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The McCraw Family
William McCraw (1) | Samuel McCraw | William McCraw (2)

The McCRAW Family

By Steven R. Butler, Ph.D.

I am a McCraw descendant by virtue of the marriage of my 3rd Great-Grandmother Martha "Patsy" McCraw to my 3rd Great-Grandfather, Ransom Holder, whose daughter, Martha Jane Holder, was the wife of James A. Hodge, whose daughter, Margaret E. Hodge, was the third wife of John W. Miles, whose second son, Charles W. Miles, had an extramarital affair with my grandmother, Alice Tate Butler, resulting in the birth of my father, Raymond J. Butler.

The McCraw family is one of five families from which I'm descended, who were among the earliest pioneer settlers of Franklin County, Tennessee. The others were the Miles family, the Farrar family, the Hodge family, and the Holder family.

McCraw, by the way, is supposed to be a variant spelling of McRae, an ancient Scottish clan.

(Abt. 1690-Abt. 1752)

The Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye, off the coast of Scotland. Courtesy Library of Congres.

My 6th Great-Grandfather, William McCraw (1), was born in Scotland--on the Isle of Skye, according to family lore--about 1690. Some researchers say that his parents were William McCraw, Sr. and Elizabeth Maddox. No one seems to know for sure when William (1) came to America but it was almost certainly no later than 1729, when his son Samuel was born, reportedly in Virginia. However, the earliest official record of William (1)'s presence in America is a 1746 Goochland County, Virginia tithe list.

William McCraw (1) died in Cumberland County (formed in 1749 from part of Goochland County), where his will was admitted to probate in May 1752. Some researchers say, without any hard evidence, that his wife's name was Elizabeth Dancy, born about 1702. It is not known where William's wife, whoever she might have been, was born.

The names of the children of William McCraw (1) and his wife were as follows (not necessarily shown in birth order):

  1. Francis
  2. Samuel McCraw, born 1729
  3. Edward McCraw
  4. Dancy McCraw
  5. Benjamin McCraw
  6. James McCraw
  7. William McCraw
  8. Elizabeth McCraw
  9. Stephen McCraw

In 1748, shortly before he died, William McCraw (1) wrote a will in which he was identified as a resident of Goochland County, Virginia, where, although there seems to be no land records of any kind to provide evidence, he almost certainly owned some real property. His will, which was recorded in Cumberland County Will Book 1, pp.54-5, in 1752, reveals that he owned at least one slave. His wife is not named in the will (see below), which suggests that she died sometime before he wrote it.

November the 28th 1748 In the name of God Amen I William Maccraw of Goochland County being very sick and weak but of perfect mind and memory Thanks be to Almighty God for the Same, I Do make and ordain this my last Will and Testament first of all I Commend my soul to God Who gave it me hoping through the merits of my Saviour Jesus Christ to obtain full and free pardon of all my sins, and my body to Decently buried. And as Touching Such worldly Estate Wherewith I hath pleased God to bless me in this life I give demise, & Dispose of the Same in the following Manner and form Impremis first I give and Bequeath to my Eldest Son Francis, one, Negro fellow named Jeme To have him After my Death. Not having any other part or Claim in the Said Estate and if it pleas God to Take me away from this Life To see my Two youngest Sons Brought up That he the Said Francis Maccraw on Consideration of the Said Negro man Shall be obliged to Giv them Two years of Schooling upon Provisor the Said Negro Lives and he the Said Francis Maccraw Neither Swap Sell Nor Convey the said Negro away and if the Said Francis McCraw Should Dy Leaving not any Child lawfully begotin The Said Negro To Return To my Son William, and as for the Rest of my Estate To Be Equally Divided amongst the Rest of my Children as follows Elizabeth William Samuel James Benjaman Edward Dancy & Stephen. Furthermore I ordain my son Francis and William executors of This my last Will and Testament Ratifying & Confirming This and no other to be my Last Will and Testament Whereof I have Hereunto Set my hand and Seal the Day and year above written

Wm Maccraw (his mark)

Signed Sealed & Delivered
in presents of
Joseph Fuquay (his mark)
William Fuquay Junior (his mark)

May Court 1752
The within last will & Testament of William Maccraw Deceased. was presented in Court by the Executors therein named who made Oath thereto According to Law & the same being proved by the Oath of Joseph Fuquay & William Fuquay Jun. Witnesses thereto and by the Court Ordered to be recorded on the motion of the said Executors. Certificate is granted them for obtaining a probate thereof in due form according to law.
Test. Cad Jones Clk

The final resting place of our Scottish ancestor, William McCraw (1), and his wife has apparently been lost to history.


