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Joyce P. Hervey, Just Folk: The Crowell Family,

published 1984 Ó , revised 2000, for web publication


C H A P T E R   I I


"Go West Young Man" was the spirit of the early 1800's. It was perhaps this spirit that moved the parents of John M. Crowell to leave familiar surroundings and venture into the newly formed Territory of Alabama. After the Indians were removed and the area was safe for settlement, thousands of pioneers from the eastern states flooded into the new states of Mississippi and Alabama to settle towns and farms in the virgin wilderness.

John M. Crowell, progenitor of the Crowell family traced in this book, was born about 1819 or 1820 in Alabama. It is difficult to determine what part of Alabama he came from, as most of the 1820 census was lost, and, by 1830, the census listed no families in Alabama by the name of Crowell.

By 1840, John was living in Leake County in the central part of the state of Mississippi. John was listed as the head of a household consisting of three people: himself, a female who presumably was his wife, and a small boy, probably his first son Martin. A Mrs. S. Crowell lived nearby. Her household consisted of 3 children in addition to herself. It is likely that the two Crowell families were related. Perhaps Mrs. S. Crowell was John M. Crowell's mother, and the two boys and one girl living with her were his brothers and a sister.

As were most of the residents of Leake County, John was engaged in agriculture, although there were a few miners. John did not own slaves then, but his close neighbors Isaac Sanders and John Sommers did.

By 1848, the Crowells felt the call of the west again. As opportunities for developing land opened up in the newly created Jackson Parish, Louisiana, John and two other Crowell families, Peter F. and Willey S. Crowell, who are assumed to be John's brothers, moved to Louisiana.

Travel was slow and difficult across the Mississippi and Ouachita swampland. When they reached Louisiana, John settled his family near the town of Plankville, in the part of Jackson Parish that was later split off into Lincoln Parish. In 1848, the main settlements in Jackson Parish were Vernon, the parish seat, and Vienna, sixteen miles to the north of Vernon, where the population was more dense and the wealthier people of the parish lived. Plankville was located about halfway between the two, just two miles south of present day Ruston. (The town of Plankville later was named Bonner.)

The people who settled Jackson Parish were for the most part simple farmers and many of them lived in the "backwoods", where bears and other wild animals were plentiful. Their homes were crudely constructed of logs, with dirt floors and wooden shutters for windows.

Since courthouse fires destroyed most of the records of Jackson Parish prior to the 1880's, the only records surviving are those that were copied into the books in Lincoln Parish when it was created in 1873. Two land records naming John M. Crowell survived. A deed, dated 1852, showed that John M. Crowell sold his 40 acres near the town of Plankville. He owned a larger tract of land just east of his first property, consisting of 440 acres.

According to the census records, John had a large family with several sons to help him farm his land. Perhaps he grew cotton and corn, the two major commercial crops of the area, as well as other vegetables for their own use, such as peas, beans, potatoes, onions, and tomatoes. The market town of Trenton, where they had to go to sell their produce, was a week's wagon ride away over rough and sometimes muddy roads.

When John Crowell had been in Louisiana about thirteen years, the Civil War began. At least one of John's sons (John 2nd) and perhaps others (Martin and Henry) joined the Confederate Army at Monroe, La. John was 41 or 42 years old when the Civil War began and may have joined, as many of his age did. Military records of Louisiana show that a John Crowell who enlisted in the Confederate Army at Rapides Parish sometime before April 1861, died at Charlottesville, Virginia in May of 1862. This may have been John M. Crowell.

John M. Crowell apparently died before 1870. His estate was administered that year by Joseph M. Kinman, and consisted of 440 acres in Jackson Parish (later Lincoln Parish). The administration papers are located in the Lincoln Parish conveyance records, the orginals in Jackson Parish having burned in a courthouse fire.

Little is known about John's wife Nancy. It is likely that Nancy died about the same time as John. According to census records, she was born in Mississippi about 1817-1818. She was two or three years older than John. A story passed down by a son of Robert Crowell, one of John's and Nancy's younger children, is that "they" (probably meaning Nancy) were "French", and that Nancy's maiden name was something like Musebeck or Busebeck (phonetic spelling).

By 1870, the children of John and Nancy had moved away from Jackson Parish. Some of them went to Nevada County, Arkansas, others to Sabine County, Texas, another to Hood County, Texas. The younger children were taken in to be raised by their older brothers or sister.

