of western Pennsylvania. John, Sr. was a Lutheran minister and a farmer.

Sometime before 1820, John Adam, Sr. and his family migrated to Ashland County, Ohio. Though it was quite a long journey, history tells us that his family was among many Pennsylvanians who moved to Ashland County in north central Ohio. This was an area of lakes and forests on the dividing bridge, or watershed, between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Eventually, farming became the primary industry. John, Sr. was both a minister and a farmer, and a land record dated December 1, 1830 showed he purchased 80 acres of land, transacted April 24, 1820.

As fate would have it, there was another family living in Ashland County which had migrated to Ohio from Pennsylvania whose daughter met and married John Adam Mohler, Jr. The young woman was Lydia Ann Shambaugh and her parents were John Philip and Catherine Walter Shambaugh. She was born May 28, 1816 in Union County, Pennsylvania.

We do not know when or where they met, but after a courtship, John and Lydia married on June 9, 1835 in Richland County, Ohio which is adjacent to Ashland County.

Marriage record for John Adam Mohler and Lydia Ann Shambaugh.
Marriage record for John Adam Mohler and Lydia Ann Shambaugh.

By the time the 1850 United States Federal Census was taken, John and Lydia lived in Hanover, Ashland County, Ohio. In the fifteen years since their marriage, their family had grown by leaps and bounds. As unbelievable as it may seem, they had nine children – Julia Ann (14), Levi (13), Phoebe (12), William Henry (10), George Washington (8), Catherine Clara (6), Jeremiah (4), Mary Ann (2) and John Wesley (1). John Adam was farming.

Sometime between 1850 and 1860, the Mohler family moved to Spring Grove, Warren County in eastern Illinois. I do not know the reasons for their migration but traveling from north central Ohio would not have been an easy journey, particularly with such a large family. By the time they reached Warren County, the population had begun to grow, two reasons being the arrival of the railroad and the proximity to the Mississippi River. Evidently, John Adam was drawn to this area seeking a better life for his family.

The 1860 United States Federal Census reveals the family had continued to grow during the intervening years. Children listed on this census are: Levi (21), William Henry (19), George Washington (17), Jeremiah (13), John Wesley (12), Thomas Jefferson (7), Franklin Pierce (5), Isaac Newton (4), Oliver Cromwell (9/12), Catherine (16) and Mary Ann (13). Both Julia Ann and Phoebe had married. We know that John and Lydia had one other son, Martin Luther, who died shortly after his birth in 1857. Levi’s wife, Martha, and daughter, Roda, are also included in this census record.

No death record or burial location has been found for Lydia, but I think she died sometime between 1860 and 1866, probably in Warren County, Illinois. She would have been in her late 40’s and had given birth to fourteen children.

The lives of John Mohler and his children must have been greatly disrupted by Lydia’s death, and at the same time this occurred, the country became engaged in war. The American Civil War broke out in 1861, and Illinois was one of the twenty-five states that was a part of the Union. Like other families in this place and time, the Mohler’s experienced the agonies of this tragic war. Though John was not in the military, his son Levi was enlisted.

No major battles were fought in Illinois, but it was a primary source of troops for the Union army and of military supplies, food, and clothing. Also, any history buff knows about the two Illinois men who became prominent in the politics and the army during this time – Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

Following Lydia’s death, John Adam Mohler married Ida Jane Bellis Voorhees, in about 1866. Like John, she was widowed and had two sons, James and George, and a daughter, Sadie (Sallie) Voorhees. Between 1867 and 1876, they had three more children, Alexander Hamilton, Ida May Bell and Charles Edwin. Though I was not able to find them on the 1870 census, when the 1880 United States Federal Census was taken Oliver, Sadie, Alexander, Ida and Edwin were listed. The family was located in Logan, Peoria County, Illinois.

John Adam Mohler died October 25, 1894 at home in Hamiliton County, Illinois and was buried in the Oakwood Cemetery, Montebello Township, Hancock, Illinois. His obituary was found in Carthage Gazette, November 2, 1894.

