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About the Author

IMG_7471 3 Quarter Body Smile (1)Welcome to my website. That’s me up there—Donna Croy Wright. I live with my husband Tyler on 11 acres in the Sierra Nevada Foothills southeast of Yosemite. A writer, amateur genealogist, and historian, my interests began to meld, resulting in this eclectic website, as well as The Maggie Chronicles, a series of historical fiction novels. Loosely built from my family’s past, these stories highlight ordinary people in extraordinary times.

The Scattering of Stones, set in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio, debuted in February 2018, with an updated, December 2018, sporting a new cover to match the series. Book two, The Forging of Frost, comes out in January 2019. In the works are three more books in the series. Look for the third book, The Legacy of Payne, in Spring of 2020!

I also write genealogical research articles, one of which won second place in the Ohio Genealogical Society 2017 Writing Contest. Short bits of my on-going research appear here on my blog (along with my occasional insights into the world of writing and research in general.)

My journey into writing began with a book written for family about our family’s history, sprinkled with a little fictional imagining. I just couldn’t resist. But after it was published, I kept uncovering more information and more questions. It seems I’ve embarked on a life long journey, using this site as a platform for what I learn along the way. I am hugely indebted to some amazing people who created books, often self-published, that required copious amounts of research and hours of interviews, books that delved into both family history and the history of place. I also appreciate the many outstanding historical fiction authors I’ve read through the years. Through those authors and my father, who shared his love of history, I found my passion. I offer these postings, pages, and any books to follow as a small thank you to each of them.

Old fashioned Donna

The author, Donna Croy Wright, taken in Boulder, Colorado in the summer of 1970; she always yearned to go back in time.

30 responses »

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed Scattering of Stones–all the details that put me right back in that time and the clearly drawn people. The people seemed to me to be true to their age as depicted. Thank you, Donna, for an enjoyable “trip”. Mary Tolle

  2. JIM 7 Esther Baxter

    Donna, what a beautiful and great transition for you! Esther & I wish you the very best in your 2nd (or maybe first) calling. We love you. The best of all to you and Tyler.

  3. Just wanted to give a heads-up that, while William Payne (1625-1684) did marry Mary Edwards (widow of Francis Brown), Mary was not the mother of John Payne (ca. 1649-1729). William and Mary married in 1668, the second marriage for both. I don’t know the name of William’s first wife.

    Plus! There are some scandalous tidbits on the sexual exploits of John Payne and his sister, Mercy (not together). Write me at for details.

    • I just figured out where the error was that you alluded to in this post. The family tree for the Payne family was an error, while the family sheet was correct. I’ve fixed the oops. Thank you.

  4. Michael Mumaugh

    I am doing some research for DeSoto Parish Historical Society here in Louisiana. I noticed you have a 2014 post that talks about John Pugh of Stark County near Cleveland OH. I have a few questions about a Charles Pugh who is buried here in Mansfield. All I have on him is that he was the son of a “John Pugh living near Cleveland, OH”. Might you know if this is the same “John Pugh”? please email if you can.

  5. Hello, I come from Jacob Croy and his supposed wife, Amari, in Montgomery County, Virginia. I am having trouble making heads or tails of my Croys, let alone how they might tie in to your line. Do you have any information on the Croys in Montgomery County, Virginia? Thank you so much! Alaina

    • Welcome! The Amari that you see in some genealogies comes, I believe, from a baptismal record in York County, PA, in which a Michael Croy and Anna Marie served as witnesses. I can go no further back, reliably, than Jacob Croy and Mary Huston Croy who lived first in Londonderry Township, Bedford County, PA. If you use the search feature you should find more. Tell me, who are your ancestors less far back in the Croy line and I may be more helpful.

      • Hello! Thank you so much for writing back. My first Croy ancestor is Mary Eve Croy (appears as Eve Crowy in records) who married Enoch Peter Bradford in Montgomery County in 1818. From there, I believe she is the daughter of one of Jacob and Amari’s sons. My guess would be Adam Croy who married Susannah since her date of birth falls into the same time frame as his other children. She was born about 1797. My tree is public on (aabradford1) Bradford Family Tree (Paternal DNA). I have quite a few dna matches to descendants of this family who are/were in Ohio. Any insight you have would be greatly appreciated! – Alaina

  6. Hi, I’m a researcher and have been trying to figure out the common ancestor for all the men who fall into the Blue Group in the Houston yDNA project. I believe your Hustons are in this group. Can we share/compare data? Rebecca

  7. Donna, I’ve picked up your writings the last year and am interested in wills creek, cumberland md. Area. I decend directly from the edward huston, bro to an andrew, Robert, alexander who served under Paxton in rev. War Andrew and edward married daughters of John grate, an Indian trader who’s will was probated about 1806 in pa. I just recently received notification that my edward huston was accepted as an ancestor in the rev., war. I’m very proud of this because not many if any of this line has been submitted or accepted. My line is Edward Huston d. 1828 to col., co. Ohio family confirmed by Will of John grate, his son, Edward, jr. D. 1885. Family son confirmed by bible records and probate, his son Solomon d. 1913, death cert. his son Edward, my grandfather and my father samuel R. Huston. I only had to prove line and service. But of course now I want to know Edward srs. Father and grand father. The croys, oswalts, and grates weave all through in first and second marriages.even have another andrew Huston from 1870 to identify. I’ll keep following and decifer. You do a great job.thank you janice Huston meyers.