There is evidence that John Crowell was the natural or adoptive father of a second family of Crowells of Jackson Parish. Living in the house next to him in 1860 was a woman named Nancy Stapleton, mother of four sons (Laden, Stephen, Warren, and Pinkney Stapleton) who were living with her. Two more were born later, Clinton, in late 1860, and Leroy, in 1862/63. All of the members of this Stapleton family who remained in North Louisiana, including Nancy, eventually took the surname Crowell. The death certificate of one of Nancy Stapleton/Crowell's sons (Pinkney) identified his father as John Crowell.

The ten children of John M. Crowell and wife Nancy were:

1.  Martin J. Crowell, born Jan. 1840, in MS; see Chapter 4.

2.  John Crowell (2nd), born 1844-45, in MS; see Chapter 5.

3.  Henry Crowell, born 1846, in MS; see Chapter 6.

4.  Willey Crowell, born 1848, in MS., may have died young, as his name was not listed on the 1860 census of Louisiana,and it does not appear in family records.

5.  Nathanil Crowell, born 1850, probably in LA; may have died young, as his name does not appear in family records or in later census records near his brothers.

6. Miranda/Marenda Crowell, born May 10, 1852 in LA; died March 05, 1890 in Red River Co, TX; married William Edward THOMS, who was born abt. 1856 in Hood Co Texas; died March 31, 1920 in Red River Co, TX; they were buried at the Hopewell Cemetery, Red River Co, TX.]

Issue 6:
(1) Joseph TOMBS, born Abt. 1878 in TX.
(2) John TOMBS, born August 1879 in TX.
(3) Milton Henry THOMES, born February 05, 1881 in Hood Co Texas; died April 21, 1952 in Denison, Grayson Co, TX; buried April 22, 1952 Cedarlawn Memorial Park, Grayson Co, TX; married Gillie Payton RAIBOURN, born abt. 1885 in Texas; died March 1962; buried March 06, 1962 Cedarlawn Cemetery, Sherman, TX.
(4) Ollie THOMES, born January 1884.
(5) Robert THOMES, born May 23, 1887 in TX, died June 26, 1887 in Red River Co, TX; buried Hopewell Cemetery, Red River Co, TX.
(6) William Edward "Willie" THOMES, Jr; born December 1889 in Texas; married Fannie Pearl ADAMS, born January 30, 1895 in Texas; died July 05, 1978 in Lodi, CA; buried: White Oak Cemetery, Mena, Ark.

[According to Donna Allen Niswonger, "We have never been able to find a marriage certificate for Maranda and William Edward Thoms...we believe they married in Hood Co, TX. I did find them on the 1880 Hood Co Census; I believe that there was a Robert Crowell living just a few doors down with wife.]

7.  Robert Crowell, born Oct. 1853, in LA; see Chapter VII.

8.  Emmanuel Milton Crowell, born 1856 in LA; see Chapter VIII.

9.  Sylvester Crowell, born 1859, in LA; see Chapter VIX.

10. Salina Crowell, born after Sept. 1860, probably in LA; name appears in family records, but has not been located on the census. A marriage license was issued to Sylyna Crowell and W. A. Hall in Erath Co., TX on 25 July 1876; one was issued to Salina Crowell and W. H. Romans in Tarrant Co. Tex. on 14 May 1877. Either or both of these may be the correct Salina. On the other hand, Robert Crowell's (Salina's brother) descendants claim that Salina Crowell married a Will Toms and lived in Texas. (Could W. H. Romans and Will Toms be the same person whose name was incorrectly recorded on the marriage license?)


The six children of Nancy Stapleton and (probably) John M. Crowell were:

1.  Allen Layton (or Laden) L. Stapleton/Crowell, born 26 Sept. 1853/54, in LA; see Chapter XI.

2.  Stephen Stapleton/Crowell, born ca 1856, in LA, may have died young, as his name does not appear in family records or on the census in Louisiana after 1870.

