county_articles McCrory Family in McCrory, Woodruff Co., Arkansas
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The McCrory Family in McCrory, Woodruff Co., AR

by Gary Telford

The first of the McCrory family to move to Arkansas was Cyrus G. McCrory, who came to the state from Mason Grove, Madison County, Tennessee. He was a successful farmer who purchased the land where McCrory is now situated; and when the town was incorporated, it was named for his family. He was a pioneer who farmed and traded property located in Jackson and Woodruff Counties. At one time he owned as much as 700 acres in North Jackson County; in 1867 he owned as much as 640 acres in Woodruff county.

He, with four children, are listed in the 1850 census of Madison County; McCrory, Cyrus G., 35, S.C. c.a. 1815, (d 1869); Mary A. (Molly) 10, Tenn., (m. Benjamin Seaman); Sarah Louise, 8, Tenn. (m Jordan D. James), (d. 1908); Cyrus Wade, 6, Tenn. (m. Mary Atkinson); William J., 4, Tenn. (d 1870). Also listed in the McCrory household is McCrory, Mary, 81, S.C.

Cyrus's wife is not listed in either the 1850 or the 1860 Tennessee census records. And since there are 46 years separating the South Carolinian Mary McCrory and Cyrus, it is assumed that the above Mary McCrory is either his mother or his grandmother.

In the 1860 census, only three family members are listed: McCrory, Cyrus G., 45; Molly, 20; William J., 14.

You will note that Cyrus Wade and his sister, Sarah Louise, were not listed in the above census. all four children were later listed in deeds and probate records as residents of Woodruff County.

The absence of his wife's name in this census also raises a question about her identity. Evidence indicate that she was Mary A. Hamilton. Dorothy H. Bronte, a relative of Mary Hamilton, in Rivers and Roads Winter 1973, page 9, says: "Cyrus G. McCrory and his wife, Mary Hamilton McCrory, were originally from Mason Grove, Tennesee." And, Thorpe Hamilton, brother of Dorothy Bronte, recalls that their father, Mr. E. L. Hamilton, told him that one reason for his moving from Mason City, Tennessee to Arkansas was that he had relatives, the McCrory's, living in Arkansas. This indicates that since both families , the McCrory's and the Hamilton's, were originally from Mason Grove, Tennessee, Mary Hamilton could have married Cyrus G. McCrory.

The town of Mason Grove was difficult to locate. The state highway map and the zip code information omitted it. A call to the postmaster and staff at Jackson, Tennessee, the county seat of Madison County, did not turn up any concrete evidence as to its whereabouts. Thanks to T. J. Fakes and his Corps of Engineer map (1956), the community of Mason Grove was pinpointed twelve miles northwest of Jackson, four miles southwest of Humbolt, and two miles southeast of Gadsden and Highway 70-79.

The question of Cyrus' date of arrival in Arkansas is answered, generally by the tax records of Jackson County just prior to the formation of Woodruff County. He was listed in Madison County, Tennessee at the time of the 1860 census, but he was assessed in Jackson County, Arkansas in 1861. The tax records for Jackson County, Jacksonport District, show that he owned 320 acres in Township 18, Sections 21 and 28, Range 2, and six slaves valued at $4,800.00. Jacksonport District was the northern part of the county; Augusta District was the southern part of the county. The abstract for property in Bayou Cache township shows that he bought "Swamp Land" property where the City of McCrory is now, from Thomas Arnold, Augusta 30, 1862.

After the death of Cyrus G. McCrory in 1869, according to probate records, his son, Cyrus Wade McCrory, petitioned the court for letters of administration of the C. G. McCrory estate, with an estimated value of $5,000. the bond was $10,000. His receipts noted in probate court October 30, 1869, totaled $3,385.97, and amount made of sales of items and notes paid. He paid the county $78.00 for property taxes on the 340 acres of the estate in 1870. At this time, this amount of money and acreage retention indicated that C. G. was pretty well off. The final settlement of the estate was not made until January 1872.

His four children benefitted from this estate, as some of his property was inherited by them, especially the land where stands the City of McCrory. Two city streets have been named for the family -- Wade and Seaman Streets.

All four children of Cyrus G. McCrory were born in Tennessee; all four came to Woodruff County, Arkansas; and at least two of them died here.

Mary A (Mollie) was born in 1840 and married Benjamin F. Seaman. She and her husband owned real estate in Woodruff County in the 1870's. Little else is known about this family or what happened to its members.

The second child was Sarah Louise. She married Jordan D. James from whom his nephew, Jordan "Jurd" McCrory probably got his name. The James family lived in Woodruff County at the time of the death of her father; nearly two years later the family moved to Independence County. This was about the time that Wade, her brother, also moved to Independence County. J. D. James bought property west of Batesville known as "Spring Mill," "Big Mill" or "James Mill." A cemetery located across the road (Highway 69) northwest of Spring Hill shows only six graves. According to "Early Ownership of the Big Spring" by John P. Morrow in the Independence Chronicle, April 1969, p. 19, three of the markers read : J.D. James, b 3-25-1829, (no date of death); Sarah L. James, b 3-12-1842; d. 11-26-1901; J.M. James (a nephew), buried in 1874.

