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Early 19th Century Croy Occupations: Mill Workers and Carpenters

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Andrew Croy Died Dec 20, 1859 Aged 72y 1m  18d St. Luke Cemetery, Monroe Township, Carroll County, Ohio (For more on Andrew use the site search engine.)

Often we assume that occupations are a family thing, passed from generation to generation. To a certain extent it is true. There are families of teachers, construction workers, even musicians. But the economics of the time and the needs of those inhabitants living in that time play a large role in determining how a family makes a living. I say family because, in the time of Andrew Croy, family usually worked together in the same livelihood. For this family, from at least 1830 to 1869, the profession of wood and mill worker was dominant.

In the early days of our nation, especially on the frontier edge, the inhabitants primary needed housing, food, and a means of transport. Those needs required, first, mills to cut lumber and grind grain (among other things, a nice overview here). Secondly, carpenters and wagon makers skilled in building were in demand. Our family served those needs.

Andrew Croy ran saw and gristmills. He purchased land for a mill on 22 April 1829 in Stark (later Carroll) County, Ohio. He ran that mill until between 20 January 1838 (when he sold 20 acres of that land to Akey Worley) and 27 July 1839 (when he sold the rest to the same).

andrew bark st mill

Site of first of Andrew Croy’s mill, halfway along Bark St, in Carroll County, Ohio

By 20 December 1829, he had moved to White Eyes Township, Coshocton County and purchased a mill from John Gardner, original land grant to John Graham. On 25 March 1856, likely in poor health, he sold the land to David Reed.

andrew mill site

Site of second of Andrew Croy’s mills, one mile NW of Fresno, Ohio in White Eyes Township, Coshocton County, Ohio 

white eyes

White Eyes Creek–The Carroll County site and Coshocton site were similar in that they both had a rise for the mill above a low lying creek to provide power.

Here is a newspaper account of the mill’s history.

“All three (3) mills stood along the creek banks in White Eyes Township and there was a bustle of rural community activity for weeks out of each year.

The first was located on the Ed Steiner farm, one mile north of Avondale, now Fresno. It was built in 1832 by Thomas Diehl and had an undershot wheel sixteen (16) feet in diameter and about three (3) feet wide.

Two runs of burrs, elevators, a bolting chest and other necessary appliances completed the mechanical equipment for the picturesque affair.

Its two stories towered above the wooded slopes of historic White Eyes creek and stood on a foundation 32 x 40 feet. It was enclosed by lap siding and shaved oak shingles and its capacity was seven to eight bushels of wheat an hour.

The mill was purchased by Andy Croy, father of the late David Croy in 1839 and operated by him for 16 years. [until 1855] Thomas Moore then ran the mill for several years after which David took possession. Two years later David Reed acquired it. [Does not jive with deed date of sale.] When Mr. Reed fell at the battle of Winchester in the Civil War, the mill’s years of service came to an end.”

David Croy lived in Coshocton until his death and continued in the occupation his father taught him.

OKC david croy

Photo from Oak Grove Cemetery, David married Eunice Frazee, 2 April 1846, with whom he had Robert, William, Matthew, Margaret, Mary, Eliza Jane, and Jacob. He later married Hannah McPherson. 

“Several decades ago, the second mill was still in operation. It stood at Boyd’s mills and it was operated for years by its builders, brothers William and Journal Boyd. Today the site is part of Rev. C.D. Firster’s farm.

Later the mill was sold to Robert Doak, who sold it to Robert Boyd, who in turn sold it to Adam Gardner in 1864. Mr. Gardner died in 1872 and the property was sold to Thomas Elliot and he later sold it to J.P. Benjamin in 1881. In 1883 it was again sold, this time to Mr. [David] Croy.

A third mill had stood along White Eyes Creek one mile up stream, it was operated successively by Mr. Headley, Wm Frazy,[Andrew’s sons David and Michael married Frazy/Frazee’s] Andrew Croy and David Reed. It suspended operation in 1860.”

Meanwhile, Andrew’s son Jacob who joined him in Coshocton became a wagon maker, wagons being in demand during the canal days of Coshocton County. Jacob brought his family to Washington County, perhaps floating down the Muskingum River canal improvement where he continued to work as a wagon maker. Jacob’s son, William, briefly owned a sawmill bought in 1869, and son Robert worked as a carpenter.

But times were changing. The steam engine and the movement of civilization into the far west, impacted the needs of the nation and its people. Small local mills slowly faded away. Water as an energy source was replaced by coal. The war spread families apart. We were a nation transformed.

