Hannah Crawford Elementary School
Grades PreK through 5
This school carries the name sake of
Colonel William Crawford's wife Hannah (Vance) Crawford
By Bill Coup
Hannah Vance was a daughter of John Vance of Frederick County, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley about 1724. John Vance, an early settler and surveyor. He also was a farmer and cooper. His young surveyor assistants included William Crawford, who metand wooed his daughter, Hannah, and married her in 1747. They started a family, having two daughters, Sarah (Sally) and Ophelia (Effie) and one son, John, from about 1749 to1751.
The family spent their early years in the Shenandoah Valley region until about 1766, when William and Hannah Crawford took their family to settle on the banks of the Youghiogheny River in western Pennsylvania where Connellsville now stands. William had explored the region and built a cabin for his family in the wilderness. The cabin was about 14 x 16 feet with two openings in the logs that served as windows, one near the door,facing the river, and the other facing the nearby hills. It had a floor of split logs and the roof was rough planks. They lived there for the rest of their lives. William used his home as his base of operations and took an active part in public affairs.
William Crawford was born September 22, 1722 in Westmoreland County,Virginia. His father's name was either William or Valentine and died when William was young. His mother, Honora Grimes Crawford, remarried to Richard Stephenson and had children by him. William was trained as a surveyor and through that he met and became friends with George Washington. He was an ensign in the Virginia troops, which included George Washington that accompanied General Braddock at Braddock's Defeat in 1755 while attacking Fort Duquesne. During this expedition they both showed great courage under fire, and as a result, Crawford was promoted to lieutenant for his actions. He later also accompanied Virginia troops under General Forbes and took up the land in Pennsylvania mentioned above after the Bouquet expedition in 1764.
Hannah Crawford was well known for her hospitality in western Pennsylvania.Their home was called Spring Garden and was located at a place called Stewart's Crossing, about 40 miles from Pittsburgh. The wilderness drew pioneers in search of new homes, and hospitality was deeply appreciated by them. The Crawford's kept an "open house" during those years. Since lodgings were scarce, travelers were welcomed by them. Among their visitors over the years were their old friend, George Washington, and Lord Dunmore, Royal Governor of Virginia. No woman was more highly respected and remembered with deep affection.
The Crawford's place became a favorite resting point for travelers to and from Virginia to Fort Pitt and its neighborhood, and the generous hospitality of William Crawford proved a serious tax upon his resources. His business capacity suggested some means of stopping this drain, and there is this interesting passage in a letter to George Washington, dated January 15, 1774:
"I intend public house-keeping, and I am prepared for it now, as I can no longer live without that or ruining myself - such numbers constantly travel the road and nobody keeping anything for horses but myself. Some days, now, if I had rum I could make three pounds. I have sent for some by Valentine Crawford, and can supply you with what you want as cheap as you can bring it here, if you carry it yourself."Prohibition was undiscovered at that time. It seems that Crawford was not averse to selling rum even without a license, and that Washington took his "nip" with regularity. Perhaps there were good reasons for it in those days. The winds of winter were biting and the snakes were numerous and biting in the summer season.
While her husband was surveying and scouting in the wilderness in the years before the Revolution and served his country in the war for independence, Hannah raised, educated and looked after their young family. At the beginning of the revolution William Crawford raised and commanded the 7th Virginia Regiment, serving served under General George Washington until 1777 when Congress asked that Washington send him to Fort Pittto command troops there under Brigadier General Hand. He continued there until 1781 when he retired from service.
With his retirement from service William and Hannah Crawford planned to live out their lives in peace. That was not to be. The relations between the settlers and Ohio Indians on the frontier were very bad, and a state of terror reigned on the frontier. There were depredations on both sides with no quarter given. When an expedition against the Indians in their strong hold at Sandusky was organized they turned to William Crawford to lead the forces in the coming battle. Hannah Crawford saw her husband, son John, Sally's husband William Harrison, and nephew William Crawford, son of her husband's late brother,Valentine, off on the expedition against the enemy. Only John returned alive.
