Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Letter between Families following the War of Northern Aggression - Shared by Sandra Crowley

You may or may not know by now this is the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States. I am taking this opportunity to share a bit of Crowley family history, my husband’s family history, or at least a 50/50 chance of it. LOL   
But first, bear with me while I relate my first impressions of Texas and its Confederate pride. I was about ten when my folks took me to Texas to visit relatives. I was struck by the prominent monuments to Confederate Soldiers erected in nearly every town square we drove through and surprised that feelings still ran deep, even in the 1960’s.
I met my soon-to-be-husband in the early 70’s. His folks' comments that their son was dating a Yankee astonished me. I’d never thought of myself as a Yankee; I’d never felt personally connected to either side of a war fought almost 100 years before I was born. Happy to say, my Yankeeness didn’t prevent my soon-to-be-inlaws from accepting me wholeheartedly, and we’ve grown to love and respect each other as if I’d always been a Crowley.
My husband’s cousin, Alta, compiled the family history years ago, a daunting task. Unfortunately, copiers weren't as precise then so I'm unable to provide Crowley pictures suitable for this post. I can share a picture or two taken from a different branch of my family that should represent the same or similar situation.

As in my own considerable family history, first names are repeated within and without lines which makes it hard to follow without error. So, I preface the letter below with this cautionary statement: E. P. Crowley lived somewhere within my husband’s past.
Elijah Prince Crowley was born in Tennessee on April 11 1818. He died in Texas March 6 1879. Elijah was the son of Isham Crowley a resident of Tarrant County, Texas in 1866. Isham received this letter from his daughter-in-law Louisa Jane following the War of Northern Aggression:
Elijah and Louisa might have lived in something like this.
Greenville, Clay County, Mo. 2 August 1866
Dear Mother and Father, Brothers and Sisters:
I once more embrace this opportunity of writing to you to let you know that we are on the land among the living and our health is tolerable good at this time except myself. I am just getting over a spell of sickness. I was confined to bed three weeks. My heart is not good but I do hope that when these lines reach you they will find you all well and doing well for it has been a long time since we have had the pleasure of writing to each other.
We have seen and felt a great many hard trials since this most cruel and unholy war commenced. Doubtless you have heard that my dear and lovely boy Dock, as we always called him, was murdered shortly after he came back to Missouri by a pack of those thieves and murderers called Feds. For that was their business whenever they thought they had the chance.
He came home on Tuesday night the 28 March 1865 which was very unexpected to us for we told him if he ever got to Texas to stay there until the war ended, but I expect he wanted to see us and know what had become of us again. He was at home three times, Tuesday night, Thursday night and Friday night. He went to try to get away, for the Feds was after them and had killed two of the young horses that day. On Saturday night he and James Charley was taken prisoner as they was going though Smithville. They kept them there till late Sunday evening. They told them they was going to take them to Ridgely and try them. They went about a mile and a half, took them out in the woods and shot them and left them laying there. An old man heard their groans and went next morning to hunt them and found them and made his two little boys bury them.
We heard that they were killed we got a Union man to go and find about it. We then had a coffin made and sent for him and brought him home on Friday and buried him at Bethel Church on Saturday the first day of April and I do hope and pray that he is better off then his murderers ever will be and if they do not meet with justice in this world, they will be sure to in the world to come.
I have his tintype that is dear to me. He had it taken and gave it to me before he left home. We also got the little gray mare that he left home on. Perhaps you have heard him speak of her. He called her Kate. We all think a great deal of her. We would not part with her for no mention on his account. He told us he was with you all and how kind and good you was to him. I hope the Lord will bless every one that was good and kind to him while he was gone. He professed religion several years ago and joined the Methodist Church. I hope he had not forgotten it. He was a good and kind boy to us all and beloved by all.
          The rest of Louisa Jane’s letter concerns the general health and doings of the family. Here I’ll skip to Elijah’s comments which pertain to the war:

