Some Crews Quarters – A North American Story – John and Sarah Crew with some of their descendants

Some Crews Quarters – A North American Story – John and Sarah Crew with some of their descendants

By Thomas Randolph Crews

Copyright 1998. Published by Thomas Randolph Crews, 319 Oakwood Court, Lake Mary, Florida, 32746.

C.H. Jones / Eds. Note: The following is a partial and annotated transcription of “Some Crews Quarters”, related to the earliest individuals of that surname, whose identities and descendants can be proven from surviving records. I have elected to leave out much of the material not directly related to my direct line of Crew/Crews ancestors, including the Forward, Acknowledgements, Introduction, Chapters 4 and beyond, and prose providing historical context and timeline relationships not specific to the Crew/Crews family. While much of this missing material is worthy reading, it doesn’t assist with the basic desire of the genealogist searching for sources and records to prove deep ancestral relationships. Where possible, I have also included footnotes which reference original source material, if these sources were not supplied by the author. My additional footnotes can be distinguished from those provided by the original author, as they are preceded by “Ed” prior to the number (1-9), and by the fact that the original author’s footnotes in this transcription begin with “10”.

Note on dates related to the seventeenth century (the period covered in much of this material):

— Great Britain and the American Colonies did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752. Prior to that date they followed the ancient Julian calendar, which began the New Year on March 25, rather than January 1. This causes some understandable confusion when trying to determine what date an event actually occurred.
— Seventeenth century Quakers rarely used the names of the month to indicate a date; rather they numbered the month. Quaker dates follow the format of day number, month number, year number.
— For dates recorded prior to 1752, dates occurring between December 31 and March 25 have been recorded using “double dating”. A reference to February 10, 1748/9, for example, indicates that the event occurred on February 10, 1748 in the old Julian calendar, but in 1749 in the modern Gregorian calendar.
Chapter 1: John Crew (1669 – 1752)

It is fairly clear that our Crew(e)(s) ancestry is old Saxon English. But it is not at all clear which individual was our first immigrant ancestor. Early Virginia settlers were understandably more concerned with matters of survival than those of record keeping. And when you include the later destruction of records due to fire, age, and the American civil war, it is truly surprising that our family is documented back to the seventeenth century.

There are many immigration possibilities from England to the colony of Virginia. The list includes the following: Randall Crew, age twenty, arrived on the “Charles” in 1621; Joshua Crew was living in Virginia in 1623; Robert Crew, age twenty-three, arrived one the “Marmaduk” in 1623; Joseph Crew arrived on the “London Merchant” in 1624. Roger Crew in 1638; John Crew in 1640; John Crew in 1642; Thomas Crew in 1652; John Crew in 1664; James Crews in 1664; John Crew arrived in “James Town” in 1667; Andrew Crew from Maidstone, County of Kent, arrived in 1668 as a home circuit prisoner by way of Barbados; James Crews in 1677; and Robert Crew in 1681. Our “immigrant” ancestor may have been one of these individuals; or he may have been one whose record has not survived.

Our earliest known ancestor, John Crew, was born about 1669. Agreeing with other researchers, I inferred this date from the Charles City County, Virginia court orders. In the October court of 1690, “the said John Crew is now in his non age”10 Ed1 (implying that he was not yet twenty-one). In the March Court of 1690/1, his wife Sarah was referred to as “being now at age”.Ed2 And by November of 1691, John was sued in court as an adult.Ed3 These court appearances will be discussed later in this chapter. It is possible that John may have been born in England and later migrated to the colonies. But there are strong clues that John was born in Virginia. On November 15, 1738, then about age sixty-nine, John signed a petition on behalf of the Quakers which was submitted to the Virginia House of Burgesses. The petition stated that the signers “for the most part” were descendants of early Virginia inhabitants, were native subjects of the crown, and that Virginia, the first English colony, was their native country. This petition will also be discussed later in this chapter.

One extremely significant event when John and his future wife, Sarah Gatley, were about seven years old was Bacon’s Rebellion, also known as the Chesapeake revolution… colonists from all of the settled parts of Virginia rose up against Governor Berkeley, in support of Nathaniel Bacon. In defiance of the Governor, they elected Bacon to represent them in Virginia’s governing assembly, the House of Burgesses, along with Bacon’s very good friend, Captain James Crews. I do not know whether Captain James Crews was related to our John Crew, but he was at least a very close neighbor.Ed4

The first written reference I have found to our John Crew is a civil court case in Charles City County. The case was started in August 1689 court, but carried on to the October 1689 court. Thomas King, the plaintiff, accused John Crew, the defendant, and “sayth that the defendant in anno 1689 hath contrary to law killed one sow belonging to ye plaintiff for which offense he prays benefit of the law.”20 The case was referred to a jury who found John innocent and held Thomas King responsible for the court costs.Ed5

Several things are of interest in this case. The evolution of our surname from Crew to Crews had already started. John was recorded in the court orders as John Crew, John Crew, Jr., and as John Crews, Jr. “Junior” does not necessarily mean that his father was John Crew. But it does at least mean that there was an older John Crew living at the same time in the same county. We do not know much of the details of the case. It is very possible that John had become a Quaker by this time; and that Thomas King was one of the many members of the Church of England who actively persecuted members of the Society of Friends. Later in the same October 1689 court, an order was granted against Thomas King for the costs of six days attendance at court by one of the witnesses, John Craddocke; three days against John Crew and three days against Joseph Renshaw. It appears that if you lost a seventeenth century Virginia court case, you not only paid all the court costs, but you also reimbursed the witnesses for their attendance.

The next reference to our John is another civil court case, which started in the February 1689/90 court. The case was lengthy, carrying on through the following courts in 1690: June 3, June 12, August 4, September 15, and October 3. It continued in 1690/1: January, February 3, and concluded Marc3, over three fourths of a year in all. Following is a brief summary of the trial.

[Editor’s note: For the gravity of the trail details to be understood in proper context, it’s necessary to note that in seventeenth century Virginia, tobacco served as the established currency for all debts, business transactions, or monetary exchange. Coin was not in common circulation at the time, and printed notes were even less common.]

By August 4, 1690, John Crew had married Sarah Gatley, but neither one was of legal age yet. Sarah’s father was Nicholas Gatley. Nicholas died in 1678 leaving an estate valued at 6000 pounds of tobacco to his daughter, Sarah. The case gets a little complicated from here. Sarah’s mother (Nicholas Gatley’s widow) was also named Sarah. I do not know her maiden name. Because Sarah (the daughter) was a child when Nicholas died, Sarah (the mother) became administrator for the Gatley estate. Sara (the mother and widow) later married John Smith. After John Smith died, she married her third husband, William Morris. William Morris died by 1689, leaving her a widow for the third time.

By the time John Crew and Sarah Gatley were married, Sarah (the mother) had refused to give Sarah (the daughter) her rightful inheritance. One very real possibility was that John and Sarah had become Quakers by this time, and the mother was prejudiced against Quakers. But this is just my conjecture. At any rate, the case continued through the modern (Gregorian) year 1690. In the March Court 1690/91: “Jno. Crew who Marryed Sarah the orphan of Nicho. Gatley…. And the said Sarah ye orphan of ye said Gatley being now at age, pray this Courte…. To demand soe much… from Sarah ye Mother… as will pay 4605 pounds of tobacco.”21 The court then ordered the mother to pay this amount to John and Sarah Crew and thus concluded the case. Later that same year, in the November court of 1691, judgement was granted to a John Justine against John Crew for 200 pounds of tobacco. There is no indication as to the reason for this judgement…

…In the November court of 1694, it was recorded that John Crewe’s deeds of gift to his children be recorded.

The next reference that I found to our John Crew is in the surviving original minutes of the Society of Friends, Henrico… monthly meeting. On the ninth day of the twelfth month of 1699/1700, a list was recorded of the founding members of this old and venerable monthly meeting. Nineteen names were recorded together with their pledges to build a new meeting house. The pledges totaled 5900 pounds of tobacco with John Crew’s personal pledge being 400 pounds. This meeting house was not completed until 1706. “It was 30 x 20 feet and inside there was ‘one row of seats around… a double seat at one of the ends about ten feet long with a bar of banister before it, for the easement of Friends of the ministry.” 22, 23

John and Sarah raised a family of ten children on the Virginia frontier. They must have been very good friends with the Quaker family of Gerrard Robert Ellyson because “three of Gerrard’s children married three of the children of John and Sarah Crew, of Charles City County, and a fourth married the daughter of Robert Crew.”24 “This was a common occurrence among the early colonial families, as their neighbors were the people they saw most often. It was especially prevalent among the Quakers because they had even greater limitations set upon their choice of marriage partners. Of those persons available because of age and distance, only those of the Quaker faith were acceptable. Other children of John and Sarah were: Joseph, who married Massey Johnson on the 12th day, 6th month 1725…”25

I do not know who the above Robert Crew was. I suspect he was John’s brother; and possibly the Robert Crew who immigrated in 1681. If so, it raises the possibility that the family were Quakers in England and then migrated to Virginia.

Anne Crew was another of the ten children of John and Sarah. “There was a tradition that Ann was not John’s daughter, just raised by the family and was actually Sarah (Ann) Elmore Crew, daughter of John Elmore and his Indian wife An-Nah-Wah-Kah, a full blooded Cherokee.”26

Following are other references to John from various minutes of the Henrico monthly meetings: On the eighteenth day of the third month, 1706, a weekly meeting was organized at John and Sarah’s residence at the request of John Crew, Robert Crew, and William Lead (Ladd). On the nineteenth day of the eighth month, 1706, John was appointed to represent the Old Man’s Creek meeting of Charles City County at all of the monthly meetings. On the nineteenth day of the twelfth month, 1708, John was mentioned as having moved from his house where the weekly meeting was being kept. The meeting was then changed to the house of William Lead (Ladd).

… John was the clerk of the Henrico monthly meeting from the eighth day of the fourth month, 1711 to the tenth day of the seventh month, 1714. The implication is that he was skilled in both reading and writing. During his tenure… in 1714…two new Quaker meeting houses were soon constructed: “Weyanoke” in Charles City County and the “Swamp” in Hanover County. The “White Oak Swamp” meeting house in Henrico County was refurbished. And in 1717, John was mentioned in the Quaker minutes as being a member of Weyanoke meeting.

In about 1726 or 1727, John and Sarah moved to New Kent County, north, and just across the Chickahominy River from Charles City County. We would have better family data; except the colonial records of New Kent County were destroyed by a fire in 1787.

…conflicts with the Church of England continued. The Quaker minutes include a list of “sufferings” for the year 1726: John Crew had been taken into custody and released on the same day by paying the sheriff’s demands. His son, Andrew, was imprisoned for two weeks. Andrew’s neighbor, a non Quaker, had secured Andrew’s release by paying the sheriff’s demands. Andrew also had a bridle and saddle taken from him. John Crew, Sr. was fined seventy-six pounds of tobacco, a gun and five pewter dishes for refusal to bear arms or pay tithes. During 1735, John was again fined for refusing to pay tithes. On the fourth day of the seventh month, 1736, he was appointed to sit in “the select meeting”. The persecutions eventually became so bad that John, together with other Quakers prepared a petition. It was published in the Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg from November 10 – 17, 1738. And they presented it to the House of Burgesses on November 15, 1738:

“To the Honourable the Governor and Council, and Burgesses, met in General Assembly at Williamsburg.

The Humble Petition of the People called Quakers.

We lay hold of this Opportunity, with all Humility of Mind, to beseech You that You would be pleased to consider the Case of our Society in this Dominion, who, for the most Part, are the Descendants of Early Inhabitants; and who, as well as our Ancestors, are and have been, subject to great Loss and Detriment in our Substance and Employment, by Annual Seizures and Distress made upon our Goods and Persons on Account of Parish Levies: A Hardship, we hope, You do not desire we should lie under. And as we humbly conceive it is in Your Power to relieve us, are therefore the more emboldened to lay before You this our present aggrieved Case; and the rather, for that, as we have understood, You have been pleased to bestow the like Favour on Sundry German Protestants, by exempting them from Parish Levies: We (being native subjects) are encouraged to hope You will charitably look on our Condition, and afford us some relief: That being once freed from a Burthen, which we have long and patiently born, we may be better enabled to follow our Callings, for Support of our Families, according to Faith and good Conscience.

We need not, we hope, tell You that in most of the Provinces under the British Government our Friends set easy in this Behalf; either by Charter of Privileges or by a Special Law, made for that Purpose.

This our Native Country, is the first English Colony, and immediately under Our most Gracious Sovereign King George, who, we hope, looks on us to be universally attach’d to his Interest, and the Succession of His Noble House; and a People not useless, nor inconsiderable in his Dominions. For,

We pay all Taxes of Support of Government; we transgress no Laws of Trade; we keep back no Part of the Revenue due to the Crows; the Public are not charged, in the least, with our Poor; and we nevertheless willingly contribute to the Public Poor, and we endeavor to follow Peace with all Men.

To conclude, we are not numerous, which makes it the less difficult for You to grant us such Ease as we pray for: And are far from thinking that such Indulgence would increase the Number of real Quakers; and for hipocritical Pretenders, we shall hold ourselves under Obligations to detect them; so as the Government shall not be imposed on, nor Your Favour any ways abased; And further be pleased to know, it is for the Tender Conscience Sake, and not willfully nor obstinately, we have hitherto suffered, having sustained more than Treble Damages for our Conscientious Refusal: And by the Assistance of Divine Grace, preserved from Prejudice, against those who have been most active against us; We hope it will please Almighty God to put into Your Hearts to sat Amen to the Prayer of our Petition; and to also hear our Prayers; which are for Your Tranquility and Happiness, both in This World and That which is to come.

Signed in Behalf of the Society called Quakers in Virginia.


John Cheadle,                     Thomas Pleasants,

Abraham Ricks,                  Matthew Jourdan,

Wike Hunnicut,                   Thomas Newby,

William Lad,                       Thomas Trotter

Arminger Trotter,                Robert Ellyson,

Peter Denson,                      John Crew,

William Outland,                 John Pleasants,

John Murdaugh, and Samuel Sebrel,

Edmund Jourdan,                Samuel Jourdan,

John Denson.”27

But the persecutions continued. On the fifth day of the seventh moth, 1747, John reported to the monthly meeting that he had a horse seized for fine. John and Sarah, together with other relatives and friends, endured fines, having property confiscated, being placed in jail, etc. for many years while still managing to remain successful planters on the Virginia frontier.

About fifteen miles downstream from present day Richmond, the James River makes a series of deep horseshow bends. This area was known as the “Curles”. To help us better understand the Quakers, there is a letter by Robert Pleasants of Curles. “It sets forth the attitude of a minority group of whom John Crew and his descendants were members. Dated January 10, 1775, it is addressed to Robert Bolling of Buckingham, an apology to those who misunderstood the Quakers because of their uncouth mode of dress and speech, their studied aloofness, and their principle of submitting meekly to misunderstanding and injustice. Pleasants writes:”28

“I apprehend if we are sequestered from the rest of the community we are by no means culpable for it. It is well known that we have always declined the use of the sword as well as taking any oaths, supporting an hireling ministry and some other matters, which, tho’ peculiar to ourselves, are by no means intended, or in justice ought to be, an exclusion from the common interest of the community; nor can I conceive how the community can be injured by our adherence to these principles. For, if we cannot fight for the state, we cannot fight against it; for so long as we keep to the truth (and I believe the contrary can’t be charged upon us) swearing is unnecessary; and while we continue to be useful members of society and study the peace and welfare of the government we live under, every reasonable man will allow it is unjust we should be made to suffer for not conforming to a law in favor of a few individuals, utterly inconsistent with our belief.”29

In later years the children of John and Sarah followed the westward migration to other counties in Virginia and southward to North Carolina. The Exodus westward depleted many Friends’ meetings in Virginia. By 1808 the Swamp, Black Creek, White Oak Swamp (which was another name name for the Henrico Monthly Meeting) and Curles Meeting Houses were for sale.30

John died in New Kent County between 1749 and 1752 at about eighty to eighty-three. John and Sarah were very likely buried in a Friends’ cemetery. Their ten children were all born in Charles City County. With some exceptions, the children were firmly committed to the Society of Friends. Because birth dates are not known with certainty, they are listed in order of their marriages:

i. Sarah Crew married Robert Ellyson in 1714/15. They had five children and lived in New Kent County, Virginia where Robert was overseer of the Black Creek meeting. In 1738, he was made treasurer of the Henrico monthly meeting. The family suffered numerous fines, but remained in New Kent County.

ii. John Crew married Agatha Ellyson in 1717. They also lived in New Kent County where John was a minister and Agatha was an elder. The family, including eight children, suffered many fines. The Virginia yearly meeting of May 29, 1762 reported that they were both deceased and ordered memorials read and recorded for them.

iii. Andrew Crew married Hannah Ellyson in 1720. They had eight children and continued to live in Charles City County, where they were members of the Weyanoke Meeting. The family suffered numerous fines, and at one point Andrew was imprisoned for two weeks.

iv. Mary Crew married John Ladd in 1724. They lived in Charles City County with their eight children and were members of the Weyanoke Meeting. In 1726, John made testimony against bearing arms and paying tithes. For this testimony, they lost so many of their household goods to fines that the Quaker meeting aided them in their distress.

v. Joseph Crew married Massey Johnson in 1725 and lived in Hanover County, Virginia with their nine children. Joseph was fined in 1738. Joseph and Massey are subjects of Chapter 2.Elizabeth Crew married Thomas Stanley, Jr. in 1726. They had ten children and lived in Hanover County where Thomas was the first overseer of the newly established Cedar Creek meeting. The Cedar Creek meeting house was built on “Stanley Land”, part of an 800 acre tract granted to the Stanleys in 1714 by Governor Alexander Spotswood. A Quaker meeting house at Cedar Creek existed until a forest fire in the year 1904.

vi. Elizabeth Crew married Thomas Stanley, Jr. in 1726. They had ten children and lived in Hanover County where Thomas was the first overseer of the newly established Cedar Creek meeting. The Cedar Creek meeting house was built on “Stanley Land”, part of an 800 acre tract granted to the Stanleys in 1714 by Governor Alexander Spotswood. A Quaker meeting house at Cedar Creek existed until a forest fire in the year 1904.

vii. Jane Crew married John Sanders, Jr. in 1727/8 and had nine children. They were fined in Hanover County and later migrated to Guilford County, North Carolina where they were among the original members of the Deep River monthly meeting. Jane died in 1793 in Guilford County.

viii. William Crew married Hannah Sanders in New Kent County in 1729 and had eight children. They suffered seizures of property in 1733 because William refused to bear arms and again in 1735 for refusal to pay tithes. They later moved to Louisa County, Virginia. William was put on probation by the Quakers in 1750 and dismissed from the church later that year. He died in 1771 in Louisa County.

ix. Anne Crew married William Lane (Ladd) in 1733/34 in Charles City County and had seven children. In 1764, the family moved to New Garden monthly meeting in Guilford County, North Carolina with other relatives. William was dismissed from the Society of Friends in 1769.

x. David Crew married Mary Stanley in 1733/34, having at least two children. After Mary passed away, he married Mary Ladd, widow of Samuel McGahea in 1754. David was disowned in 1758 for neglecting to insure that his children attended regular Quaker meetings. His son, David, Jr., is further described in Appendix A. This “Neglected child”, David, Jr., was a soldier in both the French and Indian War and the American Revolutionary War. He was a later business associate of Daniel Boone and was a citizen and a military guard of Boonesboro, Kentucky.