After the disaster at Sandusky the survivors returned under the command of David Williamson, his second in command. Other stragglers returned in the following weeks. As other survivors returned they were asked if they knew anything about their commander. None of them knew anything. On July 4th, 1782, after escaping from the Indians and surviving nearly three weeks evading them and surviving on his own in the wilderness, Doctor John Knight returned to Fort Pitt with the news of William Crawford's horrible death. John Slover, who had been a scout on the expedition, reported that he had found the bodies of William Harrison and young William Crawford. They too had died cruel deaths.Their home on the shore of the Youghiogheny River was a house of mourning.
Her husband had been away for too long and his private affairs were in disorder. His estate was swept away by claims, some unjustified. The State of Pennsylvaniareim bursed his estate for losses that occurred on the expedition. The State also gave her a pension based upon her husband's service. She also applied to Congress for a pension but was unsuccessful. She remained in her old home for the rest of her life, dying there nearly destitute in 1817.
"I well recollect," says Uriah Springer, quoted in the book, Our Western Border,"when I was a little boy, my grandmother Crawford took me behind her on horseback, rode across the Youghiogheny, and turned into the woods, where we both alighted by an old moss-covered white-oak log. 'Here,' she said, as she sat down upon the log, and cried asthough her heart would break - 'here I parted with your grandfather!'"
A recent book, County Chronicles, describes Hannah Crawford as follows: "The discomforts and hardships of transporting a family with small children from Virginia over the mountains to this rough country, in 1766, can scarcely be imagined; but William and Hannah Crawford did it. None but the most courageous of women would have attempted this dangerous journey; but the Celtic-spirited Hannah Vance Crawford is said to have been of unusual valor and vivacity, able to meet every pioneer challenge and emergency. I marvel at how she persevered in that lone cabin in what as then deep wilderness and untamed frontier - without her husband, when his duties took him oft away. By all accounts, she was a true match for her soldier-spouse, whom Connellsville folk know as the "bravest of the brave."
After the colonel's tragic torture and death at the hands of the Delaware and Shawnee, Hannah continued, for thirty-five years, to reside in the one-room cabin on the western banks of the Youghiogheny. According to historian Franklin Ellis in his History of Fayette County, when her son John set out for his new home in Kentucky, the widow was left to the care of an old slave "Daniel" and another servant "Ladd," both of whom she outlived, passing away in 1817, a month prior to her ninety-fourth birthday. Hannah, to the end of her life, was remarkably active. A story survives in the Ellis book, from Provance McCormick of Connellsville, of an incident when Mrs. Crawford, then well past eighty,came on horseback to call on the McCormick's. "She rode a good-sized mare, and, when ready to return home after her visit, went to mount... "Wait, wait!" called one of the boys,'wait till I bring your horse to the block.' 'I don't want a horse block, my boy,' blithely countered the old lady. 'I'm better than fifty horseblocks.' And so saying, she moved briskly forward, placed a hand upon the horn of the saddle... and in a single bound was firmly seated, 'There,' she cried, 'what do you suppose I want of horse blocks!'"
Crawford's daughters, need to be remembered for their mettle and perseverance, as well. Sarah, the eldest and a great beauty, was married to Major William Harrison, who along with her father Colonel Crawford, was killed by Indians in the ill-fated Sandusky Expedition (1782). Sarah later married Captain Uriah Springer and lived in a small house a top New Haven (West Side) Hill. Sh e adored children, and in her golden years, the youngsters in the area affectionately christened her "Granny Springer.''''
When Hannah Crawford was trying to deal with her husband's creditor's, she wrote to her old friend, George Washington, and asked for his assistance.
Hannah Crawford to George Washington.
Stewart's Crossing, June 4, 1784.