Thanks to an old family Bible that has survived to this day, we know that Samuel McCraw, son of William McCraw (1), was born July 20, 1729, probably in Goochland County, Virginia. This Bible also records that Samuel and his wife, Alice Walker (born May 7, 1737), were married, almost certainly in Cumberland County, Virginia, on December 23, 1756. Together, they had the following named children:

  1. Frances McCraw, born December 28, 1758
  2. An unnamed son, born April 3, 1760, died April 5, 1760
  3. Mary McCraw, born June 27, 1761
  4. Edward McCraw, born July 5, 1763
  5. Lucy McCraw, April 25, 1765
  6. Stephen McCraw, born January 28, 1767
  7. William McCraw, born November 4, 1768

Between 1785, shortly after the United States achieved independence from Great Britain, and 1812, Samuel McCraw received six land grants, either singly or collectively, from the Commonwealth of Virginia:

  1. December 19, 1785: 1 Location: Harrison County. Description: 1000 acres on the Indian Fork of Elk Creek and extending to Buckhannon River. Source: Land Office Grants U, 1786, p. 166.
  2. March 13, 1786: Location: Harrison County. Description: 1000 acres on a drain of Tygers Valley River and adjoining below John Overton's Survey No. 3, which is on the head of Barkley's Run. Source: Land Office Grants Y, 1786, p. 197.
  3. September 28, 1786: Location: Campbell County. Description: 788e acres on the south side of James River (alias Fluvanna River.). Source: Land Office Grants No. 4, 1786, p. 385.
  4. December 21, 1786: Location: Ky. Military District. Description: 1000 acres No. 144 on Green River beginning at a lower corner of a former survey No. 121 made for David Anderson. Source: Land Office Grants No. 6, 1786, p. 632
  5. September 2, 1796: Location: Harrison County. Grantee(s): Nicolson, George; Copeland, Charles; and McCraw, Samuel. Description: 7000 acres. Source: Land Office Grants No. 36, 1796-1797, p. 87
  6. November 9, 1812: Location: Pittsylvania County. Grantee(s): Williams, Wilmoth; William M. Williams, Anne B. Hutchings, James W. McCraw, Samuel H McCraw, Joseph J. McCraw, Nancy Saunders, and Susanna McCraw. Description: 1065 acres on the branches of Sandy Creek adjoining land of Lawless and Donelson. Source: Land Office Grants No. 63, 1812-1813, p. 306.

Deed records reveal that Samuel McCraw also owned property in Halifax County, Virginia. Unfortunately, there was also a younger Samuel McCraw, apparently the son of the elder Samuel's brother, James W. McCraw, living in Halifax County around the same time and therefore, it is difficult to know which deeds pertain to which man.

Alice Walker McCraw died on 24 August 1795, at the age of 59. Samuel McCraw died about 1812, at the age of about eighty-three, in Abbeville County, South Carolina. Before he died, he wrote a will, in which he gave or loaned nineteen slaves "and their future increase" to his children or their children. Here is a transcript of that document:

In the name of God amen. I Samuel McCraw of the State of South Carolina & Abbeville District being in perfect senses and memory thanks be to Almighty God for the same, do here make my last Will & Testament in manner & form following.
IMPREMIS, I give and bequeath to my Son Edward McCraw my negro man named Pleasant also my negro Woman named Beck and her two children, to wit, Mary & Charlotte and their future increase to him and his heirs forever.
ITEM. I give unto my son Stephen McCraw my Nego lad named Toney to him and his heirs forever.
ITEM. I give to my son William McCraw my Negro man named Isaac also my big Chest & Iron Pott.
ITEM. I lend to my Daughter Lucy Owen & her husband David Owen the use of my Negro Woman named Sara & her six Children also my Negro girl named Edy & their future increase during the natural lives of said Lucy & David Owen, and at their Decease my Will is that is that the said Negroes and their future increase shall be equally divided amongst all the children of my said Daughter Lucy Owen.
ITEM. I lend to my Daughter Frances Heard the use of my Negro Woman named Dolley & her Children, to wit, Milley, Amy & Betty and their future increase for the support of my Daughter during her natural life and for the support of and Education of her infant Children, and at her decease my Will is that the aforesaid Negroes & their future increase shall be equally Divided amongst all the Children of my Daughter Frances.
ITEM. I lend to my Daughter Mary Owen my Negro Woman named Amy & my Negro Woman named Chloe & her three Children, to wit, Phobe, Cole & Sliva for the support of her & her infant Children during the life of my said daughter, Mary as also the future increase of said Negroes, and at the Death of my aforesaid Daughter Mary my Will is that the above said Negroes & their future increase shall be equally divided amongst all the Children of my said Daughter.
ITEM. I give to my daughter Mary Owen my Negro boy named Green the son of Chloe, to her & her heirs forever.
ITEM. I give to my grand Daughter Betsy McCraw my feather bed & the furniture belonging to it which Bed is in possession of my Son William McCraw,
ITEM. I leave in the hands of my Son Edward McCraw two notes of hand the contents being ninety nine Dollars which said money is for the use and benefit of my great grand son John Hughes, son of John Hughes Decd. to be disposed of by my Son Edward as he shall see cause, whether for his Education, or otherwise as he shall Judge best.
ITEM. All the residue of my Estate not already disposed of (my Horse excepted) I give to my son Edward McCraw.
Lastly, I appoint my Son Edward McCraw Executor of this my last Will & Testament, Revoking every other Will heretofore made by me In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & Seal the twenty third day of April in the year of our Lord Christ One thousand eight hundred and ten, and in the thirty fourth year of American independence.