The “good old days” were gone. When I visited David Croy’s gravesite, I met the man who lived there and maintained the cemetery. He told tales of how the lumbermen lived in tents on the Tuscarawas River a small distance south where a dance hall entertained. Across from the gravesite was a small church that had “socials” for the men. The men working lumber might have their “fun” down on the Tuscarawas but usually found their wives at the church socials. Here is how the article explained it.

“Settlers in Coshocton county nearly a century ago [now a century and a half] came many miles to patronize the grist mills, at first on horseback and later in wagons. Each customer waited his turn. During the interval many would unlimber their fishing equipment and combine business with pleasure.

Others spent the time in games and many told of the stories that were related. Evening parties were arranged and old time songs mingled with the beat of dancing feet on the broad beamed floors of the Grist Mill.”

Article printed in the Cemetery History: White Eyes Township Vol XV by the Coshocton County Chapter OGS, pg 174: from an aged newspaper clipping owned by Ed Norris of Fresno, Ohio.
Additional documentation available upon request: Census, Marriage, Land Records


ONE FOR THE ROAD TO OHIO: breaking down brick walls…

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The Ohio Erie Canal went right by Canal Lewisville, Coshocton County, OH

I head to Ohio this coming week for the Ohio Genealogical Conference and two weeks of research and discovery. At the conference, I will be inducted into the Society of Civil War Families of Ohio. Now, I’ve acquired numerous awards and certificates in my life and was never  big on ceremony, certificates, or standard celebrations, but this is different. It isn’t for me. It is for the seven men, the sons of Jacob Croy and Margaret Pugh Croy, who served with the Ohio Volunteers in the Civil War. I wrote a series of articles regarding them. To read more, click “Civil War” to the right of this post.

So my “One for the Road” comes out my work, in advance of my trip, fine tuning and organizing my research. My lesson, oft repeated, I repeat once more. It’s important.

Keep returning to your brick walls, those ancestors with typical names (or dusty pasts); the ones who elude you. Why? Okay, I know you’ve heard it before, but here it is again. New information is uncovered, discovered, and digitalized all the time.

When I plugged Henry Smith into, I expected little, but got a treasure. Henry, the father of my great grandmother, Sarah Angeline Payne Smith who married Calvin Croy (my great grandfather and one of the Civil War brothers mentioned above), left a will.[i] It was one of the new probate records recently added to Ancestry.

Look what returning to Henry uncovered:

  • On 1 March 1883 the will of Henry Smith of Tuscarawas Township, Coshocton County, OH was filed with the court.
  • In the will he bequeathed “to my beloved wife Sephrona Smith the lot and house in which we live numbered (154) and 155) the one half of each lot divided east and west, South half and situated in the town of Canal Lewisville, Coshocton, State of Ohio…”
  • Sephrona (Sephronia in some records) had full rights to the land “to sell and convey or otherwise control…according to her own judgement.”
  • The will was signed in his own hand on 3 May 1879.

So never stop looking! With this find, I go to Ohio with confirmation of their home in Canal Lewisville, along with lot numbers. Can’t wait to get there!

Picture from Public Domain,
[i] Will Records, 1811-1912; Probate Place: Coshocton, Ohio. Ohio, Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998 [accessed April 2016]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: Ohio County, District and Probate Courts.

Treat #9 for a New Year: Personalities of Calvin and Sarah Croy Come to Life

“A quarrel arose in the Croy family, especially with Grandpa Croy, when Dad and his brother were allowed to attend the new high school nearby and did not go to work in the coal mine after finishing grammer school. It was Grandma Croy who insisted and finally got her way, ‘to send the first Croy’s to a higher school,’ as she said. Grandpa had no use for ‘educated brats.’ It seems that Grandma Croy always looked after the interests of Charles Henry’s boys.

Since Dad and his brother did not work in the coal mine like their cousins, Muriel and Calvin, they had to do house chores and were ‘left out’ on many things…In the spring of 1921, after a dispute with Grandpa over the new electric lamps (Grandpa made everyone screw the lamp bulbs out when not in use,) Dad had to leave the house. He had just finished high school and it was time to get out. Grandma packed his things, gave him 10 dollars, secured the money with a safety pin in his front pocket and warned him of the big city people. He also got to take his shot gun. Dad left the Henryetta train station bound for Kansas City.”

From the written memories of William Croy, son of William David Croy who was the son of Charles Henry Croy and grandchild of Calvin and Sarah Croy, my great grandparents.

