HENRY CRESWELL FAMILY
Several Creswell-Criswell family researchers have at various times published detailed information about their family lineage, books, letters, and genealogical newsletters. Raleigh Criswell has used much of this research material over the years, and has passed some of this information to me as well as I have passed some of my findings back to him.
The Henry Creswell family was detailed by the collective efforts of Reverend John B. Creswell (d.1950), the Honorable E. E. Creswell (d.1956), and John Olin Creswell all of Knoxville, Tennessee, who helped in this effort after retiring from schoolwork (Note: at this time this researcher does not know what his quoted expression, "schoolwork", means. Perhaps he was a teacher or a professor). In 1967 John Olin Creswell published a book (out of print now) entitled, Creswell History and Genealogy. In this book there is a significant error: Therein it stated that a John Creswell was the father of John Yancy Criswill. This is not only an error in statement, but there is no documentation, research, or logic that this researcher can find to support this stated assumption.
It is not currently known how John Olin Creswell came to this conclusion as expressed in his book. There is every reason to believe, based on logical deduction and based on available historical facts, that John Yancy Criswells father was William Creswell shown on the 1810 Sullivan County, TN, census. All genealogical researchers need to remember that specific documentation of ancestral origin is not always available from early records, so reasonable deduction must prevail based on clues provided by historical data as it applies to the foundation of genealogical research. This foundation is based on using: (1) family given names used in the chronological sequence of births; (2) dates of known events; (3) where they were (places) and when (time) suggesting family member relationships because of their proximity; (4) relationships to others through organizational or occupational affiliations (religious and other); and (5) historical events affecting their geographical movements and behavior.
Many document sources have been ravaged or have deteriorated over time, and either discarded, misplaced, flooded, vandalized, or burned. Early document depositories were housed in wooden buildings. Towns and cities frequently had major fires early in this countrys history. Firefighting equipment and availability was almost none to none. In those instances where documentation is meager or non-existent, one must use all available avenues to uncover and determine genealogical events by using the 5 foundations of genealogical research, interpreting their significance, and using the synergism of these events to determine logical results. A genealogical researcher can always expect there will be some essential reference source that is not available.
Ezra E. Macy of Astoria, Oregon was a significant contributor to John Olin Creswells publication, exchanging letters with John Olin Creswell about the Henry Creswell family. The name William did surface for John Yancy Creswells father, but the final decision not to use William as the father was made my the author, John Olin Creswell, probably based on the assumption that John Yancy Criswell was named after a father, John. There is no proof of any kind, either by logical deduction or documentation, that this assumption was correct. At least three researchers have concluded that the fathers name was William. Those researchers are David L. Palik, Raleigh R. Criswell, and a State of Maryland researcher, Susan Dannreuther. Ezra E. Macy (died - date unknown but sometime after 25 Nov 1966 which is the date on a copy of his written letter to John Olin Creswell. I found a copy of this letter in the DAR library in Washington, D.C. Ezra Macy also was a significant contributor to George Ely Russells publication entitled, Creswell-Criswell Genealogical Records of which I have a copy courtesy of Raleigh Criswell, of Austin, Texas. Ezra Macy was a descendant of an Evans family who married into the Henry Creswell Family. Also please note, his ancestors would have emigrated West over the Oregon Trail, which ended in Astoria, Oregon.
In the Knoxville (Tennessee) Journal edition dated August 24th, 1964, it was stated that, "The first Creswell family reunion in 30 years was held August 23rd, 1964, at Knoxville, Tennessee, with approximately 150 Knox and Sevier County descendants attending. Following a picnic lunch, officers were named and plans approved for making the reunion an annual event. John Olin Creswell was named a historian of the group." It is not known by this researcher if these family gatherings still occur. The early sponsors of these gatherings may no longer be with us.
There is a very extensive genealogical research records library in Knoxville, which I visited in May 1999. If any of you happen to go there, dress warmly. It is the coldest (by air conditioning) building I have ever experienced. I had scheduled a return trip for June 2001 (this year) but my wife; Pat (Patricia) has been beset with some ongoing medical problems, which has caused me to indefinitely postpone my visit until she improves. It appears these problems are temporary, but one never knows what is around the next corner, does one?
Raleigh and I wrestled with the identification of the one missing offspring of Henry Creswell, always thinking that John Yancy Criswell was somehow tied into the Henry Creswell family. All of the aforementioned researchers had identified all the members of his family with the exception of one, and identifying that missing one just seemed to always be out of our reach. Both of us were very frustrated with this issue for a very long time. I had found a William Crisel on the Culpeper, Virginia, 1783 tax rolls who was only on the tax rolls for this one year. Not only that, there was never any Criswell found in that County before or after that date. Question was, from where did he come? We thought he might have emigrated from the State of Marilyn clan of Criswells. We could perhaps tie him in to the Yanceys of Culpeper County, and possibly marrying a Yancey (or Yancy), but we couldnt tie him into the Henry Creswell Family. [Note: 1783 is the year Susannah Criswell was born (October) which suggests that William Criswell married (John Yanceys daughter) January 1783].
