Greene County, Arkansas
THE BENJAMIN CROWLEY II FAMILY
Benjamin Crowley II was born in 1758 in Halifax County, Virginia. His parents were Benjamin Crowley I and Sarah Strong. Little is known about Benjamin prior to December 15, 1795 when he married Catherine Annie Wiley in Oglethorpe County, Georgia. It is known after his marriage that he moved to Kentucky, and stayed there for a number of years. He lived in Christian and Henderson Counties. It was while residing in Kentucky that he served in some capacity in the War of 1812. For this service rendered, he received a Land Bounty.
The New Madrid Earth Quake of 1811 devastated the land he was granted. So he moved to Arkansas and bought a tract of land in Lawrence County from Solomon Hewitt. He stayed in Lawrence County until about 1820/1. It was then that he traveled south along a ridge into what is now Greene County. He found a suitable spot, and laid claim to the area. This ridge would later bear his name. His old home site would later be a State Park in his honor.
Benjamin and Catherine had the following children: (born in Oglethorpe County, Georgia) Thomas Crowley (18 Mar 1796-bef 1829) who married Cynthia Campbell; Samuel Crowley (28 Feb 1798-13 Mar 1837) who married Sarah Lamb and Sarah Hutchins; John Crowley (28 Feb 1800-1816). (Children born in Kentucky) Wiley Crowley (27 Mar 1805-abt 1847) who married Lucy Capps; Polly Crowley (5 Apr 1805-abt 1841) who married Abraham Pevehouse; Benjamin Crowley III (1 Nov 1807-bef 1830) who died building a military road; Margaret Crowley (15 May 1810-?) who married Charles Robertson and John McDaniel; Sarah Crowley (1812-?) who married Thomas Lamb.
In 1797, Benjamin Crowley is on List of Insolvents Living within the Indian Boundary of the Year 1797 which the County Court of Grainger, Tennessee released the sheriff from collecting. In 1800 Benjamin was back in Georgia. In 1805, Benjamin was in the Georgia Land Lottery. (This may have been his father) In 1810, Benjamin was living in Christian County, Kentucky next door to his brother-in-law, Matthew Wiley. By 1815, Benjamin is in Lawrence County, Arkansas. June 26, 1816, Benjamin was granted a letter of administration in the estate of John Crowley upon giving bond and security in the sum of $2500. This John was his son.
In 1817, his father died, leaving him one dollar. The next year, on 6 July 1818, Benjamin served as a juror in the case of William Lackey who was charged with larceny. The same day, a writ of certiorari was executed setting aside the findings of an inferior court involving a suit between Benjamin Crowley vs. Benedict White. On the following day, July 9th, the court found for Crowley awarding him six dollars and seventy-nine and one-half cents damages together with his costs and charges by him about his suit in his behalf expended the defendant in mercy go.
On the 12th of October 1819 Benjamin Crowley purchased land from Solomon Hewitt for $200 on the Spring River about two miles above the mouth of the Elevenpoint River, on the North side of said Spring River where Benjamin was currently living. In 1821 he moved to and founded Crowleys Ridge. In 1832 he founded the Post Office for Greene County, which was formed in 1833. On 16 August 1838, Benjamin Crowley had 80 acres bounty land, his son, Wiley, had 40 acres.
Benjamin died about 1842, and is buried at the Pioneer Cemetery, called Shiloh Cemetery, which is just up the hill from where his house was located. His wife died on 13th November 1850 and is buried in the cemetery as well. According to the oldest residents of Greene County, when asked in the early 1900s, below are the following people buried in Shiloh:
Benjamin Crowley & wife Catherine Wiley
Samuel Crowley (Son of above)
Larkin Wiley & wife, daughter and son (possibly nephew of Catherine)
Mr. Pevehouse and wife Polly Crowley (daughter of Ben and Catherine)
P.K. Lusters child
Jake Sutfin and wife Sarah Pevehouse (their daughter married Ben and Catherines grandson)
There are others buried in the cemetery as well, but they are no relation to Ben and Catherine. They were other early pioneers of the area. The state park claims that Wiley Crowley, Bens son is also buried there, but the writer believes that Wiley is buried in the cemetery that is behind where his house stood.