This period of time was a tipping point in family history. After this both my father and aunt graduated from high school and even “higher school” was possible for the generations that followed.

Our ancestors’ personalities, like our own, are more nuanced than any romanticized stereotypes. Only reminiscences, the memories of others that are written down, provide us with those insights. The grandchild who came to live with Sarah and Calvin Croy in 1910 when his mother died passed on a memory through his son that reveals the struggles of two older people as they address changing times.  Once again I encourage writing letters, diaries (blogs,) and memories…even when some memories might best be disclosed after the effected parties have left this world.

Treat #8 for a New Year: Reminiscence about Jacob and Margaret Croy

“The house was built by her grandfather Jacob. He also had a shop and made coffins for the departed of the neighborhood. Grandmother was a hardworking, high tempered lady, who cooked the food for all their ten children on a crane in the fireplace. She baked all the bread in an iron sort of pot in front of the fireplace by placing hot coals on top and around it. She had a loom and wove all the material to make clothing. She raised the flax, carded and spun the thread, then wove it into material. She used the bark of trees for dyes for the materials.”

This is just part of a two page reminiscence found while going through some papers given to me by my cousin’s wife. An unknown Margaret Croy wrote it about her great grandmother and grandfather. Her great grandmother, for whom she was named, Margaret Pugh Croy, was my great, great grandmother and lived from 1813 to 1884, mostly in southern Ohio. In this paragraph she repeats recollections of Agnes Schoonover Knowles, a grandchild of Jacob and Margaret.

While there is no picture to post here, an early one does exist. She indicates this in her writing and I would love to find it! Pictures help us visualize a person and their world, but it is paragraphs like this that magically bring both to life. Keep a diary, write a letter, jot down a memory and tuck it away, for what is ordinary now will be extraordinary when viewed, in a different time, through another’s eyes.

Treat #6: Depression era photo of the Croys

Justus, Mollie, and Ralph Croy

Justus, Mollie, and Ralph Croy

Exuding working class strength, Justus Croy,  Mary Elizabeth (Mollie) Ison Croy and Ralph Croy gaze directly into the camera. Many photographs exist of Justus Croy as a young man, but this picture provides a window into his world as an older man at the height of the depression. A best guess for the date of the photo is 1935 to 1940. Justus Croy died of Black Lung on December 13, 1940 in Rock Springs, Wyoming at the age of 61.

Treat #4 for a New Year: Ralph Lewis Croy as a boy

Here are two pictures that show Ralph Lewis Croy, my father, as a little boy.

Muriel, Ralph, Calvin Croy

Muriel, Ralph, Calvin Croy

The first, thanks to a special relative, shows Muriel in his WWI uniform and Ralph and Calvin dressed to impress, all for a studio photograph. With hair neatly parted and combed, they stare solemnly into the camera. The photographer shot this picture in about 1917-8, the approximate time that Merle “ran away to join the army.”

The next photograph is a personal favorite. I had searched for it unsuccessfully some years back and recently found it tucked away inside an inconsequential piece of paper.

Ralph Croy, circa 1920

Ralph Croy, circa 1920

Taken perhaps a year or two after the first, it shows Ralph Croy as the resourceful, outdoor loving person I knew but residing in a child’s body. Never leave a card or envelop unopened! Treasures are everywhere.

Treat #1 for the New Year: Calvin Harrison Croy

Pictures bring family to life. So do letters and written memories. Recently I went back through some treasures given to me by my cousin’s wife. I also spent time rifling through some family boxes. Lesson learned! If you are interested in family genealogy, leave no box unopened nor anything written unread. I am posting a potpourri of family treasures, one for each of the first ten days of 2014.

Young Calvin Croy about 1863This tintype of Calvin Harrison Croy was probably taken when 18-23 years old between 1865 and 1870.  He served in with the Union Army during the later half of 1865. This is the oldest known picture of any family member.

Finding Jacob Croy in Pennsylvania

St. David's (Sherman) Church

St. David’s (Sherman) Church

I went to Pennsylvania hoping to find the origins of the Croy family in the United States. I did not. I know nothing more than when I started but, if such a thing is possible, I know it with greater clarity. Does that mean I know nothing with great clarity? In a word, yes.

I thought I found reference to Jacob Croy in the records of those arriving from the Palatinates in 1740’s Philadelphia. As noted in a previous blog, another researcher thought this was true. After careful handwriting analysis and some research regarding the script of that period, I am no longer sure. In fact, based on information from a German speaker, it is unlikely that the name Croy comes from the Palatinates since surnames from Germanic heritage rarely begin with “C.” (Perhaps, French speaking areas of what is now Belgium where Croy Castle is found?)