Chapter 2: Joseph Crew (1698 – 1759)

In 1698, Jamestown, then the capital of colonial Virginia, burned. In about the same year, but thirty miles to the northeast in Charles City County, a son named Joseph was born into the staunch Quaker family of John and Sarah Crew.

By this time in the southern colonies, tobacco was clearly established as the most significant cash crop. But tobacco depleted the soil very quickly, and new land had to be continually obtained and cleared. New settlers were arriving in the colonies from all parts of the new Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, many of them as indentured servants. Local governments were forced into making modifications and changes. In 1720, Hanover County was formed from the northwestern portion of New Kent County, Virginia. And it was here that Joseph Crew married Massey Johnson. Massey had been baptized on February 5, 1704/5 in St. Peter’s Parish, New Kent County and was the daughter of John Johnson and Lucretia Massey.

At the monthly meeting held at the house near the White Oak Swamp on the fourth day of the sixth month, 1725: “The persons appointed by the last monthly meeting to Inquire into the Clearness of Joseph Crew, make reporte to This meeting he is Cleare as far as They know or finde. Thereupon Joseph Crew and Massey Johnson publish Their said Intentions the Second time in This meeting.”33

“Whereas Joseph Crew Son of John Crew of Charles City County and Massey Johnson Daughter of John Johnson of Hanover County having declared their Intentions af taking each other in Marreyage Befoare two Severiall publick Meetings of The People Called Quakers in Virginia acordin to the good order yoused amoungest them whose proceeding their in after a deliberate Consideration with regard to the Rituous Law of god were approved by the said Meeting in Relation to mareyage and having Consente of parience and friends concerned.

“Now these are to Certifeye all whom it may Concern that for the full acomplishement of Their said Intentions this twelfe day of the Sixth Month in the yeare on Thousand and Seven hundred and twentye five thaye the said Joseph Crew and Massey Johnson appearing in a publick Meeting of the afoare said peopell and others at the Meeting house of The said Peopell in Hanover County and in a Solemn Maner he the said Joseph Crew taking the said Massey Johnson by the hand did opinley declare as followesth.

“In the presence of god and you my witnessis the Day I Take Massey Johnson to be my wife.

“And then and there in the said asemly the said Massey Johnson Did in a like maner declare the followeth. In the presence of god and you my witnessis this Day I take Joseph Crew to be my husband.

“And the said Joseph Crew and Massey his now wife as farther Confirmation therof did then and thir to the presenc sighned ther hand and wee whose names here signed Being present among others at the Solemnising of the said Mariage and Subscribtion in maner aforesaid in witness wherof have also Subscribed ower names the Day and yeare above written.

                               Wm. Elyson                  James Lead                  Joseph Crew

Benj. Johnson         Gatley Crew                 Ashley Johnson             Massey Crew

Robt. Crew              Joseph Crew                Charles Denson

Thos. Pleasant        John Lead                    Tho. Lenoir                  John Johnson

John Johnson         Tho. Elyson                                                      John Crew”34

It appears that Joseph and Massey lived in Hanover County, just north of Richmond, for the remainder of their lives. But records are scarce. Richmond was burned 140 years later at the conclusion of the American civil war and flames also consumed most of the Hanover County courthouse records.

On the second day of the seventh month, 1738, Joseph reported to the Henrico monthly meeting that he had been fined sixty-seven pounds of tobacco for refusing to pay tithes. Ed6

Joseph Crew… died in Hanover County sometime prior to the Henrico monthly meeting of the seventh day of the fourth month for the year 1759. The children of Joseph and Massey Crew, all born in Virginia, and most likely Hanover County, Virginia, were as follows:

i. Abigail Crew, who was disowned from the Society of Friends in 1744 for marrying out of unity.

ii. John Crew(s) was disowned in 1755 for marrying out of unity: “Whereas John Crew, son of Joseph Crew of the County of New Kent by his Education was reputed a member of our Society but by his disobedience to the blessed Truth and Contrary to the well known principle and practice of Friends hath taken a wife by the priest not of our Society… We therefore Testified against the said John of all such unchristian practices disowning him a member of our Religious Society.”36

iii. Martha Crew was disowned in 1759 for marrying out of unity: “Whereas Martha Crew daughter of Joseph Crew, deceased, of Hanover County… hath been Prevailed on to suffer herself to be joined in marriage by a Priest to a man of a different Persuasion in Matters of Faith… We do therefore hereby disown the said Martha Crew to be of our Society…”37

iv. Elizabeth Crew was disowned for marrying out of unity in 1759: “Whereas Elizabeth Crew Daughter of Joseph Crew Deceased of Hanover County… hath been prevailed on to suffer her self to be joined in Marriage by a Priest to a man of a different persuasion in matters of faith & not having a due Regard to the advice of her Friends – We do therefore hereby disown the said Elizabeth Crew to be of our Society.”38

v. Joseph Crew(s)James Crew(s) married Emelia (maiden name unknown), and moved to Granville County, North Carolina. This section of North Carolina was later to become a focal point of the Revolutionary War. In 1778, along with his brothers Gideon and Thomas, James took a public oath to protect North Carolina from the King of Great Britain. James and Emelia had at least 7 children and named one of the daughters Massey, after James’ mother. They later moved to Stokes County where James died in 1831.

vi. James Crew(s) married Emelia (maiden name unknown), and moved to Granville County, North Carolina. This section of North Carolina was later to become a focal point of the Revolutionary War. In 1778, along with his brothers Gideon and Thomas, James took a public oath to protect North Carolina from the King of Great Britain. James and Emelia had at least 7 children and named one of the daughters Massey, after James’ mother. They later moved to Stokes County where James died in 1831.

vii. Caleb Crew(s) married Elizabeth (maiden name unknown) and also moved to Granville County. They had five children and also named a daughter Massey. Caleb’s musket was on display for several years at the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. Caleb owned 140 acres near the town of Oxford where he died in 1814.

viii. Gideon Crew(s) married Jemima Whicker and also moved to Granville County. They had eight children and are the subjects of Chapter 3.

ix. Thomas Crew(s) married Mary Talley. They had ten children and also named a daughter Massey. Thomas and Mary first moved to Granville County but later migrated to Stokes County where Thomas died in 1841.

Chapter 3: Gideon Crew(s) (1745-1815)

…Most sources list our Gideon’s birth year as 1730.

…I am certain that Gideon’s childhood included regular teachings of the Quaker faith and very strong family values. But his father, Joseph Crew, died in early 1759, leaving Gideon and some of the other children quite young. I am also certain that the children could not help being influenced by… all the military training going on around them (related to the lead up to the American Revolutionary War).

During this period of time, many Quakers were being disowned from the Society of Friends for many different reasons, including marriage to non-Quakers and bearing arms. With the war at its peak, it must have been very difficult for young Quaker men to stay away from the military. Gideon, together with some of his brothers and cousins also began to have problems with the Society. Gideon’s cousin, David, mentioned below, was a soldier in both the French and Indian War and later in the American Revolution.

April 5, 1760: “Report being also made from Black Creek Preparitive Meeting that David Crew, son of David, and James Crew, Caleb Crew, and Gideon Crew, the sons of Jospeh Crew, deceased, having been guilty of sundry disorders and seem in a great measure to have declined the attendance of meetings of the Principles of Friends… papers of denial will goe forth against them.”38

May 3, 1760: “The Friends appointed to treat with David Crew, James Crew, Caleb Crew, and Gideon Crew, report that they had complied therewith in respect to the three last mentioned and that they appeared desirous to be continued in membership and promised more Circumspection in their conduct. The oversears of the meetings they belong to are therefore desired to have them under their particular care and notice. And the same Friends are continued ‘till they have an opertunity of speaking to David.”40

June 7, 1760: “Robert Elyson reports that he has had an opertunity of speaking with David Crew, Junior, who gave some reason to expect an amendment of his conduct in future, but notwithstanding his fair promises, it appears that he hath since enlisted himself a second time as a soldier.”41 There is a section about David in Appendix A.

“It is reported From Black Creek preparative meeting, that James, Caleb and Gideon Crew, sons of Joseph Crew have conducted themselves in a very disorderly manner in Several respects much to the dishonor of Truth of Friends, The Oversears are therefore desired to acquaint them that unless they appear at our next monthly meeting or otherwise Clear themselves from the Evil reports prevailing against them, that they will be liable to be disowned without further notice.”42

Many of the children of Joseph and Massey Crew had already been disowned by the Quakers. The following wording is very harsh, but is fairly standard wording for all those being disowned at the time. But we may never know, with certainty, the exact reason that the brothers James, Caleb, and Gideon Crew(s) were disowned.

June 6, 1761: “One of the Friends appointed to acquaint James, Caleb and Gideon Crew with the former order of this meeting reports that the same was duly complied with but without the desired effect; they continuing their Evil practices and taking no steps to give satisfaction; a paper of denial is therefore ordered to be prepared and brought to our next meeting.”43

July 4, 1761: “A paper of denial was read and signed in this meeting against James, Caleb and Gideon Crew agreeable to order of last. Joseph Ellyson is appointed to read the same in the Swamp Meeting, and send them a copy and make return to the next meeting.”44

August 1, 1761: “Joseph Ellyson returned the paper of denial against James, Caleb and Gideon Crew and reported that he had read the same in the Swamp Meeting and sent them a copy agreeable to order and is as follows: Whereas James, Caleb and Gideon Crew, sons of Joseph Crew of Hanover County were educated in the profession of us the people called Quakers and did some time frequent our Religious Meetings, but for want of faithful adherents to the dictates of that Divine principle which was sufficient to have preserved them from every Pollutions as well as in due Observance of the known Rules of our Society have conducted themselves in such a loose and unchristian like manner in several respects contrary to the good order and repeated admonitions of Friends, that we do hereby disown the said James, Caleb and Gideon Crew to be of our Society until they come to witness that godly sorrow which worketh true repentance which that the Lord may mercifully grant is our sinceare desire.”45 James, Caleb and Gideon are not found in any Quaker minutes after this meeting.

…the Virginia Grand Assembly passed a law on March 23, 1662, which has been called “land processioning.” It stated “that within twelve months after this act, all inhabitants of every neck and tract of land adjoining shall goe in procession and see the marked trees of every mans land in those precincts to be renewed, and the same course to be taken once every fower years.”46 Gideon and his brothers were most likely still in Hanover County in 1767 because the land procession for September 30 of that year included “Joseph Crew’s Heirs.”47

Around this time, I believe close to 1769, Gideon married Jemima Whicker. Her ancestors had lived in the village of Colyton, County of Devon, England since at least the time of King Henry VIII. Jemima’s grandfather, Thomas Whicker, had immigrated from Colyton to the American colonies as an indentured servant. “Thomas left England the last of Sep 1685 or early October and arrived in Virginia 1 Dec 1685 on Capt. Walter Lyle’s ship, John Lyle, Master.”48

In Hanover County, Virginia, many planters, including the W(h)ickers and the Crew(s), were moving south to better and less expensive lands in Granville County, North Carolina. Gideon, together with his brothers and related families, made the journey by 1771, when Gideon’s name appeared on the tax list for Granville County.

Our surname had already begun to fluctuate between Crew and Crews, but from this point forward, it was and is consistently Crews. An interesting side note on this change is found in the David Crew(s) family Bible. This David, also a first cousin of Gideon, was a different David from the soldier described earlier. This David married Sarah Gooch and moved to Guilford County, North Carolina, where they continued to be active Quakers. His parents were William and Hannah Crew and his grandparents were John and Sarah Crew from Chapter 1. At any rate, early entries in David’s family Bible were spelled Crew. Names added in later years were spelled Crews.

In preparation for the pending hostilities (related to the ongoing American Revolutionary War), citizens of North Carolina were asked to take the following oath in the spring of 1778: “I will bear faithful and true Allegiance to the State of North Carolina and will truly endeavor to support, maintain, and defend the independent Government thereof against George the third, King of Great Britain and his successors, and the attempts of any other Person, Prince, power, state or Potentate, who by secret arts, treasons, Conspiracies or by open force shall attempt to subvert the same, and will in every respect conduct myself as a peaceful orderly subject and that I will disclose and make known to the Governor, some member of the Council of State, some Justice of the Superior Courts or of the Peace, all treasons, Conspiracies and attempts committed or intended against the State which shall come to my knowledge.”49

In the Oxford district of Granville County, the oath was administered on May 30, 1778. Among those signing the document were brothers Gideon Crews (X his mark), James Crews (X his mark), and Thomas Crews. [Editor’s note: “X his mark” seems to imply that both James and Gideon were illiterate, in marked contrast to their grandfather who was lettered well enough to serve as the clerk for the Henrico monthly meeting from 1711 through 1714.]

The (Revolutionary War) Battle of Guilford Courthouse involved several Crews and Whicker families in different aspects… On March 15 (1781), Cornwallis attached. The David Crews family (mentioned just above) were close enough to hear the guns and see the smoke from this battle…

Gideon’s brother-in-law, John Whicker, “was in Guilford County about 1781 and during the Battle of Guilford Courthouse was taken prisoner by the Tories and taken to the British camp. They also killed his cattle.”51 I do not know the specific involvement of Gideon, James, Thomas, and Caleb. Caleb’s musket was on display at the military museum at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park for a number of years until a descendant claimed it. It is a very good guess that Gideon, James, and Thomas were also present.

The final series of battles concluded in 1781 with the engagement at Yorktown and the surrender of the British southern army to General Washington. On June 10, 1783, Gideon Crews was granted 9 pounds, 10 shillings, 3 pence for Revolutionary War service.52

“Gideon Crews, from the family history and reports believed to be true about him was a wide-awake, hustling farmer. When he first came to this county he bought 101 acres of land on Harold’s Creek, now in Salem Township, and near the place where the Pleasant brothers now live. He later bought a tract of land adjoining this farm from the State in 1779. Another 100 acres he bought from Nathan Bass adjoining the others in 1778.Ed7 He bought an additional tract of 62 acres from Reuban Talley in 1794Ed8 and still another tract from Thomas Whicker, supposed to be his brother-in-law in 1795.

“In 1806 he bought 130 acres of land from Daniel & Company, which had been the homeplace of his father-in-law, Thomas Whicker, Sr. He later moved to this place and remained there during his life and he and his wife are buried there.”53

“Gideon did not buy land for purposes of speculation, but only as he needed it for himself and his large family.”54 “The best impression we can obtain from the deeds is that the Gid Crews, Sr., lands and the John Earl lands adjoined, around and just east, north and northwest of where Salem Church now is, three miles east and northeast of Oxford.”55

“Salem Church is the center of a community which even in so enlightened a county as Granville is distinguished for the industry, sobriety, thrift, and all-around high character and good citizenship of the men and women who dwell therein.”56

“The eminence of the Salem community as a God-fearing, law-abiding section dates back to a time when three families, –  friends, neighbors, and ‘in-laws’ – lived there, and exerted a large influence upon the surrounding countryside. These families and their descendants have from early days down to the present been among the leading citizens of the community, and for the last hundred years or more have constituted the bulk of the membership of Salem Church.

Foremost among these families were the Crewses, and contemporary with them were the Earls and the Harrises.”57

“Gideon Crews seems to have been the first man of his name to settle in what is now known as the Salem neighborhood. He was born about 1630, sixteen years before Granville County was established. His birthplace is not known (Editor’s Note: It’s now fairly well established that Gideon Crews was born in Hanover County, Virginia, as noted in Chapter 2, page 14), but it is known that there were Crewses in Virginia as long ago as 1676 (Editor’s note: Randall Crewe arrived in Jamestown on the ship “Charles in 1621, as noted in Chapter 1), for James Crews was executed for taking part in Bacon’s Rebellion of that year against unjust treatment of the colonists. The trouble with James was that he was ahead of his times. If he had waited a hundred years he might have been made president and his memory now might be revered along with that of George Washington and other Revolutionary patriots as a founder of our government. A rebellion is an unsuccessful revolution, a revolution is a successful rebellion.”58

Gideon’s son, James “gave the plot on which Salem Church is built, and additional land adjoining the original plot was given by James’s grandson, Norfleet G. Crews. James’s descendants have in large numbers been official workers in the church – as stewards, trustees, Sunday school superintendents and teachers, organists, choir leaders, and in other capacities.”59

In February 1786, Gideon and his brother James, together with Richard Searcy, Soloman Walker and others served in an inquisition into the lunacy of Mary Robinson and found her insane. Gideon was named a juror for the November 1796 Court for Granville County. He left a will dated October 16, 1815 which was probated in the November 1815 Court, Granville County:

“In the name of God amen. I Gideon Crews of Granville County and State of North Carolina being very sick but of Perfect mind and memory, thanks being given unto God, calling into mind the mortality of my body and knowing that it is appointed once for all men to die make and ordain this my last will and testament that is to say principally and the first of all I give and recommend my soul into the hands of Almighty God who gave it and my body I recommend to the Earth to be buried in decent Christian burial at the discretion of my executors nothing doubting but at the general resurrection I shall receive the same again by the Almighty power of God and as touching such worldly estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me in this life. I give and devise and dispose of the same in the following manner and form.

