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Crawford Tree Issues

I’m sure we can all agree that each of us needs to work toward having as accurate a family tree as possible. However, I’m willing to admit and hopefully you are too that there could be a mistake or two or several in my tree. Even with an effort to separate out people of the same name and to carefully document findings, those mistakes can still creep in.

Since I have a large database, the chances for such a mistake in my work is high. I hope that when someone else discovers that error in my tree they tell me about it and point me to sources to correct that error.

When it comes to my CRAWFORD research, there are a lot of common given names such as James, John, William, Alexander and Edward that make it difficult to distinguish families. Most of my CRAWFORD research traces the family from early Kentucky back to Montgomery, Botetourt and Augusta counties in Virginia. Augusata County, Virginia is where the family of Alexander and Mary McPheeters Crawford raised their family.

And it is when Alexander and Mary McPheeters Crawford get attached to many many many Crawford trees that other CRAWFORD researchers get frustrated. This is particularly frustrating when working with yDNA tests to help identify family lines.

Several of the Kentucky CRAWFORD lines have participated in the CRAWFORD yDNA project. I believe all five of the Kentucky James Crawford families I’ve worked to untangle are all found in the R1b supergroup.

Crawford yDNA project – part of R1b group

The three families from the area of early Garrard county, Kentucky are in the same haplogroup: R-Y88686.

  • James Crawford b1772VA m1799Ky d1854OH – My line – in the R1b-01B Ardmillan group R-Y88686
  • James Crawford b1770 VA M Knight 1793 KY d1833 IN – in the R1b-01B Ardmillan group R-Y88686 — the Crawford family that was neighbors to my Crawford line for over 100 years
  • James Crawford b 1758 VA; d1836 IN – in the R1b-01B Ardmillan group R-Y88686 — the James Crawford married to Rebeccca Anderson Maxwell; this James owned land along Paint Lick Creek in Garrard County, Kentucky prior to migrating to Indiana.

I believe the James Crawford of Fleming county, Kentucky is represented on the project in the R1b-01C group as James Crawford b1758. This family also likely has roots in Montgomery, Botetourt and Augusta Counties in Virginia.

So where do descendants of Alexander and Mary McPheeters Crawford fit in this yDNA study? There is one R1b test that indicates Alexander Crawford b1716 d1764 as the earliest known ancestor. Working with this tester, it appears that his line does descend from William Crawford and his wife Rachel Sawyers, making it a legitimate Alexander Crawford line. Currently this tester is in group R1b-01F. Based on this test, that would put Rev James Crawford of Lexington, Kentucky in the R1b-01F group.

However, there are several other yDNA testers claiming Alexander Crawford as their earliest known ancestor.

I1-D5 group
I1-D9 group
I1-12 group
R1a-5 group

Granted, I’m not sure all four of the above tests are referring to the Alexander Crawford that was killed by Indians in 1764, but I’m guessing at least three of them are claiming Alexander and Mary McPheeters Crawford as their ancestors.

So which is it? Do Alexander Crawford’s descendants fall in the R1b-01F group? Or are they in the I1-D5 group, or the I1-D9 group, or the I1-12 group? Or what about the R1a-5 group? I don’t believe they can be in all FIVE yDNA groupings.

These examples from yDNA testing are just a small portion of the issue. A search of Ancestry trees for Alexander Crawford and his wife Mary McPheeters reveals 5869 public trees contain this couple. Now, not all of those trees will represent descendants but many of them will. (My tree would be included in that count and I don’t descend from Alexander and Mary.)

Since I’m fairly certain that the James Crawford (1758-1836) who married Rebecca Anderson does not descend from Alexander and Mary McPheeters Crawford, I did a search for such a combination: James Crawford b1758, d1836, father Alexander Crawford, mother Mary McPheeters and spouse Rebecca. That search resulted in 2282 trees. Looking at the results, I found the James Crawford of Fleming County, KY (wife Sarah Van Zandt) on that list many times. Browsing down the list, I found James Crawford who married Rebecca Anderson.

Even though the DAR records for these two James Crawford have been confused over time, they are two separate families. Since they were both born in 1758, they can’t both be sons of Alexander Crawford and Mary McPheeters.

Below is what I have for the family of Alexander and Mary Crawford.

If the above family is correct, then neither the James who married Rebecca Anderson nor the James who married Sarah Van Zandt are sons of Alexander and Mary Crawford.

There are a few books that I’ve used to figure out that my James Crawford does NOT descend from Alexander and Mary McPheeters Crawford:

  • Helen McPheeters Rice, The McPheeters Family (Winter Park, FL: No publisher, 1956). There is an digital edition of this book on FamilySearch.
  • William M. Clemens, Crawford Family Records: An Account of the First American Settlers and Colonial Families of the Name of Crawford (New York: William M. Clemens, 1914). This book is also available on FamilySearch.
  • Amanda Crawford Arbogast Forbes and Lucetta Crawford Sammis, Compilers, Descendants of Alexander & Mary McPheeters Crawford: Pioneer Settlers of Augusta County, Virginia (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, 1980). The Family History Library has the book on microfiche. Microfiche of this book can be found at Midwest Genealogy Center (and possibly other major genealogy libraries). This book outlines descendants for several generations and includes lots of source references.

My Crawford family has roots in the same area that descendants of Alexander and Mary Crawford lived. Thus the records for my family line will be intermingled with the records for Alexander’s line. I’m guessing that there were other Crawford family lines also living in that area of Virginia prior to 1800.

Thus, a lot of work will need to be done to try and identify these various Crawford family lines in early Augusta county. If you have Alexander and Mary McPheeters Crawford as ancestors in your tree, are you willing to use the above resources and the documents mentioned in them to verify your descent? Until we get these family lines sorted out correctly, our DNA results won’t help identify that next generation. Are you willing to help sort these early Augusta County, Virginia Crawford families out?

3 thoughts on “Crawford Tree Issues

  1. Thank you very much for your post. I too an in that group as a R-BY82381. I do not go back very far in North America as my grandparents came from Donegal to Philadelphia in 1908. He had cousins here before he got here but his siblings kept their families in Donegal. I am wondering if some other variants in the group are distinctions between very early North Americans and those who stayed a couple extra generations in Ireland. Any thoughts are invited.

    • Even though I believe my line goes back to Scotland and possibly by way of Ireland, I have no proof of that. I am stuck in Kentucky with likely ties to what was originally Augusta County, Virginia.

  2. Pingback: Friday’s Family History Finds | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

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