Friday, July 10, 2015

Family History Friday #17 - John H Crihfield

   I've done a little research lately on the family of my fourth great grandfather, John Crihfield, the father of Mary Crihfield who married James H Heiskill. This past week I discovered that her younger brother, John H Crihfield served in the Confederate army.  I have quite a few ancestors who fought in the Civil War. Most fought in the Union army, including some southerners from Tennessee and  Arkansas.

   John H Crihfield was born in Arkansas in about 1844. He was found living with his parents and siblings on the 1850 census in Lauderdale County, Tennessee. Sadly, his father died before the end of the year.  I next found him on the 1860 census living with another Crihfield family in Lauderdale County. The only other records I was able to find pertained to his service in the Confederate 14th (Neely's) Tennessee Cavalry and as a prisoner of war.  I haven't been able to find out the actual date of his enlistment, but I was able to find some information on the internet as to when various Tennessee cavalry units were formed.  For a while some of the Confederate calvary units in Western Tennessee were more like partisans than regular army units, hence some of the difficulty with records. A further problem is that the units were formed and reorganized a number of times. they were eventually consolidated into a larger regular cavalry force commanded by the now infamous General Nathan Bedford Forrest (purported founder of the Klu Klux Klan).

    I did find was that John H Crihfield was captured on November 27, 1863 in Haywood County, Tennessee, a neighboring county to Lauderdale County. His commander at the time of his capture was Col Richardson. Crihfield was then sent as a prisoner of war to Camp Morton in Marion County, Indiana.  The Conditions in Civil War prison camps were notoriously bad on both sides of the conflict. John H Crihfield died on July 13, 1864 from malaria. At the time of his death there were close to 5,000 Confederate prisoners at Camp Morton. Union army records provided the date of his capture and subsequent death. The Confederate prisoners who died at Camp Morton were originally interred in individual wooden coffins in the Confederate section of Greenlawn Cemetery.  Wooden Crosses with their names marked the individual graves. Their remains were later exhumed and reburied at Crown Hill Cemetery.  By that time the wooden markers had decayed so the soldiers were reburied in a mass grave.  A monument was erected to honor the memory of the 1,616 Confederate soldiers buried there.  I found a record on Findagrave thanks to the fact that all of their names were recorded on the monument.

    All in all, John H Crihfield had a difficult life.  He was born in Arkansas at a time when that would have qualified as the frontier.  He moved to Lauderdale County while a very young child His father died when he was just six or seven years old.  He lived in a tumultuous time.  His military service was probably somewhat brief and he died in what were probably miserable conditions as a prisoner of war.

    While I was researching John H Crihfield I learned some interesting facts regarding other family members.  An older sister, Effie Crihfield, was married at the age of 15 in Yell County Arkansas on February 12, 1846 to William Ball.  I couldn't find any records pertaining to William Ball other than this marriage record. Four years later, the 1850 census showed Effie Crihfield living with her parents and siblings (using her maiden name) in Lauderdale County, Tennessee.  It is very helpful (genealogically speaking) that Effie Crihfield was living with her parents, John Crihfield and Elizabeth Hustead, on the 1850 census.   The 1850 census showed Henry Crihfield, age 71, and his wife Jane, also living in Lauderdale County. Living with them was William Crihfield, age 30, probably their son, and John Heiskill.  I puzzled a great deal over this. Heiskill is not a particularly common  name and here was John Heiskill living with a Crihfield family a short time before James H. Heiskill marries Mary Crihfield in the very same county. To make matters more complicated I couldn't find James H Heiskill on the 1850 census.

        Some of these relationships were clarified when Henry Crihfield died and Effie Crihfield was listed in his will as his granddaughter. Thus we learned that John Crihfield was the son of Henry Crihfield.  However, I was still left wondering what was the relationship between John F Heiskill  and Henry Crihfield.  John F Heiskill married Effy Ball (Effie Crihfield) on September 14, 1852 in Lauderdale County.  I also don't know for sure what the relationship is between John F Heiskill and James H Heskill. I think its likely that they are either brothers or cousins.  I did some investigation on and was referred to a family tree that listed John F Heiskill's parents as Lewis Heiskill and Nancy Crihfield.  I followed that lead a bit further and learned that Nancy Crihfield was the daughter of Henry Crihfield. If this information is accurate,  John F Heiskill and Effie Crihfield were first cousins, each being the grandchild of Henry Crihfield.  Furthermore, if John F Heiskill is the brother of James H Heiskill then Mary Crihfield and James H Heiskill would also be first cousins.


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