 

A Good Man Gone

John Adam Mohler, native of Washington County, PA, and the son of a Lutheran minister, died near Hamilton, Ill., on last Thursday, aged 84 years, 7 months and 16 days. He has lived in Ashland Co., Ohio, Warren, Fulton, and Peoria counties, Ill. The last six years, he lived near Hamilton. He was married in 1835 to Miss Lydia Shambaugh by whom he had 14 children. One died in infancy, another at the battle of Fort Donnelson, and two daughters after their marriage. Again he was married to Mrs. Ida J. Voorhees, of Peoria county, who bore him 3 children, all of whom, with their mother, are living. Thus he has 13 children living.

In early life he united with the Lutheran church: later with the U.V. and finally, with the Congregational church of Hamilton.

His remains were interred in the Oakwood cemetery on Sabbath morning, funeral services being conducted by Revs. J.H. Rose, of Hamilton, and H.M. Brewer, of this city.

 

John Adam’s obituary mentions he had lived near Hamilton, Illinois the last six years of his life. Both a land plat and the Petition for Letters of Administration by his widow Ida Mohler following his death show he owned land in near Hamilton, Hancock County, Illinois.

The death of a son in the Battle of Fort Donelson near the Tennessee/Kentucky border February 11-16, 1862 is also mentioned in John’s obituary. I have not been able to determine which of his sons this might have been. Levi was enlisted in the military during the Civil War, but I found information of his death June 14, 1909.

In my research of John Adam and Lydia Shambaugh Mohler, two things greatly impressed me – the number of children and the names of their sons. In their twenty-four years of marriage, John and Lydia had fourteen children. John and his second wife, Ida, had three more children. With the exception of Martin Luther, all lived to adulthood. Naming their sons after historical figures appears a phenomenon and begs the questions – why did they do it and how much did they know about these men in history?

When reading accounts of lives of pioneers during 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States, I am always astounded by their abilities to confront many difficult circumstances of life – physical, emotional and cultural. Their pioneering spirit drove them to move west in crude wagons over rough roadways. They bought and farmed land to establish a means of livelihood, settling where they could set up households in largely undeveloped areas. Like others, John and Lydia carried out the daily tasks of feeding and clothing their families while participating in community life with other dauntless folks.

I am particularly impressed by the strength of women during those times. Many, like Lydia and Ida, gave birth to numbers of children when medical attention was primitive by today’s standards. The manner in which they attended to the daily, and sometimes tedious, tasks of cooking, sewing, and nurturing of their families in very hard, rustic conditions is unbelievable to us. Paying tribute to these courageous souls seems the right thing to do.

Grave marker for John Adam Mohler.
Grave marker for John Adam Mohler.

                                                 Sources

Ancestry.com. 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009.

Ancestry.com. 1860 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. General Land Office Records, 1796-1907 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.

Carthage Gazette, obituary for John Adam Mohler, November 2, 1894.

Hancock County, Illinois, Petition for Letters of Administration, Estate of John A. Mohler, 24 Nov 1894.

“Historical Sketch of Ashland County,”  http://www.ashlandcounty.org/commissioners/files/history.pdf

Richland County, marriage record, Richland County Clerk’s Office, Mansfield, Ohio.

“Warren County Illinois History,”  http://www.warrencountyil.com/communities/kirkwood/history

 Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2015
John A. & Lydia Mohler FGS John Adam & Lydia Mohler Family Group Sheet (click link)
John A. & Ida Mohler FGS John Adam & Ida Mohler Family Group Sheet (click link)

 

Mary Emma Bowton Mohler

Thomas and Mary Mohler with children.
Thomas and Mary Mohler with children.

Mary Emma Bowton’s life began in Fulton County, Illinois on May 23, 1856. She was the fifth child of William and Rebecca Kirkpatrick Bowton. As we might expect, they were a farming family. When the 1860 United States Federal Census was enumerated the Bowton family was living in Orion, Fulton County, Illinois. Their name was spelled incorrectly as “Boton. Nevertheless, I think this was our Bowton family. William and Rebecca were recorded with their children William (12) John Taylor (8) Hugh Taylor (5) Mary Taylor (3) and Nancy Taylor (1 month) Also listed was a “Farm Hand” by the name of Washington Beadso. (I have not determined where the name “Taylor” originates.) William gave his place of birth as England.