The Crowleys might have lived/looked similar to this family (picture taken 1893).
This war has been wretched on us. We have lost a great deal by it. We greatly feel the need of what we have lost. Taxes is about to break us up. They have been very high for several years, but double this year to last year. Times are rather unsettled here. Every few days some are killed. The policy of our State is very bad. The radicals has the rule. We look for bad times at the next election, but people are determined to change policy. There is a large majority of Johnson men in this State that can vote. Our county has but few radicals. In upwards of one thousand in favor of Johnson’s reconstruction policy.
I will give you a short history of the times. Money is a little scarcer than it has been. Property high. Good horses two hundred dollars, mules about the same, milk cows from 35 to 75 dollars, year old steers 50, two year old 20 to 35, hogs from 8 to 10 cents gross per pound. Hemp about 12 dollars per hundred.
We greatly mourn the loss of our dear brother, Hiram, but we hope his is where all the angels of heaven is rejoicing. Tell his companions weep not for him for he died in a good cause, but trust in God and persevere in Holiness.
Thanks to Alta's research, we know Hiram joined Grapevine’s Mounted Riflemen. He was a captain in Company A of Alexander’s Regiment CSA. Hiram died at the Battle of Yellow Bayou, Louisanna 1865.
A published list of Confederate soldiers killed in Missouri lists Benjamin Franklin Crowley (aka Dock) as killed at Smithville.
I'm fascinated by family history. My side is extensively documented, also arriving from England as well as Ireland and Europe and settling in northern states--another side to this story. It's the Crowley's who came to this country before the American Revolution, fighting for freedom in that war, then settling in southern states and contributing its men to other fights for the growing land.
Thanks for stopping by. I'll try to answers any questions you might ask.
Sandra Crowley
CAUGHT BY A CLOWN, a spontaneous freelance journalist on a mission of mercy finds herself entangled with a methodical undercover FBI agent out to settle a score.
This spicy romantic suspense novel is available in e-book and print at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.


  1. Sandy, love, love, love the post. Blogger is acting up again.

  2. Wow, Sandra--I don't know where to begin.
    I grew up on the South Plains, near Lubbock (a regiment of Texans who went to fight east of the Mississippi was led by Gen. Lubbock)--and we barely heard of the Civil War--even in our history classes. I grew into adulthood, never thinking or caring that Texas had been a Confederate State. I never heard nor read of deep-seated feelings for the South or slaves. To this day, most residents consider the Civil War as happening "over yonder."
    That's not to say Texas wasn't involved--it was, for in a vote of three to one the voters chose to enter the war. However, in those decades, most of the population lived in the eastern and northern part of the state.
    About 8 small battles occured in Texas and all those were along the eastern border with Louisiana and South Texas. Those were where the plantations were located, of course, and all owned slaves.

    Now, I did grow up hearing "Yankee" spoken almost as a curse word. Even so, all it meant to me and many others was that referred to those "scroundrels" who live in the North. A Northerner.

    I don't doubt there was a segment of the population who knew more about the CW because of family members joining up. Still, it never seemed like anything of extreme importantance to Texans like the War with Mexico--of course.

    In one of the largest Civil War battleground cemeteries, I think in Vicksburg, Miss.--Each Southern State has an area, complete with their individual monuments. I have a snapshot of the one from Texas, and it is a big, beautiful momument made of pink marble.

    My ancestors in Texas go back to when Texas was a Republic, about 30 years before the Civil War. My sisters have researched our family lines so that we became Daughters of the Texas Revolution. In all the digging into history for years, they did come upon one of our ancestors who had been in the Civil War--we even have the page with his photograph--in uniform--and his stats.
    My sister thought they could research and get us into the Daughters of the Confederacy, but we decided...no...that doesn't mean so much to us.

    This is strange, I know, and we have Texas members and visitors to this blog who may disagree with me. In fact I'd love to know how everyone feels, or what they remember about the Civil War in our state's history.
    As you can tell, I love history, expecially that of Texas. I read every word of the letters--it gives you goose-bumps, doesn't it?

    Thanks so much for this great post--and the wonderful photos--Celia

  3. I love reading the old letters because you can see exactly how life was and how they endured. Thank you for sharing such an interesting part of your family's life.

    I have a copy of my great-great grandfather's journal that he kept traveling across country on a wagon train in 1849. A doctor, he was very educated and amazingly his handwriting is precise and easy to read. The original journal is kept under glass at the Bancroft Library at University of California in Berkeley. It is amazing to hear his views and what happened on the trip west.