What do we know regarding “Croy” in the Americas? To the best of my knowledge, in chronological order, I have discovered the following:

  1. The Walloon, Jan De Croy, arrived in Virginia in the early 1600’s.
  2. A Winifred Croy (likely male) owned land in Virginia in the early 1600’s.
  3. A Peter Croy is noted in Massachusetts’s court records in the 1620’s.
  4. A Michael Croy with wife Anna Marie participated in a christening in 1767 York County, PA. (see photo)
  5. An Esther Croy , born about 1745, is listed as the wife of Adam Romberger  with a Jacob Croy managing the estate in Annville, Lebanon County, PA in 1800. There was a Jacob Croy in the area at the time. This could be our Jacob, but our patriarch was definitely in Bedford County from 1775 to 1790 with record of a land purchase in the neighboring county in 1794. By 1804 the family had moved to Ohio.
Wills Mountain with Cook Homestead

Wills Mountain with Cook Homestead

View near Wills Creek

View near Wills Creek

Without doubt though, our family lived in Londonderry Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania at the time of the Revolutionary War. They settled with the Huston and Oswalt families not far from the Mason-Dixon line between Wills Mountain and Wills Creek neighboring the Cook homestead. With a little help from some wonderful people at the library in Hyndman, my (very patient) husband and I found the spot. I stood silently absorbing the rustle of leaves falling like rain from the trees, an unending chorus of frogs and crickets, the fecund scent of rotting leaves and fungi, and the embrace of the past. Can’t you feel them?

Morriss, Salling, Judy, Utterback, and Ely Family History

As reported in an earlier blog, I broke through a brick wall in the family history of my grandmother’s mother Gillian (Gillie) Virginia Morriss Ison. Since returning from our Pennsylvania trip, I’ve spent most of days in my “cave” researching this piece of family and American history.Family Tree and Sheets for Gillie V. Morris Ison

Gabriel Ison and son Frazier

Gabriel Ison and son Frazier

Like the Ison family that Gillie joined, the Morriss family and its extended branches migrated over time from Virginia through Kentucky and into Missouri. Gillie’s father Peter Philander Morriss married Elizabeth Ely, part of the Ely family of Ralls County, Missouri, a place where creeks and roads carry the Ely name. They were original settlers to the area, along with the Judy (Tschudi) family and Utterback family with whom they intermarried, and held extensive land holdings near the elbow of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. Peter and Elizabeth settled down in Chariton County, Missouri not far from the Howard County home his mother and father had settled after coming from Kentucky via Scott County, Virginia. Scott County is the gateway to Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap and a family home of the Gabriel Ison’s father as well. This connection may in fact be a factor in how Gillie and Gabriel met.

The origins of these families are varied and interesting. Some bulleted highlights:

  • MORRISS – Thomas Morriss’ grandfathers had met on the ship “Active” coming from London to Virginia as indentured servants in 1774. (If anyone is interested in this period of history, I strongly recommend the Pulitzer Prize winning book Voyagers to the West by Bernard Bailyn.)
  • SALLING – Peter Morriss’ father Thomas H. Morriss married Malinda Salling who came from Scott County, Virginia. Her great grandfather John Peter Salling was commissioned to explore the Kentucky territory in about 1740. One of the first white men to venture into the area, he was captured by Cherokee’s, traded to the French in New Orleans and eventually made it home to Rockbridge County. He came originally with his family from Teiffenbach in the Palatinate of Alsace-Lorraine.
  • JUDY (Tschudi) – Mary Polly Judy married Isaac Ely, a judge in Ralls County, Missouri while in Kentucky. The family had arrived moved to Kentucky from Pennsylvania after arriving from Switzerland. Her father fought in the Revolutionary War in the 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment.
  • UTTERBACK (Otterback) – The family originally immigrated from Trupbach in the North Rhine-Westphalia Palatinate to Fort Germanna in Virginia Colony. They were brought there in 1714 under the sponsorship of Governor Alexander Spotswood to develop the iron works industry.
  • ELY – In 1762 Isaac Ely, who had arrived from Scotland or England (accounts vary) received a land grant from Lord Fairfax on both sides of the Cacaphoen River and surveyed it with William Scott, whose wife he married after William’s death.

The family tree from Gillian Virginia Morriss back to the early 1700’s along with all family sheets is included above. I encourage you to examine them, especially that of Isaac Ely and Mary Polly Judy. More on them and the family during the Civil War in my next blog.