The third child of Cyrus G. was Cyrus Wade. More is known of him than the other three. He appears as the administrator of both his father's and his brother's estates. His marriage is listed in the Woodruff County record; and his deeds are recorded here, too. His obituary which appeared in the local paper, stated that he was known as "Major" McCrory as was his father. Some have suggested that this was a title rather than a military rank. One source said that he attained the rank of captain during the Civil War. When the War began, he enlisted in the Confederate Army at Jacksonport, Arkansas, the county seat until 1862 when Woodruff became a county. Other sources thought he was a private, doing his service near Helena.

He was born in Mason Grove, Tennessee, November 21, 1843; he died in Woodruff County, February 7, 1918. He was buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery south of McCrory, along with his wife and daughter, Lula.

When the war was over, he returned and won the hand of Mary Lou (Mollie) Atkison. They were married June 7, 1866. Miss Atkinson, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Atkinson (see Rivers and Roads, Winter 1891, "Pioneers of the Atkinson and Burrow Families," by Vernon Paysinger), was born April 29, 1847 and died September 29, 1901. Her sisters and brothers were Elizabeth, William, John E., Thomas, Reuben, and Charles. The Atkinsons family came from Limestone County, Alabama, arriving here before the 1860 census.

Mollie Atkinson was nineteen when she married and Wade was twenty-two. Reporter Rubye Kelley Grimes tells a story of this union in her article, "Makers of McCrory:"

"In 1867 (June 7, 1866), Wade McCrory married Mollie Atkinson, who had been reared in the Edmonds' home. He had spent many weeks building their home of native logs. They were married in the morning and spent their honeymoon at home, with the bride cooking the noon meal and the bridegroom plowing in the field all afternoon."

To this union were born nine children, five of whom grew to adulthood: Jordan "Jurd" Cyrus McCrory, b. 2-5-1870; d. 12-13-1960; Della Leona Jeffries, b. 4-4-1867; d. 9-1-1901; Lula McCrory, b. 6-19-1873; d. 9-9-1944; Mary Emma Jernigan, b. 2-28-1879; d. 6-14-1916; Grover Garland McCrory, b 2-3-1883; d. 5-1-1972.

In 1870, four years after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Wade McCrory moved to Independence County, lived there for four years, and then moved to Waco, Texas. They spent sixteen years there and moved back to McCrory in 1890. The persistence of Mollie is supposed to be the main factor in their return. However, the fact that the community had become an incorporated town may have influenced the family's decision to return.

Wade owned valuable real estate in Mineral Wells, Texas, in Independence County, and in Woodruff County. during the twenty years he was away from Woodruff County, he maintained his farming interest in the county through a share-crop system. Mr. Octavius Jeffries, father-in-law of one of Wade's daughters, Della Leona, handled the farm management beginning in the early 1870's when Wade was living in Independence County. Wade made occasional visits back home, according to T. J. Fakes, who has some of the old correspondence between Wade and Octavius concerning the farming operation. It is thought that this arrangement continued until the 1880's when Dr. Gideon B. Fakes became the manager of Wade's affairs in Arkansas.

From the Grimes, "Makers of McCrory" article comes another story that is interesting: "In 1886, there were rumors that a railroad was to be built form Memphis to Little Rock. Neighbors gathered frequently to talk of the prospect of its coming near the settlement. One day when Mr. McCrory finished plowing (in Texas), he found a "city gentlemen" waiting for him. He had long sideburns, wore high topped black boots, and appeared very much a man of the world. He introduced himself as R. K. Thompson, agent for the Iron Mountain Railroad, and had 'great news for you folks.' The railroad was to come through the McCrory farm. With true southern hospitality, Mr. Thompson was invited for dinner and following the meal ... business ensued ... one of the most important conferences ever held in regard to Woodruff County. Mr. Thompson wanted the right-of-way for his road and depot site. He pictured a young city with factories, mills, homes, stores, etc. Mr. McCrory signed the deeds that gave the depot site and 15 acres on the south end of his farm." The city was born January 30, 1890 when the Woodruff County Court granted the petition that was signed by fifty-five citizens on Christmas Eve, almost a month before court sat. One of the signers, Mr. R.L. Johnson, said in the 1930's when he was eighty, "When I came here in 1880 from Hernando, Mississippi, there was nothing here but cotton fields." Another signer, Mr. E. L. Hamilton, remembers that "Jennie's Colony" was the name given to McCrory when he came in 1889. On his arrival, he found lodging at the boarding house operated by Colonel House, later known as the "Shue Hotel." He recalled, too, that Oxley's Stave Factory was located where Morris' Granary now stands, employing fifty men, and that there were perhaps five stores on the east side of Edmonds Avenue.
During his lifetime, Wade provided opportunities and services for many people with his farming and business interest. Many were able to take advantages of these opportunities for he sold lots in a town that was struggling to expand to become a city. On May 30, 1887, Mary E. Edmonds purchased lots seven and eight of block ten plus another lot for $250.00, and on July 20, 1887, she deeded the first two lots to the Methodist Church for "love."