Benjamin Crowleys estate was sold at auction, and stayed out of the family until His grandson, Benjamin H. Crowley bought it back in the 1870s. It should be noted, that Benjamins slave James Jim (later bought by Hanover Company and known as James Hanover) helped build the Crowley homes on the Ridge. James was the first black justice of the peace. The Klu Klux Klan killed him in 1868.
Sources: Greene County Historical and Genealogical Society
Writings of Benjamin H Crowley and Lucian G Crowley
Marriage records of Oglethorpe County Georgia
Tax Lists of Kentucky, Georgia and Arkansas
Goodspeeds History of Greene County, Arkansas
Compiled by Grant A Van Vranken 24 Feb 2002
THE WILEY CROWLEY FAMILY
According to Benjamin H. Crowley, Wiley Crowley was born the 27th of March 1803 in Kentucky. He married a Ms. Lucy Capps (or Copps) and had five children: John Thomas Crowley, who died in the Civil War. According to Benjamin H. Crowley he was a member of the 5th Arkansas regiment, and was captured in Tennessee, and later died of small pox. He was held as a prisoner of war at Rock Island. They also had a son named William Crowley who died in Greene County, Arkansas in 1859. Their daughter Cynthia died in her childhood. Elizabeth Jane Crowley died in Greene County, Arkansas in 1880. Samuel Jefferson Crowley was their last child.
Little is known about Wileys early life. He was the fourth son of Benjamin Crowley II. Benjamin was an industrious man who was born in Virginia in 1758 to Benjamin Crowley I and his wife Sara Strong. Benjamin Jr. married a Ms Catherine Annie Wiley the 15th of Dec 1795 at Oglethorpe County, Georgia. She was the daughter of Peter Wiley and Mary Sharkey. It is known that Benjamin the younger was, like his forbearers, a man of many talents. He dabbled in horse breeding, no doubt from his fathers side of the family, as his grandfather, Jeffrey Crowley, owned his own race track and bred horses. He also raised Cattle, and we believe at one time raised peaches for brandy, just as his grandfather had done. What we do know of Benjamin is that he served in some capacity in the War of 1812, as he received land for his service. We also know that the original land he was to claim was devastated by the New Madrid Earthquake. He then picked land in Northeast Arkansas. Little did he know, but the ridge he was to lay claim to would one day bear his name forever. It was in his home that the first court was held, and under his trees that the first jury would deliberate under. The first post office and church were also started in his home.
The mentions we do have of Wiley Crowley are mainly tax lists. We find Wiley in Lawrence County, Arkansas in 1829 through 1834. We then find him in Greene County, Arkansas from 1834 to 1841. In 1837, also in Greene County he was noted as being an administrator, yet for whom escapes us. We know he did not live to be very old, as he died no sooner than January of 1846 and no later than the year 1850 when his wife shows up on a census remarried. The earliest record I have found to date on Wiley Crowley is his being a witness to his brother, Samuel Crowleys marriage to Sarah Hutchins, the 28th of February 1823, in Lawrence County, Arkansas.
Back to Wileys children, little is known about three of them, John Thomas, William and Cynthia. It is assumed that there was no issue left from them. We do however know quite a lot about Elizabeth Jane and Samuel Jefferson. Elizabeth Jane Crowley was born the 5th of July 1836 in Greene County, Arkansas and died around the 19th of May 1880 most likely in the very house she was born in. It is known that Elizabeth married her first cousin, Benjamin H. Crowley around 1857. Benjamin H being the son of Samuel Crowley and Sarah Hutchins.
They had ten children together. They are: William H (1858-1860), Lucy J (1860-1873), Ann M (1863-1875), Victoria Victorine (1867-?), John F (1868-1875), Syntha A (1870-1942), Benjamin S (1872-1873), Lucian G (1875-1958), Belle (1878-?), and Benjamin H or Benona H (1880-?). Elizabeth died shortly after her last child was delivered. Benjamin H Crowley, like his grandfather was a man of many parts. Throughout his life he held many different positions. These include rising through the ranks in the CSA from being a body guard to Gen. Benjamin McCulloch, to being a 1st Lieutenant in General Hidmans Command, to being the Captain of General Fagans bodyguard. He then was appointed as Colonel of Arkansas militia by the order of Governor Garland. Later he was appointed as the Brigadier General of Arkansas troops. His civilian life was even more impressive. He was a farmer, school teacher, lawyer, legislator, senator, delegate to Arkansas Constitutional Conventions, he was a Scottish Rite Mason, and perhaps one of his highest honors was being appointed Receiver of the land and appraiser of government land at Little Rock, by appointment of President Grover Cleveland. He was later appointed as appraiser of government lands at Hot Springs, by the Secretary of the Interior, Hoke Smith. He also served as the postmaster of Crowley, in the steps of his grandfather, who was the first postmaster of the county.