  4. Caroline, Celia, and Paisley, thank you so much for commenting. I tried to comment earlier, but like Caroline said, Blogger wasn't cooperating. Oh well, I don't work so well sometimes either. LOL

    Celia, when we come home to visit family, we cut off HWY 287 that crosses the Texas panhandle and head south at Electra (west of Wichita Falls)for Archer City, Jacksboro, and eventually Fort Worth. It's in those small towns of north central Texas that the squares (town centers) memoralize the Confederacy with various stone statues often engraved with names of the local soldiers.

    If you have a chance sometime during your travels, visit the squares of small town central Texas. You'll love it. They are picturesque and enlightening. I can recall the shrill of cicadas, the moist heat, and slow drawls of "Come back, ya hear?" as we left a cafe revived from a tall, cold glass of teeth-aching sweet iced tea.

    Have a great week, ladies. Be safe.

  5. Sandra--I'm glad you like small town Texas, too, for that is my mantra. My husband loves to roam in small towns, their squares, and over many years we've seen much of Texas--both of us life-long Texans.
    Jacksboro--very close to my birthplace and have been there many times. I swear, I don't know what's wrong with me, but I've never seen any of the Statues or memorials to the Conferderate soldier.
    Electra? My ada worked there during the 40s, and....well all over the map.
    I simply don't remember the statues. I'll have to start looking more carefully.
    I have seen many statues and memorials to the Texas Rangers and heroes from the Alamo and the War with Mexico...maybe I'm only seeing what I want to see.
    The first time I saw very much about the Civil War was about 20 years ago when we traveled through the southern states, and visited all the old CW cemeteries.
    Oh, and Fort Worth? I grew up visiting there...but never saw the statues.
    This is very odd for me, having lived here my whole life, all over the state, and traveled, too, and the CW just was not in my radar.
    In Austin, Texas--30 mi north of us now--the city has been busy trying to rid itself of all memoribilia of anything Confederate. It is a dirty word now, and it makes me so angry. It's part of our history, now matter how a person feels. So...
    Now, you have me wanting to go traveling again and look for these things.

  6. Sandy
    An amazing post about your husband's family. When researching my dad's family history I discovered his family came to the northeast from England in the early 1600's and began a journey west over the next 250 years, finally stopping in Oregon. Along the way some of the family members were lost in the American Revolution, and later one member married the granddaughter of a man in Canada who was the only member of his family to remain loyal to Great Britain. The loyalist's brother and father fought for the colonies in the Revolution, and his brother was a signer of the Articles of Confederation, and later a judge for many years in Connecticut. The loyalist's granddaughter and her husband made their way back to the states through Ohio, eventually founding a town in Iowa. According to the Iowa gen web county history pages, their sons fought for the north in the War. One of their younger sons was killed right after he enlisted, and another one of their sons died after the war of illness due to injuries suffered during the War. A few years later, the family left the town they'd helped found, and they started moving west again. Their experiences with the war were tragic compared to my Texas family's experience.

    I don't know about all of my Texas family, but my grandmother's mother's family survived the war by voting in their town of Castroville to have a hometown unit for protection of their town rather than send men away to fight. These people were from Alsace Lorraine and Holland, and they were more concerned with keeping the country together than with separating the country into two. My Dutch great great grandfather raised mules and didn't believe in having slaves. He and his wife did very well with their small store and the mules he raised and sold in Castroville. My grandmother's father's family in San Antonio did have a soldier in a Texas unit for the Confederacy in at least one battle I know of, along the Red River. My great grandfather had a Texas flag that he gave later in life to the widow of a Texas Confederate soldier. I have an old newspaper photo of that event which took place some time in the early 1940s. So I had members from both of my parents' families in the War. I'm sure there are many more ancestors who were involved, but I haven't had time to do the research since I've been writing. I find history fascinating, especially personal stories. Thanks for your post!

  7. Have fun traveling, Celia. Whether you find tributes or not, you'll doubtless meet wonderful people and see lovely scenery. If you like taking pictures, you'll also save memories you can take out any time and relive. That's a good thing!

  8. Jeanmarie, you have a fascinating family history. Kudos to you and your family for keeping track so future generations know their background and can appreciate their roots.

  9. Sandy, Your post was beautiful and so thought provoking. I love the letter you shared with us, too.


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