Item – I lend to my well beloved wife Jemima Crews during her natural life the tract of land whereon I now live with the mansion house and kitchen and all the out houses with all the appurtenances in any wise thereto belonging.

Item – I likewise lend to my well beloved wife Jemima Crews during her natural life my two negroes Betty and Burrell my felix sorrel horse and sorrel mare and colt and her choice of seven head of my stock of cattle with three sow pigs and twelve head of sheep and all the fowls on the plantation.

Item – I likewise lend to her during her life such of my plantation Tools and Utensils as she thinks proper to take with two featherbeds and one half of her choice of my household and kitchen furniture with my Cast and yoke of steers.

Item – Is that my executors hereafter named shall sell at Public sale and twelve months credit all my negroes with all the property found on the plantation not heretofore divided to my loving wife Jemima Crews and the money arising from such sale after all my just debts are paid off be Equally divided amongst my eight children. To Wit, Milly Hester, Elizabeth Currin, Joseph Crews, Gideon Crews, Abby Daniel, James Crews, Littlebury Crews and Jemima Currin to them and their heirs and assigns forever.

Item – my will and desire is that my Executors after the decease of my loving wife Jemima Crews should sell all my property devised to her during her natural life at public sale and the money arising by such sale to be equally divided amongst my eight children before named to them and their heirs and assigns forever.

Item – I nominate and appoint my two sons Gideon Crews and James Crews my sole executors of this my last will and testament and I do hereby utterly disallow revoke and disannul all and every other Testament will Legacies bequests Executors by me in any wise before named willed and bequeathed ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my last will and Testament in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this the 16th October one thousand eight hundred & fifteen.


Gideon X Crews (seal)

Mark60, 61

“The said Gideon was a Methodist in religion and served his day and generation well. He died October 1815, and his wife Jemima in June 1825. They are both buried at the grave yard on the Pleasant farm now, now occupied by Mr. Charlie Pleasant and his brothers about three miles northeast of Oxford.”62 Per the “Hays Collection” at the Richard H. Thornton Library in Granville County, the body of Gideon Crews, Sr. is interred in the Minor Burying Ground, Granville County. It is possible that this is just another name for the graveyard on the pleasant farm. (Editor’s note: See “Cemetery Notes” at the end of this transcription for specific information.)

The eight children of Gideon and Jemima Crews were:Mildred Crews, born about 1770, married John Hester. They moved to Stokes County, North Carolina (and) had nine children.

i. Mildred Crews, born about 1770, married John Hester. They moved to Stokes County, North Carolina (and) had nine children.Joseph Crews, married Elizabeth currin.

ii. Joseph Crews, married Elizabeth currin.Abigail Crews, born about 1775, married William Daniel, and resided in the northern section of Granville County.

iii. Abigail Crews, born about 1775, married William Daniel, and resided in the northern section of Granville County.Gideon Crews, Jr., born September 2, 1779, married first Temperance Lemay, having five children; second Parthenia Heggie Higgs, widow of Daniel Glover, and remained in Granville County.

iv. Gideon Crews, Jr., born September 2, 1779, married first Temperance Lemay, having five children; second Parthenia Heggie Higgs, widow of Daniel Glover, and remained in Granville County.

v. Elizabeth Crews, born in 1780, married Lemuel Currin and remained in Granville County. Lemuel and Elizabeth had seven children.

vi. James (A.) Crews, born July 2, 1785, married Sarah Jones Earl. They had ten children and remained in Granville County until his death in 1875 at the age of 90. James and “Sally” donated the land on which Salem Methodist Church was built and they are both buried there. (Editor’s note: James A. Crews is a direct, ancestor of this transcriber/editor.)

vii. Littleberry Crews married first Elizabeth Earl. She was a sister of Sarah Jones Earl and they had six children. After Elizabeth died he married Nancy Cheatham, had another six children, and later migrated to Tennessee. Littleberry Crews is the subject of Chapter 4. (Editor’s note: Chapter 4 and subsequent chapters, dealing with Littleberry/Littlebury Crews and his descendants has been omitted from this transcription, as he is not a direct ancestor of this transcriber/editor.)Jemima Crews, born about 1791, married Wyatt Currin, and remained in Granville County until she died at an early age, before 1824. Wyatt and Jemima had four children.

viii. Jemima Crews, born about 1791, married Wyatt Currin, and remained in Granville County until she died at an early age, before 1824. Wyatt and Jemima had four children.

Cemetery Notes

The graves of Gideon Crews Sr., his wife and family, are located at the following GPS Coordinates: Latitude: 36.36729, Longitude: -78.55753. The plot is at the corner of Homer Siding Rd. and Winding Oaks Rd. approximately 100 yds from the corner above the pond. It is not well maintained. The graves were originally marked only with uncut stone. Today a stone marker has been placed at the head of the path into the wooded area to designate the significance of the place.


10 Charles City County, Virginia Court Orders, 1687-1695, page 311, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia; also found on Family History Center’s microfilm number 0030990.
Ed1 The exact lines from the court record referenced above is “Oct 3, 1690: Jno Crew, who married Sarah, Orphan of Nicholas Gattley, dec’d having summoned to court James Woodhouse and Jonah Liscombe, declares that Woodhouse and Liscombe and Sarah, the mother of the said Sarah, being bound jointly for delivery of the estate of Jno. Smith to the orphans of sd. Gattley, and shows that his part, in right of his wife, is 4604 lbs tobo. Woodhouse and Liscombe appear by their attorneys Mr. Edwd. Chilton and Mr. Jno. Everitt and say (in effect) that Jono. Crew is in his nonage and request that no judgt. may pass until Crew is capable by law to discharge them or the court from the orphan’s estate, unless it be transacted by a guardian; whereupon Jno. Crew and Sarah his wife choose Maj. Jno. Stith their guardian.”


Ed2 Charles City County, Virginia Court Orders, 1687-1695, page 336, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia “March 3, 1690 (1691 in the Gregorian calendar) Jno. Crew, who marryed Sarah, orphan of Nicho. Gatley, dec’d, by Maj. Jno Stith, their guardian, set forth that on 3 April 1685, by court order, the estate of John Smith, dec’d, who, marrying said Sarah’s mother, (and adm’x of Nicho. Gatley, dec’d) was brought in and delivered to this court for part payment of Gatley’s orphans estates, and court did deposit Smith’s estate in hands of said Sarah her mother, who gave bond. Sarah, the orphan, being now of age, prays from Sarah her mother 4605 lbs tobacco, being her part in Smith’s estate. Court advises that Sarah the mother is to pay the daughter, or her security Ja. Woodhouse and Jonah Liscombe will be liable for it.”


Ed3 Charles City County, Virginia Court Orders, 1687-1695, page 369, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia “Nov. 10, 1691; Judgement granted Jno. Justine against Jno. Crew for 200 lbs tobacco.”


Ed4 Captain James Crews was executed on January 24, 1677, on order from Governor Berkeley, for his role in helping to lead Bacon’s rebellion.

20 Charles City County, Virginia Court Orders, 1687-1695, page 245.

Ed5 Charles City County, Virginia Court Orders, 1687-1695, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, p. 229; “Aug 5, 1689; Tho. King vs. Jno. Crew, Jr., referred to next court, as Maj. Stith, an evidence, is sick.” And, p245; “Oct 3, 1689; Tho. King brings action against John Crews, Jr. for killing a sow of King’s. Jury trial finds for the defendant.”

21 Charles City County, Virginia Court Orders, 1687-1695, page 336.

22 William Wade Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, volume 6, Virginia (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1973), page 148.

23 Alice Crew Baker, The Story of my Children’s Grandparents (Chevy Chase, Maryland: n pub., 1926), page 3.


24 Virginia Lee Hutchenson Davis, Tidewater Virginia Families (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogy Publishing Co., Inc., 1989), page 385.

25 Virginia Lee Hutchenson Davis, Tidewater Virginia Families (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogy Publishing Co., Inc., 1989), page 388.

26 Carol Peterson, “The John and Sarah Crew Family”, Crews News, Volume 3, Number 1 (November 1991 – January 1992), page 1.

27 William and Mary College, “Quakers’ Petition”, William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, series 1, volume 14, page 23-25.

28 Alice Crew Baker, The Story of my Children’s Grandparents (Chevy Chase, Maryland: n pub., 1926), page 5.

29 Adair Pleasants Archer, “The Quaker Attitude Towards the Revolution,” William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, July 1921, page 169-170.

30 Alice Crew Baker, The Story of my Children’s Grandparents (Chevy Chase, Maryland: n pub., 1926), page 5.

33 Henrico County, Virginia, Friends Records, 1699-1757, page 74, Haverford Special Collections, The Quaker Collections, Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania, microfilm, also Family History Centers, microfilm, number 031762.

34 Henrico County, Virginia, Friends Records, 1699-1757, page 74, Haverford Special Collections, The Quaker Collections, Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania, microfilm, also Family History Centers, microfilm, number 031762.

Ed6 Henrico County, Virginia, Friends Records, 1699-1757, page 167.

36 Henrico County, Virginia, Friends Records, 1699-1757, page 205.

37 White Oak Swamp Meeting, Henrico County, Virginia Friends Records, 1757 – 1780, page 29, Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, microfilm; also Haverford Special Collections, Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania, microfilm; also Family History Centers, microfilm number 031779.

38 White Oak Swamp Meeting, 1757 – 1780, page 37.

39 White Oak Swamp Meeting, Henrico County, 1757 – 1780, page 37.

40 White Oak Swamp Meeting, Henrico County, 1757 – 1780, page 39.

41 White Oak Swamp Meeting, Henrico County, 1757 – 1780, page 39.

42 White Oak Swamp Meeting, Henrico County, 1757 – 1780, page 48.

43 White Oak Swamp Meeting, Henrico County, 1757 – 1780, page 51.

44 White Oak Swamp Meeting, Henrico County, 1757 – 1780, page 51.

45 White Oak Swamp Meeting, Henrico County, 1757 – 1780, pages 52 – 53.

46 C.G. Chamberlayne, The Vestry Book of St. Paul’s Parish, Hanover County, 1706-1786 (Richmond, Virginia, The Library Boards, 1940), page xvi.

47 C.G. Chamberlayne, The Vestry Book of St. Paul’s Parish, Hanover County, 1706-1786 (Richmond, Virginia, The Library Boards, 1940), page 467.

48 Richard Fenton Walker, Jr., The New Wicker/Whicker Family, (Baltimore, Maryland: Gateway Press, Inc., 1997), page 27.

49 Walter Clark, The State Records of North Carolina, (Goldsboro, North Carolina: Nash Brothers Book and Job Printers, 1905 – 1907), volume XXII, pages 168-170.

51 Richard Fenton Walker, Jr., The New Wicker/Whicker Family, (Baltimore, Maryland: Gateway Press, Inc., 1997), page 39.

52 Treasurer’s and Comptroller’s papers, Revolutionary Army accounts, volume I, page 88, folio 4, An account of specie Certificates paid into the Comptrollers Office by John Armstrong Entry Taker for Lands in North Carolina, number 955, 13 March 1784, State of North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina.

Ed7 Deed: Nathan Bass to Gideon Crews, 1787, Granville Co., NC, Book O, p. 594,

Nathan Bass to Gideon Crews

This Indenture made the fifth day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty eight. Between Nathan Bass in the County of Granville & the state of North Carolina on the one part and Gideon Crews of this county and state on the other part witnessed that Nathan Bass paid in consideration of the sum of fifty pounds Virginia monies to him in hand paid by Mr. Gideon Crews for receipt he doth hereby acknowledge hath given granted & bargain & sold by these present doth give grant bargain and sell to Mr. Gideon Crews a certain tract or parcel of land lying in Granville County on the waters of Harrolds Creek beginning at the hickory on Mr. Gideon Crews line thence south on Reuben Talleys line to a corner red oak hence on Thomas Crews line to the corner red oak hence west to the corner red oak hence to the hickory to the first station.  Containing by estimation one hundred acres be the same more or less to have and hold these premises with all the appurtenances hereunto belonging or in any wise appertaining with the privilege of hunting & fowling unto Mr. Gideon Crews his heirs assigns forever.  The other Nathan Bass for himself his heirs assigns doth covenant & agree with Mr. Gideon Crews his heirs & assigns to warrant to defend the same one hundred acres of land against all persons whatsoever unto the only in behalf of Mr. Gideon Crews.  In witness whereof Mr. Nathan Bass hath hereunto set his hand and seal the day and the year above written.


Nathan X Bass


Sign seal and acknowledge in presence of Sam Clay Peyton Wood

Granville County Feb. Court 1787

This deed was duly proved by the oath of Sam Clay due motion ordered to be registered

Truly Reg:  M. Satterwhite PR                  Henderson C.C.

Ed8 Deed: Reuben Talley to Gideon Crews, 1793, Granville Co., NC, Book P, pp. 115, 116

This Indenture made this second day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety four between Reuben Talley of the County of Granville of the state of North Carolina on the one part and Gideon Crews of the county and state aforesaid of the other part.  Witness that Reuben Talley for and in consideration of thirty seven pounds four shillings Virginia money to him paid in hand by Mr. Gideon Crews the receipt whereof he doth hereby acknowledge hath given granted bargained and sold and by these presents doth give grant bargain and sell unto Mr. Gideon Crews a certain tract or parcel of land lying in Granville County on the waters of Fishing Creek & bounded as follows: beginning at Gideon Crews old corner a red oak in Edmund Taylor, said line thence No by a line of Mark trees to white oak Wm. Pulliams corner in Gideon Crews line Prince River, ~ing on Pulliams line to a corner white oak in Taylors line, thence on Taylors line to the first station, containing sixty two acres be it the same more or less with all the appurtances thereunto belonging.  To have and to hold the aforesaid land with the aforesaid appurtances unto Mr. Gideon Crews his heirs and assigns forever.  Mr. Reuben Talley for himself and his heirs doth covenant and agrees with Mr. Gideon Crews his heirs and assigns in the above sixty two acres of land with the appurtenances unto Mr. Gideon Crews his heirs assigns against all persons whatever will warrant & forever defend.  Mr. Reuben Talley hath hereunto set his hand & affixed his seal this day & year above written.

Reuben Talley

State of North Carolina, Granville County

Signed sealed and delivered in Feb. term 1793

The foregoing deed was duly proved by Reuben Talley in open court and ordered to be registered

Truly Reg.  M. Satterwhite PK      Anderson C.C.

53 Granville County Historical Society, “Historical Data of Granville County,” Oxford Public Ledger (Oxford, North Carolina) June 25, 1929, page 2, Richard H. Thornton Library, Oxford, North Carolina, microfilm.

54 Granville County Historical Society, “Historical Data of Granville County,” Oxford Public Ledger (Oxford, North Carolina) June 25, 1929, page 2, Richard H. Thornton Library, Oxford, North Carolina, microfilm.

55 Thurston Titus Hicks, Sketches of William Hicks, Abner Hicks, Jasper Hicks, George Harris, James Crews, John Earl, and Something of Some of Their Descendants (Henderson, North Carolina: 1926), page 27.

56 Francis B. Hays, “Salem Community,” Oxford Public Ledger (Oxford, North Carolina) October 31, 1944, page 2, Richard H. Thornton Library, Oxford, North Carolina, microfilm.

57 Francis B. Hays, “Salem Community,” Oxford Public Ledger (Oxford, North Carolina) October 31, 1944, page 2, Richard H. Thornton Library, Oxford, North Carolina, microfilm.

58 Francis B. Hays, “Salem Community,” Oxford Public Ledger (Oxford, North Carolina) October 31, 1944, page 2, Richard H. Thornton Library, Oxford, North Carolina, microfilm.

59 Francis B. Hays, “Salem Community,” Oxford Public Ledger (Oxford, North Carolina) October 31, 1944, page 2, Richard H. Thornton Library, Oxford, North Carolina, microfilm.

60 “Will of Gideon Crews,” October 16, 1815, Granville County, North Carolina will book 7, page 544, probated November 1815, Richard H. Thornton Library, Oxford, North Carolina, microfilm.

61 Granville County Historical Society, “Historical Data of Granville County,” Oxford Public Ledger (Oxford, North Carolina) June 11, 1925, Richard H. Thornton Library, Oxford, North Carolina, microfilm.

62 Granville County Historical Society, “Historical Data of Granvuille County,: Oxford Public Ledger (Oxford, North Carolina) June25, 1929, page 2, Richard H. Thornton Library, Oxford, North Carolina, Microfilm.

Death of James A. Crews — From a transcript by John W. Hays

Source: Frances B. Hays Collection, “Obituaries V”, page 66. Richard H. Thornton Library, Oxford, North Carolina
The following is a complete, unedited transcription from a handwritten manuscript appearing in the volume described above. The manuscript is undated, but it is presumed that it was written shortly after the death of James A. Crews, which occurred on August 10th, 1892. The handwriting was very difficult to decipher, and where I have been unable to puzzle a word, I have indicated it as (illegible). Where a specific word or phrase can be presumed, I have included it in parenthesis with a question mark (?) to indicate a guess.

