By Helen Crank
One hundred years ago, April 12, 1861, the greatest war ever fought on American soil began at Fort Sumter, S.C. The next four years brought gloom, storm, bloodshed and bravery, requiring strength and endurance, the like of which the world will probably never see again.
One by one, all the Confederate veterans have left us, and there are only 131 Confederate widows left in the state of Virginia, two of which, we in Louisa are proud to claim. They are Mrs. Estelle Barret, 95, of Rt. 4, Louisa, whose husband was John William Barrett, of Co. F, 56th Infantry Regt., and Mrs. Ida Crawford, 88, of Trevilians, widow of George William Crawford, of Company F., 43rd Virginia Cavalry.
Although Mrs. Crawford was not born until eleven years after the great conflict had come to an end, memories of happenings during the war years, which were told her by her husband, parents and four uncles are still quite fresh in her mind.
Mrs. Crawford, who was before her marriage Miss Ida Dalton Kennon, daughter of Ann Dalton Kennon and George Kennon, was born November 24, 1872, at the old Dalton homeplace at Trevilians. She was one of two children. A brother, Wesley Kennon, died at the age of 18, and her father died when she was very young. Her forefathers, the Kennons and Daltons, were early settlers of Louisa County. The Dalton name is honored by a marble tablet on the wall of the chapel at William and Mary College in Williamsburg.
Mr. and Mrs. Crawford were married at her home September 6, 1899, by the Rev. John Q. Rhodes, Sr. Among those attending the 8 o’clock wedding were the Dannes, Hancocks and Barrets. “I remember my wedding dress very well,” said the remarkable lady, “it was a beautiful shade of blue with quite a long train and was made by Mrs. Lucy Emma Bibb. I carried an armful of white lilies,” she continued.
Her husband, who was 27 years older than his bride, was born September 12, 1847, at “Locust Grove,” the ancestral home of the Crawfords about three miles east of Louisa on Rt. 33. He was the grandson of the Rev. William Crawford and Rhoda Crawford, and the eldest son of Dr. Nathan Hudson Crawford and Mary Thomasson Crawford, also of “Locust Grove.”
Reared in luxury, this youth left his comfortable home and enlisted in the Southern Army when he was only 15 years old, selecting the most dangerous and hazardous branch, under the command of Col. John S. Mosby, and was one of Mosby’s youngest men. He fought in the battles of Annandale, Harper’s Ferry, Aldie, Pohick Church and on the Eastern Shore. He died January 13, 1939. According to Mrs. Crawford, some other local boys who fought with Mosby were John Nunn, Charlie Vest, and John Puryear. We have learned from another source that James F. Henson, Samuel P. Henson and C. Danne, were also under Col. Mosby’s command.
Mrs. Crawfold’s family went all out for the “Southern Cause.” Her four uncles, Robert, Benjamin, Jack, and William Dalton, all volunteered.
Uncle William was killed at Drewry’s Bluff and Uncle Jack was a prisoner in New York for many years, but was later released.
One of the happenings, which Mrs. Crawford remembered having been told her, took place during the Battle of Treviliams, which was the largest cavalry battle of the war. Uncle Bob was escorting his mother to the home of a friend where she was to spend the night. When they were in front of the old Netherland place, they could see ahead that the road in front of them was lined with Yankee soldiers. The mother continued her journey and reached her destination. Uncle Bob hid in the brush, but was captured by the Yankees and taken to the old Dunn home and held as a prisoner. His plan was to watch closely, and if the one guard fell asleep, he would escape. This didn’t happen, a fresh guard was sent in and he was unable to get away that night. The next day, a Yankee soldier rode up on horseback and shouted to the guard. “Get on your horse and get away, we are getting the hell beat out of us down the road.” When the two left, Uncle Bob walked out of the make-shift jail. Mrs. Crawford told of one of her husband’s comrades, John Puryear, who was hung-up three times when he refused to tell the location of Col. Mosby, but the Rebel kept his silence. Later, Puryear had the opportunity to, and did shoot and kill the Yankee who was responsible for this treatment. After the war, the Yankee’s wife came to Louisa, located John Puryear and asked the details of her husband’s death.
Mrs. Crawford recalls having heard the story of Mrs. Lucy Dettor Hughson, who ran with her baby in her arms from her house when the bullets began to fall around the baby’s crib, and how a Yankee soldier helped her away from the line of fire.
The first school, which Mrs. Crawford ever attended, was in the house where she is now living, formerly the home of the late Misses Otie and Mamie Hancock. Later she attended school in a house, which is located in a field across the road from Turner’s store at Trevilians. She finished her education at Oakland Male Academy, after which she taught for several years.
Mrs. Crawford never lived anyplace except her hold homeplace called the Old Dalton home near Tervilians, until 1959 when they moved into the Hancock house, with the exception of a short time when her family filled the unexpired tem of her uncle who was the superintendent for the county home. Afterwards they returned to the old homeplace.
Two of her children, William Harris and Miss Mary Kimbrough Crawford, live at home with her and another daughter, Mrs. S.W. (Phyllis) Shelton, resides in Hanover County. She has four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Mrs. Crawford is a member of Trevilians Methodist Church and was a Sunday school teacher when the church was holding services at the old Wash-May store across the railroad from the home of the late Mrs. Mattie May Danne.
“I have a happy home,” she said. “My children are so good to me and love me so much. They would do anything in the world for me. I feel very well for my age and I sleep well.” This remarkable lady has many memories to entertain herself as well as her friends and family, especially the memories of stories told her about The War Between the States, a subject which seems to be growing more popular every day.
Reprinted from The Central Virginian, Thursday, Feb. 2, 1961