Select Crawford Miscellany

Here are some Crawford stories and accounts over the years:

Crawford Name and Origin

The antiquarian Thomas Crawford gave this account of the origin of his family name:

"The common ancestor of the Crawfords was one Mackornock who, as the story goes, signalized himself at an engagement by the water of Cree in Galloway by discovery of a ford, which gave an advantage to his side.  This story may carry some show of truth.

Arthur in his dictionary of names speaks of the name of Crawford as assumed by the proprietor of the land and barony of Crawford in Lanarkshire.  The extreme ancestor of this family was Reginald, the youngest son of Alan the fourth Earl of Richmond.   He seems to have accompanied David the First to the north and to have received extensive grants of land in Strathclyde.  Here his immediate descendants adopted the name of Crawford, signifying in Gaelic "the pass of blood," from cru, bloody, and ford, a pass or way (perhaps commemorative of some early bloody conflict).  The name has been derived by others from crodh and port, pronounced "crofort," and meaning "a sheltering place for cattle."

George Crawford, in his 1782 historical account of Renfrewshire, had the following comments:

"The first using this name I have found is Galfridus de Crawfurd, a witness for Roger, Bishop of St. Andrews around 1189.  It is clear that the family Crawfurd was seated at a place of that name in the county of Lanark, and from whose hereditary lands they took designation, at a time when fixed surnames came commonly to be used."  

A Crawford Claimant

The old house of Kilburnie had burnt down in 1757 and the family line had ended without issue in 1808 with the death of George, the last Earl of Crawford.  However, soon after his death a claimant stepped forth from Ireland calling himself John Lindsay Crawford and asserting to be the rightful heir to the title and estates.

The claim elicited a great amount of sensational interest and gave rise to one of the most notorious peerage cases in Scottish history.  As an upshot of the case, the claimant was transported to Botany Bay in Australia for seven years.  However, at the end of this period he returned and renewed his demands, this time supported by noblemen and gentlemen in London.  The case was then investigated thoroughly; but it was deemed to be unfounded and the claim finally fell to the ground.  


The Crawfords of Cork

William Crawford came from Crawfordburn in county Down to Cork in 1792.  Here he founded a brewing firm along with William Beamish and built the house Lakelands near Blackrock.  The Beamish & Crawford brewery was successful from the onset.  The company quickly became the largest brewer in the country, employing nearly five hundred people by 1807.     

William Crawford must have been something of a Nabob in the 18th century manner, as he had his own quay with a small warehouse near his home.  What he imported is uncertain.  It seems that he had a favorite red magnolia tree on his estate.  He had devised a system of bringing liquid manure from an adjoining yard (as the tree was planted against a wall) to fertilize its roots.  He had also built a shelter round the tree with a seat where he would often sit looking out over the beautiful view.  It was said that he died on this seat.

The end of Lakelands was sad.  Under circumstances no longer known, the property passed into the possession of a solicitor and was demolished.  Today the site of Lakelands is a field surrounded by surburban housing overlooking Cork harbor.  Little remains of the house except for an arched gateway bearing the date 1812.   However, the Crawford Art Gallery, a product of the family's munificence, still stands in Cork today. 

The Crawfords at Tusculum

Tusculum is the original home of the Crawford family in Amherst county and one of the oldest and most architecturally significant dwellings in the Virginia Piedmont.  Built in the 1750's, it features a timber-frame construction and two wings connected by an innovative breezeway. 

Tusculum was built in two stages: the initial house was built around 1760 for David Crawford II and a large addition completed around 1805.  William Sydney Crawford inherited the house and property from his grandfather sometime after 1762.  He had been educated at Princeton, practiced law, and was the clerk of the Amherst County Courts, working out of the "master's office" on the Tusculum grounds. 

Tusculum was the birthplace of William Harris Crawford
in 1772 and the childhood home of Maria Crawford. She was the wife of Elijah Fletcher and mother of Indiana Fletcher Williams, the founder of Sweet Briar College.