Transcription provided by Constance Hall Jones, Raleigh, North Carolina. April 22, 2015.


Death of James A. Crews

From a transcript by John W. Hays.

Died at his house in Granville county on Wednesday the 10th of August, 1892, James A. Crews, in the 80th year of his age.

He was the oldest son of the late James Crews and Sallie (Earl) Crews of Granville County. His father, who died in 1875, at the advanced age of 90 years, belonged to a family who were the pioneers of Methodism in Granville, and was the principal founder of Salem Church on what is now the Oxford circuit. He left a large number of descendants reaching to the third and fourth generation, and nearly all have remained true to the teaching of their fathers.

James A. Crews was born May 15, 1813, and was married August 11, 1834, to Martha A. Hunt of (illegible) county. Of their marriage eleven children were born, nine of whom survive. His wife preceded him to the grave on the 6th of January, 1892.

Brother Crews had inherited a vigorous constitution and was remembered for his energy both of body and mind. He had a successful farm and by industry and economy had accumulated a good estate. For some years before his death his unusually robust health began to decline. He became a great sufferer from rheumatism, which emphasized with other disorders, terminated his life.

He was motivated to Christ and joined the Methodist church in early youth, and throughout his life was an earnest and (illegible) Christian. He was a man of decided convictions and of determined character. He loved the Truth and hated all that was false. He was a close student of the Bible and was deeply imbued with its teachings. He (illegible) (it?,if?) as an impregnable rock and the (illegible) of all excellence. He carried his religion with his daily life and made it his governing principle in all his business transactions. It comforted him in time of trouble, soothed his sorrow and was a constant source of sacred joy. It was the theme of much of his conversation and the joy that it offered to him he seemed ever anxious to impart to others. With an unfaltering faith in the efficacy of prayer and with a heart full of tender devotions, there was nothing that offered him so much happiness or awakened all his power to so full a (ae?, as?) living but to be at work in the service of a great religious revival. On such occasions he would often manifest a (spiritual?, penitential?) power in exhaustion and prayer that would reach the most callous heart. As approached the end of life he seemed to lose his hold upon all things earthly. He had arranged his business affairs with calmness and deliberation, and then placed them behind him, and was looking steadfastly forward to another life when he would meet the loved ones who had gone before and realize his brightest hopes in the presence of his Redeemer.

The land of Beulah and the (delectable?) mountains were constantly in view, and when he came to pass the work given his faith failed not. He whom he had trusted in health was still his (illegible) and support.

The grave has closed where his mortal remains. He leaves to his children his example of life without reproach; that of an honest man, a good citizen, a kind neighbor, a fearless and faithful soldier of Christ. His spirit has entered into that nest (rest?) prepared for the people of God.

His funeral was preached on the 11th inst. By his pastor, the Rev. John H. Hall, in the presence of a large (collection?, consensus?) of relatives and friends and his body laid to rest in the cemetery near his home.



Lewis Evan Jones (1825 – 1910) — A Brief History of Cedar County, Nebraska, Read July 4, 1876.

The following is a faithful* transcription of a photocopied document I received from D.L. Bond, of Raleigh, N.C., one of several documents among the papers and family history documents associated with Lewis Evan Jones Jr. (1825 – 1910), of Wynot, Nebraska. The original (from which the photocopy was taken), was a type-written manuscript numbering 8 pages, with author (compiler) indication at the end of the document as L.E. Jones. In addition to these 8 pages, was a photocopy of what appears to be the original naturalization papers of Lewis Evan Jones Jr., including a certificate issued by the State of Missouri in 1859, and a handwritten document accompanying it. I have transcribed both and included scans of both for this record. Beyond the attribution of L.E. Jones, no other author or compiler is credited except within the body of prose. No date is recorded on the document to indicate when the transcription from the primary source was made.

If anyone has any information on the original transcriber or the location of the primary source material for these documents, please contact me so I may include it with these records.

*Where obvious typographical errors due to miss-keying have been introduced into the prose by the transcriber/typist, I have taken the liberty of correcting these mistakes. Where words are obviously missing and can be interpreted by context, I have included them in parenthesis, in (italics). Where other mistakes are apparent, see notes at end of article preceded by asterisks. All caps and odd grammar, abbreviations, and punctuation or lack there of are as they appear in the original transcription.




The Congress of the United States having passed a resolution requesting that each county through out the whole country cause a history of their respective counties to be written out and that said history be read on the Fourth day of July of the present year – The one hundredth anniversary of our existence as an independent nation. The President of the United States and the Governor of the State of Nebraska also issued their proclamations urging the people to comply with the request of Congress and have said history recorded in their respective counties and that a copy be also sent to the Librarian of Congress to the intent that a complete records may thus be obtained of the progress of our institution during the first Centennial of their existence.

In compliance of their request the citizens of Cedar County met in convention at the court house in the town of St. Helena on the 20th day of May last (1875) and appointed the undersigned to write said history in accordance with the wish of the convention. I, Lewis E. Jones, hereby submit the following as the history of Cedar County to the best of my knowledge. As to its correctness there can be no doubt, as most of the items are taken from the records of the county. Organization by an act of Congress passed on the 30th day of May A.D. 1854. The people who then occupied the unorganized Territory of Nebraska were authorized to form territorial Government, which was accordingly done the same year and by an act of the Legislature of the Territory of Nebraska approved February 12th 1857 the county of Cedar was formed, the boundaries of which have been changed by subsequent legislation. The Governor appointing as temporary seat of justice a place then known as St. James lying below the mouth of the Petite Arc (Bow Creek) on the Missouri River.

First Settlement. During that year (1857), the first few settlers arrived in Cedar County and located in the neighborhood of St. James. Among those early pioneers who are still in the county we will mention the names of a few. C.C. Van, Jas. Hay, O.D. Smith, Saby Strahm, Hanson Wiseman, John Andrews, Henry Ernest, Gustavus and Herrman Ferber, together with their venerable father, Paul Ferber. This colony emigrated from Harrison County, Iowa.

OTHER SETTLEMENTS. The following spring the settlements of Waucapona and St. Helena were organized and land taken up under “Squatters Sovereignty”. Among those who settled in Waucapona and still residents of the county we found Warren Sanders, Geo. A. Hall and Amos S. Parker. At this time I am not aware of but one person living in the county who was at St. Helena during that spring, P.C. Nisson. In July of that year the writer of this landed in Cedar county and together with some others surveyed and platted the town of St. Helena. The following spring, 1859, Henry Felber, with his three sons, Henry, Jacob, and William, Peter Jenal Sr., and Peter Jenal Jr., together with my own family arrived in St. Helena by boat from St. Louis, Mo. C.B. Evans and sons arrived also at St. Helena during the summer of 1858, from Council Bluffs, Iowa.

About this time, or it might have been a short time previous few settlers located in the northwest corner of the county, nearly opposite “Strike the Ree’s Camp”, the now flourishing town of Yankton, which was then occupied by the Yankton Band of Sioux Indians. In that settlement we discovered but one person, Saby Strahm, the founder of that prosperous settlement and one of the first pioneers of the country. During that same year that locality was strengthened by acquisition of several new settlers among whom we still find John and David Nelson, Ambrose Ambrosen, Ambrose and Ole Anderson. Several others located in the county about this time.

The most important acquisition in the fall of 1861 was the arrival of J. Lammers, G. Kohls, B. Wubben, Stephen Klug, B. Suing, J. and F. Weisler, and G. Arands who purchased out old settlers and located on one of the Bow Creeks about two miles south of St. Helena where they are still living and prosperous. They also built the first church that was built in the country in the center of their settlements which has been the means of building up a flourishing community.

SLOW WORK. For many years the settlement of the country progressed very slowly in fact barely holding its own for the very reason that many of the first settlers as is the case in most new countries, came here, took up the best land, located town sites, remained until the land was surveyed by the general government, then either sold out or entered their lands and left for parts unknown. For many years there were as many departures as there were arrivals.

INDIANS. Another drawback on Cedar county, as well as the surrounding counties, was the dread of hostile Indians. Immediately following the dreadful massacre at Mankato, Minnesota, a whole family of five children, those of Mr. Wiseman, near the settlement of St. James, were most brutally slaughtered by their inhuman friends.* This occurred in 1863. Dr. Lorenzo Bentz was also killed the following spring in 1864, a few miles northwest of St. Helena.

STAMPEDE. During the summer of 1864 the great stampeded took place. News was brought here by refugees who were fleeing, as was then supposed, before the ten thousand warlike Indians. The whole inhabitants of the country lying west of this were thus seeking safety in flight. A nasty consultation took place among the few and scattered settlers of this county. The result was that four families, those of the writer hereof, P.C. Nisson, Henry Ferber, and Jacob Brauch, decided to fortify themselves as best they could (in Felber Tavern) in St. Helena, whilst the settlers around St. James went to work immediately and fortified themselves in the then temporary court house by throwing up sod embankments and after strengthening their little fortification. Thus, these two little bands, expecting every moment to be attacked by an overwhelming force of savages were imprisoned within the walls of their little posts. Thanks be to the allwise Providence the massacre was, for some cause not known to us, never carried out, but we have good reason to believe that it was carefully planned. The citizens of Yankton at the same time rapidly fortified themselves around the principal hotel in that place, momentarily expecting to be attacked.

Whilst the children of Mr. Wiseman were killed, he himself, together with several citizens of this country had volunteered in a military company as Home Guards, expecting to defend their firesides, but were ordered to join Suly’s expedition against the Indians. Thus our thickly settled frontier was deprived of several of our best men during those troublesome times.

Those of our citizens who had left the country during that memorable stampede returned home in a few days but all danger was not considered fully passed. Quite a number of Norwegian families of Dakota Territory also crossed the Missouri River at St. Helena for the protection. Thus the small colony was reinforced and felt much relieved by the acquisition thus gained to their numbers. The attack was never made but greatly retarded immigration to this part of the state.

During the year 1864, C(ompany) “B”, 7th Iowa Cavalry was sent there to protect the inhabitants against the attacks of Indians. A portion of this Company was stationed at Niobrara and the remainder divided between St. Helena and St. James. At the latter place a fortification was built, called Fort Jackson, after the name of the captain. This fortification was built on an elevated spot which is now owned by Fred Harder. This Company stayed about twelve months and citizens were not sorry when they left.

WAR OF REBELLION. And other great drawback in retarding immigration to this part of the West, was the war of the rebellion. Since the close of the war, however, immigration is slowly but steadily taking up our fertile lands. A large area of our best lands having been monopolized by non-resident speculators, railroad companies and non-resident land owners at very low prices, and as railroad communications is fully established, we have every reason to believe that these lands will rapidly change hands from those of the non-productive to those of the productive classes.

GRASSHOPPERS. The dreadful ravages of the Rocky Mountain locust (grasshoppers) have also had its effects in retarding the advancement of the country, but the farmers are not discouraged by the ravages of these pests, but have put in larger crops than ever before – determined to recuperate from the losses of former years.

LOCATION. Cedar County is well located, having four tiers of townships pointing on the Missouri River, by five townships and a fraction deep north and south, containing about 389,760 acres of land well watered by numerous streams excellent and pure, together with a large number of springs of living and limpid water. The country is well timbered, having large bodies of timber on the Missouri River, such as cottonwood, oak, elm, ash, together with several other varieties of timber. The country is abounded with several excellent water powers, especially the East and Main Bow Creeks, three of which are now improved with first class flour mills, aggregating ten run of burrs. There are four steam saw mills and one water saw mill in the county all doing a fair business.

The first steam saw mill brought into the county was by the company who settled at St. James. They had also a small portable mill to grind corn, run by steam power, which was highly appreciated by the settlers as corn bread was the main sustenance of the people here at that time. Wheat flour could not be had nearer than Sioux City, Iowa, and that generally brought from St. Louis by steamboats. We believe this mill was brought here in 1857. The following summer, 1858, the writer brought the second steam saw mill into the country and located at St. Helena. In the spring of 1850**, this mill was nearly completely destroyed by fire. During that same summer it was again rebuilt and has been running ever since.

FERRIES. Three chartered ferries are in operation between the county and Dakota Territory – one steam, one horse, and one flat boat. The steam ferry does a lucrative business between Green Island and Yankton.

TOWNS. The county has three recorded towns, St. James, St. Helena, and Stramburg, the latter of which is directly across the Missouri river from Yankton. The old town of St. James having been appointed county seat by the Governor was considered the legal place to do business until the people voted to remove the same to St. Helena as the old St. James had been entirely abandoned by its inhabitants with the single exception of O.D. Smith and family who kept there a general store and post office. The first meeting of the county commissioners took place there on the 4th day of October, 1858.

COUNTY SEAT. Since the election for the County Seat took place in the fall of 1869, St. Helena has been the county seat. The county commissioners have purchased a commodious building which is fitted up into offices for the county officers. The total number of inhabitants at the county seat at present writing is about 175.

NEWSPAPER. There is also a weekly newspaper, the Cedar County Advocate, published regularly at the county seat, receiving a liberal patronage from the surrounding country both of advertisers and subscribers. The paper was established early in 1874 and is well conducted and neat in appearance. In the spring of 1858 the writer of this commenced publishing a weekly newspaper, the St. Helena Gazette, the first nine numbers of which were printed in St. Louis, Missouri dated ten days later than the date of publication (it generally took that number of days for the mail to travel this distance). On account of having but a monthly mail, it had to be carried by private conveyance generally from Sioux City, Iowa. In July of that year, 1858, the office was removed from St. Louis to St. Helena and published there by A. Nette, for a few months when it died a natural death for want of support.

COUNTY OFFICERS. The first county treasurer was George A. Hall. After him, I.S. W. Coubry was elected and ever since the last named person left the county in 1863, Peter Jenal, the present incumbent, has filled the office to the entire satisfaction of the community. The first county clerk, Geo. L. Roberts, then Moses E. Denning, S.P. Saunders and W.H. Gallomer filled the office for a short time each. Since the year 1863, P.C. Nisson has filled that important position. He is also recorder and clerk of the district court. The other county offices have been filled by various parties. Present incumbents are Silas Reynolds, sheriff; W.H. Powell, county Judge; C.A. Evans, coroner; John Lammers, Henry Morten and L.E. Jones, commissioners and A. McNeal, surveyor.

SOIL. The surface of the county consists of greatly rolling prairies, with numerous valleys of excellent and wide bottom lands with running streams of pure water. The soil generally is of deep yellow loam, very productive and well adapted to withstand either drouth or excessive wet weather. The river bluffs consist of chalk stone which is extensively used for building purposes, as well as burning lime. The country is well adapted for stock raising as luxuriant prairie grasses grow on the highest elevations. As a general thing the winters are not severe with the exception of a few storms called blizzards, consequently stock raising is the most profitable business of the husbandman. Wheat, corn, barley, oats and other cereals are raised in large quantities as well as all kinds of root and vegetable crops.

FRUIT. A large amount of fruit trees of different varieties have been set out within the last few years. No doubt exists in the minds of those who are cultivating them that they will mature to perfection when properly protected from blustering winds.

MAIL FACILITIES. It was rather hard for the early pioneers to be separated from the balance of the world as it were. The means of information that reached them was through a monthly mail carrier on horse back. Well does the writer recollect the hardships of a trip from this county to St. Louis in the fall of 1858. The only means of locomotion at command in those days was an ox team from here to Sioux City, Iowa, then by stage from that place to Council Bluffs and another stage from there to St. Joseph, Missouri. Here we had a choice of two routes – one across the state of Iowa to Hannibal, on the Mississippi river by stage, or the easier way of traveling by steamboat. We chose the latter, which took us just six days from St. Joseph to St. Louis. The trip can be made today from this county in thirty-six hours.

Shortly after this, for the Government favored us as much as could be expected, under the circumstances, we had the luxury of a weekly mail and some years later, mail service was again increased to a daily mail and at present writing, the St. James, St. Helena and Green Island have each a daily mail whilst the other offices in the county are regularly supplied from these offices. There are now eight post offices in the county receiving letters and papers from different parts of the world.

BRIDGES. Cedar county, having a large number of water courses, many bridges are absolutely necessary. During the year 1872 the county authorities purchased a pile driver intending to build nothing but pile bridges thereafter. In the course of that time there have been built within the limits of the county, 101 pile bridges at cost of $3,547.20, together with some three or four more under contract.

CULTIVATED LANDS. We have not the means of stating accurately, the number of acres under cultivation in the county but will approximate that there is in the neighborhood of 35,000 acres.

TREE CULTURE. There were exempt from taxation in the assessment of 1875, 101 acres of trees under proper cultivation, but we have good reason to believe that not one half has been reported to the assessors.

SCHOOL. Educational facilities were almost entirely neglected by the early settlers. There was not a single school taught within the limits of the county for many a long year after its first settlement, with the exception of a few months at St. Helena, by Geo. A. Roberts, L.C. Bunting and C. Clark in the year 1860 and 1861 (all private schools). There was also a private school taught a few months at St. James about the same time. About the year 1867 a public school was started at St. Helena with a person by the name of Reed as teacher. About this time a public school was also commenced at St. James. Thus from this small beginning have our public schools expanded until fine school houses are seen in every part of the county. There are at present in the county, twenty-six school districts, twenty-one school houses valued at $13,275, thirty-one qualified teachers, and nine hundred children of school age.

CHURCHES. The religious community have not been behind in the advancement of their different denominations. The Catholic church, especially is very prosperous, for predominating all others combined; the Catholics have a church building and resident priest, John Daxacher, who is working zealously among his flock and doing prosperous work; the Methodists have also a church building at St. James with a resident minister. The United Brethren and Congregationalists each their followers but no church building of their own.

