So we’ve all heard the one about the cobbler’s children having no shoes.
A similar situation has been discovered at the Jackson County Genealogical Society office. Despite the fact that numerous Crawfords have played big roles in the Society from its inception, the JCGS’ main member-compiled, family-information section does not include that clan.
Local residents founded the Society in 1991 as an outgrowth of compiling the county heritage book that became “Jackson County Heritage Volume I.” As the JCGS grew, the group established a research library filled with genealogy books, area and regional history books, and Census and military records.
One other source of genealogical information available there is a collection of family notebooks containing genealogical records compiled by members. These are exhaustively researched in-depth studies of local families that often contain every member of a particular family who ever lived in the area. These notebooks are an invaluable research tool because they include information that in most cases is not available anywhere else, either in print or online.
The 17-member Heritage Book Committee included five Crawfords. The list of the Society’s charter members contains six Crawfords as well as eight people who are descended from Crawfords.
And yet, no Crawford notebook.
That situation is about to be remedied by Bill Crawford, Karen Crawford Nicholson, Ruth Crawford Shuler, Fern Parris Hensley and Nelma Bryson.
The five of them are, of course, related.
Bill called on his prodigious memory as he explained the family connections. “Ruth’s great-great-granddaddy, whose name was Phillip Crawford, and my great-granddaddy, whose name was George Washington Crawford, were brothers. George Washington’s and Phillip’s father was named William R. Crawford, better known as Billy. He was a Baptist preacher and was one of Jackson County’s first commissioners. Billy had a brother named James, and James had a son named John. Karen is descended from John. Phillip and George Washington had a sister named Violet Crawford, who married Joseph Sutton, and Joseph and Violet are Fern’s great-grandparents. Nelma’s great-grandmother, whose name was Olive Clarecy Crawford, was the daughter of George Washington Crawford.”
Bill then described how they plan to put the notebook together.
“We’re going to start with Old Man Samuel Crawford, because he’s the granddaddy of all of us, and the furtherest back one in Jackson County that we can prove. Old Man Samuel married a woman named Mary Briscoe, and the James Crawford I was talking about before is their son; his middle name is Briscoe. Samuel also had a daughter named Lydia, who married William Carson. Society charter members Rick and David Frizzell are descended from William and Lydia Carson.”
The idea is to get all the Crawford knowledge compiled in one place, Bill said. All of the people involved with the project have some of the information – and Bill has a great deal of Crawford family lore stored in his memory – but the local family’s story needs to be collected in one notebook that will be available to anyone who wants to read about the family.
For Bill, it’s all about remembering what he calls the “old people” – the ones who came before his generation and made this county what it is today.
“The History of Jackson County came out in 1987, and it was a good book, but it was more about places and things than about people and families,” he said. “We realized the county also needed another kind of book – one about its people. That’s when we got started on the Heritage Book.”
For those interested in learning more about local families and their history, the JCGS research library is located in the Courthouse Wing of the Jackson County Library and is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Information is available at www.jcgsnc.org and Facebook or by calling 631-2646 during office hours.
Hotaling was editor of The Sylva Herald for 18 years, retiring in January 2016. She is the author of two books on local history.