Crittenden family resided on Crittenden Plantation

Published 2:34 am Saturday, November 17, 2018

As a follow-up of last week’s story featuring the Crittenden family, today’s narrative will continue that story. Since the John Hiram “Jack” Crittenden family will be the focus, it is reviewed here for easy reference.

John Crittenden moved his family around 1852 to the Oakey Streak community near the southern border of Butler County. He brought with him many slaves, and through dedicated work and hard times, the family began to gradually prosper. He eventually acquired as many as 100 slaves who lived on the farm in quarters located behind the big house. The names and birthdays of many of these slaves were written in the family Bible. At the end of the War for Southern Independence, the slaves were free to go where they pleased, but many chose to stay with the Crittendens. They were provided houses and land to farm for supporting themselves, so some lived out their lives on the Crittenden Plantation.

John Crittenden was mentioned in The History of Butler County as being quite prosperous and one of the residents who was worth more than $15,000, which was considerable assets at that time. However, the effects of the war devastated his holdings. Their Confederate money was worthless, but they were able to save some gold which helped them survive. The other great losses where the deaths of two of his sons as well as a brother.

In addition to John Crittenden’s success in business and community affairs, his wife, Caroline Elizabeth, has been praised for her character and industriousness. She was known for her thriftiness, generosity and kind heartedness toward everyone. She was well-educated and often read late into the night. She was a frequent hostess for social gatherings in her home where they would entertain friends including those from the nearby Town of Greenville. 

Caroline Elizabeth was also known for her dainty needlework. She was credited with having made in excess of 100 quilts, a very functional item at the time, and a number of wool coverlets and white counterpanes. The latter were made from thread she had spun on her old spinning wheel, which is still in the family, and then woven into fabric on her prized loom. It has been remembered by relatives that if any relative or friend came In and offered to help her quilt, she would first have them to demonstrate their skill which had to meet her high standards. They were allowed to quilt only if she approved their work, but if not, they were invited to visit and chat.

John Hiram “Jack” and Caroline Elizabeth Greenway (Stoneham) Crittenden were the parents of the following children: John H., b. 1840, d. 1862, single; Oliver Hiram, b. 1842, d. 1895, single; Joseph Dillard, b. 1844, d. 1845; Joseph T., b. 1848, d. 1864, single; George Stoneham, b. 1854, d. 1918, m. 1874 Martha Lavinia “Mattie” Rousseau (1858-1936); and Robert “Bob” Greenway, b. 1861, d. 1936, m. 1891 Mary Ann Stallings (1867-1928).

It was a grave tragedy when their oldest son, John H. Crittenden, was killed during the War Between the States in 1862, little more than a year after his enlistment. Afterwards, they lost a second son, Joseph T. Crittenden, to the war in 1964 when he died from wounds in a hospital in Macon, Ga. He was serving as a private in Company E, 56th Alabama Cavalry Regiment of the Confederate Army. The family had earlier lost an infant son, Joseph Dillard, in 1845, so these tragedies left devastating effects on the family.

Next to the youngest son, George Stoneham Crittenden, was born in 1854 and died in 1918 in Grimes County, Tex. He was married in 1874 in Leon, Ala., to Martha Lavinia “Mattie” Rousseau, daughter of James Pickens Rousseau (1825-1893) and Mary Ann Elizabeth Mathews (1829-1894). The Rousseau family had settled in the Rose Hill community of Covington County and were some of the prominent citizens of the area.

George and Martha Lavinia Crittenden moved to the “Banks Place” near Navasota, Tex., circa 1880, some six years after their marriage. They reared their children and lived out their lives in the general area. They were the parents of the following children: Caroline “Callie” Elizabeth, b. 1875, d. 1948; Alma Gearld, b. 1880, d. 1942, m. Sebron L. Stoneham; John Rousseau Sr., b. 1883, d. 1913, m. Adalia Olga ?; Annie Phillipa, b. 1885, d. 1959, m. Thomas Benton Stoneham; George Mozea, b. 1888, d. 1954, m. Christine ?; Margaret Lavinia “Maggie,” b. 1891, d. 1973, m. John Rufus Hardy; and Eunice Evelyn, b. 1896, d. 1897.

The youngest son, Robert “Bob” Greenway Crittenden, was married in Oakey Streak in 1891 to Mary Ann Stallings (1867-1928), daughter of Reubin Reid Stallings and Leonora Anna Brogden. Mary Ann attended Highland Home College for two years. She and Robert were the parents of a daughter, Olive Elizabeth Crittenden, b. 1893, d. 1965, m. Laurin Avant.

Olive Elizabeth Crittenden was married in 1914 in Oakey Streak to Laurin Avant (1893-1973), son of Dr. William Watts Avant (1865-1906) and Minnie Iola Sentell (1871-1936) of Patsburg in Crenshaw County. Dr. William Watts Avant was born in Oakey Streak, but he died in Patsburg where he had made his home and had a medical practice in the area of Luverne. He was the son of Rev. William C. Avant (1832-1909), a native of South Carolina who died in Covington County and Samantha Melvira Webb (1839-1902) who was a native of Harris County, Ga., and who died in Montgomery, Ala. Minnie Iola Sentell was the daughter of John Troup Sentell (1830-1912) and Martha Fletcher Wilbanks (1833-1904). John was born in Newton County, Ga., and Martha was born in Meriwether County, Ga. They had moved to and made their home in Covington County, Ala., where they both died.

Olive Elizabeth and Laurin Avant were married in 1914 and were the parents of the following children: Mary Olive “Spec,” b. 1915, d. 2003, m. 1939 Walter Webb Scales (1910-1989); Robert Laurin “Bubba,” b. 1917, d. 1996, m. 1945 Marie Elise Reunauld (1922-2000); Erin Celeste, b. 1919, d. 2001, m. 1938 Raymond Mondelle Carlton Sr. (1912-1965); William “Bill” Watts, b. 1922, d. 2011, m. (1) Patricia Ann Guinn (2) Teresa Caroline Kuhnlein; and Max Crittenden, b. 1925, d. 1990, m. Louise Nettles (1926-1985).

The stately Crittenden/Avant house located in Andalusia on Sanford Road was built by Robert Greenway Crittenden as a wedding gift to his only daughter, Olive Elizabeth Crittenden, upon her marriage to Laurin Avant in 1914. The house, completed circa 1915, was designed by Frank Lockwood, Alabama State Architect. In his book entitled Andalusia, Dr. William Casson “Bill” Hansford, described the house as an example of Neo-Classical/Colonial Revival/Mt. Vernon Revival. He, in collaboration with Linda Brogden Palmer, compiled for the book “A collection of photographs, brief genealogies, histories and events associated with the city he loves and the people he loves.”

There is a chance more will be written about the Crittenden son, John H., who lost his life during the War Between the States. As stated earlier, he wrote home regularly to his family, and fortunately those letters have been preserved. They reveal much about his life as a soldier and the conditions of the family back in Oakey Streak during that difficult period.

The sources for today’s story include; Fern Nix’s book, Oakey Streak—A Historic Landmark; Dr. William C. “Bill” Hansford’s book, Andalusia; and an interview with William Avant’s daughter, Caroline Avant McCall, wife of Gerald Lathan McCall, who are the current residents of the Avant home.

Anyone who might find an error in the above is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: