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Clues from a Letter

Do you ever re-look at a document and discover a new clue? That was my experience when a 4th cousin sent me a copy of a letter – a letter that I think I’ve seen before.

Dodge City, Kansas, March 29, 1907
Dear nephew (William Clay Crawford)
Your ????? to hand. I am glad to hear from you. Your Grandfather
Crawford lived to be 56. Died with colic. Your Grandmother died
about the same age with typhoid. From your Great Grandfather
Crawford lived until the age of 72 and died with sunstroke. our
Great Grandmother Crawford lived 78-don’t remember what caused here
death. Your Grandparents were born in Ohio and died in Warren
County, Indiana (W. Lebanon?). Your Great Grandparents moved from
Kentucky and died in southern Ohio. Your Great Great grandparents
came from Scotland and are buried in Kentucky not far from
Lexington. You are of strong hearty people and ought to live to
be an old man with proper care of your health. I am in only
tolerable health myself. I am muscular paralysis. Will stop off
and see you and family and next time I am through if possible.
Kindly regards to your family
From you affectionate uncle.
J.. H. Crawford
(James H. Crawford)


  • Names in parentheses suggest this is a transcription and not a typed letter
  • nephew, William Clay Crawford, son of a brother of James H. Crawford
  • Grandfather – Nelson G. Crawford – died at age 56 of colic
    • Born Oct 1808, died March 1864 – age 55 / cause of death unknown
  • Grandmother – Martha Smith Crawford – died of typhoid
    • Cause of death unknown
  • Great Grandfather – James Crawford – lived until 72 and died of sunstroke
    • According to tombstone, James Crawford was born April 1772 and died July 1854 at age 82
    • Cause of death unknown
  • Great Grandmother – Sally Smith Duggins Crawford – lived until 78
    • According to tombstone, Sally Crawford was born Feb 1770 and died May 1856 at age 86
    • Cause of death unknown 
  • Grandparents – Nelson G. Crawford and Martha Smith Crawford – born in Ohio
    • According to 1850 census – Nelson G. Crawford born in Ohio
    • According to 1850 census  – Martha Crawford born in Indiana
  • Grandparents – Nelson G. Crawford and Martha Smith Crawford – died in Warren County, Indiana (W. Lebanon)
    • Both Nelson G. Crawford and Martha Crawford are buried in the West Lebanon (Warren County) Indiana cemetery
  • Great grandparents  – James Crawford and Sally Smith Duggins Crawford – moved from Kentucky and died in southern Ohio
    • James Crawford and Sally Duggins were married in 1799 in Garrard County, Kentucky
    • James Crawford and Sally Crawford are buried in the cemetery in Eaton (Preble County), Ohio
  • Great Great Grandparents – ? unknown – came from Scotland
    • yDNA evidence supports tie to Crawford family in Scotland
  • Great Great Grandparents – ? unknown – buried near Lexington
    • Parents of James Crawford have not been identified
    • This statement could be about either SMITH family (Martha’s line or Sally’s line)
    • Current records for James Crawford are from Garrard County, Kentucky
    • No evidence of a relationship between Rev. James Crawford of Lexington, Kentucky and James Crawford who married Sally Duggins
    • DAR records from this time period (1907) have records for two different James Crawfords mixed up. Thus, it is possible that this statement is a result of similar confusion about several different James Crawford families.

This letter supports a lot of my current findings. It also reminded me that my research isn’t done – that I need to continue seeking records. In reviewing this letter, I discovered that I need to review my documentation and bring it up to today’s standards.