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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 I


[This chapter has been extensively revised since the original printing, as new information on the origins of Nancy has come to light.]

Nancy Stapleton/Crowell was born about 1820 in Mississippi. The various census records differed widely in her reported birth year, ranging from 1818 to 1825. She was living with David Stapleton in 1850. (The 1850 census did not name the relationships of the people in the invididual homes, so it is unclear what was Nancy's relationship to David Stapleton. Other evidence seems to support them being relatives rather than husband and wife.) Nancy began using the surname of Crowell about 1860-1870.

Nancy's parents were from Mississippi, according to the census. She may have been connected to Stephen Stapleton, who lived in Covington and Attala counties, Mississippi in 1830 and 1840. More information on the Stapleton family can be found further on in this chapter.

By 1850, when Nancy was about 30 years old, she had moved to Jackson Parish, Louisiana and was listed on the census in the household of David Stapleton. There were four children living with them: Mary J. Elison, age 11; Elender Sanders, age 6; Shorlotter Sanders, age 4; and Greenbury Sanders, age 2. (Only two of these children, Mary Jane and Elender, who was later known as Ellen, are remembered by descendants of the family as having been children of Nancy's.)

Ten years later, in 1860, Nancy's household had completely changed. David Stapleton, Mary J. Elison, and the Sanders children were no longer living with her. Nancy, now about 41 years old, was head of a household of four boys: Laden Stapleton, age 6; Stephen Stapleton, age 4; Warren Stapleton, age 2; and Pinkney Stapleton, age 1. She later had two more sons, Clinton and Leroy, who were born in late 1860 and in 1862/63. It is likely that John M. Crowell was the natural father of these six boys. The death certificate of William Pinkney Crowell, identified his parents as John Crowell and Nancy __?__.

A different explanation of the relationship of John M. Crowell and Nancy Crowell was offered by Ethel Crowell Parker, a granddaughter of Layton Crowell and great- granddaughter of Nancy Crowell. She wrote, "I was always led to believe that Nancy Stapleton was John M. Crowell's sister, who was a widow with six sons. On the death of her husband, who was in the lumber business, Nancy returned to live with her brother John, who was a man of wealth with a very large plantation who offered to help raise her sons. For a while they kept the name Stapleton but later on John M. Crowell adopted these boys..."

[Another theory of Nancy's origins came from a query to Louisiana Roots, which gave the maiden name and the following information on Nancy:

"Moses Sanders b. 1813 is possibly a descendent of Isaac Sanders. Isaac is a rev war soldier who at the age of 95 married Nancy Ellison age 25 in Leake Co. MS. Nancy appears in the 1850 Jackson Par., LA federal census apparently remarried to David Stapleton. There are also three Sanders children in the household. The marriage of Isaac and Nancy took place on Dec. 29, 1843."]

The truth of the relationship of John M. Crowell and Nancy Crowell will probably never be resolved, due to destruction by fire of most of the early records of Jackson Parish [and the lack of knowledge of them through family records].

What happened to the various people close to Nancy can partly be determined from census and other records. It is known that John Crowell died around 1860-1870, perhaps in the service of the Confederate Army. David Stapleton had either died or left Jackson Parish before 1860. Mary J. Elison and Ellen Sanders remained in the area, and present day descendants of the family remember their names and identify them as Nancy's daughters. At the time of the taking of the 1860 census, Elender (or Ellen) was living with the John M. Crowell family. She also took the surname of Crowell, along with her half-brothers. Greenbury Sanders had moved a fair distance away from Nancy Stapleton, but still lived in Jackson Parish, with the Aaron Sanders family. (Aaron Sanders had been a close neighbor of John Crowell back in Mississippi and had moved to Louisiana at the same time as the Crowells.) Shorlotter Sanders has not been located for certain; however, she could be the Charlotte M. Crowell who married Matt M. Gaines in Claiborne Parish in 1869 and had seven children [Information has been received from descendants of this Charlotte Crowell, refuting this relationship. Charlotte Crowell Gains is said to have been Charlotte (Stewart) who married Martin J. Crowell in 1866.]. Refer to the chart at the end of this chapter to compare the various census records on the family of Nancy Stapleton/Crowell.

Two of Nancy's sons, Stephen and Leroy, apparently died young, Stephen between the ages of 15 and 25, and Leroy (or Lee) in his twenties. Nancy reported on the 1900 census that she was the mother of eight children, two of whom had died. In 1900, Nancy was 82 years old and lived with her son, Clinton, in Ouachita Parish. That is the last evidence found of Nancy's presence in Louisiana. Facts surrounding her death and burial are unknown.

    Probable children of Nancy Stapleton/Crowell and unknown:

1.  Mary Jane Elison; born ca 1839, in MS; said to have remained in Louisiana; no information on marriage or descendants has been found.
2.  Elender (Elendr, Elen, Ellen) Sanders/Crowell; born 15 Aug. 1844, in MS; see Chapter 10.
3.  Shorlotter Sanders; born ca 1846, in MS; name does not appear in family records, or in household with Nancy Stapleton after 1850, so her history is not known defin itely. (Note: A Charlott M. Crowell, who was born 8 June 1844 in Alabama, died 22 Nov 1936, buried at Macedonia Cemetery in Claiborne Parish; married Matt M. Gaines in Claiborne Parish on 28 Feb. 1869; had 7 children, could have been the same as Shorlotter Sanders.)
4.  Greenbury Sanders; born ca 1848, in MS; at age 14 he was living with the Aaron Sanders family in Jackson Parish, LA; no later information on him has been found.