The American Civil War broke out in 1861 and Illinois was one of the twenty-five states that was a part of the Union. Like other families in this place and time, the Bowton’s must have experienced the agonies of this tragic war. William would have been in his early 40’s so it is possible he was enlisted. I found several Civil War military records on Ancestry.com for a William Bowton or Booten. Further research would be required to determine if any of these records were for our William Bowton. The Bowton’s sons would have been too young to serve. Whether or not William was in the military, the Bowton family would have been impacted by the Civil War. Communities and families around the country suffered the brunt of this terrible conflict when all were called on to contribute in some way to the war effort in manpower, goods, services, and lives.

Even though no major battles were fought in Illinois, it was a primary source of troops for the Union army and of military supplies, food, and clothing. Also any history buff knows about the two Illinois men who became prominent in the politics and the army during this time – Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

William, Rebecca and children were still living in Orion, Fulton County, Illinois when the 1870 United States Federal Census was taken. They were recorded with their children – Henry (22) John (18) Mary (13) Nancy (10) Charles (7) and Andrew (5 mo). Note that two more children were born since 1860. However, as I read the census record I also noted that their sons William and Hugh were no longer with them and that a son Henry was listed. It raised two questions in my mind. Where was Henry in 1860 and where were William and Hugh in 1870?

Sometime in the early 1870’s Mary met a young man by the name of Thomas Jefferson Mohler. He was from a farming family in Warren County northwest of Fulton County. More than likely, after they met, there was a period of courtship. There must have been a mutual attraction because they were married on January 27, 1876.

Thomas and Mary remained in Fulton County, Illinois and set up their household on a farm. On January 11, 1877 they had their first child, Floa Rebecca, and on October 11, 1879 a son, Lorain Ellsworth, arrived. This family of four was recorded on the 1880 United States Federal Census.

MOHLER FAMILY MOVES TO NEBRASKA

Since there is no longer an 1890 United States Federal Census, we leap to the 1900 United States Federal Census to find our next record for Thomas and Mary Mohler with their family. In those intervening twenty years they had moved west and were found in York County, Nebraska. Their two oldest children were no longer living with them but their family had definitely grown. Six children are recorded – Charles, Lena, Ethel, Darrel (Dara), David and Ewort (Ewart). Thomas and Mary also had a son named William, born in Illinois in 1885, but evidently he was not residing with them. The last three children were born in Nebraska, so it meant that they moved to York County sometime between 1891 and 1896. The Mohler family was large by any standard of measurement.

Thomas or “Jerry” and Mary settled into life in York County, Nebraska. By the 1910 United States Federal Census their household had grown smaller with only five children residing with them. Their two oldest daughters, Lena and Ethel, were school teachers, and the three sons were working with their father on the farm. By the time the 1920 United States Federal Census was enumerated, the family consisted of Thomas, Mary, Dara, Ewart, and a family friend by the name of Anthony Rivera. In the 1930 census Thomas and Mary had a completely “empty nest.” Undoubtedly there were children and grandchildren near by.

DEPRESSION AND DUST BOWL HIT NEBRASKA

The 1920’s and 1930’s were hard years in America and folks living in the Great Plains experienced more than their share of those difficulties. On the website for Wessel’s Living History Farm, York County, Nebraska there is an article entitled “Who Lived in York County in the 1930’s?” This excerpt gives a bit of insight into how the Mohler family may have endured very tough times.

 The Great Plains region has always been known for unpredictable weather and natural disasters – tornadoes, hail storms, blizzards, floods, drought, summer heat and winter cold. Farming on the Great Plains has always been a battle against the weather. But the weather during the 1930s was far beyond the natural cycle of seasons. The weather during the Dust Bowl days set records that still stand in Nebraska history and still stand out in farmers’ memories.

Farms in the 1930s were diversified, growing a variety of crops in the fields, vegetables in the garden and fruit in the orchard. Small farms usually raised chickens, eggs, hogs, and cattle, as well as keeping horses and mules for work, and sometimes sheep for wool and meat. Some farmers kept bees and harvested the honey. Women baked their own bread.

During the Depression, this self-sufficiency carried over into their social life. One-dish suppers and church potlucks were important ways to have fun and share food. On radio and in women’s magazines, home economists taught women how to stretch their food budget with casseroles and meals like creamed chipped beef on toast or waffles. Chili, macaroni and cheese, soups, and creamed chicken on biscuits were popular meals.