    • Thank you for commenting. I plan to connect your information with my own soon. I know, off the top of my head, that Michael Oswalt (of Jacob senior) married a Grate. Also, when in Bedford PA, I picked up a family history for Edward Huston. You’ve heightened my interest…what I love about this blog and genealogy in general. Thanks!

  8. Debra Payne Lawson-Fields

    Nice to meet you as well. I am also from the same Zerah Payen/Payn/etc. except through your Sophronia’s younger brother William Payen/Payne whose intestate papers were filed 1873 in Knox Co, Indiana.. My youngest sister happened to work awhile, many years ago, as a social worker in Vincennes and never could find William nor any of the children’s graves.
    I also did not locate any calamity in Knox County which would have killed William and six of his nine children before 1880. By the 1880 census widow Catherine Markley Payen, dwelling# 286, and children had moved back to Coshocton County, Ohio.She is living near her brother David Markley, #290, and wife Selena Payen Markley and family.Back in 1870 David & Salena Payen Markley are found near your Henry & Sephronia Payen Smith, so maybe these Payne ladies were all close; probably felt safer close to one another? What do you think? One of the stats on the 1900 census was the record of the number of children a mother had given birth to, and in Catharine’s case, she had given birth to a total of nine children but it was stated only 4 were still living. Do you happen to know about any male cousins of our mutual families who have had a Family Finder type of test from someone. I’m not even sure nowadays whose is the most accurate, for the price…and I would also like to know about other bio cousins’ health issues. Realize you are busy, but in a good creative way, and I love that! Wow, I never actually counted how many great-grandparents we have, and that doesn’t even count their sibs & buddies, does it…When I was young, I used to play “pioneer’ as I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. From Grandmommie, my maternal grandmother, I borrowed The Bobbsey Twins, Pollyanna, Grandmommie was very much a “Pollyanna” ty pe of person, to we grandkids, anyway…Iknow there was other historical fiction but at the moment, the titles excape me. I truly love any and all what I consider “plausible” historical fiction. My husband is not one teensy bit interested in any of the genetic connections, but he does also love historical fiction, but of the “later” pioneer venue since he is from Montana…his favorites are westerns, usually, except his Thomason side allows him to enjoy Daniel Boone reruns…WB when you are able please! Thanks! Debra in MT

  9. I always check out the Wills Creek, Bedford Co., PA. information. I have been researching Samuel Paxton (Not the Marsh Creek Bunch) b. ca. 1746 in Scotland and died Aug. 1810 in Bedford Co. He was a Capt. in the Revolutionary War, serving with Will’s Creek Mountain Company, Cumberland Valley Settlement. He was mustered out in 1783, with a land grant of 230 acres that bordered on the state line of Maryland and Pennsylvania. He also had a narrow strip of land on both sides of Evitts Creek, Cumberland, now Bedford Co. Connie M.

    • Connie,
      Both of my ancestors, Alexander Huston and Jacob Croy served under his command. Very interesting!

      • Donna, 2018 is just beginning and I’m still searching for solid evidence of Samuel Paxton b. 1746 in Scotland and died August 1810 in Bedford Co., PA. It is hard keeping him separate from the Marsh Creek Bunch. So interesting that you have several ancestor that served under Capt. Samuel Paxton.

    • Debra Payne Lawson-Fields

      Ms. Mateer, please forgive my intrusion here, but I am also very much also interested in your gleanings from Bedford Co, PA; Not only am I also a Croy/Huston/Oswalt descendant as is now found Cousin Donna, but there is a mystery about our Jennings ancestor Gainor Jennings who might or might not have also been in the Bedford Co area at the same time as the others you are discussing. I also had some of my Hagerstown and related cousins in there, Rentsch who don’t seem to genetically be German or Swiss, one brother I’m from was Ch/Brethren but still donated blankets to the cause and the other one was not CoB…well, one name type book did indicate Rentsch has some type of Polish background? These were all surnames in the Bedford Co, PA, as I have either and/or read during colonial/RW time periods. Is there something online for early Bedford Co these days to help out with this research now? Thank you for listening and in advance for your reply.