VALUATION. We have no means of finding out the assessed valuation of property in the county previous to 1864 as no regular books were kept. Consequently, from that year we give the total assessed valuation up to the last assessment in order to show that the county increased at a healthy rate during these thirteen years.

For the year 1864      $17,830.
1865      $43,256.
1866      $58,312.
1867      $83,620.
1868      $117,097.
1869      $183,645.
1870      $329,900.
1871      $613,974.
1872      $734,828.
1873      $1,014,033.
1874      $1,034,843.
1875      $1,015,495.
1876      $886,785.

It will be perceived hat the valuation of the last two years do not keep pace with the increase of former years. The cause of this is that all kinds of property within the last ten years has considerably shrunk in value, consequently has not been assessed as high as normally. Another cause of decrease was the action of the Legislature taking away one of our best townships and attaching same to Pierce County, the County lying south of Cedar County.

POPULATION. We have the same obstacle in regard to showing the increase to population as we have hand in regard to valuation no record having been previous to 1871. Consequently we shall commence with that year.

No. of inhabitants*** in 1871      1019
1872      1247
1873      1671
1874      1817
1875      2014
1876      2404

LIVESTOCK. In regard to this species of property it will be seen that also increased in the same ratio was other property in the county.**** We shall commence with the assessment of 1864, the earliest date we have on record.

Year Horses Mules Cattle Sheep Swine
1864 81 469 109
1865 56 651 88
1866 86 670 90
1867 125 2 926 271 196
1868 145 5 1106 835 212
1869 184 6 1311 875 322
1870 229 11 1726 353 392
1871 303 24 2217 381 622
1872 393 31 2226 327 540
1873 555 44 2994 562 1062
1874 699 31 2621 519 608
1875 764 34 2657 621 486
1876 841 31 3198 715 716

DIFFERENT OCCUPATIONS. There are in the county several mechanics such as Printers, Carpenters, Machinists, Shoemakers, Tailors, etc., who do not follow their own trades but are engaged in other occupation, several carpenters, bridge builders, masons, etc. continually working at their own occupation, who have no settled place of business. Below we give a list including dry goods, groceries, hardware.

Tin ware farming machinery etc.      6
Flour manufacturers      2
Blacksmith shops      8
Wagon maker shops      3
Printing office      1
Drug store      2
Hardware stores      1
Doctors      2
Attorneys at law      5
Surveyors      2
Harness makers      1
Brewery      1
Furniture stores      1
Saloons      4
Millinery stores      1
Brick yards      1
Grain dealers      5
Plasterers      1

FINANCIAL. Cedar County at the present writing is entirely and absolutely free from debt. Her warrants are redeemed by the treasurer at par. It has neither pauper, prisoner nor lunatic to support at the public charge.

RAILROADS. The citizens of Cedar County voted on the 8th day of April last to donate $150,000. to Covington, Columbus & Black Hills Railroad Company in coupon bonds payable in twenty years after date bearing interest at the rate of ten per cent payable semi-annually to aid in constructing a road east and west through the county. It is now fully believed that by the next birthday of the Republic, the iron horse will be striding over the rich prairies of Cedar County.

REMARKS. The intention of the Committee in appointing the writer hereof as compiler of the history of Cedar County, was for him to compile statistics gathered by one person from each precinct. In that much valuable material might have been gathered which is now over looked on account of some of those who were appointed to furnish such information having entirely neglected to do so. In justice to those who have made their reports we shall publish such as has been received in full condensing only what can be of no benefit to the public. We are under obligation to Mr. P.C. Nissen, County Clerk, for much valuable information herein contained. The following reports of the different precincts as far as has been reported to compiler:

Precinct #No. 4 by G. Ferber. School was organized in 1870 and had 22 children with Addison Cole as teacher, term of school three months. At the present time, it has 56 children attending, school term nine months, teacher Miss M. Bark. Value of school property $600. It shows but very little increase since the organization of the District. The fact is there have been some 5 or 6 precincts cut off. There is another school in precinct No. 4 but could not get any particulars from it.

Precinct #No. 6 by John Meyer. John reports from this district that he is the oldest settler who located in that precinct having arrived there on the first day of October 1869. No. of voters 21. No. of houses 28. No. of cattle 123. No. of acres under cultivation 730. No. of trees planted 17,032, besides one acre of trees planted at school house valued at $500.

Precinct #No. 7. by I.P. Abts. In the spring of 1870, Mr. Ira N. Lyman, Levy Heller, Wadon Heller, James Bush, Boyles, and I.P. Abts commenced settling this precinct. There was no land broke then but there is now about 1000 acres broke, consisting of 28 farms. There was 21 inhabitants then and 150 now. There was but three acres of forest planted which is thriving wonderfully so there are some fencing poles there now. These trees have not been planted over three years. When the precinct was organized in 1872, 17 votes were cast but the last election there were 27. There was about 17 horses of the value of $800.00 in the precinct then and about 33 head of cattle valued at $500.00. But at present there are 68 horses valued at $3155.; 128 cattle valued at $1,481.38.; sheep valued at $49.; 14 swine valued at $24.; wagon and carriages $336.; money and credit $270.; other personality $384.; with a real estate value of $55,900. When the precinct was organized there was one school house in it but now three of the value of about $1000. The term taught during the year is in two schools six and in the third nine months. Their attendance number 45 children. The East Bow Creek runs north and south through the precinct and has several streams on both sides running into which gives the Creek on the lower end of the precinct a power for mills and other manufacturing establishments. There was in 1874 a post office established which keeps up correspondence with the whole world.

Precinct #No. 8 by H.T. Ankeny. The history of this does not date back more remote than the spring of 1870. Until that time the county was but a vast undulating prairie covered with a luxurious coat of vegetation. Not a tree or shrub visible as far as the eye could reach and nothing to denote or indicate that the foot of the white man had ever pressed the soft and yielding covering of the fertile soil, except at regular intervals the mounds and pits which show that government servants had been there before to establish lines and regulations for the advance of the hardy pioneer. Occasionally the sameness of the scenery would be interrupted by the sight of an elk or deer or antelope quietly grazing but at the approach of man would bound away with the fleetness of the wind over some friendly knoll and out of sight. The wold and coyote would come around with their natural inquisitiveness for a time and would skulk away and be lost to view. But this could not always last. Such beautiful and rare formed lands, such (rich?) and fertile soil could not long be left to the wild animals, to the red man and his untrained progenitors.

On the 11th day of May, 1870, five men had left their homes and more thickly settled parts of the country, came to this part of the county to locate for themselves homesteads with a full determination to settle on them and bring under subjection to their iron will the wild and heretofore untilled soil and unbroken sod. Those indomitable, hardy, resolute men were Seymour Starks, the senior of the party; Harry Starks, his brother; Lewis Dennis, Dr. Conly and J.B. Gould. They located very near in towns. 29 R. 3 East that same spring after having built their shanties for temporary habitation. Dr. Conley and Harry Starks started breaking teams, each breaking about 80 acres but to which the two shall be credited the breaking of the first ground the writer is unable to state but the first family in his new home was that of Wm. Button. During the spring a few more settlers joined those that were already here which swelled the number to 7 adults and 9 children.

The following winter not a soul remained on the prairie but the next spring most of the original number returned with some more in addition. It was now a life on the prairie in earnest. Some were breaking up the virgin soil, some were building habitation and all at work at something, none idle. In the fall, Lewis Dennis put up a frame house with shingle roof, the first of the kind in the precinct. That the first settlers had a hard and tedious time to make homes and open up farms in this wild district it is not difficult for the reader to imagine it being so far from all kinds of materials used for building houses and shelter for what little stock the limited means of the pioneers would permit them to hold. The population kept steadily increasing until the spring of 1872 when O.R. Ankeny with a number of members of his family settled in the same town. That dreadful disease, consumption, had become firmly settled on his constitution and he came to this pleasant prairie in the vain hope that the constant wind and pure air would be beneficial to him, but it proved of no avail for in February following he passed away which was the first appearance of the great destroyer in this community.

In the fall of 1873, a voting precinct was organized in the limits of town. 28 and 29 R. 3 East with and additional ¾ section in section 30 and 31 of towns. 30 same ranges. At the first election held in the precinct there were fifteen (15) voters present. The energies of the mind and body were devoted to the raising of cereals until the year of the Grasshoppers in 1874. At that time there were large fields of waving grain utterly destroyed which put an effectual damper that stopped the draft in that direction to a great extent and turned the attention to a surer and more remunerative industry namely raising of stock. This portion of the county being especially adapted to that purpose. The Logan River traverses from West to east through the entire precinct and three draws of the Logan running diagonally through it each having a smooth level bottom from one fourth to one mile making in extent full one third in area or the entire precinct covered with tall thickly matted, luxuriant grass, from which could be cut nearly thousands of tons of nutritious hay. The following statistics will show the inhabitants awoke to the advantages of this section for stock raising. At the first settling six years ago, there was not one half dozen cows brought in and half of the original settlers had no team. Now there is in the precinct 250 horned cattle, 90 head swine and 33 head horses. The number of acres of land opened out foots up to nearly 1100 and the number of acres of artificial forest seventy. The total population at this date is 42 adults and 33 children. There are three organized school districts in this precinct, each having from one to three terms of school yearly. Two of the districts have a school house and one them a temporary affair. The other, which is known as Logan Valley School house, is a splendid building large and commodious and neatly finished with all the modern school house fixtures fuel and well water at the door. Pronounced by those who seem to know the finest school house in the county, cost about $1000.00.

There are none of the trades of the professions represented in this precinct with the exception of two carpenters for this is strictly a farming community. Although there are immense water privileges on the Logan, there are no manufacturers or mills. And now in summing up the history of precinct #No. 8 there is the following result from a wild region known only to the savages, in the short time of six years ending July 4, 1876 there is now a beautiful farming country dotted here and there with farm houses, surrounded with fields of ripening grain, denoting thrift and prosperity.

Precinct #No. 9 by A. McNeal. This precinct was first settled by D.L. DeGarmo in the year 1869. The number of adults in the precinct at that time was were 2 in number at present time 23, number of children at present time 23, teachers 2. The stock in the precinct number as follows: Horses 17, cattle 71, hogs 56, sheep 7. The number of homesteads are 12. There are two surveyors in the precinct. One who does the county business; the other will not celebrate his birthday until the 8th day of June following and is therefore not much known in the county. There are about 25 miles of Main Bow and its branches in the precinct. The fruit trees in promising condition number about 275 mostly set this spring by McNeal. No others have set out fruit trees. Some will produce fruit this year.

Precinct #No. 10. by R.T. O’Gara. In compliance with the request of the convention that appointed me historian of the above named precinct, I herein furnish a true history of the same.

In the spring of 1870, I visited the vicinity of this precinct. It was then an entire waste with no signs of civilization of which the deer and antelope had undisputed control. I selected a location in this unsettled region and on the 30th day of May A.D. 1870, obtained my papers for a homestead entry at the Land Office. In June of the same year, I was joined by my brother, who had settled nearby. We erected a bachelor’s Hall and commenced to improve the wild but beautiful prairie. As soon as the linkeyed speculator noticed those two dots on the blank sheets at the Land Office, they secured the assistance of surveyors, came hither and entered nearly all the land in this and surrounding country so that at the close of 1870, there was but very few pieces of desirable land vacant. In the summer of 1870, my father and other brother moved from Wisconsin to this place looking up homestead and settled down in the fall of 1871. Our little settlement was increased by a family from Wisconsin consisting of parents and five children. Here we remained in peace and quietness away from the bustle and commotion of the more settled parts of the county. There was nothing to break the stillness that prevailed except bands of roving Indians that came to hunt for game and going back and forth on their visiting excursions to the Omaha, Winnebago and Santee reservations. Very frequently we would see the hills and every elevated portion of land in sight adorned with those born beauties, some of them would place themselves in those high positions to intercept the game which ever way they may run.

In 1873, our settlement was again enlarged by two families that moved in from Iowa. They were seven in number all told. In 1874, our number s were again increased by a family from the southern part of this state consisting of six in the family and also a young man from the state of Illinois. At that time the place began to assume the appearance of civilization. Large tracts of land were broken up, houses were built and groves of timber planted. Everything looks prosperous in the young settlement but the people were laboring under disadvantages. They had to pay their road tax in money or work on the roads in some precinct several miles distant. The people also neglected to attend the polls on account of the distance so the people thought it necessary to organize a precinct for their own convenience in these matters. Accordingly in July 1874, a petition was presented to the county commissioners at their regular meeting asking for and organization of a precinct. The petition was granted and the people were satisfied on that point. The next disadvantage was the people had no school for their children so in the fall of 1874, a petition was presented to the county superintendent of public instruction asking for the organization of a school district. The petition was granted and the district was organized as soon as practicable, namely district no. 23.

The first term of school was taught in the district commencing January 4, 1875. The whole number of scholars that were of school age in the district at that time was eight. In the fall of 1874, our Illinois immigrant returned to his native state, got married, and returned in the spring of 1875. Having now everything to make him happy, he went to work on his place with a good will. His farm consisted of 320 acres of land, 40 acres broke, a good frame house, other necessary building and a good well of water but on the approach of winter he got discouraged and returned to his native home. The immigration to our precinct from 1874 to the present time is respectively adults 22, children of school age 21, under school age 15, total 58. The number of acres of land under cultivation in the precinct is 540, no. of horses 36, cattle 85, pigs 67, no of acres of timber 18. Apple trees 50, and a school house worth $1,500 dollars. There is in the district one qualified teacher. There are two streams in the precinct, one in the northern part and the other in the southern part, neither of them extends into the precinct only about a mile. There is also a large spring in the South Western part of the precinct. It is known as the Big Spring of Cedar County. I believe this spring is better known by the people of distant states than by the people of Cedar County in which it is situated. Surveyors and land speculators all inquire for the Big Spring of Cedar County. From this spring they could start to any part of the county they wished to go. Therefore it was a regular camping ground. A large quantity of water flows from this spring, enough to move the machinery of a good sized mill if properly utilized. The stream spoken of are tributaries of the Main or Middle Bow.

CONCLUSION. It will be seen by the above reports that the oldest and wealthiest precincts have failed to send in any statistics. Those who have reported are the most recently organized and sparsely settled districts of the county. The county contains eleven precincts from No. 1 to No. 11 inclusive.


L. E. Jones    Compiler


Eds notes:
* It’s more likely that L.E. Jones wrote “fiends” rather than “friends”.

** Obviously the date of 1850 indicated in this transcription is an error (typographical?), since the mill was not actually built until 1858.

*** The population count is presumed to include only white inhabitants, or possibly people of African descent (although that is unlikely), but to certainly exclude any Native Americans then still living in Cedar County.

**** The original transcriber clearly left some meaningful material out of this sentence.

Naturalization Certificate

Click image to view full-size.

Naturalization Statement

Click image to view full-size.



Lewis Evan Jones Jr (1825 — 1910) — Sagging landmark survives at Wynot

The following is a faithful transcription of a photocopied newspaper page, one of many documents I received from D. L. Bond, of Raleigh, N.C., as part of a collection of memoirs and papers, as well as genealogical information related to Lewis Evan Jones Jr. (1825 – 1910), his antecedents and descendants, and the “Nebraska line” of the Jones family, originally of Dolgelly (Dolgellau), Wales and Carnarvon, Wales. Mr. Bond is a great-great-grandson of Lewis Evan Jones Jr. I have no information what newspaper this article originally appeared in, or the date of publication. If anyone can help me identify this article’s origin and date, please contact me.

B. Paul Chicoine, the “Journal correspondent” who authored this piece, is apparently the same person of that name who co-authored the book Sioux City – A Pictorial History, the Donning Company, 1982. He appears to have also authored or co-authored a number of other historical articles and text books.


“Sagging landmark survives at Wynot

Bow Valley Mills

Historic mill – The historic three-story Bow Valley Mill still stands near Wynot, Neb., although sagging underpinnings cause it to teeter toward the spillway dug more than 100 years ago. The addition at the right is used to store farm machinery. (Photo by B. Paul Chicoine, Journal correspondent) (Photo shown above is not original to the article. It was taken by an unidentified photographer at a later period.)

By B. Paul Chicoine
Journal correspondent

WYNOT, Neb. – Time and grazing cattle may be kicking the underpinnings from a massive three-story frame structure near Bow Creek, but the Bow Valley Mill is a persistent survivor.

Perched on the bank of a dried up millpond, Cedar County’s oldest surviving landmark hangs on to the future with slipping fingers – a sad state of affairs for a building which has survived time, technology, floods and efforts by one of Cedar County’s more colorful and industrious families to keep the ancient giant in production.

Situated a quarter mile south of bubbling Bow Creek, a major water course in the north Cedar County area, the Bow Valley Mill is a monument to this family and to the raw, untamed wilderness of the Nebraska frontier. It was founded by Lewis Evan Jones and is part of an industry bloodline which included the Christian Advocate.

In 1857, while Jones, founder of the Advocate, was still plying his trade and papers, he was intrigued by a company of town promoters involved in establishing a prairie city along the Missouri River in Nebraska Territory.

Family accounts and local records show Jones, a native of Carnarvon, Wales, was impressed by the immense acreages of hardwoods which lined the hills in this region and the available water power along its creeks.

Turning publication of his newspaper over to a colleague in St. Louis, he embarked upon a milling career which was to develop the huge mill at Bow Valley.

Mrs. John (Edith) Jones, grand daughter of the mill’s founder, maintains a careful collection of its records. She says the family business survived 100 years of prosperity and disaster by adapting to changing times and needs of Cedar County.

Those needs included making flour for the gold prospectors of Montana and later, generating electricity.

The mill is said to have helped supply the soldiers in the last campaigns against the Indians.