Signed, Sealed & acknowledged by the said Samuel McCraw to be his last Will and Testament in presence of us.

Samuel McCraw

John Morrison (his mark)
Nancy Mithell (her mark)

This will came be seen in Abbeville County, South Carolina Will Book 1, pp.413-4. It was proven in country court on October 19, 1812, which was probably sometime shortly after Samuel McCraw died. His final resting place, and that of his wife, like those of his father and mother, has apparently been lost to history.


According to an old family Bible, William McCraw (2), son of Samuel and Alice McCraw, was born on a Friday morning, December 4, 1768. His wife's name was Martha "Mathey" Lumpkin, who was born about 1767 in Virginia. They were married May 2, 1791 in Halifax County, Virginia (Marriage Register 1, p.22), which is located in the southern part of the state, adjoining North Carolina.

Together, William and Martha had several children, including a daughter, Martha, who was named for her mother, but apparently went by the nickname, "Patsy." Others include a son, Anderson W. McCraw, and son James Walker McCraw. Here is what purports to be a complete list. It was compiled by another researcher, but unfortunately, it is unsupported by any evidence.

  1. Fanny Richardson McCraw, born about 1792
  2. Mary "Polly" McCraw, born about 1793
  3. James Walker McCraw, born about 1794
  4. Stephen Walker McCraw, born about 1795
  5. Martha McCraw, born about 1795 (married Ransom Holder)
  6. Elizabeth "Betsy" Mc Craw, about 1796 (married her first cousin, Samuel McCraw)
  7. Richard or Richardson McCraw, born about 1798
  8. Nancy McCraw, born about 1801
  9. Julia McCraw, born about 1803
  10. Milly McCraw, born about 1805
  11. Anderson McCraw, born about 1807
  12. Sarah McCraw, born about 1809
  13. William M. McCraw, born about 1809
  14. Stephen Madison McCraw, born about 1811

In 1800, William McCraw and his two brothers, Stephen and Edward, moved to Newberry District, South Carolina, where they and their families were all enumerated in the 1800 census. This move is confirmed by deed records.

The 1800 federal census for Newberry County, South Carolina shows the Wiliam McCraw family as follows: two Free White Males Under 10; one Free White Male age 26 thru 44 (William, age 32); one Free White Male 45 or older (this might be William's father, Samuel); four Free White Females Under 10; one Free White Female age- 26 thru 44; 6 Slaves. The presence of so many slaves would add weight to the supposition that Samuel McCraw was present in this household, except that in his will, Samuel named some 19 slaves. So, if the older man isn't Samuel, then who could it be? I don't know!

Sometime before 1810, William McCraw and his family moved to Abbeville County, South Carolian, only fifty miles distant, where his father, Samuel, died about 1812, as noted in the previous biography.

The 1810 federal census for Abbeville County, South Carolina shows the Wiliam McCraw family as follows: three Free White Males Under 10; one Free White Male age 10 thru 15; one Free White Male age 26 thru 44 (William, now 42); four Free White Females Under 10; one Free White Female age 10 thru 15; one Free White Female age- 26 thru 44; 1 Slave.

Sometime during the eight years following the death of his father in 1812, William McCraw and his family went to live in Franklin County, Tennessee, where in 1820 they were enumerated in the federal census. Franklin County is also almost certainly, the place where his daughter, Martha, met and married Ransom Holder, son of Solomon Langston Holder, because we know the Holder family was there was about 1811 and also that they owned property nearby.

By 1820, William's two brothers had also left South Carolina. Both initially settled in Perry County, Alabama, where Stephen McCraw died in 1821.

The 1820 federal census for Franklin County, Tennessee shows the Wiliam McCraw family as follows: two Free White Males Under 10; one Free White Male age 10 thru 15; one Free White Male age 16 thru 225; one Free White Male age 26 thru 44; one Free White Male over 45 (William, now 52); one Free White Females Under 10; one Free White Female age 10 thru 15; one free white female age 16 thru 25; one Free White Female over 45; No Slaves.