William J. McCrory, the fourth child of the Cyrus G. McCrory's, was born in 1856 and died at the early age of twenty-four in 1870. He, too, owned and farmed property in Woodruff County. He was injured in a breakdown of his wagon when hauling cotton to Augusta to sell and to ship to market on the White River. In August of 1870, he died as the result of this injury. He was buried in an unmarked grave near the entrance of the Augusta Cemetery.

On January 8, 1871, Wade McCrory applied to the County Probate Court for letters of administration for the estate of his brother, William J., who died without a will. The estate was valued at $800.00. The heirs named besides Wade were Mollie A. Seaman of Woodruff County and Louise James of Independence County. Apparently he never married for no other heirs besides the above mentioned sisters and Wade appeared in the settlement of the estate. The appraisal of the property was made in 1871 by A.C. Lewis, C.S Fakes, and J.K. Crossett. The personal property was valued at $1,343.56; the real estate taxes indicated that the deceased had owned 282 acres in Township 8, Sections 31 and 36, southwest of McCrory.

As noted before, five of the nine children of Wade and Mollie McCrory grew into adulthood. Della Leona McCrory, first of these five children, was born April 4, 1867 and died September 1, 1901. On February 16, 1892, she married Thomas Anthony Jeffries who was born February 9, 1865 and died January 23, 1943. To this union was born Octavius Edward, Thomas Wade, Walter Nathan "Red," and Della McCrory Jeffries Jelks.

The second of these children was Jordan "Jurd" Cyrus McCrory who was born February 5, 1870 and died December 21, 1960. "Mr Jurd" was an extensive land owner in Woodruff County, president of Planters Mercantile Company, and a member of the Methodist Church. He married Mrs. Terry Daniel late in life, the widow of Jess Daniel. No children were born to this union, but she had one surviving son from her first marriage, Walter Peyton Daniel.

Miss Lula McCrory, the third child of Wade and Mollie, was affectionately known as "Aunt Lou." She was born near Batesville June 19, 1873, and moved to McCrory with her parents when they returned from Clifton, Texas in 1890. She died September 9, 1944 and was buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery after a service in the McCrory Methodist Church conducted by Rev. Ralph Hillis.

The fourth child was Mary Emma, born February 28, 1879, in Independence County. "Miss Mary" became the wife of Mr. H.W. Jernigan, cashier of the Bank of McCrory March 8, 1905 in a ceremony performed in the McCrory Methodist Church by Rev. A.C. Cloyes. She died June 14, 1916 leaving her husband and three children, Otis, Lou, Alice and Mary and her father, Major C.W. McCrory, a sister, "Miss Lou," and two brothers, J.C. and C.G. all of McCrory.

The fifth child was Grover Garland McCrory born in Waco, Texas, August 3, 1883, seven years before McCrory became incorporated. He came to McCrory with his parents in 1890. He was educated in the local school and graduated from the University of Arkansas, School of Engineering. Upon returning to McCrory, he taught school at Morton and Pumpkin Bend.

Early in the 1900's, he became a clerk in his father's business, McCrory Mercantile Company, and began acquiring stock in it during World War I. When the company's name was changed to Planter's Mercantile Company, he remained it's principal stockholder and active head until 1972.

All of his adult life, Grover was a dedicated member of the community. He was an active member of the McCrory Methodist Church, serving many years as the superintendent of the Sunday School. In 1932 he served as secretary of the building committee to raise funds for the construction of a new building on the same site as the present building now stands. He was a charter member of the McCrory Rotary Club organized in April 1932, and he served as its president in 1936-37. He was a stockholder in the Bank of McCrory, a member of the Bayou Deview Drainage District, which he helped to organize, and served as a director of the Cache River Production Association.

In his earlier years, he served on the Board of Directors of the Beedeville-McCrory and Southern Railway Company, and enterprise that ended at the beginning of Word War I. He, his brother, "Mr. Jurd," and Fletcher Lewis organized the "Red Gin," so named for its color. The owners used a steam powered generator for operating power. It served farmers of the area as well as the owners' extensive farming interests.

He married Mathilda Horne Young, a resident of Little Rock who preceded him in death in 1965. He died May 1, 1972. His obituary in the McCrory Leader, May 4, 1972 states: "Funeral services were conducted Wednesday afternoon at two o'clock at the Thompson-Wilson Chapel by Rev. Lon Brewer, pastor of the United McCrory Methodist Church. He was buried in Fakes Cemetery."

He is survived by two step sons, Dr. William G. Young of Boston and Jan Young of McCrory and three grandchildren.

Grover Garland McCrory was the last to carry the name of McCrory in this McCrory family.