“There must have been thousands of tons of wheat through those old stone burrs,” says Mrs. Jones, a spry and effervescent woman in her 70’s. “A good share of it went to the government for outposts and reservations too.”

Riverboats upbound from Sioux City to Montana stopped regularly to take on fuel and freshly milled flour at the mill’s private landing, located a short distance north on the Missouri River.

Along with processing locally grown wheat and corn, a sawmill attached to the mill’s east side supplied planks, timbers, and framing for homes and farms in Wynot, St. James, nearby St. Helena and Yankton.

With the coming of the railroad and the founding of Wynot, the track’s terminus in 1907, the mill’s creeking side-shot water wheel was harnessed to an electric generator to power the town’s first electric lights.

Built of local hardwoods – maple, oak, and walnut – and mortised and tenoned throughout, Bow Valley Mills shows the work of skilled hands. Its records show the persistence of the Jones family in keeping it alive through three generations.

Wheat, hauled in by pack horse and wagon, was ground on the first floor by water-powered burrs, then sacked and stored in a “mouse-proof” flour house alongside.

Mouse-proofing was accomplished by overlaying walls with tin. The materials were shipped upriver by steamboat.

Water-powered elevators raised wheat to the two top floors for temporary storage.

A quarter-mile millrace delivered water from a rock and log dam across Bow Creek to the south. Later, after floods destroyed the first dam, Thomas Jones, son of the founder, constructed another dam of railroad iron and concrete further west. Mr. Jones recounts that the sheer weight of the second dam caused it to sink beneath the river bank, thus closing the mill for good.

Milling thus ended at the at the ancient landmark in the 1920’s. Subsequent attempts to revitalize the structure failed, ending in the mill’s conversion to Commodity Credit Corp. grain storage in 1939.

Today the giant wood structure stands in silence a dusty gravel road. The sawmill and mouse-proof flourhouse are gone. So is the great creaking waterwheel, and the shafts of machinery it turned. Spilled aots and assorted rubble litter the mill’s huge interior. Below and away a herd of black cattle graze quietly amid willows where head deep mill waters used to rush.

Like most of the Wynot community, Cedar County has voiced no plans to restore the venerable structure which now sags precariously toward the spillway its founders dug.

A local landmark, a Nebraska industrial relic, or just a memory, the Bow Valley Mill stands waiting for another stream of genius to harness its silent wheels.”

Bow Valley Mills — Wynot Nebraska — Edith D. Jones — A Brief Visit to the Past

The following is a faithful transcription of a photocopied page (partial article) that originally appeared in the Cedar County News, on January 29, 1975. It is one of many documents I received from D. L. Bond, of Raleigh, N.C., as part of a collection of memoirs and papers, as well as genealogical information related to Lewis Evan Jones Jr. (1825 – 1910), his antecedents and descendants, and the “Nebraska line” of the Jones family, originally of Dolgelly (Dolgellau), Wales and Carnarvon, Wales. Mr. Bond is a great-great-grandson of Lewis Evan Jones Jr. The author of this article, Edith D. Jones, is the granddaughter of Lewis Evan Jones Jr. If anyone has any information on Edith D. Jones, please contact me so we can share information and I can document the connection.


“Circle Tour – A Brief Visit to the Past

Lewis Evan Jones, Jr.

Lewis E. Jones of St. Louis, Mo., came to the St. Helena area in 1858 and helped establish the town. He brought with him a printing press and a saw mill. He operated the sawmill at that place until 1868 when because of availability of water power from Bow Creek, he built the Bow Valley Mill, approximately      1 ½ miles north of Wynot, Nebraska.

Approximately one and one half miles north of Wynot is the Bow Valley Mills built in 1868 Lewis E. Jones as a flour mill. Oak timber from the Henson Wiseman timber was used in its construction – the frame was mortised and pinned with wood pins, no nails used at any time.

A dam was constructed across Bow Creek, approximately one fourth mile south of the Mill. A mill race was dug and water power was made available for running the mill.

On the west of the structure there was an addition called the “flour house”. On the east side was the saw mill equipment, and a scale house was attached on the south. These additions have been removed through the years. The main structure, which contained the flour milling machinery, is standing today – probably the oldest historical mark left in Cedar County today.

For many years flour milling and sawing of lumber were the main activities. The mill ground flour for half a century to feed the pioneers of Nebraska and Dakota Territory. Thousands of tons of flour and feed were ground by Bow Valley Mills and transmitted to the town. Still later this building was converted into government storage bins for scaled corn. Today it is used for storage of grain and farm machinery.

Bow Valley Mills

Bow Valley Mills, late 20th century.


Bad Village

A hill, approximately one-half mile northeast of the Bow Valley Mill, was the location of a major excavation by the University of Nebraska in the 1930’s. It revealed an early Indian village. It was unique among Indian Villages because it had a wall built around it. This led some to believe the Indians were hostile, and therefore some traditions say the village was called “Bad Village”. Lewis and Clark speak of this village as they journeyed up the Missouri River in 1804.

School District #1

Private schools were established by the early settlers in many areas. The first public school – before school districts were formed – was built by farmers in 1867 and the first session of school was held in the summer of 1868. At that time, school was held between the time crops were in (approximately May 1) and held until November when corn picking started.

The first school building was a log school with a dirt roof. It was located south and east of Bow Valley Mill and was called the St. James School. It was taught by Anna Schmidt, who later became Mrs. John Felber.*

She was the first teacher in this section of the state and one of the first north of the Platte River.

She had 35 pupils, some as old as she, and some walked as much as four miles. She taught this school two years.

In 1872, a school house was erected northwest of Bow Valley Mill – (approximately one-half mile) and the first teacher was Mr. J.J. Tullass.
On April 30, 1873, School Districts 1, 2, and 3 were organized. This area being in Disctrict #1.

In 1930, a marker was erected by the Home Culture Club of Wynot, assisted by the school children of Cedar County. Since the site on which the log structure (of 1868) stood was in an area which was flooded nearly every spring and fall, the marker was set on the grounds of the first school erected in 1872.

School District #1 was discontinued several years ago – the building was sold and moved from the area.

The marker, a large boulder weighing about 3300 pounds was found near Wynot and moved to the school grounds. This was set in a cement foundation. On the top is a miniature log school house fashioned out of cement and hand carved to resemble real logs. On the face is a bronze plate with the following inscription:

1868 – 1930
Erected to commemorate the first school in Cedar County
Mrs. Anna Schmidt Felber, first teacher.
Sponsored by the Home Culture Club of Wynot, Nebraska,
Assisted by the school children of Cedar County.

Fort Jackson

During the summer of 1864, “The Great Stampeded” took place. It followed the Wiseman Massacre near St. James and the murder of Dr. Lorenzo Bentz northwest of St. Helena. News of an uprising was brought by refuges that the Sioux and Cheyenne had organized an army of 10,000 to clean out all the white inhabitants from both sides of the Missouri river. Hasty consultations took place and settlers fortified themselves as best they could. The settlers at Old St. James immediately fortified themselves in the “Court House” by throwing up sand embankments and otherwise strengthening their position expecting momentarily to be attacked. They also dug a well inside the embankment.

At St. Helena, the mill house (one mile east of the town) was filled with fleeing settlers from up the river and particularly with many Norwegian families from “The Dakota Bottomlands” (across the river). All were welcome as they helped strengthen and fortify the place. Four families, all that remained in the town, congregated to occupy one four room house, the Felber House, one room for each family. They gathered all the arms and ammunition to be found.

The massacre was never carried out but there was good reason to believe that it had been carefully planned.

In the course of a few days, nothing having occurred, the scared settlers began to return home and everything soon quieted down.

Later, during the year 1864, Company B, 7th Iowa Cavalry was sent to protect the settlers against Indian attacks. A part of this Company was stationed at Niobrara and the remainder garrisoned at Fort Jackson to protect settlers of St. James and St. Helena.

Approximately two miles northwest of Bow Valley Mill is a fork in the road. Fort Jackson, named for its captain, once topped the high hill in the “Y” – on what was later known as the Harder farm.

The soldiers remained about a year and it is said the settlers were not sorry to see them go.

Dakota Bottomlands

As we catch our first glimpse of the spire of the St. Helena Catholic Church, it would be remiss if we did not pause at the top of the hill to view the Dakota Bottomlands.

This land, lying along Missouri River and bounded by the James and Vermillion Rivers, is known as “Strike the Ree” land – (land of the Dakotas).

In the fall, when the summer’s hunting ended, the Dakota usually set up their winter camp along the Missouri, near the James. It is here, that on August 28, 1804, Lewis and Clark made their camp.

Struck by the Ree

Struck by the Ree

There is no historical documentation but it is told that an Indian child, son of a head chief, was born that night. When Captain Clark learned of this he asked that the child be brought to him. He wrapped the baby in a U.S. Flag and declared him to be the first “Yancton” Indian citizen of the U.S. He prophesied that the child would become a great of his people. Strike-the-Ree led a life well in keeping with this prophecy. He became a chief of the Yankton Sioux tribe in his…

(continued on Page 15)”**

* John Felber is probably the son of Henry Felber, who traveled to St. Helena in 1858, with Lewis Evan Jones Jr., on board the steamboat Florence, to first settle in Cedar County.

** I do not have the balance of this article included in the papers passed to me from D. Bond. I have contacted the Cedar County News to determine if copies still exist. I will update this article to include the missing material if my inquiry is successful.

Lewis Evan Jones Jr (1825 — 1910) — History of Newspapers of Cedar County Nebraska

The following document is a faithful transcription from a photocopy of a letterpress set pamphlet style publication with colored paper wraps, measuring approximately 8 1/8” x 4 3/8”. The text pages count 20, un-paginated, but complete (all included).. There is no date of publication, but the text is dated Nov. 18, 1901 at the end of the story. The cover bears the following information; handwritten at the top of the wrap in ink (“No. 4.)”, title is indicated as “History of NEWSPAPERS of Cedar County Nebraska”. The author signs “L. E. JONES, SR.”* at the end of the text. There is no printers imprint indicated, and while the typesetting is somewhat different than the other pamphlets in the series, it is likely that the publisher was the Herald Printing House, Hartington, Nebraska, who produced the other documents in the collection.

* Note that Lewis E. Jones Sr. is actually indicated as Lewis Evan Jones Jr. for the sake of this archive, as his father’s name was also Lewis Evan Jones. Once in America, this author had a son, also named Lewis Evan Jones, who for the sake of this archive is denominated as Lewis Evan Jones III.

SteamboatNEWSPAPERS IN Cedar County, Neb.

EDITOR NEWS: Several inquiries have been made to me in regard to early newspapers published in this county. I am not conversant with papers published within the last ten or fifteen years in the southern part of the county, therefore can write only of those printed in the northern part, the first settled.

When living in St. Louis, Mo., I had a small printing office, and when I sold out there on account of ill health I kept enough material to print a small newspaper. After looking over the country for a healthier place to locate, I visited Nebraska in the spring of 1857, taking passage on the steamer TWILIGHT, engaged by the American Fur Company to go as far up as Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellowstone river, the farthest point navigable at the time. We reached what is now St. Helena, in twelve days after leaving St. Louis. Here we found about a dozen men holding down claims, living in one or two shanties. The land had not been surveyed by the government at that time. I left the Twilight at that point. These men did all in their power to have us locate here. After few days viewing the country, I saw there were large possibilities in the fine water powers which could be utilized in the Bow Creeks and the magnificent forests lining the banks of the Missouri river. The drawbacks to locating here were the Indians, who still hovered in the vicinity, and the lack of settlers to cope with the savages, should they make up their minds to become hostile. Dakota, on the opposite side of the Missouri river was still the home of the Yankton Sioux Indians. Nebraska was bought by the government from the Omaha Indians, who were placed on a reservation at the Black Bird Hills, about a hundred miles below on the Missouri river. The only danger to fear was from the Yankton Sioux Indians across the river. In a few days I commenced my journey back to St. Louis, leaving St. Helena with an ox-team, reaching Sioux City (which at that time had about four hundred inhabitants) in two days. The Northwestern Stage Co. ran a four-horse stage coach from here to Council Bluffs, making the trip in two days. From there the same company ran another stage coach to St. Joseph, Mo., also making the trip in two days. Here I found a large trading steamboat plying between there and St. Louis, stopping to load and unload freight and passengers at every landing. It took her eight days to reach her destination. I was very glad to be home once more. One of my children having died during my absence.*

I had fully made up my mind to leave St. Louis for a more healthy location, and found Nebraska offered good inducement to ambitious young men with but little capital at their command, recollecting the advice of Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, gave to a young man making inquiries to him what best to do in order to make a start in life, the old editor wrote him this reply – “go west young man and grow up with the country.” This advice I accepted as if directed to myself. After reasoning with my wife and friends, pro and con, we came to the conclusion to make the sacrifice of a comfortable home in the heart of a refined city, for the distant prairies of the far west. After this a steam saw-mill, the first requisite of a new country, was the first thing to look for, then a practical and competent sawyer and engineer was found in the person of Jacob Branch, who worked in a machine shop in the city, who with his family were anxious to go to a new country. The steamboat OMAHA was then loading for upper river; the captain promising they were destined for Ft. Randal, and would take my freight to St. Helena. Mr. Branch left his position in the machine shop to go with his family. In the mean time a young printer named Augustus Nette, who had worked at my office in St. Louis, also wished to grow up with the country, offered to purchase a press if I would furnish the material I had already on hand, to print a paper. It seemed a wild vision to print a paper in an Indian country such as this was at that time. However, the office went on board, together with sufficient amount of provisions for a saw-mill hands and wood-choppers during the winter. I left my family in St. Louis, while Nette and I, and Branch and his family went up the Missouri river on the steamer OMAHA, loaded down to the guards with freight and passengers, destined to various points on the river. When we arrived at Sioux City, the captain informed us he was not going further. Here our stuff was dumped along the leves. After finding an empty house in the neighborhood for Branch and his family, Nette staying with them to care for the printing material, I walked six miles to Dakota City, where a ferry-boat that had been plying between Dakota City and Sergeant Bluffs was lying idle, to try and hire her to take us up the river, 150 miles by water. The owners of the boat would not consent to hire her for that purpose, so that enterprise failed. I next hired a dilapidated old buggy with an ancient horse, at Dakota City, and wended my way to St. Helena, which place I found second night after leaving the boat at Sioux City. I found everyone in bed here. I had hoped I could find a sufficient number of teams here to haul our stuff up. To my utter disappointment I could find but two ox teams there. Early next morning we started back with these two teams for Sioux City, which took two days to reach. Finding teams at Sioux City and vicinity but no one would let them go unless they went with them. In this way I had 17 teams (oxen, of course) and 17 teamsters) loaded up and crossed on the steam ferry to Nebraska. Here I found that oxen were the right thing to have, for if I had horses they would get out of sight of the mud. The weather had been very wet for some time previous and no road made through the thick timber at Covington worthy to be called such. We had terrible times all the way to St. John, a Catholic settlement a mile or two north of Jackson. We brought axes and shovels with us to make roads and build bridges as we went. In six days, after hard work, we reached St. Helena, not without breaking down wagons several times. The boiler (a large two flue, twenty feet long) was the most troublesome, for we ruined two truck wagons in its transportation. The first thing after a day of rest was to cut down oak trees and hew them for foundations for the mill and build shanties for the men, Nette and myself having found one end of a log cabin to use as a printing office.

After four weeks labor, we had the mill and printing office ready to work. After having sawed a few thousand feet of lumber and printing one issue of the St. Helena Gazette, of Nebraska production, (some six or seven numbers having been printed in St. Louis) I turned my face again towards home, dirty and ragged. Following the old road as before until reaching St. Joseph, Mo., where the Hannibal & St. Joseph railroad was building from both ends, the eastern end from Hannibal, Mo., on the Mississippi river, I took this route this time and was sorry for it, for there was a gap of about one hundred miles to be traveled in open lumber wagons for this distance, with rain pouring down in torrents the whole time. Arriving at Hannibal we found a steamer for St. Louis.

To tell the truth, after reaching home once more and finding everything cozy and comfortable, I wished the name Nebraska had never been mentioned to me, but now since I had my foot in it would be cowardly to back out.

The following spring (1858) found me and my family, Henry Felber, and Peter Jenal, with their families, on board the fine steamboat FLORENCE, loaded for Ft. Randall, by Frost, Todd & Co., who were settlers at that point, and also held several posts, trading with the Indians in Dakota. We had a pleasant trip up the river and landed at St. Helena in ten days. Finding the men left there anxiously awaiting our arrival, for their larder was getting very low and their clothing ragged.

My friend Nette had suspended publication of the GAZETTE, because, he said, the country was yet too green. After a short time helping us to build houses to live in, and build fences, etc., the best he knew how, he sold his interest in the office to me and left for St. Louis. It was money thrown away to think of reviving the publication of the paper. I stored the material away and took the white paper and ink, enough to civilize the whole North American Indians, to Sioux City, where friend Zeibach, now of Yankton, was there publishing a small weekly paper. I think it was called REGISTER, but do not exactly know the present SIOUX CITY REGISTER was built on its foundation or not. However, friend Zeibach wanted the ink and paper, but did not have the spondulix to pay for the same at that time, so I left it with L.D. Parmer, who kept a store there, to be sold as fast as the REGISTER could use it. You understand that printing supplies had to be got from St. Louis and freight was high. This was before the advent of railroads.

In 1891** the treaty with the Yankton Sioux Indians having been ratified, Dakota was opened for settlement. The territory filled up slowly and politicians began to loom up. Vermillion and Yankton became rivals for government power but Yankton got the lead and became the territorial capital.