Sir: I offer my compliments to you I am now to inform you that upon examining the accounts of my husband do find that there is the sum of one thousand and one hundred pounds Virginia currency coming from the State of Virginia to the estate and as I am very much harrowed by the creditors for debts due by the estate. Do now Sir beg and entreat of you to befriend me in getting of that money although I must confess it is too much of an obligation to now upon you. But from my husbands connections with you informer times and your considering the great disadvantages I am lying under still I hope make some attonement for offering to trouble you on any such occasion and indeed I did not know unto whome I should apply to for a redress of grievances I saw a letter which you sent to brother John Stephenson concerning their accounts between you and them as also concerning some transactions of land which you are concerned in so have not as yet gotthe books all gathered together nor yet the papers but as soon as we can get them you shall have a coppy of them.
I am Sir with Respect your most obedient humble servant. Hannah Crawford.
George Washington to Thomas Freeman
Mount Vernon, May 8, 1786.
Sir: Being informed that Mrs. Crawford is on the point of having her negroes sold to discharge a Debt due from her late husband, Colo. Crawford, to Mr. James Cleveland, for whom you are Agent; I will, rather than such an event shall take place, agree to apply any money of mine, which may be in your hands, towards the discharge of the execution; and desire, in that case, you will receive such security as Mrs. Crawford can give for reimbursing me. I am, etc.
Hannah Crawford to George Washington
Fayette County, Pennsylvania, March 16, 1787.
I have no doubt that you have heard of the Resolution of the Legislative Body of your state passed in my favour which will enable me to make you satisfaction for your great kindless to me. You may depend on having the bond paid as soon as I draw the first years allowance. Money being so hard here and so dificult to come at, that it will not be in my power to do any thing sooner. The first year allowance becomes due the 9th day of Jany next. I propose making application to Congress for the five years pay allowed to officers ofthe Continental Army & if I obtain a certificate for it, it will be in my power to discharge agreat part of the debts due the creditors of my deceased husband's estate. Please Present my compliments to your Lady.
I am with much great esteem.
My dear friend. Your obedient and very humble servant. Hannah Crawford.
- Pennsylvania Women in the American Revolution. by William Henry Egle, Polyanthos, Cottonport, Pennsylvania, 1972, pages 58-61.
- The Hero-Martyr of the Youghiogheny. Colonel William Crawford: Pioneer and Patriot. His Lite and Public Services and His Tragic Death at the Stake. Address delivered be/ore the Historical Society of Washington, Pa., February 22, 1909, by Henry P. Snyder, Editor of The Courier, Connellsville, Pa.
- George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress. 1741-1799: Series 4. General Correspondence. 1697-1799.
- An Overview of William Crawford's Life. as compiled by a descendant, Lucy Pancoast, 1956.
- County Chronicles: A Vivid o(Fayette County. Pennsylvania Histories by Ceane O'Hanlon-Lincoln, Mechling Bookbindery, Chicora, Pennsylvania, 2007, pages 190, 191.
- Our Western Border, by Charles McKnight, J.C. McCurdy, Philadelphia, 1875, page 466
Hannah Crawford, was born Hannah Vance, about 1734, the daughter of John and Elizabeth (Glass) Vance, who lived in the Shenandoah Valley, Frederick County, Virginia. She was married to William Crawford, a farmer and surveyor for Christopher Gist, a large property owner, and agent for Lord Fairfax. the colonel govenor of Virginia. William Crawford was an assistant to Christopher Gist, who had another assistant, George Washington. George Washington and Crawford were companions on the surveying expeditions around the Shenandoah Valley.
Hannah and William were married before William, in 1755, served in the army of General Braddock in the expedition against the French and Indians. He received a commission and marched with Colonel Washington's regiment in the war against the French and the Indians. Crawford returned to the Shenandoah Valley and his home on the Bullskin Run in Frederick County, VA where he had married Hannah Vance in about 1750. Crawford received a land grant to the Western lands beyond the Allegheny Mountains, and in 1765, he went to his land on theYoughiogheny River and built a cabin for his family. They joined him in 1756 at his land there which became Fayette County, VA. Later, this land was to be declared part of Pennsylvania after the Mason-Dixon Line proved that the area was indeed not Virginia.