3.  Warren Stapleton/Crowell, born 6 Dec. 1857, in LA; see Chapter XII.

4.  William Pinkney Stapleton/Crowell, born 6 Jan. 1859, in LA; see Chapter XIII.

5.  Clinton Stapleton/Crowell, born 15 Dec. 1860, in LA; see Chapter XIV.

6.  Leroy "Lee" Stapleton/Crowell, born ca 1862/63, in LA, died in his early twenties, said to be buried at the Frantom Chapel Cemetery at Eros, LA.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Records that pertain to the John M. Crowell family:

U. S. Census

1840 Leake Co, MS, pg 34: JOHN M. CROWELL, 1 m under 5 (MARTIN), 1 m 15-20 (JOHN), 1 f 20-30 (NANCY), 1 engaged in agriculture

1840 - Leake Co., same page of census: (Age groupings: <5 /5-10/ 10-15/ 15-20/ 20-30/ 30-40/ 40-50/ 50-60/ 60-70/70-80/80-90;

Aaron Sanders Males: 2 0 1 1 2 Females: 0 0 0 0 1

Mrs. S. Crowell Males: 0 0 1 1 0 Females: 0 1 0 0 0 1

Isaac Sanders Males: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 Females: 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1(owned 6 slaves)

John M. Crowell Males: 1 0 0 1 Females: 0 0 0 0 1

1850 Jackson Par., LA, pg 370, 30 Oct: JOHN CROWELL, 30, m, farmer, $160, AL; NANCY, 32, f, MS; MARTIN, 9, m, MS; JOHN, 6, m, MS; HENRY, 4, m, MS; WILLEY, 2, m, LA; one without a name, 6/12, m, LA; RILLEY BARRET, 45, m, no profession, MS, idiot

1860 Jackson Par., LA, pg 16, e.d. 350, Plankville, 13 Sept: JOHN CROWEL, 41, m, w, farmer, $1200, $1500, AL; NANCY 44, f, w, domestic, MS; MARTIN J., 20, m, w, farmer, MS; JOHN, 16, m, w, MS, attended sch; HENRY, 14, m, 2, MS, at sch; NATHANIL, 10, m, w, MS, at sch; MARENDA, 8, m(?), w, MS, at sch; ROBBERT, 6, m, w, LA; EMANUEL, 4, m, w, LA; SYLVESTER, 2, m, w, LA; ELENDR SANDERS, 16, f, w, domestic, MS.

1880 Hood Co, TX, Precinct 3, Tombs, William, age 23, b. TX, Farmer, Maranda, wife, age 27, b. LA, Joseph, son, age 2, b. TX, John, son, age 10/12 (b. Aug), b. TX


Lincoln Parish, LA, Book C, pg 86. On 11 Dec 1852, JOHN M. CROWELL, resident of Jackson Parish, LA, sold for $300 cash to WILLIAM DOWDY (who, according to the 1850 census was his next door neighbor) a tract of land in Jackson Par. designated as the SE 1/4 of the NW 1/4 of S 31 in T 18 N of R 2 W containing 40 and 66/100 acres, and of the district of lands subject to sale at Monroe, LA. Paper was signed at Vernon in Jackson Par., witnessed by MAYFIELD JOHNSON and WILLIAM LEWIS, before STETSON TRASK, Parish Recorder & Ex Officio Notary Public. This record was copied from the original (which later perished in a Jackson Par. Courthouse fire) in 1873 and placed in Lincoln Par. courthouse.

Lincoln Parish, LA, Book C, pg 326. On 26 Aug 1870 appeared JOSEPH M. KINMAN, admr of the estate of JOHN CROWELL, deceased, who declared that he had offered for sale at public auction the following described land belonging to said succession lying in Jackson Par. and described as the SE 1/4 of NW 1/2 of SW 1/4 of NW 1/4 of S 32 in T 18 N of R 2 W containing 440 acres when came S. M. T. KINMAN, last and highest bidder of the sum of $1.00 per acre for a total of $440. Witnesses were J. G. HUEY and E. E. KIDD. Original document which later perished in a fire was copied in 1874 and placed on file in Lincoln Par., LA.

Military Records

JOHN CROWELL, Pvt. Co H, 8 Regt LA Infty. Enlisted 8 Mar 186_(?) for period of the War at Rapides Par. Appeared on Company muster roll for Dec. 31, 1861-June 30,1862: reported absent, sick at Lynchburgh since April 20, 1861. Name appeared on register of CSA General Hospital, Charlottesville, VA; admitted Apr. 18, 1862; died May 6, 1862 of pneumonia following rubeola.

(This may not be the JOHN M. CROWELL about whom this book is written, but data is included to aid future research.)


Jackson Parish, Louisiana, 1982, publ. by Jackson Parish Chamber of Commerce, Jonesboro, LA.