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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.

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?

The Croys, Oswalts, and Hustons

BedfordCo1872-townships copyWestern Pennsylvania became the primary destination of new immigrants and those with wanderlust in their veins. In order to better understand our family migration, its timeline as well as the approximate birth date of family members, I put a spreadsheet together of all land warrant, tax records, and Revolutionary War records for these three much intermingled families. Bedford PA spreadsheet They include Andrew Huston, Alexander Huston and Mary Johnson, Jacob Oswalt and Rebecca Huston, Jacob Oswalt Jr. and Sarah Huston, and Jacob Croy and Mary Huston. Western PA. Family Sheets a pdf document One thing is sure. The majority of their lives in the last half of the 1700’s was spent in Londonderry Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania along Wills Creek not far from the Mason-Dixon line. I am indebted to Larry Smith whose excellent website  Mother Bedford – The Pennsylvania Frontier Of The 1700s. provided many insights and some missing information. I recommend it highly.