Sometime later Raleigh brought to my attention that there was a William Criswell on the 1810 Sullivan County, Tennessee census. He was the right age to have been born in 1761 which was the most likely year that Henry Creswells missing offspring would have been born, and his wife was the right age to be a John Yancey Sr and Mary Laytons daughter. In my researching I have found children born in the 1700s and 1800s almost without exception every two years in the early years of the marriage, and generally 20-25 years between generations. Also daughters were almost immediately married as soon as they turned eighteen. With large families in very small homes, there was just no room for them to stay with their parents past this age. But there was still a problem...his name was spelled Criswell, not Creswell. So we were never quite sure William was part of Henrys family. There was circumstantial evidence but no documentary proof.
One of the problems is that courthouse records in Abingdon, Virginia, were burned during the Civil War. During my visit in late May 1999 I was told by the librarian at the Abingdon Courthouse that a number of records had been saved by putting them on a wagon and transporting them to a hidden location, and that these records (all handwritten in old script) has been recently found in the basement of the rebuilt (in 1860s)Courthouse. I was told that they had a transcriber working on the records for over a year but she didnt know when the transcription and the publishing of all the found records would be completed. I guess the records had been there for a number of years but had been forgotten. I hope her story is true. I havent yet checked back with the library to see how things are going, but intend to do so sometime soon, since my June 2001 visit to the area has had to be canceled.
We became internet enabled just this year (late January). Previous research provided by Dennis Yancey, of Miami, Florida, had shown John Yancey Sr had also - as well as William Crisel - been reported on the Culpeper, VA, Tax Rolls for 1783, the same year as William Crisel., but noting also that both were not on the 1782 or the 1784 Tax Rolls. Of further interest was that John Yancey Sr had sold his Abingdon, Virginia, Tavern in 1782 (which had been originally licensed in 1780), then bought another Tavern in Sullivan County, Tennessee, 14 Feb 1784, (The Amos Eaton Log Stage Stop), leaving a one year absence to be explained.
For a number of years the Amos Eaton Stage Stop was a site of important business transactions of prominent men such as John Sevier and William Blount. Six Justices petitioned (date unknown) the North Carolina General Assembly that a Sullivan County Courthouse, prison and stock were to be erected on the lands of Squire John Yancey Sr.
With both Squire John Yancey Sr and William Crisel in Culpeper County the same year (1783) as recorded by the Tax Rolls, and then not there in 1784, I smelled a marriage had occurred with the strong likelihood that William and Squire John Yancey Sr had traveled together to Culpeper County, VA, most likely to introduce William to John Yancey Srs daughter by his first marriage (Mary Layton had died; John Yancey Srs 2nd wife, Susannah Coleman, had a father and mother living in Culpeper County - John Yancey Srs daughter appears to have been left with Susannah Colemens parents or other relatives when he and Susannah moved to Abingdon, VA). Granted, it is circumstantial evidence, but the dates all logically fit into this scenario.
A recent internet inquiry to LDS data base seems to have validated my research. Another researcher, with whom I have had no contact, has posted the entire Henry Creswell family. She reported a William Creswell was born 1761, Augusta County, Virginia. Birthplace is an (small) error as he would have been born in Washington County, VA, at Abingdon. Washington County, VA, was originally a part of Augusta County. Please note she stated William spelled his surname as Creswell, not Criswill, but this difference in the surname spelling really has no significance. As long as she has stated there was a William who was part of Henrys family, there is not doubt in my mind that John Yancy Criswell Sr was the grandson of Henry Creswell of Abingdon, VA, by father William Criswell (Creswell) of Sullivan County, Tennessee.
The foregoing researchers name is shown as Susan Dannreuther with address shown as 733 Sligo Ave, Nbr 411, Silver Spring (probably should be Silver Springs), Maryland, 20910. There is no date given when she posted the information. The only current telephone listing is for a S. Dannreuther on Brunswick. I cant tell you if this is the same person as Susan. Many attempts to reach this S. Dannreuther have all met with a busy signal using the only listed phone nbr (301-589-0452) during both daytime and evening hours. Perhaps there is something wrong with the area code. Further investigation of the phone number is indicated.
Revision of 14 May 2001, Written By,
David L. Palik