William Harris Crawford

As William Crawford was progressing in Georgia state politics, duelling was still an accepted way for gentlemen to resolve disputes.  In 1807 William ran for the Senate vacancy against a local attorney Peter Van Arlen.   The contest between the two men became so bitter that it ended up as a duel - where William shot and killed Van Arlen.

Soon afterwards, he found himself in a dispute with Governor Clark of Georgia which also escalated into a duel.  This time William's aim was not true and he was severely wounded.  The duel gave birth to a family feud between the Clarks and the Crawfords and their allies the Troups.  It was the Crawfords and Troups who were to win out in Georgia state politics over the next thirty years.
William Crawford later became President Madison's Minister to France, Secretary of War, Secretary of the Treasury, and a Presidential candidate in 1824 in the famous four-way contest with John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, and Andrew Jackson.  He was described as follows by the historian John A. Garraty:

"Crawford was direct and friendly, a marvellous storyteller, and a superb manipulator of men.  He was one of the few persons in Washington who could teach the fledgling senator Martin Van Buren anything about politics.  Van Buren supported him enthusiastically in the contest for the 1824 Presidential nomination."

Crawford, however, came fourth and last in the Presidential contest.

Dr. George Crawford - An Oregon Pioneer

George Fisher Crawford was born in Grayson County, Virginia in 1818.  His ancestors were of Scotch-Irish extraction and he was one of the of the landed nobility of the "Old Dominion," having settled there long before the Revolutionary War.  He was the eldest child of a family of seven children.

Owing to no less than three attacks of lung fever to which he had been subjected at various times, his health had become precarious and it was deemed advisable that he should take a western trip in the hope that different scenes and climate might make him more robust.  In 1841 he journeyed to Wayne County, Illinois where John Huston and his family lived and young Crawford stayed for a short time.  The Hustons suggested that Crawford should visit James Gilmour who lived nearby and practiced medicine for the locality. A strong bond subsequently developed between James Gilmour, his family, and Crawford.  Crawford began studying medicine with Gilmour and, in 1845, married the youngest daughter Mary.    . 

Dr. Crawford began practicing medicine in Illinois until 1851 when, in the company with others, he started off with his family in a convoy for Oregon (with his two wagons being drawn by six oxen and five cows).  They arrived safely at the Dalles in late September 1852.  Here they decided to send the family down the Columbia river by flat boat, while two yoke of cattle were driven over the mountains to the valley.  Reaching the valley they started southward and reached Linn County by the middle of October.  With the munificient sum of $25, they commenced building their homestead.

Their first years in Oregon were years of hardship and toil.  Cows had to be purchased, as well as wheat kernels to make flour.  But with pluck and industry, Dr. Crawford improved his farm and, with money obtained by teaching and by plowing for his neighbors, he surrounded his family with comfort and plenty.  He himself became a leading citizen of Linn County, serving for two terms as its member in the House of Representatives.  He was also the first President of the Albany Farmers Co.

It was said: "Dr. Crawford was a strictly temperate man and of such regular and methodical habits in life that he was able to extend what suggested at one time to be a short life to one of nearly four score years.  His religion was to be good to all men and to endeavor to make the world better by virtue of an example of perfect citizenship and of honorable dealing among men."                    

Crawford, Texas

Crawford lies 18 miles west of Waco in western McLennan county.  Settlement of the area began in the 1850's and centered around Crawford Crossing, a ford in the middle Bosque river two miles east of the present town.  The community was probably named after William Nelson Crawford who graded the river crossing.  By 1890 Crawford had flour and corn mills, two general stores, three groceries, a cotton gin, four churches, and 400 residents.  Cotton, wheat, hides, and corn were the principal shipments from the area. 

Today Crawford is best known for George W. Bush's Prairie Chapel Ranch, located just outside the town. Crawford has been the site of many anti-Iraq war demonstrations.  It was also the subject of a 2008 film documentary about the changes brought to the town by Bush's arrival.

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