The Apetz brothers hunted rabbits to put a more meat on the dinner table. Delbert Apetz says, “We had a brooder house [for chickens]. My uncle and dad, they’d go out rabbit hunting (now this is in the winter time). Be rabbits hanging there, dressed all the way through that and any time you wanted something to eat you’d cut the string on the rabbit and bring it in the house, fry it or cook it and make soup or whatever you want. We ate a lotta, lotta rabbits. But that’s what we had to eat.” Still, it was a constant work to put food on the table, and sometimes the food was covered with dust when the wind blew dust through the cracks in the house.

 When I read an account such as this, it is astounding how people survived under such dreadful circumstances. Mary Mohler can certainly be counted among those women of great strength who worked along side her husband to provide for their family as Mother Nature wreaked havoc during those terrible days of drought and dust storms.

On December 27, 1937 Mary’s husband Thomas Jefferson Mohler died at the age of 86. They had been married sixty-one years. During those years, they had moved from Illinois to the plains of Nebraska and raised a family of nine children. Their life together was probably not ever easy, but I imagine their children and grandchildren brought them a great deal of comfort and joy. It is certainly indicated that the Mohler’s strong religious faith was a basis for their strength during the good and the not-so-good times.

We do not know how Mary spent the final years of her life, but since she had children living in Nebraska and it seems likely they cared for her during that time. She died on May 12, 1945 in Orchard, Antelope County, Nebraska and was buried beside her husband in the Greenwood Cemetery in York County, Nebraska.

mohler-mary-emma-death-certificate-document-2

Sources

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

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

Ancestry.com and The Church of Jesus Christ of the 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: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2004.

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2006.

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., 2002.

Fulton County, marriage record, Marriage Record Book, vol. E, p. 35, no.17.

Mary E. Mohler, death certificate no. R4217, State of Nebraska, Department of Health, Lincoln, Nebraska.

“Who Lived in York County in 1930?” Wessel’s Living History Farm, York County, Nebraska,  http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe30s/life_28.html

 Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, “Illinois in the American Civil War,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois_in_the_American_Civil_War.

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011.

Mary Emma Bowton Pedigree Chart (click link) mary-emma-bowton-pedigree-chart

 

Thomas Jefferson Mohler

Thomas Jefferson and Mary Emma Bowton Mohler
Thomas Jefferson and Mary Emma Bowton Mohler

The Mohler family in America was made up of some folks with very distinguished names, one being our ancestor Thomas Jefferson Mohler. He was born April 14, 1851 in Hanover Township, Ashland County, Ohio and was the tenth child of John Adam and Lydia Ann Mohler. Ashland County, in the north central part of Ohio, is on the dividing ridge, or watershed, between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. As you might expect, the primary industry for the settlers in this part of the country was agriculture, with corn, wheat, oats, potatoes, hay and maple sugar being the major crops.

When the 1860 United States Federal Census was enumerated the Mohler family had moved to Spring Grove, Warren County, Illinois and had increased in size with the addition of three more children. Records indicate that they also had another son, Martin Luther, who either died at birth or the same year he was born. The 1860 census records the following fifteen members of the John Mohler household: John A. Mohler, Lydia, Levi, Martha J., Roda A., Wm. H., Geo. W., Jeremiah, John, Thos., J., Franklin P., Isaac N., Oliver, Catharine and Mary. Martha was Levi’s wife and their child was Roda.

Note the complete names the Mohler’s gave their sons – George Washington, Jeremiah, John Wesley, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Pierce, Isaac Newton, Martin Luther, and Oliver Cromwell. Naming their sons after historical figures appears a phenomenon and begs the questions – why did they do it and how much did they know about these men in history?

The American Civil War broke out in 1861 and Illinois was one of the twenty-five states that was a part of the Union. Like other families in this place and time, the Mohler’s must have experienced the agonies of this tragic war. Thomas was small child, but it is likely his older brothers were enlisted. I found enlistment records for several men in Warren County, Illinois by the same names, but more research would be required to verify that the records match Thomas’ brothers.

Though no major battles were fought in Illinois, it was a primary source of troops for the Union army and of military supplies, food, and clothing. Also, any history buff knows about the two Illinois men who became prominent in the politics and the army during this time – Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.

