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William D. Crawford

Male 1822 - 1900

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  • Name  William D. Crawford  [1, 2
    Born  5 Apr 1822  Howard County, Missouri Find all individuals with events at this location  [1, 2
    Gender  Male 
    Biography  1888  [2
    A Portrait and Biographical Album of Des Moines County, Iowa 
    • William D. Crawford is a farmer residing on section 26, Danville Township, Des Moines County, Iowa. For many years the Crawford name has been one of the best known in southeast Iowa, from the fact that early in the settlement of the new Territory there came several families of the name but of no relationship, who settled in different counties, some in Washington, some in Henry, and our subject in Des Moines. Of this gentleman, who has for many years been a resident, we are glad to make mention, as his history is full of enterprise as an agriculturist, and his record as a man and kind neighbor a most enviable one. He was born in Howard County, Missouri, April 5,1822, and is a son of John and Jane (Bozarth) Crawford. John was born in Ayreshire, Scotland, and in 1818 left his native land to become a citizen of the United States. Making a location at St. Louis, he secured employment with a farmer, but being a weaver by trade, made but an ordinary farm hand. He brought a small amount of money with him from Scotland, and after remaining only a short time in the vicinity of St. Louis, started westward through Missouri, and secured lands in Howard County, which he probably entered. Being a weaver, and the settlers greatly in need of his services, John Crawford built a cabin on his land, made a loom, and for many years did little else but weave. His lands were cleared and improved by his neighbors, he weaving cloth in exchange for labor, and his farm was nicely improved during his residence in Missouri, though his own ax was little used in its development.

      John Crawford's wife was Jane Bozarth, of French ancestry, to whom he was married about 1820. In the winter of 1835 he sold his Missouri farm, removed to Morgan County, Illinois, and in the spring of 1837 came to this county, settling near Middletown, on the farm now owned by his son John. At that date the village was not thought of, and Burlington was but a small town. Not a cabin, fence or tree ornamented the claim taken by the canny Scotchman, and the first cabin was erected after the family came, they waiting patiently while logs were cut on the Flint River, and carted to the place which became the home of a family of pioneers in the new Northwest. The claim embraced about 117 acres, which was taken before the Government surveys, and was entered by John Crawford at the first land sale held at Burlington. He later purchased other lands, and for a yoke of cattle secured a strip from James Cummings adjoining his west line, which gave him almost a quarter-section.

      Quite a large family of children were brought to the county by Mr. Crawford, of whom William D., our subject, was the oldest. Washington followed, then James, Minerva A., Absalom J.; Robert C., John F., Emily and Joseph. The latter was born in Morgan County, Illinois, and Oliver, Grandison and Anderson (twins), and Carlisle were born in this county. While there were many mouths to feed, the children aided largely in the improving of the new farm. Our subject when but fifteen years of age could drive an ox-team with all the ease of a robust man, and many broad acres of sod were first turned by his plow, His father again set up a loom and wove cloth for many years, raising the flax and wool, and at that early day the materials used in making the clothes of the family were grown and then manufactured upon the virgin soil of Iowa. Both John Crawford and wife were devoted Christians, and although he was reared in the Presbyterian faith and she a member of the Baptist Church, they decided to join the Christian Church in this county, then established on Spring Creek, Union Township. Both lived and died members of that society, he reaching the age of sixty, she surviving him until almost seventy-eight years of age.

      Of their children we speak individually, as all the sons were well known farmers, and the two daughters became the wives of farmers. Washington was twice married. His first wife was Sarah Chapman, a sister of the wife of our subject, and the second wife was Mrs. Martha Lee, who had one son by her former marriage, Elias. Washington resides in Lee County, and is the owner of 700 acres of land; James M., the second son, resides in New London, Henry County, and owns a farm adjoining the village, wedded Ellen Abney, and after her death Mrs. Julia Weller, who was the mother of two children by her first husband; Ann, deceased wife of J. N. McGohan, a resident farmer of Danville Township; Absalom J. died unmarried; Robert C. married Sarah A. Stevenson, and resides in Middletown; John F., the owner of the old homestead, married Ann Allison, whose death occurred in the winter of 1886; Emily became the wife of Morris Bishop, a resident of Danville Township; Joseph died unmarried; Oliver P. married Eliza Weller, and is a farmer of Danville Township; Grandison married Martha Gard, and is also a resident of Danville Township; Carlise enlisted in Company G of the 25th Iowa Infantry, and died from disease while our subject was bringing him home from the hospital at Memphis. Perhaps no family of the same number have lived for so many years in the same locality as the Crawfords, all of whom are substantial farmers.