A Mr. Clark, hailing from Sergeant Bluffs, Iowa, anxious for some important office, so as to grow up with the country, as it were, came over to see me in regard to purchasing my printing outfit for the purpose of starting a newspaper at Sergeant’s Bluffs. After considerable dickering, I traded him my material for a span of $500 mules. Instead of going to Iowa, as he promised, he took the plant over to Vermillion and started the Vermillion Republican, to oppose the friends I was backing at Yankton, but the trade was made, and I was not going to cry over spilled milk. I think the old press (a Washington) is at that place still, but the type must have been renewed. Such is the history and fate of the first attempt at publishing a newspaper in Northern Nebraska, then fresh from the hands of the Indians.

St. James, Neb., Nov. 11, 1901.

EDITOR NEWS: In my last letter to you I promised to give you the history of newspapers published in this county, from its formation to the present time. In that letter I deviated from my original purpose in order to get at the birth and demise of the first urchin, its burial and last resting place together with the trouble its founders had to give it nourishment in an uncongenial soil. Peace to its ashes as the forerunner of greater masculines.

Cedar County for some years after this had to depend for the world’s news through the medium of a horse-back mail once a month. Grasshoppers and civil war affected greatly to retard its growth, but not much greater than the surrounding communities similarly situated, continued to grow slowly, and in June, 1874, a young man from near Cedar Rapids, Iowa, made the venture of giving us our second paper, which he christened “Cedar County Advocate”. The county at this time could not give sufficient patronage for such ably conducted and neat workmanship as was given on this paper, printed at St. Helena, the county seat. If it had not been for the liberal advertising patronage from Yankton and Vermillion business houses, for these two towns were booming up all the surrounding country from the start, the paper could not have lived a day. These young newspaper men had not come here for their health, and soon got tired of working and spent their time in order to build up other enterprises, with what ability they possessed. W.L. Chandler, editor and proprietor having had better inducements from the people of Vermillion, discontinued the publication of the ADVOCATE and moved with his office to that enterprising little city. Thus Cedar County became the bereft of making herself known, for the second time, to the outside world. This catastrophe happening sometime in the fall of 1876.

On the 4th day of April, 1877, a young man of the name J.W. Sheppard, also from some part of Iowa, commenced publishing a paper at St. Helena, called CEDAR COUNTY BULLETIN. This as well as the ADVOCATE was well printed and edited, but the patronage was too small to justify Mr. Sheppard to continue publishing the paper there.

In order to keep a printing office in the county, I was induced to purchase the office from him on the 19th day of September, 1877. The paper was not suspended this time, but went on as usual. The paper not paying expenses and my time otherwise occupied, as soon as opportunity was offered, I sold the material and subscription list to Mr. P.C. Nissen, then county clerk, and he also disposed of the whole outfit to S.J. Johnson (a printer who had worked on the ADVOCATE and BULLETIN) and Nelson Teauto, who published it until Nov. 16th, 1879.

This company had on the 1st day of Jan., 1879, changed the name from the CEDAR COUNTY BULLETIN to CEDAR COUNTY NONPAREIL, at the solicitation of E.P. Drake, then living at St. Helena, who had formerly lived at Council Bluffs, Ia., and got his political education from that staid old Republican sheet.

John H. Felber, the next man who took hold of the wheel,, who was doing business at St. Helena, saw as well as others did that its doom was at hand, and purchased the whole outfit, in order that we could advertise out business at home and shape the country’s course from going into the wrong hands. In the course of time Mr. Felber and associated with him one Norman Rapalie, who had always been in the newspaper business at Chicago and elsewhere. About this time it hoisted the Populist flag to its mast-head. All the papers printed heretofore had preferred to be neutral in politics, but I must confess they leaned towards the men who owned them. I must say their columns were always open to all who wished to be heard on any subject.

People at that time were square and upright, not shams as many are at present. Times have changed, and I’m sorry to say not for the best. The dollar has become the political faith of many. You can count on your fingers’ ends many among us who have thrown away their old coats, in order to get a better one gold lined.

Mr. Felber soon after assuming control of the NONPAREIL, removed his business to Hartington, where he still lives, taking the paper with him, together with its printers, from St. Helena.

The NONPAREIL, after many vicissitudes, was sold to Mr. Bordwell, who knew nothing about the business, changed the name to LEADER, and later leased it to Z.M. Baird., sheriff elect of Cedar county. He for some unknown cause, in January 1898, put on his tiger hat and hied away to Chicago. In a couple of weeks he started up in Hartington with a brand new outfit and commenced publishing a new paper called the CEDAR COUNTY NEWS. He having become so popular with his paper saw at a glance the people would give him any office within their gift, sold his newspaper to another sound democrat, A.V. Parker, who is now editor and proprietor of the NEWS. Baird selected the office of Sheriff and the people of Cedar county, at the last election put him through with a rush, 490 majority. How do you do, Mr. Sheriff?

The old office, which was brought to the county to print the Bulletin, an independent paper, then printed the Nonpareil, a populist paper, and later the Leader, also a populist paper, was finally gobbled up by the omnivorous party which now publishes the Hartington Herald. The old outfit was taken to Iowa.

The democratic politicians being without an organ, H.B. Suing and others started a paper called the DEMOCRAT, at Hartington, the first number appearing in September, 1880, and continued to be published until April 1890, at which time it was sold to John H. Felber and consolidated with the NONPAREIL. This was a neat paper and ably edited while A. M. Gooding controlled its editorials. After he cut loose, for some reason unknown only to those interested, Mr. Grimes, a school teacher, undertook the task, but knowing little about writing political editorials, the paper went, as all such papers ought to go – – to oblivion.

The HARTINGTON HERALD was established
Oct. 4, 1883, by Huse, Powers & Co.,;
April 26, 1884, was published by Geo. Herb;
Jan. 9, 1885, by Z.M. Beard;
July 17, 1885, by Beard and Watson;
June 10, 1889, T.B.A. Watson;
June 10, 1889, by Herald Pub. Co;
March 4, 1892, W.F. Sinclair;
April 1, 1892, S.J. Young;
April 1, 1897, P.A. VanDorn;
Feb. 11, 1898, Geo. L. Nelson, the present editor and proprietor, became the chief owner of the very much bought and sold, bright little sheet.

There were other papers published in the country, but for the reason, as I stated to you, I was conversant only with those in the northern part. Coleridge, Laurel, Randolph, and maybe other places, have their full quote of these public necessities.

The Advocate, Bulletin and Nonpareil were all four-page papers, printed on good paper and handsome in appearance. Their sizes were 24×36 inches.

Yours very truly,
L.E. Jones, Senior
St. James, Nebr., Nov. 18, 1901.

* Louisa Cambria Jones, born August 8, 1854, died August 7, 1857. This is the child that died while Lewis was traveling, therefore it can be surmised that his first trip into the Nebraska territory took place between the middle/end of July and middle of August, 1857.

** The treaty with the Yankton Sioux Indians was actually ratified by congress and signed by President Buchanan in February, 1859. “1891” is an obvious typographical error.

Lewis Evan Jones Jr (1825 – 1910) — Story of the Sea

The following document is a faithful transcription from a photocopy of a letterpress set pamphlet style publication with light-colored paper wraps, measuring approximately 8 1/8” x 4 3/8”. Text pages number 31 pages. There is no date of publication, but the text is dated Dec. 20, 1899 at the end of the story. The cover bears the following information; handwritten at the top of the wrap in ink (“No. 3.)”, title is indicated as “STORY OF THE SEA”, author is listed as “By LEWIS E. JONES, SR.”*, and imprint is “Herald Printing House, Hartington”. The original appeared in the 1899 Christmas edition of the Cedar County News.

* Note that Lewis E. Jones Sr. is actually indicated as Lewis Evan Jones Jr. for the sake of this archive, as his father’s name was also Lewis Evan Jones. Once in America, this author had a son, also named Lewis Evan Jones, who for the sake of this archive is denominated as Lewis Evan Jones III.


Story of the Sea
By L.E. Jones, Sr.

Full-rigged ship before a gentle gale,
Sight for the gods to see:
Her sails well filled with nature’s breath,
Proud monarch of the sea.

Your last Christmas edition contained a story, not of fiction, but of facts, written by me, with the promise of continuation at some future time. With your permission, I continue that story.

I left your readers then at Charleston, South Carolina, but did not tell them what business brought me there. You will recollect I left there on the English brig Alpha, of London; that after reaching Liverpool I went with the same vessel to the gulf of Finland, that on our passage from there to Limerick, Ireland, we were ship-wrecked on the north coast of Scotland. After that catastrophe I worked my way to Liverpool and then home to Wales. From there I drifted over to France. There’s where my last story ends and this commences.

In the spring of 1845, as I was strolling leisurely along the docks at Havre-de-Grace, in France, looking at sail and steamships, going out and coming in the harbor, I spied one steamer I had seen before coming in. She had a large number of passengers on deck, all dressed in tight moleskin clothes. I could not imagine what they were. I soon learned they were English railroad builders, coming over to work on French railroads. After they had all landed I went on board and saw Capt. Geo. Evans, an old friend of my father, who owned and commanded this steamer, called the St. David. She made regular semi-monthly trips between Liverpool and Havre. I found that all the crew also hailed from my native town. I had never sailed with any of my acquaintances before, but Capt. Evans being short of a full compliment of hands, that the English board of Admiralty require, prevailed on me to make a trip or two with him for a change. I must acknowledge that I was very sorry I consented, for after unloading the vessel, her advertised to leave Havre for Liverpool had arrived, steam up and the wind blowing a gale, with tremendous waves against the piers in the harbor. No other steamer, not even first-class mail boats had made any preparations for leaving in the face of such storm. But Capt. Geo. Evans, owner of the vessel, was no seaman, and would take no advice from captains who had vessels far superior to ours.

Dare-devil fashion we steamed out of the harbor, in presence of several thousand Frenchmen. We had been taking in freight, until the last moment, which consisted mostly of French brandy in barrels. These barrels were hurriedly rolled on board by landsmen, so hurriedly that we had no time to properly fasten them. They were intended for deck load; the hold being full of finer goods. As soon as we cleared the harbor these barrels commenced dancing around the most fantastically, as the vessel plunged and rolled, as great waves dashed over us. Some of the barrels floated about, and we, poor devils, capturing one after the other, like police charging a mob, and secure them fast with ropes, for we had no calaboose like police. The wind, blowing from the north, square in our teeth, seemed to increase rather than diminish. We steamed with all the power of the engines. When dark came on, we had not made more than ten miles from the mouth of the harbor. About the middle of this dark and dismal night, I went to the cabin to see the captain, for he was a kind and considerate man, lacking only in seamanship. He was certain the old St. David would survive the storm, and, took me by the hand, saying as he did so, “There is a decanter of the best French brandy on the side-board, and should you become numb and cold, come down and help yourself.” I thanked him and asked if it would not be better to send it up to the men on deck, who suffered more than myself. He said “no.” Pointing to an ax that was close by, said “Take that ax and the tin can on the table and tell them to knock the head in of one of those barrels on deck, for I am not sure but Davy Jones will claim them before morning.” This name, Davy Jones, is what sailors give to the sea. Taking him at his word, I crawled over the brandy barrels to where the men were, and shouted at the top of my voice: “Here comes Samaritan.” Picking out a barrel in the dryest spot I could, gave Jack Thomas the ax and told him at the very same time, for he was a trust-worthy man, to give each one double allowance of this “Balm of Gilead,” and to be careful that none got too much, for we had hard work before us, when day appeared. To their credit, no one was the worst in the morning, after imbibing three or four times. When daylight made its appearance, we had made not more than about twenty miles from the French coast, the storm exhausting itself, when we could see the mail packets, having waited the storm to pass, steaming lively across the channel. We made as straight a course as we could for Falmouth, England, where we always replenished our coal bunkers. But lo! And behold, our coal was giving out rapidly, and we were about twenty or thirty miles from the English coast. The flood tide was coming in and we could hardly make headway against it with-out more steam. The only thing we could do was send a boat to Falmouth, where we could find a lighter that would bring us enough coal to bring us there. I was one of those who went in the boat, and finding a steam launch, hired her to take sufficient coal to St. David, lying off about fifteen miles, to enable her to steam in, having burned everything that would make steam, including most of the cabin furniture. With this coal we got to Falmouth. After coaling there, we went on to Liverpool, rejoicing.

After reaching there, two custom house officers came aboard and finding one barrel of brandy but half full, thought the crew had been committing larceny and were going to have us all arrested. I happened to be acquainted with one of these officers, explained the circumstances that caused the barrel to be but half full, that the captain had ordered it. After seeing the captain and he corroborating what I had stated, they sent for a liquor-gager to measure how much had been taken out. This settled, you understand there was a duty of one-hundred per cent on French brandy; other liquor fifty percent. The twenty gallons our men had consumed and splashed during the rolling of the vessel, was allowed to go free of duty. The other thirty gallons, that our boys did not care to drink, was charged 100 per cent – the captain paying the French price for the 20 gallons minus.

I had intended after every voyage to go home and finish my apprenticeship as printer, but more I saw of Capt. Evans more I liked him. Seafaring being pleasant and exciting life and myself young, my resolutions of going home were from time to time postponed.

I made some six or eight trips to France with the St. David. Nothing out of the ordinary happening, until one day on the dock in Liverpool, having arrived from France that morning, and everything in confusion, a neat, well-dressed elderly gentleman, wearing a white necktie, alighted from a carriage, asked me if the captain was on board. I answered in the affirmative by pointing him out. They were speaking together when I had occasion to pass them. I heard him ask if there was a person of the name John Brown among his crew. Capt. Evans answered there was not, and did not think a person had ever been on that vessel. Hearing that name mentioned, and knowing that I went under that name for years, but now had assumed my own name again, I stepped up and said that I had gone by that name some time ago. He then asked me if I was ever at Charleston, South Carolina. I said I had been. He then asked if I ever worked at a Karr & Bullocks cotton press. I answered in the affirmative. He then asked the captain if he would allow me to go to Mr. Dowling’s office, that he would bring me back in short time. The captain promptly asked him who this Mr. Dowling was. On learning that he was the chief police magistrate of Liverpool, the captain was alarmed and asked the gentleman if he had any papers to arrest me. On learning he had not, the captain asked by what authority Mr. Dowling wanted me to appear before him. He answered that the mayor of Liverpool had received an important letter from the mayor of Charleston; that it had been sent to Mr. Dowling for investigation, and assured the captain I would not be detained long, and that he would bring me back in his carriage. Upon hearing this I consented to go with the gentleman. Arriving at the office of Mr. Dowling, after stating who I was, he read the letter from Charleston, by which I learned a murder had been committed two days after I had sailed away from there. After finishing reading the letter, Mr. Dowling said that I was not implicated at all but wanted at Charleston as a witness, if I would go voluntarily. Finding by the letter that I was some 200 miles from the scene, I stated that I would go there if my salary and expenses were guaranteed. He stated that I was a British subject, and it was their duty to see that I should be properly treated. He spoke to me as a father and said it was my duty to save a human from the gibbet, if in my power to do so. I answered, “Enough said, I will go.” He then asked me to call on him at 10 o’clock next morning, and find what arrangement could be made for my voyage. The old gentleman took me back in his carriage to the St. David, as he promised he would. The captain, kind hearted man, would not consent for me to take this hurried step without further investigation; he would go with me next morning to Mr. Dowling’s office. We found there and old cotton merchant, who had offices both in Liverpool and Charleston, who was sent for to make arrangements for my passage and my comfort in Liverpool. He stated the ship, James N. Cooper of Bath, Maine, would sail for Charleston in about a week. He was instructed to make every arrangement as cabin passenger. Thus I left Liverpool and arrived in Charleston in about six weeks, having had pleasant weather during the whole trip.

During the passage I was a diligent student, having bought suitable books at Liverpool, as my education had been badly neglected, for the previous few years. Besides myself, there were three other passengers – a miller going to Savannah, Ga., to take charge of a mill there, and a young merchant of Charleston, who had been over to marry the girl he had left behind him. She was a delightful companion and happy to be my school teacher. From this young merchant I learned the terrible tragedy that caused me to be sent for by the state of South Carolina. The murder had taken place a year previous. A rich old Jew of the name Lyons, who kept a large jewelry store, had his throat cut from ear to ear, which was not discovered until late the next morning, and a large amount of money and jewelry carried away by the murderers.

This happened on the 12th of June, 1844. Many arrests were made, and Charleston was ablaze with excitement, but no clue could be had of the guilty parties. The city offered a reward of $1000 and a like amount by the friends of Lyons, for the apprehension of the guilty parties, but to no avail. One year after, a simple young man, who had been working about the cotton press where I had been engaged, swore out an affidavit that he and I saw the murder committed, at least said that we saw a young jeweler of the name Geo. W. Flash, with two Mexican officers, climbing the awning posts and gaining entrance to Lyons’ bedroom through the window, about 12 o’clock at night, and that articles from Lyons’ store were found at Flash’s store afterwards. This affidavit before the mayor was complete and voluminous. The only hitch made was that I was not with him that terrible night. Flash was committed to answer the crime. The only salvation his friends had was to find me. The mayor took the task upon himself, as you have seen how I was found in Liverpool. This I learned from my passenger friend.

On a Sunday evening our vessel dropped anchor in Charleston harbor. The young passenger and his bride went ashore in a yawl. We did not get to the wharf until next morning. The morning papers announced that the James N. Cooper had arrived from Liverpool and that the important witness in the case of Lyons was o board. When we came to the wharf it seemed to me that all the people in Charleston were there. The sheriff, Moses Levi, stepped on board and asked me if I was that witness. I answered that I was; then he asked me to come with him to the office of the district attorney. Arriving there, the officials expected us and had my bond ready. They asked me who were my bondsmen that I would appear in court, when it met. I was astounded and told them it was very unfair to make me give bonds, when I had come from England voluntarily. But this was the law of South Carolina; they could not violate it. Two gentlemen I had never seen before stepped forward and signed the bond. I had more invitations and visiting cards placed in my hand that day than I could fill in twelve months. The reason of all this was that the prisoner, Flash, was a German, and nearly one-third of the white population of the same nationality. It was no wonder they showed this friendship to me – a poor young man who had braved the tempest of the stormy ocean, to save their countryman, who was an entire stranger. I had a gala time during my short stay at Charleston, and was sorry my stay was so brief.