I go into so much detail about Benjamin H so much as to show the reader how truly industrious and hardworking this man was, just like the rest of the early Crowleys. Anyone who is related to this family should understand that in their own little ways they helped shape this country. Wiley Crowleys own great uncle was the first man to die in the Revolutionary War, in 1774. Wileys grandfather may have served in the Revolutionary War, but we cannot be sure. We do know he donated supplies and that he had earlier served in the French and Indian War.
Back to Wiley Crowley He is kind of a mystery. What we know of him personally comes from his nephew, and son-in-law, Benjamin H Crowley. Benjamin H tells us this about Wiley: ... He also recalls the first of boots he ever had and it was a happy epoch in his life. His Uncle, Wiley Crowley, was his guardian and took a load of beef cattle to the New Orleans market, and when he returned home he had brought the writer a pair of red-top boots and they were the envy and admiration of the whole county.... The first brick kiln in Greene County was put and operated by Wiley Crowley on his place, which belongs to the writer. The manner of making then was different from what it now is. First the ground had to be cleared, prepared, by mixing the proper amount of clay and sand. Water was then poured on the material and several yoke of oxen were driven in on the yard, and made to tramp the clay and dirt to the right consistency and mix it ready for brick-mounds. The bricks were then burned and were ready for use. They were built into two good chimneys, and are perfectly sound. They are larger than the standard size brick as now manufactured.
The old house, which Wiley Crowley built as a home for himself and family about the year 1840, is still standing. It was built of large hewed pine logs, and these lay just as they were placed by the neighbors, over half a century ago. The logs were cut and hewed by old Zacharia Hampton, father of the late Nimrod Hampton and of Mrs. Lucy Willcockson, widow of Capt. I.P. Willcockson. It is claimed that at the raising of this house that every man in Greene county was present and assisted in the erection of the building. The day for the raising had been set in advance, and word sent around to the different settlements. Those who went from the remote parts of the county had to depart the day before and some reached the home of Wiley Crowley late at night on the same day. Others reached points nearby and remained in camp or put up at the house of some neighbor overnight. After assisting in raising the big log house, they started home, and went as far as they could before night over-took them and traveled the remainder of the way the next day. So, it took some of the neighbors three days to help the old man Crowley raise his house. This service was all rendered free of charge, and the writer submits that no such neighborly relations ever existed between men in any other section of the country. The writer remembers having come from near Walcott to the Old Bethel neighborhood to take part in a log rolling, when some neighbor way trying to clear a piece of new ground.
There was not then such a thing in the country as a sawmill, but the people had what they called a whipsaw, which operated up and down, instead of horizontal as the crosscut saw. The log which was to be cut into lumber was put up on a scaffold, six or eight feet from the ground, and one man got up on the log to lift the saw and guide it straight, while another man stood directly under the saw and drew it down with force through the log. This last man did all the real labor and his job was somewhat harder than splitting rails with maul and wedge. Some good lumber was made in this slow and laborious manner, and there is plank in the Wiley Crowley house today cut by the whip-saw method, and it is still in a good state of preservation. Thus Ends the line of Wileys daughter Elizabeth.
Next comes her baby brother, Samuel Jefferson Crowley. He, like his father is a mystery. He died very young. He was born 26 Sep 1846 in Greene County, Arkansas at the Wiley Crowley homestead. He died 20 Sep 1882 around the same place. He is buried across the road from his sister Elizabeth at Warrens Chapel Cemetery, on land that his mother, brother-in-law, and sister donated. I have a copy of the deed, which bears the signatures of all three.
Jefferson, as he was called, first appears in the 1850 Greene County census living in the home of his mother and stepfather, Thomas J Mellon. In 1860 Jefferson is 14 and still living with his mother while attending school. Lucy is a widow for the second time. Her real estate is worth $318 and her Personal Estate is worth $330. Living near them is Benjamin H. Crowley and his wife Elizabeth Jane Crowley and their two young children. By 1870, Jefferson is married and building a water mill. His personal estate is valued at $150. His wife is Nancy Jane Sutfin, Nancy being the daughter of Jacob Jake Sutfin and Sarah Pevehouse. Jefferson and Nancy had six or seven children. There is a child attributed to them that no one can account for (This child was Benjamin).