      • Debra, Sorry it has taken me so long to check back concerning Bedford Co., PA. and Sam Paxton. Bedford Co. has changed “hands” a number of times. In 1729 it was part of unsettled lands whose parentage is traceable to Lancaster Co., PA. By 1770, Bedford was part of Cumberland Co. and finally in 1771 Bedford was a large county. It included the entire south-west corner of the state and stretched up to and including Centre Co. It wasn’t until 1850 that Bedford Co. looks like it does today. That was 79 years ago. One has to keep track of those boundary’s to figure out just where Sam Paxton resided. I hope by now you have lots of answers about your research. Off-hand I’m not familiar with your Jennings ancestor. Connie M.

  10. Debra Payne Lawson-Fields

    Hi, Cousin Donna, I am excited that I “just happened” to somehow bump into your website this morning!! I have been working on my Young line for another newly met cousin, then bumped into another Payne and I am still not quite sure how I came in touch with your website and wonderful stories!! That is the way it is supposed to be shared, Cousin. I like your presentation. I have not yet looked at your facts, hmmm. Not to stir up ire nor hurt feelings, ok?! The Payen/Payne-Croy connection is not easy as I’m certain you’re already aware. I did not look to see how many decades you’ve been studying and so on. I do know that I am related to myself, this one is my Dad’s side…but that is ok. On my mom’s side, in a genetic pool pretty much locked into Miami County for at least 150 years, I’m related to myself several times…Donna, I love what I have read thus far on your site, and now you are in the process of publishing a novel, did I correctly understand this? I have lost both in physical and cognitive health so I apologize in advance for any questions or statements I make which are illogical or downright silly. No one will hurt my feelings saying so…Happy to meet you, Cousin Donna! You have my email, but my Ancestry handle is (now) YoungThompson0914. My Tree is altogether (not separated) as Ancestry recommends, but I have to keep it locked due to some of the immature people who like to change info on other people’s trees, or worse, who are like teenagers & are on Ancestry to try to date, no joke…Ancestry advised me to keep my Tree private after this guy pretended to be a cousin we know is deceased…Got scared with that one! Please forgive my rambling on, but I do try to explain situations so folks understand things like why I have to keep my tree in “Private” mode…I am very Happy to meet you, Cousin Donna! Sincerely, Debra

    • Nice to meet you. If you don’t mind my asking, to which Payne are you related? Zerah is my great-grandmother’s grandfather, father to Sephronia Payne Smith. And yes, an historical novel loosely based on my 4x great-grandparents, coming out next year.

  11. Amber Bowser Croy

    Thank you! And yes, it is very confusing trying to figure out the family tree. Past William Rands Croy it gets very messy since all the information I’ve found on his father is that his name was John Croy Jr, and it was thought that his father was a John Croy Sr married to a Susannah Huston. Again I’m looking very forward to seeing what else you discover!

    • Anthony Laughlin

      @copywright I am excited to see what else you discover too. Amber, I am curious how you are related to William Rands Croy? He is my third great grandfather. I am trying to find more on the Croy part of my ancestry. I have such a hard time finding anything about the line of Croys I am related to. My great grandmother was Ninnie Pecola Croy Laughlin. Her father was Thomas Croy who married Mary McClure. Thomas Croy is the son of William Rands Croy. Are you guys familiar with any of these names?

    • Anthony Laughlin


      I am not sure if my first comment posted. Anyway, I was wondering how you were related to William Rands Croy? He is my third great grandfather. It is so hard for my to find anything on the Croys in my family. If you are willing to share information you have it would be greatly appreciated!

      Anthony Laughlin

      • Amber Bowser Croy

        Sorry! Been swamped with school and never checked back in. I actually have a family tree up on ancestry. William Rands Croy is my 4th great grandfather on my mother’s side. Unfortunately I don’t know too much of the history other than paper trails. I was adopted and only found out who my birth mother was in the last couple of years. My email is if you want more information over my findings.

  12. Amber Bowser Croy

    Hi! I recently discovered that I am a Croy (I was adopted when I was a toddler and only recently came in contact with blood relatives) and fell into the genealogy rabbit hole through If I am correct in my findings, my branch comes from John Croy, who married Jane Fleming. I’ve enjoyed reading through your site and can’t wait for more!

    • Welcome to the family. Take care out there. I did a brief look-see on Ancestry and the Family trees on the line you suggest are rotten with errors. I don’t have record of your John, but it is a VERY common family name. I record 6, most not in detail since they don’t come from my direct collateral lines. Here they are (all births approximate) John (of John) b 1840; John of Jacob Jr. b 1802; John of Richard b 1840; John of Mathias of Jacob b 1818; and John of Alexander of John b 1831. I have not researched the southern Croy’s at all. Good luck! And, again, welcome.

  13. I am so excited to watch and experience this unfold! You are a wonderful story teller, so this will be an epic journey! 🙂

  14. It’s very nice to meet you, I’m sure I’ll enjoy many visits here. [off topic- do you use the tag Family History? Nice bunch of people on that one too]


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