Hey Crawford Researchers – Let’s Get This Right!

Anyone who has been doing genealogical research will eventually run into ‘same name’ issues, where two people of the same name are found in the same vicinity or same records. With my Crawford research, my same name struggle has been with my ancestor, James Crawford (1772-1854).

James is a common given name in Crawford research and my James seems to be surrounded by other James Crawfords during his adult life. Even though most of the time, I’ve been able to separate out the various families, I haven’t been able to find siblings or parents for my James Crawford.

However, I have encountered a lot of what I’m going to call ‘latchkey’ trees. With pre-1800 Crawford research in Virginia and surrounding areas, it is fairly easy to find published family histories for various Crawford lines. This would include David Crawford, Col. William Crawford and brothers, Alexander and Patrick Crawford. Since given names like James, John and Mary are found in many Crawford families, it is tempting to take a proven ancestor named James, John or Mary Crawford and ‘latch’ onto one of these families to identify parents of our ancestor.

With my Crawford research centered in Kentucky and Virginia, I encounter a lot of trees for these early Kentucky Crawford families connecting to Alexander Crawford and his wife Mary McPheeters or to Alexander’s brother Patrick. Some of these trees match the information in the well documented book,¬†Descendants of Alexander and Mary McPheeters Crawford¬†by Amanda Forbes. Unfortunately, many trees lead back to Alexander and Mary McPheeters Crawford when the documents for the child in the tree contradicts known documentation for the family of Alexander Crawford.

Unfortunately, these ‘latchkey’ trees create problems for everyone researching their Crawford line.

  • They lead other Crawford researchers down an incorrect path
  • They complicate the interpretation of DNA results

With autosomal DNA and features like ThruLines, an incorrect ancestor in my tree can lead all of my DNA matches down a wrong path.
Not only is this an issue with autosomal DNA but with yDNA research. In the Crawford DNA project, there were several tests with Alexander Crawford identified as the paternal ancestor. One of those is a fairly close match to my brother’s yDNA indicating that our lines might connect at some time in the past. However, there were other tests identifying Alexander Crawford as the paternal ancestor that are not related to my Crawford line. Based on information from an administrator of the Crawford project, these yDNA tests were significantly different and could not all have descended from Alexander Crawford. 
So, I’m asking for all Crawford researchers to help get this right. Let’s work together to document our Crawford lineage to make sure our trees are well documented — including parent-child links. Let’s

  • Search out wills, probate records and court records that identify family connections
  • Search out deeds that not only document residency but can also show movement from place to place or identify family members
  • Utilize collaborative trees such as FamilySearch or WikiTree to connect with other researchers 
  • Share our findings and the supporting documents on these collaborative trees or in public trees on genealogy sites

Please join me with this effort — and if your Crawford research takes you to Garrard, Madison or Lincoln counties in Kentucky prior to 1800, please contact me — I might be able to help you.

Crawford Clan DNA Challenge

Have you had your DNA tested? If so, did DNA help you answer a question? Based on Facebook posts I’ve seen, it appears that DNA is helping adoptees to connect with their birth family.

In my case, I wasn’t hoping to identify a close relative. Instead, I was hoping (and still am hoping) to identify my 5th great grandparents — particularly on my dad’s CRAWFORD line. It’s been 3 years since I first spit in a test tube (autosomal DNA) and since my brother swabbed his cheek (yDNA). That’s 3 years of working with various DNA results and few clues about this mysterious CRAWFORD grandfather.

As I’m trying to learn more about our yDNA results, so I can make sense of how we might fit in the Crawford Clan, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions:

  • There’s too little data – I need more 5th, 6th and 7th cousins to do a yDNA test
  • Determining relationships is VERY dependent on the accuracy of BOTH of our family trees

The closest matches at 37 and 67 markers do not have a common earliest known ancestor. Nor were any of these earliest known ancestors in my paper research — even in my broader research of Kentucky James Crawford families.

As I was able to upgrade the yDNA test to 111 markers, the genetic distances increased to 6 and I still had a wide variety of potential relatives (their earliest known ancestors).
Since the BigY results have come back, my branch of the BigY tree was identified as R-A13336.

Besides identifying my branch on the tree, the BigY test confirmed my placement in the R1b-01B Ardmillan group on the Crawford DNA project. According to the project administrator, I could share a common ancestor with any of the people in the R1b-01 section of the project. 
Unfortunately, I still have no idea how I might be related to any of my matches in the R-A13336 haplogroup. However, I do recognize several of the other ‘earliest known ancestors’ in this area of the Crawford project.