    Children of Nancy Stapleton/Crowell and probably John M. Crowell:

1.  Allen Layton Stapleton/Crowell; born Sept. 1853/54, in LA; see Chapter 11.
2.  Stephen Stapleton/Crowell; born ca 1856, in LA; may have died young, as his name does not appear on the census in Louisiana after 1870, or in family records.
3.  Warren Stapleton/Crowell; born 6 Dec. 1857, in LA; see Chapter 12.
4.  William Pinkney Stapleton/Crowell; born 6 Jan. 1859, in LA; see Chapter 13.
5.  Clinton Stapleton/Crowell; born 15 Dec. 1860, in LA; see Chapter 14.
6.  Leroy "Lee" Stapleton/Crowell; born 1862/63, in LA; may have died young, as his name does not appear on the census records in La. after 1880, said to have died in his twenties and buried at Frantom Chapel Cem., Eros, LA


With the possibility that Nancy Stapleton/Crowell was a Stapleton by birth, the census records of Mississippi were searched for a clue to her ancestry. The 1830 census of Covington County Mississippi showed a Stephen Stapleton. By 1840, he had moved to Attala County, and a David Stapleton showed up (perhaps remaining) in Covington County. By 1850 neither of these Stapletons was in the Mississippi census indexes.

Caution is advised in making assumptions from insufficient information, but a possible guess of the ancestry of Nancy Stapleton is offered which should not be accepted as fact. Further research into this branch of the family is needed.

It could be that Stephen Stapleton, of Covington and later Attala County, Mississippi, was the father of David Stapleton and of Nancy Stapleton. The 1830 census shows Stephen to be 50-60 years old with a female in his household aged 30-40 (perhaps his wife), and with a boy 10-15 and a girl 5-10 (who could be Nancy). After 1830, Stephen Stapleton moved his family northward to Attala County. It could be that he left David Stapleton behind, with a family of his own. By 1850, David and Nancy Stapleton were living together in Jackson Parish, Louisiana. Stephen Stapleton's name did not appear on the census indexes of either Mississippi or Louisiana, so presumably he had died or moved elsewhere. He would have been 60-70 years old by 1850.

Attala County, Mississippi is adjacent to Leake County, where John M. Crowell and Aaron Sanders lived in 1840. Perhaps the Stapletons, Crowells, and Sanders were near enough neighbors that they all knew each other and later decided to move to Louisiana together.

Nancy Stapleton named her second son Stephen Stapleton, which lends support to the hypothesis that her father was Stephen Stapleton. Records that pertain to Nancy Stapleton/Crowell:

U. S. Census

1830 Covington Co, MS, 137, 11, 1 June: STEPHEN STAPLETON, 1 m 10-15; 1 m 50-60; 1 f 5-10; 1 f 30-40; 1 f slave 10-15.

1840 Covington Co, MS, 143: DAVID STAPLETON, 1 m 5-10; 1 m 20-30; 1 f 15-20; 1 f 40-50; 1 engaged in agriculture.

1840 Attala Co, MS, 9: STEPHEN STAPLETON, 2 m 15-20; 1 m 20-30; 1 m 50-60; 2 f under 5; 1 f 15-20; 1 f 20-30; 1 f 30- 40; 3 engaged in agriculture.

1850 Jackson Par., LA, e.d.361, pg 721, 25 Sept: DAVID STAPLETON, 41, m, farmer, MS, cannot r/w; NANCY, 28, f, MS, cannot r/w; MARY J. ELISON, 11, f, MS, at sch.; ELENDER SANDERS, 6, f, MS, at sch; SHORLOTTER SANDERS, 4, f, MS; GREENBURY SANDERS, 2, m, LA.

1860 Jackson Par., LA, e.d.350, pg 16, 13 Sept, NANCY STAPLETON, 41, f, w, domestic, MS; LADEN, 6, m, w, LA; STEPHEN, 4, m, w, LA; WARREN, 2, m, w, LA; PINKNEY, 1, m, w, LA.

1860 Jackson Par., LA., e.d.391, pg 57, 26 Oct 1860: ARON SANDERS, 47, m, farmer, $1500, $400, TN; SUSAN, 45, f, domestic, SC; TERREE, 21, m, farmer, MS; SARAH E, 18, f, domestic, MS; LEWISA, 16, f, domestic, MS; CHRISTOPHER C., 12, m, LA; MARTHA, 8, f, LA; RODY, 6, f, LA; JASPER, 5, m, LA; GREEN BURY, 14, m, LA; ZACHARIAH, 22, m, GA.

1870 Jackson Par., LA, e.d.419, pg 25, 22 July; N. CROELL, 45, f, w, keeping house, MS; A. CROELL, 17, m, w, works on farm, LA; S. CROELL, 15, m, w, works on farm, LA; W. CROELL, 12, m, w, LA; P. CROELL, 11, m, w, LA; C. CROELL, 10, m, w, LA; L. CROELL, 8, m, w, LA.

1880 Lincoln Par., LA., e.d.39, pg 29, 14 June: NANCY STAPLETON, w, f, 60, widowed/divorced, keeping house, AL; CLINTON, w, m, 19, son, single, laborer, LA; LEROY, w, m, 17, son, single, laborer, LA.

1900 Ouachita Par., LA, e.d.95, pg 10, 15 June: NANCY CROAL, w, f, May 1818, 82, widowed, mother of 8, 6 living, MI; parents born MS. Also in household is CLINTON CROWELL family (see CLINTON CROWELL).