Unfortunately I have not found the Mohler family on the 1870 United States Federal Census so I have no information about their location, but sometime after the Civil War Thomas met his future wife, Mary Emma Bowton. Evidently her family lived in Fulton County, Illinois which is adjacent to Warren County (southwest). They married on January 27, 1876. Mary was the daughter of William and Rebecca Bowton.

Thomas and Mary remained in Fulton County, Illinois and set up their household on a farm. On January 11, 1877 they had their first child, Flora Rebecca. About two years later on October 11, 1879 a son, Lorain Ellsworth arrived. This family of four was recorded on the 1880 United States Federal Census. On this census record we discover that Mary’s father was from England and her mother from Illinois.

THOMAS MOHLER FAMILY MOVES TO NEBRASKA

Since there is no longer an 1890 United States Federal Census, we leap to the 1900 United States Federal Census to find our next record for Thomas Mohler and his family. In those intervening twenty years they had moved west and were found in York County, Nebraska. Their two oldest children were no longer living with them but their family had definitely grown. Six children are recorded – Charles, Lena, Ethel, Darrel (Dara), David and Ewort (Ewart). We know another son named William was born in 1885 when they were in Illinois, but he was not residing with them. The last three children were born in Nebraska, so this meant they moved to York County sometime between 1891 and 1896. The Thomas and Mary’s family was a large by any standard of measurement.

Thomas and Mary Mohler with children.
Thomas and Mary Mohler with children.

An interesting note – the enumerator’s handwriting was not very decipherable, but it appears Thomas gave his occupation as “Clergyman.” I thought this might be the enumerator’s error or my inability to read the handwriting. However, one of the Mohler’s grandsons named Wes Mohler gave us some interesting information about this.

 You were correct in listing Thomas Jefferson as “Clergyman.” He was a self-educated pastor/preacher and VERY involved with the United Brethren (In Christ) Church (Denomination). You are probably aware of this, but the United Brethren and Evangelical Denominations merged and were called the Evangelical United Brethren Church (Denomination.) In 1968 (?) the EUB merged with the Methodist Church (Denomination) and is today called The UNITED Methodist Church (Denomination.) Thomas Jefferson was actually “licensed” to Preach (on a yearly basis) through the United Brethren Church. We have some documentation that he was a “Circuit Rider” Preacher here in Western Nebraska (Sheridan County – Near Hay Springs, Nebraska.) He was also in South Dakota (farming and preaching or preaching and farming) before the family moved to York, Nebraska.

Thomas or “Jerry” and Mary settled into life in York County, Nebraska. By the 1910 United States Federal Census, their household had grown smaller with only five children residing with them. Their two oldest daughters, Lena and Ethel, were school teachers, and the three sons were working with their father on the farm. By the time the 1920 United States Federal Census was enumerated the family consisted of Thomas, Mary, Dara, Ewart, and a family friend by the name of Anthony Rivera. In the 1930 census Thomas and Mary had a completely “empty nest.” Undoubtedly there were children and grandchildren near by.

LIFE ON THE GREAT PLAINS IS DIFFICULT

The 1920’s and 1930’s were hard years in America and folks living in the Great Plains experienced more than their share of those difficulties. On the website for Wessel’s Living History Farm, York County, Nebraska there is an article entitled “Who Lived in York County in the 1930’s?” This excerpt gives a bit of insight into how the Mohler family may have endured very tough times.

 The Great Plains region has always been known for unpredictable weather and natural disasters – tornadoes, hail storms, blizzards, floods, drought, summer heat and winter cold. Farming on the Great Plains has always been a battle against the weather. But the weather during the 1930s was far beyond the natural cycle of seasons. The weather during the Dust Bowl days set records that still stand in Nebraska history and still stand out in farmers’ memories.

Farms in the 1930s were diversified, growing a variety of crops in the fields, vegetables in the garden and fruit in the orchard. Small farms usually raised chickens, eggs, hogs, and cattle, as well as keeping horses and mules for work, and sometimes sheep for wool and meat. Some farmers kept bees and harvested the honey. Women baked their own bread.

