William T Crawford MAJOR WILLIAM T. CRAWFORD, who having now reached the age of three score and ten years, has been identified with the educational and patriotic history for forty-eight years, and is one of the most honored and popular citizens in this section of the state. He was born on a farm in Jay county, Indiana, January 25, 1838, but when three months old his parents sold the homestead and removed to Columbiana county, Ohio, where his early years were spent. The major is the son of Samuel and Gracy (George) Crawford-the former being a native of Columbiana county, Ohio, where he died aged seventy-nine years. The paternal grandfather, John Crawford, was a native of Ireland (his wife of Scotland) and lived to the remarkable age of one hundred and two years. William George, the maternal grandfather, was a native of Ireland, while his wife (Linea Hull) was born in England. The ancestors on both sides of the family came to the United States about 1800 and located in Columbiana county, Ohio, where they became substantial members of the agricultural community and continued their firm adherence to Presbyterianism. Grandfather George was a justice of the peace in that county for twenty-four successive years, and although a practical and successful farmer was a deep lover of music, and expert violinist and a man of cultivated tastes. Samuel Crawford, the father, was also an agriculturist and stock raiser. In stature, he was a very large man, being fully six feet in height; in his manners, he was mild and kind to those with whom he mingled and labored, and as an illustration of these traits it is related that he never had a quarrel or a law suit. His ambition to be well educated was thwarted when young, but after his marriage, by persistent reading and self-training he became a man of wide general information. Another commendable trait in his character was his unfailing kindness to old people, and morally, he was ever found on the side of justice and right. The children born to Samuel and Gracy (George) Crawford were ten in number and in the order of their birth arc as follows: Nancy, widow of James Chaney and mother of Congressman John C. Chaney, who now resides at her farm home ten miles south of Fort Wayne, Indiana; Ruth, deceased; John, residing at Roanoke, Indiana; George, deceased; Elizabeth, a resident of Idaho and wife of Thomas Crawford; Jane, deceased; William T., of this review; Noah, deceased; Linea E., wife of Alexander McCammont, who resides at Rogers, Ohio; and Mary M., wife of Sant Hewett, of Florida. All but Jane lived to years of maturity.


Major William T. Crawford was diligently employed on his father's farm and attended the district schools of his home neighborhood and the high school of New Lisbon, Ohio. He began teaching in the same county and after being thus engaged four years, in 1860, came to Sullivan county, Indiana, and built the Ascension Seminary at Farmersburg. Before its completion, however, in August, 1862, he raised a company and was made captain of what was known as Company H, Eighty-fifth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, serving as a gallant officer and brave soldier, from August, 1862, to June 12, 1865. He saw much actual campaign service, participating in fifteen battles of the Civil war and being honorably discharged as brevet major. His regiment was first encamped at Locust Grove, opposite Cincinnati, for a few weeks, and then moved to Falmouth, Kentucky. There Captain Crawford was detailed by General A. J. Smith, to act as provost marshall of the place, which he did for two and a half months. The regiment then moved to Lexington and on to Danville, Kentucky, later being sent to Louisville, where it was transported down the Ohio river and thence up the Cumberland to Nashville, Tennessee; and thence was transferred to Brentwood and Franklin, Tennessee. Before reaching Franklin, Captain Crawford was attacked by typhoid fever and pneumonia, and five physicians gave his case up as a fatal one, telling him if he had any word to send to his family they would be glad to communicate it. The captain said, "Dr. Hobbs, please tell my wife that I have been sick, but am going to get well and live to see this rebellion put down." Dr. Hobbs then turned to Drs. Wiles and McPheters and said: "His will power may yet pull him through." He began to recover, but while still in bed the rebels made an attack on the town of Franklin. He started for his command at Fort Granger, but was so weak that he was compelled to rest on the door steps along the streets. As he neared the river, five Confederates rode up and demanded his sword. The captain had not realized that they were rebels until after they had surrounded him. The leader at once demanded the captain's sword and when he asked him, "By what authority?" the rebel replied, "By the Confederate authority. What authority did you think?" He then ordered him to get up on the horse behind him, whereupon the captain refused. The officer then drew his revolver on him and said, "Then I will leave you here." The captain replied, "You have the drop on me." Again the Confederate officer said, "Hand up your sword at once," and when the captain refused, the rebel demanded that he mount his horse behind him. For answer Captain Crawford knocked the revolver out of the enemy's hand with a hickory cane, which he fortunately carried. At that instant about one thousand shots were fired from the Union lines, one ball striking the leader in the mouth and cutting his tongue partly off. The blood shot out over Captain Crawford and fell upon his sword, which remained unwashed for many years after the close of the war. Another of the Confederates brought his carbine down upon the captain's head, but a ball pierced the rebel's hand. Still another of the Confederate squad was shot through the side, as he was taking aim at the captain's head. Another's horse was shot from under him as he exclaimed, "Throw up your hands or we will shoot _____ out of you." At this critical moment Captain Bails crossed the river and assisted Captain Crawford into the Union lines.


A few weeks later two spies from General Bragg's army (Colonel Williams and Lieutenant Peter entered the Union lines, reporting that they were sent by General Garfield to inspect the camp, presenting as their authority a forged letter from the commander. Representing, also, that they had been surprised and robbed by rebels, they borrowed fifty dollars from Colonel Baird and obtained from him a pass to go to Nashville. Colonel Watkins, of the Sixth Kentucky Regiment (a graduate of West Point) recognized one of the spies as being a classmate of his and they had no sooner left camp than that officer remarked to Colonel Baird: "Those men are spies." As quick as thought, Baird said, "Overtake them and bring them back," which command was accomplished as the Confederates were nearing the outer picket lines. Blandly telling them that the rebels were between them and Nashville and that Colonel Baird wished to send them a guard. Colonel Watkins led them to the regimental headquarters. One of the spies-a distant relative of Washington, answered "We have no fears." But Colonel Watkins persisted and they were brought back. Each wore a white visor on his cap; when they returned a strong guard was placed around the tent. Colonel Baird stepped up to Colonel Williams and raised the white visor from his cap and saw on the band "C. S. A." (meaning Confederate States of America.) The same conclusive evidence was found on their swords, when they were drawn from their sheaths. Captain Crawford was made judge advocate at the trial, which was short and conclusive as to their guilt. Colonel Baird tried to escape the painful duty of hanging them, but, in reply to his telegram, General Garfield telegraphed. "If guilty, hang them at once," and they were accordingly executed-hanged to a wild cherry tree near Fort Granger-June 9, 1863. It is said that the Confederate, Colonel Williams, was a relative of General Lee.


After the war Major Crawford refitted the Ascension Seminary, and in September, 1865, opened a normal school which he conducted until 1872. In that year he moved to Sullivan and consolidated it with the local high school, conducting the higher department as a Normal Institute until 1876, and out of the number who have been educated under him, two thousand two hundred and eighty-three have followed teaching as a profession. After 1876 the major engaged in the pension business in which he is still engaged and during this period of thirty-two years he has obtained between six and seven thousand pensions and increases, the beneficiaries being residents of twenty-three states.




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