The second day, Tuesday, the court met, when the case was opened. I appeared at the sheriff’s office on time, but was informed by a deputy to stay there until my name was called as a witness. I was not allowed to know the other witnesses’ testimony. When adjournment for dinner arrived, the sheriff kindly took me with him to a hotel, where we both got excellent dinner. In the afternoon nearly all my acquaintances whom I had known there before, visited me at the sheriff’s office. The day passed by and many witnesses were examined but the time came to adjourn and my name was not called. The sheriff said my bondsmen were not there to renew my bond and the officers said jokingly that I would have to go to jail for the night. He stated this was the law and could not be obviated. He said he would give me a room as comfortable as any hotel. Nothing daunted, I went arm in arm with him through the streets, for the jail was about a mile from the court house. Arriving there, we had a good supper, and, as it was getting late, I was shown my room. It was a large room in the second story, containing about twelve or fifteen prisoners, committed there for debt. They had every comfort a rich man could wish – fruit, liquors, cigars, daily papers and latest magazines, in fact everything a man could wish, but liberty outside the walls. This was the most pleasant night I ever passed. They played cards, dominoes and whist until about midnight, when they all took to the downy cots and all slept comfortably, at least I did. In the morning the sheriff called on me and we both took a good breakfast at a restaurant, on our way to the court house.

Arriving at the sheriff’s office, there were a number of witnesses waiting to be called, as well as myself. About ten o’clock a gentleman with a young man entered the room. The gentleman was a turpentine manufacturer in North Carolina, who had gone bond for the chief witness in the case of Lyons. This bondsman had gone surety for the sole purpose of getting him to work making turpentine, in place of going to jail, which otherwise he would. His bond required him to produce this witness in court today. When they entered, I jumped up, extending my hand to this young man, saying “How are you Levi Messer.” He stood trembling like an aspen leaf. He had not heard that I had arrived, thinking I had left such a long time they would not be able to trace me up. He had sworn that himself and me had worked two months together at the cotton press. He had heard that I had gone to England on a certain ship, but he knew I did not go then. He stated that I owed him money, and that he went to look for me, in order to get this money, the very night Lyons was killed. He stated that I owed him three dollars and the least money I had was a ten dollar bill, that we both walked quite a distance before we could change this bill and pay him. East Bay in Charleston then (over fifty years ago) was a very prominent thoroughfare, the present street facing two wharves. One side contained a row of business houses. Here is where Lyons’ jewelry store stood. The office of the Charleston Evening News stood but a block distant on one side, and the French Coffee House, one of the most aristocratic saloons in the city, but few doors from Lyons. Both these places being lighted up all night so part of the street was almost as light as day. This witness swore that myself and him stood by a big pile of cotton on Magwood’s wharf straight across the street, when we saw three men. Flash, he said, he recognized as one, the other two as Mexican officer’s, as there happened to be a Mexican war ship in the harbor at the time, climbing up the awning posts in front of Lyons’ store, going in through the window of the room in which Lyons slept; that we heard scuffling in the room, and thought we heard some one choking, and that I proposed to run over and capture them. He swore that the young man he saw in the sheriff’s office was not the Lewis that was with him that night and worked in the cotton press, but some other young man of that name. Everyone in the court room knew he was a perjured liar. The proprietors of the cotton press, book-keeper, time-keeper, draymen, who hauled cotton to and from the press, half a dozen others who had worked with us, the man I boarded with and several others swore I was the one he swore was with him that night, for no other Lewis ever worked at that press, and all knew me when they saw me.

When I was called to the witness box, I stated my name, but when I left Charleston on the 10th day of June, 1844, more than a year since, I shipped on the brig, Alpha of London, by the name John Brown – that I worked at the cotton press over two months, and that Levi Messer worked about loading and unloading drays that brought cotton to the press. I never went by other name than Lewis while I worked at the cotton press. The state’s attorney asked me if I would know Levi Messer, if I saw him. “Yes,” said I, pointing my finger at him, “there he stands. I would know him among thousands.” Few more questions were asked me and answered. All the witnesses had testified that I was the one Lewis who worked for the cotton press, and the one referred to by Messer at the Mayor’s office.

I was not in the witness box more than from five to ten minutes before they were through with me, and I was at liberty to go where I pleased. The only thing I wondered as was that the state attorney or none of the lawyers questioned me about the reason I had for changing my names, as every one of the witnesses and all knew me only by the name of Lewis, and my leaving Charleston under a fictitious name of John Brown. If they had, I could have given them satisfactory reason.

Several witnesses were examined after me and night coming on, the court adjourned until next morning.

Next day arguments of lawyers consumed and continued most of the day, and Judge Evans, a very able man, announced that he would review the case and instruct the jury the next morning.

Friday morning arrived (the fourth day of this remarkable case). The court room corridors and streets were full of excited spectators. The judge at great length reviewed the case minutely and stated to the jury among other things that the presence of Lewis in person, broke down the eloquence of the state attorney, and instructed the jury to bring in a verdict of not guilty. The jury did not leave the jury box before they handed down a verdict of “Not Guilty.” The excitement in the court room and in the street baffles my powers to describe it. I managed to get out to the street through the great jam of excited people, when I was picked up and carried on the shoulders of several men a long distance down the street and landed in the parlor of the Charleston hotel, the most aristocratic hostelry in the city, where a lunch was spread for about fifty. Flash was also carried in like manner. I was bewildered by the popping of champagne bottles. I escaped as soon as I could. I was told that they kept it up nearly all night.

The next morning (Saturday) when I got up, the first thing I heard was that the police had to protect poor, unfortunate Levi Messer to get out of town, as the excited mob was determined to lynch him. The police took him quite a distance out of town, and his life was not safe, if he remained. Fool-like he came back and bought a bottle of whiskey in one of the many small saloons that are found in the suburbs of all large towns, and was found on the roadside as dead as a toenail. After breakfast I went out and avoided seeing those who had invited me to call on them. The first thing, I went to the sheriff to find how they were to dispose of me, as my mission was at an end. He stated that Mr. Brown, the mayor, was on point of death, and that he would see some of Flash’s friends and raise for me a purse to go home with. I turned around on him and said passionately: “You shall do no such thing. The people of South Carolina, or at least the people of the ancient city of Charleston, the descendents of those who held that fort (pointing to Fort Moultrie) against overwhelming odds, that inspired the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ did not invite me here to become a beggar.”* The sheriff, and those with him in his office at the time, stared at one another, I inquired where the mayor lived and found the house. Mrs. Brown after I told her who I was, stated that her husband was very low, and did not think it safe to disturb him, however she took me to his bedside. He was the picture of death and could talk with great pain. With the assistance of his wife, he wrote a few lines with pencil, instructing me to take it to a friends of his, Capt. Cavendish, an old sea captain, keeping a ship-chandler store in East Bay street. Mrs. Brown stated her husband often spoke to her of me, and hoped I would be found, for he believed Flash was innocent. Mrs. Brown gave me a glass of wine in the sick-apartment when her poor husband fell back in a swoon.

Finding Capt. Cavendish a jolly old tar, the letter instructed him to make every provision to send me home. He stated it gave him great satisfaction of my coming and that he would deal liberally with me. I asked the old captain how he intended to send me home. He stated the ship Tyrone of Thomaston, Maine, was going to leave for Liverpool in a day or two and I could go with her. I asked him if he was going to deal liberally with me, as instructed by the mayor. He said, “Why not?” I stated that I had been idle then about fifty days, and if he would allow me forty days to go home, making ninety days in all and allow me fifty dollars, that the Tyrone would charge for my passage, I would find my way home in my own way and relieve them of the responsibility. The captain took me by the hand and said, “Bravo, boy,” I then turned round to him and said as the mayor had instructed him to deal liberally with me, he must have faith in him to do what was right. I would do the same, “Give me what you think my services have been worth to the people of this city and state, and I will be perfectly satisfied.” He went to his desk and drew me a check on the Bank of South Carolina for a sum that dazzled my eyes. After shaking hands with Capt. Cavendish and some others who were present, he said to his friends, who had been eye-witness to the whole negotiation: “Jack would sooner be before the mast than behind, sailor fashion.”

From there I went to a shipping office to inquire if the Tyrone had shipped all her crew. The answer was, they needed one able-bodied seaman. I asked to see the shipping list. It was from Charleston to Liverpool and from there to New Orleans. I signed it at once. She was to leave at eight o’clock that evening. I hustled around and saw all that I could in so short a time of the people that had befriended me. How disappointed they were that I did not stay a few days at least. They thought I was not satisfied with the welcome I had received at their hands. I told them I would have liked to stay with them at least for a month, if it had not been for one thing – I had left a mother prostrated with grief, for fear that I had come to some serious trouble in America, and that I would give all I had if I could send word to her that I was on my way home. We did not have telegraphs and but poor mail service at that time, and I could reach Liverpool as quickly as a letter could reach there. Many of these kind Germans that I have not seen since, saw me safe on board, with many tokens in remembrance of my visit to Charleston. Just before we left Capt. Cavendish came on board and informed me that the flag at half-mast, just hoisted on the court house, was in token respect of their kind and revered mayor, stating he had come down to inform me, by request of Mrs. Brown, that the last word he uttered was “Lewis.” Was it possible that my sudden appearance gave him such joy that his weakened frame could not withstand. I know that he had done much to discover the genuine Lewis, and that by his energy he was found. My mission at Charleston was at an end, and the good ship Tyrone arrived in Liverpool in thirty days. My joy knew no bounds when I arrived there, to tell the events and incidents of the short time I had been away, but imagine the first news I received when arriving there, was that the steamer St. David had been lost with all on board. There was joy and grief done-tailed together. It seemed that nothing but surprises followed me wherever I went. If it had not been for indefatigable exertions of the Liverpool police in tracing up the John Brown that left Charleston a year before, the next week after the discovery he too would have been among the list of those who went to their watery graves by the loss of the St. David, and poor Flash would most likely would have been sacrificed by rascally money mongers, for a reward of two thousand dollars. But providence would not have it that way. He would save me in order to save another.

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps on the sea
And rides upon the storm.

The St. David left Liverpool on her regular trip to Havre, France, about the same time I left for Charleston. But not a word was heard of her after that time, or anyone on board. She could not founder in a storm, because for the first day or two after leaving Liverpool, she would not be very far from course, and the weather was fine and pleasant for a week after. The supposition was that he boilers had exploded, for they were not very safe, and that the vessel, with all on board, went to the bottom. When I learned this, I went on board the Tyrone and told this awful tale to Capt. Gardener, and asked for a furlough in order to go home for a few days, which he willingly granted. All on the St. David, mostly married men with families, were natives of that little town, all well-known to me – old shipmates. Imagine the surprise among the inhabitants of this little town, where I was born and brought up, known to every man and woman there, the only person alive from that jolly crew, and myself reported by some rascally miscreant to have been hung in America. Here, as in Liverpool, joy and grief intermingled. After visiting friends and the families of my old shipmates who were under the waters of the St. George or English channels, I had to return to my ship, after promising my parents that this was the last voyage I would make. My voyage, according to the articles signed, ended at New Orleans, and when I got there I was honorably discharged, I could come home on some English ship, and my voyage would expire as soon as we arrived at some port in England. You understand that when a vessel ship crew it is for the round voyage, to come back to your own country. When sailors leave their ships at foreign ports, they are deserters, but what does Jack care if he becomes dissatisfied, about the little wages due him. Of course he leaves this for the benefit of the ship-owners.

When Tyrone arrived at New Orleans my voyage was at an end. I was paid off, together with the remainder of the crew. I was not long there before I felt indisposed and needing rest. I went to the custom house and got a permit to go to the Marine hospital. I was not very sick, but needed rest more than anything else. This was a private hospital, for seamen only. Few doctors had built this with their own means, having contract with the government to furnish medicine, board, keep perfect vigilance and one or more doctors constantly in attendance. I prepared to be in this hospital, where everything was quiet, neat and clean, with a fine reading room. I was perfectly happy here. There were three wards, so that those not very sick, need not be in a sick room. The ward which I was in contained about twenty patients, some of whom were intelligent men. We would sit in the reading room for hours, narrating our experiences in different parts of the world. Some playing billiards, others dominoes, cards, etc. One evening in the month of April, 1846, all had retired to our clean, comfortable cots, most all had gone to sleep, when the greatest noise I had ever heard in this street (Circus street) broke out in our ears. We all jumped up and looked out through the windows, to see a large crowd of people shouting, dancing, and singing patriotic airs, with two men at the head of the lively crowd rattling away with fife and drum, calling for volunteers to go to the aid of Gen. Taylor, who was surrounded by Mexican soldiers at Point Isabel, mouth of the Rio Grande.

This news had reached New Orleans by relay riders, changing horses at every opportunity. There was no telegraph nor railroads in the whole country at that time. New Orleans had sent two thousand men by steamer down the Mississippi river and Mexican gulf before they had received the news at Washington. This was a lively night at New Orleans. Before noon next day two thousand men had enrolled their names as volunteers to relieve Gen. Taylor and his garrison; among those were the names of every one of my mess-mates in the third ward of Circus Street hospital, including myself. In front of the St. Charles hotel next day we were formed into companies and marched to the camp, formed two or three miles below the city. Next day was consumed in forming companies and selecting officers. Arms were brought down from the arsenal and steamers chartered. Drilling commenced as soon as arms were received and an army sprang up as large as Gen. Jackson’s near the place where he won his famous battle. Here on the third day I was taken down with yellow fever, the doctor stating I was not fit for this arduous campaign, and recommending me to return to my old quarters at Circus street hospital, with three or for others who were returned in like manner in the same ambulance.

He who fights and runs away
Will live to fight another day.

The volunteers left and reached Point Isabel in about two weeks from the time news had reached New Orleans. The siege was raised, the Mexicans retreating. In few days after this war against Mexico was declared, and on the 24th day of April, 1846, the first engagement took place. Most all your readers the disaster to Mexico after their capital city was taken, and they crushed to earth, poor in pocket, but rich in land. To pay the expense of that war they had to give us California, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.

To come back to my story, I stopped at the Circus street hospital, gained my usual health, the weather becoming very warm, I commenced thinking about going home, as I had promised. I took a stroll around the printing offices to find that all the newspaper offices were short of regular number of printers, and wages fabulous. The cause of all this – all the printers had gone to the Mexican war. Wages had always been higher here than any other place. My mind was now made up for good. I would go the first opportunity to finish my apprenticeship and return to this place. Next day I found a shipping office was shipping men for an English ship going to Liverpool. This was my chance, and signed articles to go on the large and splendid ship, the Magnificent, from New Orleans to Liverpool, where my voyage would be finished, and there paid off.

I may here mention the reason this English ship was here in a foreign port without hands. It has always been the habit of sailors to leave their ship, if they find wages higher in some other place. They can always find in large seaport towns plenty of boarding house keepers and runners to spirit them to leave their ships and stop at their houses until their money has gone. All men shipping from these houses are in debt, and the boarding house keeper collects their month’s advance, which is always a rule, and poor Jack made drunk, if possible, and taken with a bundle clothing, in a cab, with a bottle of rum in his pocket, often not knowing the name of the ship nor what part of the world he is going to. New Orleans was noted for this kind of work. The ship captains never troubled themselves to get them back, especially if wages were coming to them over the month advance. This was the case with all the crew shipped for the Magnificent. They would keep me from going with this vessel, because I came right from the hospital, and I did not enter any of their houses.

We left with a tug boat in the evening, going down the Mississippi all night, ready to cross the bar next day. It puzzled me to know how a vessel drawing 18 feet of water could cross a bar where there was but 16 feet of water. One tug boat took us down, but when we got to the Belize, the pilot station at the mouth of the river, two more tugs came out to us. Here one placed ahead of the ship, and one on each side, they tugged away, making tremendous puffs, actually lifting the vessel and dragging her through mud bottom. It took more than an hour to cross the bar. This was hot summer weather with light southerly winds. In the course of a week or ten days we were in the midst of terrible mountains of ice on the banks of Newfoundland, here in a gale of wind, running under bare poles, the wind so strong we could carry no sails, heavy fog and vessel rolling hard, as cotton those days was not pressed as it is now, and in danger of running on an ice berg, made one wish he were in some quiet hospital in the sunny south, or at home among friends. We made the run to Liverpool in about seven weeks and there were honorably discharged.

In the course of forty-eight hours after landing I was setting type for John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, from the cases that had been always been reserved for me in my father’s office.

Farewell, dear Neptune – your beard is gray,
Perhaps we shall meet again some other day;
The sails are furled – my decks are clear,
The craft is staunch – I’ll tie up here.

Neptune replied in his old, gruff way,
Good-bye, my lad, we’ll meet on Christmas Day;
Your ship has freedom over my wide domain,
So, dear boy, we are bound to meet again.

Yours typographically,
L.E. Jones.
St. James, Neb., Dec. 20, 1899.

[The foregoing story was written by Mr. Lewis E. Jones, Sr. for the Christmas edition of the Cedar County News. We published one in the Christmas edition last year, when he promised to follow it up. It is written in his own peculiar style and vouched for every word to be true. – Ed.]


* While I suspect there is a great deal of exaggeration and hyperbole included in this story, I cannot let it pass without mentioning that Lewis got his facts patently wrong regarding the origin of the “Star Spangled Banner”. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is the national anthem of the United States. The lyrics come from “Defence of Fort M’Henry”, a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in the Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812. Ft. McHenry is in the state of Maryland, nowhere near Charleston, S.C.

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