During the Depression, this self-sufficiency carried over into their social life. One-dish suppers and church potlucks were important ways to have fun and share food. On radio and in women’s magazines, home economists taught women how to stretch their food budget with casseroles and meals like creamed chipped beef on toast or waffles. Chili, macaroni and cheese, soups, and creamed chicken on biscuits were popular meals.

The Apetz brothers hunted rabbits to put a more meat on the dinner table. Delbert Apetz says, “We had a brooder house [for chickens]. My uncle and dad, they’d go out rabbit hunting (now this is in the winter time). Be rabbits hanging there, dressed all the way through that and any time you wanted something to eat you’d cut the string on the rabbit and bring it in the house, fry it or cook it and make soup or whatever you want. We ate a lotta, lotta rabbits. But that’s what we had to eat.” Still, it was a constant work to put food on the table, and sometimes the food was covered with dust when the wind blew dust through the cracks in the house.

 Thomas Mohler lived out his days in York County, Nebraska. He and Mary moved there with six children between 1891 and 1896 where their family grew, and not only endured, but thrived during some of Nebraska’s darkest days of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. Like other courageous pioneers of those days, they exhibited strength and fortitude when they moved into new territories to face the uncertainties of Mother Nature. From this vantage point in year 2011, they appear to have been truly remarkable folk.

Thomas Jefferson Mohler died December 28, 1937 in York County, Nebraska and was buried in the Greenwood Cemetery. He was survived by his wife of sixty-one years – Mary Emma Bowton Mohler.

thomas-mary-mohler-tombstone

Sources

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

Ancestry.com. 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: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2004.

Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census, [database online] Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2006.

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: MyFamily.com, Inc., 2002.

“Historical Sketch of Ashland County,” http://ashlandcounty.org

Fulton County, marriage record, Marriage Record Book, vol. E, p. 35, no.17.

Thomas Mohler death certificate no. H12847, State of Nebraska, Department of Health, Lincoln, Nebraska.

“Who Lived in York County in 1930?” Wessel’s Living History Farm, York County, Nebraska, http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe30’s/life_28.html

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, “Illinois in the American Civil War,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Illinois_in_the_American_Civil_War.

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011.

Thomas Jefferson Mohler Pedigree Chart (click link) thomas-jefferson-mohler-pedigree-chart-scan0001

Thomas Jefferson Mohler Family Group Sheet (click link) thomas-jefferson-mohler-fgs-document

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

Alice Madora Caulk Croft

William and Alice Croft
William and Alice Croft

Alice Madora Caulk’s life story began July 26, 1867 in Litchfield, Montgomery County, Illinois. Her parents, Allen Monroe and Cansada Caulk, had children from previous marriages, but Alice was their first child together. The country was still recovering from the Civil War; so undoubtedly, folks in this small farming community were continuing to put their lives back together.

The first record I found for Alice was on the 1870 United States Federal Census. Along with her parents, Allen and Canzada (misspelled name) are her step-brothers, Jasper and Joseph, younger brother, Albert, and Allen’s mother, Sarah. The family is living in Bear Creek, Montgomery County, Illinois.

During the following ten years, the Caulk family expanded “its ranks.” By 1880 the census shows they have five more children. The name on the census is mistakenly recorded as “Cork.” Listed are: A.M. Cork (48), Cansada (37), Joseph W. (16), Alice (13), Albert (11), Theodosia (9), Arthur (7), Rosette (4), Lillie (2) and Sarah (8m). The family resided in Seminary, Fayette County, Illinois, northwest of Montgomery County.

Sometime before 1885, Allen and Cansada left Illinois and moved west to Nebraska. He was located on the Nebraska State Census, 1885, in Lone Tree, Clay County. Lone Tree was a prairie town located in the south central part of the state. I do not know their reasons for the move with their large family, but it could not have been an easy journey. Following is a bit of information that lends some insight into the reasons people were drawn to Nebraska.

During the 1870s to the 1880s, Nebraska experienced a large growth in population. Several factors contributed to attracting new residents. The first was that the vast prairie land was perfect for cattle grazing. This helped settlers to learn the unfamiliar geography of the area. The second factor was the invention of several farming technologies. Agricultural inventions such as barbed wire, wind mills, and the steel plow, combined with good weather, enabled settlers to make use of Nebraska as prime farming land. By the 1880s, Nebraska’s population had soared to more than 450,000 people. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nebraska)

ALICE AND WILLIAM CROFT MARRY

Shortly after arriving in Lone Tree, Alice met a young man by the name of William Teeter Croft, the son of John and Elizabeth Croft. They were a large family who were also farmers in the Lone Tree Township area. William and Alice courted and then married on November 12, 1885.