The family of Hannah and William Crawford consisted of three children, Sarah, Effie, and John. Some people claimed he had a fourth child, Anne, who was his daughter by his first wife, Ann Stewart, who died shortly after Ann's birth. Anne Crawford married Zachariah Connell, in Pennsylvania. Sarah Crawford became the wife of another pioneer of the western lands of Pennsylvania, William McCormick. John Crawford married Effie Grimes in Pennsylvania. John remarried in Ohio on November 30th, 1797.
Hannah Crawford maintained her cabin home in New Haven, Fayette County, PA, with her children and grandchildren all during the years of the Revolutionary War. Her two daughters lived nearby and both Sarah and Effie had many children.
Effie and her husband, William McCormick, lived in Connellsville, just across the Youghiogheny River, and many of Effie and William McCormick's nine children were born in Hannah's cabin. William McCormick was a Lieutenant in the Western Militia of Fayette County during the war. After the war, he had a wagon transporting company that carried needed goods from Winchester, VA to the western settlers of Pennsylvaniia. After the war, he and his partner were manufacturers of iron goods at his factory in Connellsville, PA.
Sarah Crawford married William Harrison and had six children with him before he was killed by the Indians in Ohio on Crawford's Sandusky Expedition. Later after the Revolutionary War, Sarah married a neighbor, Uriah Springer, and they had five more children. Uriah Springer was a farmer.
John Crawford, the only son of Hannah and William Crawford, fought in the Revolutionary War in his father's company and later on the Frontier of Pennsylvania. He inherited his father's land in Fayette County after the war and his father's death in Ohio by the Indians. John sold the land and moved to Ohio and thence to Indiana, where he died.
When Colonel William Crawford was assigned to make an expedition into the Indian lands of Ohio, in 1782 by the order of General George Washington, William Crawford was age sixty. He had just retired from active duty and returned to teh Fort Pitt area and to his home. The order was to obtain the services of a large company and proceed into the Indian lands of Ohio and engage the Indians to prevent further raids on the settlers of the Ohio River area of Pennsylvania. Colonel Crawford's army was betrayed by Indian scouts, and many of the soldiers were ambushed while Colonel Crawford and his company's doctor, Dr. John Knight were both captured. Colonel Crawford was executed by the Indians, by scalping him, cutting off his ears, blasting him with black gun powder, and burning him while tied to a stake. He eventually died of his wounds, and the fire consumed his body after four hours of deathly torture. Dr. Knight was the witness who was executed in a similar fashion several days later.
Hannah Crawford waited patiently at their cabin on the Braddock Road, which crossed the Yougiogheny River at her home. As the returning soldiers from this last expedition passed her home, she begged for information as to the fate of her husband. No news came for six weeks, until the return of Dr. Knight, who had escaped a similar fate as Crawford. Dr. Knight had been able to subdue his lone captor, and had walked across most of Ohio on foot and forded the Ohio River to reach Fort Pitt. His eye-witness account of the torture and death of Colonel Crawford raised much anger against the Indians in the western Pennsylvania population and across the country.
Colone Crawford's children each inherited land granted to them in the new Western Lands of Ohio and Kentucky, after the Revolutionary War due to his years of service. Many of his grandchildren, the sons and daughter of John, Effie, and Sarah moved to these lands in the late 1790's and early 1800's. The descendants Hannah and William Crawford number in the hundreds.
One of Colonel Crawford's descendants is Mary Theadosia Barnsback Byron, the author of this article. I am, Mary Theadosia, descended from William and Hannah Crawford's daughter, Effie Crawford and William McCormick's daughter, Sarah McCormick. Sarah married her first cousin, John McCormick, and their son was Alford McCormick. Alford was a favorite great grandchild of Hannah Crawford as he was born and lived in her cabin with his mother Sarah for a time. Alford McCormick moved to Kentucky and married. He later moved to southern Illinois where his nine children were born. Alford's youngest daughter, Theadocia McCormick was my great grandmother, and I was named for her. She and her husband, Alexander Barber raised my mother after her mother Gertie (Girty) Logan Barber died. My mother related the story of Colonel Crawford and his ghastly death at every family reunion and so I learned the story by route and have repeated it to my children and grandchildren.