      As we have now mentioned each of them, we turn again to our subject, William D., now a man grown gray in the service, and who has since his fifteenth year been a resident of the county. His wife, Margaret Chapman, was born in Kincardineshire in the south of Scotland, September 1, 1824. Her father, Samuel Chapman, was a gamekeeper for Captain Barclay. His wife was Sarah Smeed, and the family came to America in 1831, settling in 1843 where Mrs. William Carden now resides. That couple have been residents of Van Buren County, Iowa, since 1845, and are yet living at an advanced age, both in their ninetieth yeas. They were parents of thirteen children, eleven of whom are living.

      Having a neighbor near whose daughter pleased him greatly, William Crawford asked for the hand of Miss Margaret Chapman in marriage, and, securing her consent, the ceremony was celebrated July 25, 1844, the Reverend John Hodgen officiating. They began life in the most primitive manner, and the story told the historian of the domestic life commenced without a dollar in money, without a chair, a bedstead, a table or cooking stove, sounds almost fabulous when looking over the broad acres so finely cultivated, and beholding the great barns, the country-house, complete in all details, and with everything in keeping which a man of means provides for his family. Yet all these were not gained in a day, a month or a year, but decade followed decade, and William Crawford found himself growing wealthy as he advanced in years: His lands bring him an abundant increase, and his flocks and herds are numerous. The rented farm was given up, lands were purchased with the profits of his labor, and 310 acres of the fertile soil are his to-day.

      Children came to grace their home: John S., who wedded Mrs. Hannah Morrow, is a resident of Warren County, Iowa; Sarah J., wife of J. Fred Switzer, of Clarke County, Iowa; Jeanette, wife of A. C. Hooton, of Garden City, Kansas; Thomas J. wedded Emma Bishop, and resides in Mitchell County, Kansas; Frank P., residing in Henry County, wedded Mary Cornic; Emily is the wife of Charles Dewey, of Lucas County, Iowa; Ann wedded John Brower, a farmer of Danville Township; William is the husband of Effie Linley, who is now acting as housekeeper for Mr. and Mrs. Crawford; Elizabeth is the wife of Alva McCosh, of Danville Township; and David O. is unmarried. All the sons and daughters were born, reared, educated and married in this township except John, and no family has secured a better name than they. Little by little the father accumulated his wealth, but has been liberal in its distribution among his children.

      For almost half a century William Crawford and his good wife have braved together the summer's sunshine and the winter's storms, and their hair is now flecked with gray. Ripe in years, they can look backward upon work well done. Forty-one grandchildren carry the Crawford blood in their veins, and also one great-grandchild, Annie M., the daughter of George and Sarah (Crawford) Darr. Mrs. Crawford is member of the Christian Church, but her husband is a liberal thinker in a theological way. We are pleased to give them a place side by side with those of their old neighbors, by whom they have lived for almost a half-century.
    The Biography of William D. Crawford (1822-1900)
    The Biography of William D. Crawford (1822-1900)
    Originally published in: Portrait and Biographical Album of Des Moines County, Iowa; Containing Biographical Sketches of Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County, Together with Biographies of all the Governors of the State, and of the Presidents of the United States (Acme Publishing, Chicago; 1888), pages 511-512. Book available on microfilm at the Sutro Library, San Francisco, California; it is also available in the databases at
    Died  12 Mar 1900  Des Moines County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Buried  Middletown Cemetery, Danville Township, Des Moines County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [3
    Person ID  I42713  All Families
    Last Modified  2 Mar 2014 

    Father  John Crawford,   b. 26 Apr 1794, Ayreshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 20 Sep 1854 
    Mother  Jane Bozarth,   b. 1798, Kentucky Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Jan 1876 
    Married  Abt 1820  [1, 2
    Family ID  F15958  Group Sheet

    Family  Margaret Barclay Allardyce Chapman,   b. 1 Sep 1824, Ury, Kincairedineshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Jan 1918, Tustin, Orange County, California Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  25 Jul 1844  Middletown, Des Moines County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    • There were ten children from this marriage.
     1. Elizabeth Harriett Crawford,   b. 28 Nov 1864, Des Moines County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 3 Dec 1936, Henry County, Iowa Find all individuals with events at this location
    Last Modified  21 Jan 2014 
    Family ID  F15961  Group Sheet

  • Sources 
    1. [S5329] World Connect - Some descendants of Francis Lindsley (1639): jghts, (last updated: 2008-05-04 20:31:12 UTC (Sun), contact: James B. Lindsley) (Reliability: 3).

    2. [S35] Des Moines County, Iowa - (1888) Portrait and Biographical Album of Des Moines County, Iowa, (Acme Publishing, Chicago; 1888), pages 267-269 (Reliability: 3).

    3. [S426] Find A Grave (web site) (Reliability: 3).