The two “James Crawford b1758” likely refer to the James Crawford married to Rebecca Anderson. This James Crawford owned land on Paint Lick Creek in Madison/Garrard Counties, Kentucky prior to his move to Jefferson County, Indiana. This is the same area of Kentucky where my ancestor was married in 1799 along with several other Crawford (William, Rebecca, and Mary) families. I suspect that my ancestor is somehow related to these other Crawfords but have not been able to locate any documentation to support that suspicion.
Another Crawford researcher has James, William and the spouses of Rebecca and Mary as grandsons of Col. John Crawford and great-grandsons of Robert Crawford II and Mary Shaw. This researcher has William Crawford (b. 1691 and d. 1767) as a second son to Robert Crawford II. According to this researcher, sons of William (1691-1767)  include Patrick (d. 1787) and Alexander (1716-1764). William, Patrick and Alexander are likely listed as the following earliest known ancestors in the Crawford yDNA project:  Patrick (b. 1723 and d. 1787), William (b. 1691 and d. 1761) and Alexander (b. 1715 -d 1764).
This same researcher believes my James Crawford may be the son of Mary Crawford, and thus a grandson of Col. John Crawford and great grandson of Robert Crawford II. (Again, I don’t have any documentation to support this theory.) If this is the case, then my James Crawford (1772-1854) would be a first cousin twice removed to the Alexander Crawford, married to Mary McPheeters, who was killed in 1764. This theory also makes James Crawford (1758-1836) an uncle to my James Crawford. The R1b-01B grouping of yDNA results supports this theory.
A search of the Crawford yDNA project for male children of William Crawford and Mary Ann Douglas (grandsons of Robert and Mary Shaw Crawford) did not locate any ‘earliest known ancestors’ listing for Robert, John, Edward, James, Thomas, William or George using the suggested birth and death information. As stated previously, there is a listing for Patrick in the R1b-01C section and a listing for Alexander Crawford (b. 1715-D1764) in the R1b-01F Ardmillan Outliers section.
Unfortunately, using other trees to locate the documentation to verify this theory becomes very tricky. Many Crawford trees with family going back to the area of Augusta County, Virginia prior to the revolutionary war find the information about the family of Alexander Crawford and his wife Mary McPheeters and try to fit their tree into Alexander’s family. 
Thus, the challenges ahead:

  • Find more Crawford descendants of these Augusta County, VA lines and encourage them to have their yDNA tested.
  • Identify descendants with GedMatch kits and encourage them to participate in the autosomal Crawford gedmatch project
  • Encourage my known Crawford autosomal DNA matches to transfer their DNA data to GedMatch and join the project
  • Figure out a communication method to connect everyone
  • Work with other researchers to document the various Crawford families with roots going back to Augusta County, Virginia (map from https://www.mapofus.org/virginia/)

Please consider joining me in this

Augusta County, VA Crawford project!

Am I Making Incorrect Conclusions?

Have you ever looked at the FamilySearch tree or at personal trees on Ancestry and wondered how and why they made those family connections? I know I have. I hope that others if others have such a question about the research reflected in my Ancestry tree, that they would contact me with their concerns and questions!

This is important to me. I want my tree to accurately reflect family relationships. Since I research siblings and their descendants, some might ask why it is important that I get those relationships right. As Ancestry is providing us with more DNA tools, I’m finding that my ability to interpret my DNA matches is affected by whether I have those family connections correct. This became more apparent to me when I was studying my ThruLines and discovered that I didn’t have any DNA matches thru siblings of my ancestor. (See Crawford ThruLines Question)

As I’m researching the James Crawford(1758-1836) who married Rebecca Anderson, I’m finding that what I have in my tree disagrees with what a lot of others have.

I have also been researching Anna Crawford who married Robert Creath. I believe Anna to be the daughter of James and Rebecca (Anderson) Crawford. Again, I’m finding that others do not agree with me.

Many of these trees trace their Crawford line to Alexander and Mary (McPheeters) Crawford. Alexander and Mary were killed in 1764. Their descendants are identified in several publications.

Rice, Helen McPheeters. The McPheeters Family. Winter Park, Florida: no pub, 1956. p. 103
Clemens, William M. Crawford Family Records. New York: William M. Clemens, 1914p. 11

Based on the clues in these and other publications, I’ve identified the James Crawford living in Fayette County, Kentucky as the son of Alexander and Mary (McPheeters) Crawford. Find a Grave memorial number 59499985 provides more information on this James Crawford.

This James Crawford had a spouse named Rebecca. However, I believe there is another James Crawford with a wife named Rebecca living along Paint Lick Creek in Garrard County, KY. The book, Maxwell History and Genealogy outlines the family of James and Rebecca Anderson.

Housston, FLorence Wilson, Laura Cowan Blaine and Ella Dunn Mellette. Maxwell History and Genealogy. Indianapolis, IN: Indianaolis Engraving Co., 1916. p. 255.