Marriage record for William T. Croft and Alice Caulk
Marriage record for William T. Croft and Alice Caulk

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 with sons, Oscar, Paul and Vede
William and Alice with sons, Oscar, Paul and Vede

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.

Croft Nebraska farm.
Croft Nebraska farm.

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. 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 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.

HARD TIMES HIT NEBRASKA DURING 1920’2 AND 1930’S

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-Hist.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.

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. Several 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 it took a while from them to reach their destinations. As we know, the nation was in the midst of the Great Depression.

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 and Alice, Nebraska, 1935
William and Alice, Nebraska, 1935

William Teeter and Alice Croft lived 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. As a mother myself I cannot help but wonder how Alice endured the birthing of thirteen children; dealt with the grief of losing a child; and managed during the children’s growing up years! She must have been a woman of incredible strength.

Nevertheless, through the years William and Alice were able to witness their children develop successful livelihoods. It is likely they were well acquainted with many of their grandchildren and great grandchildren, so that must have brought them great satisfaction and pride.

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.

In 1942 Alice lost her husband of 57 years on January 11, 1942. We do not know the circumstances, but they were in San Antonio, Texas when he died. Their oldest son, Oscar, lived there, so perhaps William and Alice were there for a visit. He was buried at the Mission Burial Park, South in San Antonio.

Following William’s death Alice moved to Kansas City, Missouri to be near her son George and his wife, Lena. She died on October 8, 1947 in Kansas City, Missouri and was buried beside her husband in the Mission Burial Park, South in San Antonio, Texas.

Grave Marker for Alice M. Croft
Grave Marker for Alice M. Croft

 Sources

Alice C. Croft, death certificate no. 34427, State Board of Health of Missouri. Kansas City, Missouri.

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

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.

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

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

“History – Nebraska,” www.city-data.com/states/Nebraska-Hist.html

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011

Alice M. Caulk Pedigree Chart (click link) alice-m-caulk-pedigree-chart-scan0001

 

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

 

Ethel Mae Mohler Croft

Ethel Mae Mohler Croft
Ethel Mae Mohler Croft

Ethel Mae Mohler began what would be a very long life in Orion Township, Illinois on August 10, 1891. Her parents were Thomas Jefferson and Mary Bowton Mohler and she was their sixth child. They were one farming family among many in this part of Illinois. Three more children were born in this family before they left Illinois and moved to Nebraska in the late 1890’s. I cannot imagine the ordeal of moving a family of eleven people.

When the 1900 United States Federal Census was taken they were living in York, York County, Nebraska. T.J. Mohler is recorded along with his wife, Mary and their children Charles, Lena, Ethel, Darrel, David, and Ewort. Thomas and Mary had another son, William, born in 1885 in Illinois, but he was not residing with them. The two older children, Flora and Ellsworth, were no longer living with the family. Information from the census shows that the family is living in a home which they owned and was not on a farm. The enumerator’s handwriting is difficult to read but it appears that Thomas is working as a carpenter.

Unfortunately we have no diaries or recorded family stories to help us better understand Ethel’s youth. Thanks to the U.S. census records we do get a glimpse of her family’s life. The 1910 census shows that Thomas was farming and his younger sons were helping him on the family farm. Ethel and her sister, Lena, were teaching school. With seven mouths to feed and the same number of bodies to clothe, undoubtedly the days were long and arduous for all members of the Mohler family.

A young man named Oscar Croft lived in nearby Clay County, Nebraska. Though we do not know where or how, he and Ethel met sometime in the 1908 or 1909. Evidently they were attracted to each other and courted for a time. On October 5, 1910 they married in York County, Nebraska.

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

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 the family rift that caused him to leave the farm. However, he may have felt he was not cut out for the farming life. Nevertheless, the census recorded his occupation as automobile salesman. Later that year they had their second son, Keith Lyle, born November 15, 1920.