Their children were: William Thomas (1868-1939), Wiley Jasper (1870-aft 1888), John Louis (1874-1943), James Benjamin (1875-abt 1903), Lucy Virginia (1879-1919), and Sarah Jane (1882-1968). Nancy Jane Sutfin Crowley died in September of 1889. I believe that the younger children of Jefferson and Nancy were raised by their grandmother, Lucy (Capps Crowley) Mellon. Unfortunately I have heard nothing on this subject.
It is not known what Jefferson died of, or that of his father. At the time of his death, Jeffersons estate consisted of 2 head of mules, 1 wagon and harness, 12 head of cattle and 18 head of hogs. This amounted to $267. Therefore, his wife was entitled to his entire estate. What it fails to mention is his land. According to William Thomas Crowleys daughter, he inherited a farm from his father. This land may have been entrusted to the grandmother, Lucy Mellon, so that it would not have to be sold at Jeffersons death. In those days, if the value of the husbands property were to exceed $300, the wife was not entitled to all of it, and it may have lead to a public auction. Below are some images of Jefferson Crowley and his family:
One of the most interesting and mysterious people in the Wiley Crowley family is his wife, Lucy Capps/Copps. She was born about 1814 in Tennessee. According to her grandson, Lucian G. Crowley, she was the sister of Nimrod Capps, who also married a Crowley relative. It is said that she had some Cherokee in her, as her descendants had some very distinctive traits. Sarah Turpin, her granddaughter told her children that she was Native American. Lucy remarried soon after Wileys death to a Thomas J. Mellon. He was quite a character according to her son-in-law, Benjamin H. Crowley.
He was at one time a partner in a venture that acquisitioned land. They at one time owned some fifty thousand acres. Dr Mellon died in 1862, but they had separated in 1860, when Lucy is listed as widowed or divorced. We then find Lucy in 1866 on a tax list. On this list she had 80 acres, 2 horses and 11 cattle. She then disappears until the 12th of March 1886 when she writes her will. In it she names her heirs as the grandchildren she has by her deceased children, Elizabeth J. Crowley and Samuel J. Crowley. She wills that five dollars be given to each of her grandchildren, 12 in total. After that money was to be paid, any left over money or land was to be equally divided amongst the children of Samuel J. Crowley. She makes sure to mention that Benjamin H. Crowley, her former son-in-law had received more than half of her estate already.
Then, in 1887 she sues Benjamin H. Crowley for com in equity. She sued Benjamin H. Crowley, A.M. Davis and H.W. Glasscock for the mishandling of funds relating to her husbands estate. Apparently there were several notes owed to Dr Mellon by a man named P.K. Lester. B.H. Crowley sued P.K. Lester, and recovered $3,000. Lucy sued on the premise that there was much more money belonging to her husbands estate than what B.H. Crowley had said. Mr. Davis and Glasscock were B.H. Crowleys sureties on his Administrators bond, so they were held liable for the settlement as well. She ended up winning and started to collect on her settlement of $1789.55. The terms were settled in 27 Apr 1887, through the Supreme Court of Arkansas. Lucy was entitled to $3000, as her dower right in ½ the personal estate of her late husband. After all the deductions for court costs and attorney fees, she was entitled to $1230 dollars at the rate of six percent per annum starting the 8th September 1879, which comes out to $1789.55. After that, there is no mention of her. Her will was not even recorded in the Court House. There is no mention of her will ever being probated. She died in the fall of 1891. She is buried alongside her son, Samuel Jefferson Crowley at Warrens Chapel Cemetery. She is within sight of the hill where her home stood.
Thus ends the exploration into the family
of Wiley Crowley. Some day, we may know more
about these people. But for now, this must
Grant A. Van Vranken
References: History of Greene County, by Benjamin H. Crowley 1906-1907
Census and Tax Lists of Lawrence and Greene County
Will of Lucy Mellon & Probate records of T.J. Mellon
Lucy Capps vs. B.H. Crowley
Various old GCHS issues, and newspaper clippings.
Probate Record of Samuel J. Crowley
Court Records of Lucy Capps Crowley Mellon
Donated by: Grant Van Vranken
Grant A. Van Vranken, IBSSG
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