The 1820 federal census for Franklin County, Tennessee also includes a Richard Walker, which I believe is an older son of Wiliam and Martha McCraw. There is also a John McCraw, over 45 years of age, which means that he was born in 1775 or earlier. William McCraw did not have a brother named John and this man is far too old to be his son, so what is his relationship, if any, to William? I don't know for sure, but my guess is that he is some sort of cousin. He is not, however, John Camden McCraw, son of James McCraw of Halifax County, Virginia. John Camden McCraw died in Halifax County in 1853, according to other researchers.

On page 101 of the Land Entry Book of Franklin County, Tennessee there is a notation showing that on October 15, 1825, using Land Warrant or Certificate No. 470, for which he paid a fee of $6.25, William McCraw claimed 50 acres of land "on the waters of Little Hurricane [Creek] it being a branch of Elk river beginning on a white oak marked with the letters W.W. [note: should read W. M.] running southwardly thence eastwardly thence northwardly thence eastwardly to the beginning."

On page 103 of the Land Entry Book of Franklin County, Tennessee there is an undated notation showing that using Land Warrant or Certificate No. 480, for which he paid a fee of $6.25, William McCraw claimed 50 acres of land "on Little Hurricane creek waters of Elk river beginning on a beech marked W.M. running from said corner westwardly thence southwardly thence eastwardly thence northwardly to the beginning."

Although the language in both these entries is vague and imprecise, their mention of Little Hurricane Creek helps us ascertain that the 100 acres of land in total that William McCraw claimed, and presumably lived on with his family, was located in the northwestern part of Franklin County, where Little Hurricane Creek is one of the principal south-flowing streams that feeds into Tims Ford Lake-a manmade reservoir made possible by the building of a dam on the Elk River, between 1966 and 1970, by the federally-funded Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Unfortunately, it is impossible to pinpoint the precise location of this land.

The Holder family, to which the McCraw family was soon connected by virtue of the marriage of Ransom Holder to William McCraw's daughter, Martha, lived nearby, on acreage adjacent to Rock Creek, another stream that flows south into the Elk River. The proximity of the two families explains how Holder's son and McCraw's daughter had the opportunity to meet.

Unfortunately, owing to an apparent lack of documentation, William McCraw's whereabouts from 1825 to 1840-a period of fifteen years-is impossible to ascertain. There is no record in any of Franklin County's deed books, from the time he acquired those 100 acres in 1825 to the time of his death in the early 1850s, that he ever sold that property or disposed of it in any way. Nor can he be found in the 1830 federal census for any place in the United States.

That being said, there is reason to believe that by 1840 William and Martha McCraw had left Tennessee to go live with their recently-married son, William M. McCraw in Jefferson County, Alabama-about 160 miles southwest of Franklin County, Tennessee. Their nephew, Thomas Owen, son of William's sister, Lucy McCraw Owen, and her husband, David Owen, lived there too. Furthermore, Thomas, a Justice of the Peace, had officiated at the marriage of his cousin, William M. McCraw, and his bride, Laurena Caldwell, in 1839.

The 1840 federal census for Jefferson County, Alabama shows that William M. McCraw's household consisted of one Free White Male age 30 to 39 (William M., obviously), one Free White Male age 70 to 79 (almost certainly his father), one Free White Female age 20 to 29 (William M.'s wife), and one Free White Female age 60 to 69 (almost certainly William M/'s mother). There were no other Free White persons in the household nor any slaves.

Interestingly, there is a second William McCraw listed in this same census (page 205), with a man and woman both age 70 to 80, two males 5 to 10 years of age, a younger man, age 30 to 40, and a younger female age 20 to 30. In this household, there are 12 slaves.

Which one of these entries is for "our" William McCraw? I am inclined to think it is the first one, because the younger man is specifically identified as William M. McCraw.

Unfortunately, William M., died on September 19, 1840 (according to another researcher), which almost certainly explains why William and Martha McCraw went to live with their son, Anderson McCraw, in Itawamba County, Mississippi, where in the 1850 federal census William and Martha are each shown as being 82 years of age, with Anderson and his wife, also named Martha, being 42 years of age. There were no slaves nor any other persons in the household at this time, although curiously, the 1850 federal slave schedule shows an Anderson W. McCraw with two slaves in Wilkinson County, which is quite a long way from Itawamba County.

Other researchers hold that William McCraw passed away in 1852 or 1853, at the age of about eighty-five, which in the nineteenth century was quite remarkable. Owing to illness, accidents or war, most people did not live that long. William's wife's date of death is unknown, but was almost certainly around the same time, give or take a few years. Unfortunately, it appears that neither wrote a will, nor can any estate records be found. They are supposed to be buried in the remote Camp Cemetery, located in a wooded area on private property near Abney, Mississippi.

The McCraw Family
William McCraw (1) | Samuel McCraw | William McCraw (2)

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