Sometime in 1929 Oscar and Ethel opted to leave Nebraska. Family sources indicate that during the latter part of the 1920’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 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.

Ethel Mae Mohler Croft
Ethel Mae Mohler Croft

Family members recall that Ethel was involved in the Croft Trailer Company from its very beginnings, working right along with her husband and son. Her role was assisting in the business office. She was quite serious-minded, and it is likely she ran a “tight ship.” At some point, she and Oscar moved next door to the business, so more that ever, she was on the job 24/7.

When Ethel became a grandmother, they called her “Grandmother.” However, her first great grandchild called her “Gee Gee” and that stuck for the rest of her days.

In her autobiography, Lucy Ann Nance Croft shares her memories of “Gee Gee.”

 In looking back on the people who have gained my deepest respect, I would put Grandmother Croft at the top of the list. Because she lived in San Antonio, L.K. was able to spend a great deal of time with her as a child and they developed a close relationship. Consequently, it mattered a lot to Grandmother who he married. Fortunately for me, she let me know from the beginning that she approved of his choice.

When L.K. and I married, Grandmother had been widowed for a number of years (Oscar Cameron Croft, 1887–1952), and I realized right away that she was a fearlessly independent woman. Perhaps it was just her nature, but I believe it had a lot to do with the fact that she had worked at the Croft Trailer Company handling properties, investing her money, and planning her life in all respects. Father and Mother watched out for her and included her in their life as much as possible, but Grandmother had a mind of her own. She died on June 30, 1989, in San Antonio, Texas. She was ninety-seven years old and still lived alone.

Ethel Croft was a person of deep Christian faith. She was an active member of the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in San Antonio. Because she had a commitment to its work and worship, the church played a major role in her life. Some of her lasting friendships were with people she met there and with whom she served over the years. She exhibited her spirituality in numerous ways. Though a frugal person, she was also generous in her giving, to both the church and to individuals who needed her assistance or encouragement. She was faithful in the reading and study of her Bible and made its truths a part of her daily thinking and living.

Though conservative in dress and demeanor, Grandmother was an attractive woman and took pride in her appearance. Perhaps her good health and longevity could be attributed to her good genes, but she knew the importance of staying fit and healthy by eating well and exercising. Even in her later years, she would walk in the neighborhood—sometimes to the beauty salon to have her hair done.

Gee Gee with Gertrude, Cynthia and Mildred Croft
Gee Gee with Gertrude, Cynthia and Mildred Croft

When the family got together for dinner or a celebration of some kind, Grandmother, or “Gee Gee” (the name given to her by her great-grandchildren), really enjoyed herself. She was reserved and quiet, but she listened intently to the talk going on around her. It pleased me that in her later years, if someone engaged her in a conversation she responded very enthusiastically. It is wonderful that our children were able to know their great grandmother. That’s not true for many of us. Each of them went to Trinity University in San Antonio and would see her from time to time.

grandmother-gee-gee-croft

One thing that concerns me as I grow older is staying mentally alert. Gee Gee was role models to all of us. We were constantly amazed at her sharpness and continued interest in the world around her. When we would think of the changes she had experienced in her lifetime, it astounded us that she could cope so well. L.K. would phone her each week and she would remember things he had told her the week before, such as our plans for a trip, our recent activities, or an item of news about our children. Her interest and curiosity were admirable and impressive. L.K. would often compliment her on her abilities and her longevity. She surprised us when she said that living a long time was not something we should be impressed by. She felt that she was no longer contributing to the world and was a worry to those who loved her. As I reflect on that, perhaps in some respects that may have been true. However, even up to her last days, we respected her wisdom, her caring manner, her encouragement, and her constant support and love for us and our family. In those ways, she was still giving of herself.

Ethel Mae Mohler Croft died on June 30, 1989 in San Antonio, Texas and was buried at Mission Burial Park South next to her husband, Oscar Cameron Croft.

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 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: The Generations Network. Inc., 2006.

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.

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

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

Ethel Mae Mohler birth record, State of Nebraska, Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Lincoln, Nebraska.

Ethel M. Croft death certificate no. 060184, Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin, Texas.

Written by Lucy Ann Nance Croft, 2011.

Ethel Mae Mohler Pedigree Chart (click link)scan0004

 

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.

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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