I’ve been using the information from this Maxwell history to help research this James Crawford and his family. I have deeds for James Crawford indicating that he migrated from Garrard County, Kentucky to Jefferson County, Indiana. Of the eight children identified in the Maxwell history, I have marriage records for four of them from Garrard County, Kentucky and for three of them from Jefferson County, Indiana. 
Unfortunately, I’m still looking for a will, probate file and/or deed tying James Crawford (1758-1836) to his children. Without this type of documentation, the information in my tree could be wrong. 
Since circumstantial evidence suggests that my ancestor, James Crawford (1772-1854) might be related to the James Crawford (1758-1836) of Garrard County, I’d like to use DNA evidence to both support such a relationship and to connect with other researchers.
Thus, I’d like to be able to search my DNA matches for the surnames of James and Rebecca (Anderson) Crawford’s. Finding multiple matches when searching for Creath, Guthrie, or Vawter suggest a possible relationship between my ancestor and James Crawford (1758-1836). But, I also find matches for the surname of McPheeters, which suggests the other trees may be correct. These DNA matches would be helpful IF our paper trees matched. Unfortunately, our trees don’t match making it difficult to utilize this DNA data.
For my DNA matches to be helpful, I need my tree to be as accurate as possible. I also need others to have trees as accurate as possible. So, if you find something in my tree that you disagree with, please contact me!

Below are links to my data:

Following Women to Find Hints

Do you research the spouses of your ancestor’s siblings? If you are like me, you don’t spend much time identifying let alone researching the parents of an ancestor’s sister-in-law.

However, with my Crawford research, I’m finding valuable clues from published genealogies. Many of those published genealogies are for the families of women who married into the Crawford family.

There are a couple of McPheeters genealogies that include the family of Alexander and Mary (McPheeters) Crawford. These works have helped me separate my Crawford line from the descendants of Alexander Crawford.

Since my ancestor, James Crawford, was married in Garrard County, I have spent a lot of time researching the Crawford families in Garrard County at the time. I suspect that my James Crawford is somehow related to the James Crawford that owned land along the Paint Lick Creek in Madison and Garrard counties. This James Crawford was married to Rebecca Anderson.

Thru the John Anderson deed found in Madison County, Kentucky (Book D page 712 and 713), I was able to identify the siblings of Rebecca Anderson Crawford. This deed along with additional research on James and Rebecca Crawford led me to a Maxwell Family History.

I also found information on some of James and Rebecca Crawford’s children in the Vawter Family History. 

By researching these VAWTER families, I came across a WPA Interview with James Vawter Crawford and hist mother Mary F Cowgill (Crawford) Coon.

The transcript of the interview contains a ‘Life Sketch of Philamen V. Crawford, written by himself in 1882.’ This life sketch includes information on James and Rebecca Crawford, the grandparents of Philamen V. Crawford.

All of these sources provides clues about the family of James and Rebecca (Anderson) Crawford. Armed with these clues, I have been able to locate marriage records, deeds and court documents to further document this family.

Even though I’ve been able to back up the information from these family genealogies with other records, that isn’t always the case. Scott Fisher reminds us to utilize caution when working with published genealogies in episode #77 of Fisher’s Top Tips.

“Early genealogists were just as prone to error as anyone posting a public tree today … use that old book as a clue, then validate that the author got it right,” said Scott Fisher on Episode #77 of Fisher’s Top Tips.

I’m no closer to proving a relationship between my James Crawford and James and Rebecca (Anderson) Crawford. However, I’m thankful that I’ve found these published genealogies. Who knows, one of these clues might lead to a document connecting the two men.

Sources Used:
Forbes, Amanda Crawford Arbogast and Lucetta Eggleston Crawford Sammis. Descendants of Alexander & Mary McPheeters Crawford: Pioneer Settlers of Augusta County, Virginia. Silver Spring, Maryland: A.A. Forbes, c1980.

Grace Vawter Bicknell, Vawter Family in America: with the Allied Families of Branham, Crawford,Wise, Lewis, Stribling, Glover, Moncrief (Indianapolis: The Hollenbeck Press, 1905), p. 324; digital images, Internet Archive (us.archive.org : downloaded pdf May 2019).

Houston Florence Wilson, Laura Cowan Blaine, Ella Dunn Mellette, Maxwell History and Genealogy (Indianapolis, IN: C. E. Pauley & Co, 1916), 255; digital images, Google Books (books.google.com : viewed online August 2016; Rebecca Anderson / James Crawford family.)

Interview with James Vawter Crawford and his mother Mary F. Cowgill (Crawford) Coon (Shedd, Oregon), by WPA Interviews for Linn County Oregon and transcribed by Patricia Dunn, transcribed 2000. transcription held by WPA Interviews (http://www.lgsoregon.org/lgstng/showmedia.php?mediaID=22398).

Rice, Helen McPheeters. The McPheeters Family. Winter Park, Fla.: Russell Fuller Multi-copy, 1956.