Another look is taken of the black Crittenden family

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 3, 2019

Another look is taken of the black Crittenden family

Along with some very complimentary comments regarding last week’s story of the black Crittenden family, there were some errors identified. Needless to say, when working with very sketchy data, it is difficult to keep everything in proper order. In an effort to correct as much as possible, an update of some of the information is included in today’s column. Since the lineage of Larney “Lonnie” Crittenden was outlined and included a few errors, it is presented again with known corrections.

First, a comment is in order regarding the earliest known ancestor of this Crittenden family, Big Joe, as he was known. It would be so interesting to know what his earlier ancestry and parents’ names were before he chose to use the Crittenden name of his master. He was undoubtably a smart and talented man as he was a blacksmith and in charge of all the shops on the Crittenden plantation. He served well in this role and became the father of a large family.

Lonnie Crittenden’s oldest child and with his first wife, Carrie Mae Nix, was named Oliver Crittenden who was born in 1896. Carrie Mae died at an early age and left Lonnie with the infant Oliver. Lonnie was next married to Isabella McClain (1876-1972), daughter of Alford McClain, who became Oliver’s mother as well. Lonnie and Isabella were the parents of the following children: Lonza “L.Z.,” b. 1903, m. Cassie Mae Bradley; Mary, m. Rayfield Haynes; Aubrey, b. 1907, d. 1999, m. Maybell Hilson; Mattie, b. 1908, m. 1931 Willie Lee Jones; Lewis, b. 1910, m. Viola Curry; Robert, b. 1912, m. Willie Edna Gamble; George, b. 1815, m. Bessie Cobb; Arzell, b. 1917, m. Willie Mae Cowan; and Alfonza, b. 1920, m. Louise Henry.

The oldest child, Oliver Crittenden was a farmer, and he and his wife, Zellie Mae Hawkins, resided in the Red Level community. They were the parents of the following children: Jimmy Clyde, b. 1917; Mary, b. 1917; John Oliver Jr., b. 1918; Cary, b. 1920, d. 1993; Ester Bell, b. 1922; Carrie D., b. 1924, d. 1952; Zellie May, b. 1926; Essie Wee , b. 1929; Preston, b. 1931; Julia G., b. 1933; Minnie L., b. 1935; and Robert L., b. 1937. Oliver’s family has begun having reunions of primarily his descendants. On June 21-23 of 2019, the gathering was held in Kentucky, and there more than 400 in attendance.

Lonnie and Isabella Crittenden’s oldest child together was Lonzo who was born in 1903. He became know as L.Z. and was married to Cassie Mae Bradley. They moved to Detroit, Mich., where he engaged in work with auto parts. He later became the first preacher in the family. He and Cassie Mae were the parents of two sons, Joe and Albert.

Mary Crittenden was the second child and first daughter. She was born in 1905 and was the first in the family to be graduated from high school. She was married to Rayfield Haynes, and they moved to Century, Fla., to make their home. Rayfield became a minister, and they did not have any children.

Aubrey Crittenden was the next child born to Lonnie and Isabella. He was born in 1906 and became known as Uncle Man, because he walked around saying, “I am a man.” He married Maybell Hilson, and they made their home in the River Falls/Bethlehem community where He farmed. They were the parents of five children: Walter, Herbert, Mary, Beulah and Rena.

Lonnie and Isabella Crittenden’s daughter, Mattie Crittenden, was married in 1931 to Willie Lee Jones, son of Genie Jones and Ann Martin. They made their home in the Red Level community where Willie Lee worked as a sharecropper. They were the parents of the following children: Glenda, b. 1932, m. Laymon Gamble; Julia Bell, b. 1933, d. 2019, single; Lonnie, b. 1935, d. 1957, m. Annie Brown; Mary Ella, b. 1936, single; Walter Mack, b. 1938, single; Willie Lewis, b. 1940, d. 2018, m. (1) Claudia Breckenridge (2) Lela Mae Pitts; Annie Jean, b. 1941, m. Henry Valentine; Mose, b. 1943, m. Evelyn ?; George, b. 1943, d. 1966; single; Paul, b. 1946, m. Andretta Bradley; Clarence, b. 1949, m. Francese ?; and Mattie Lee, b. 1951, m. Anthony Freeney.

Lewis Crittenden, the fifth child, became known as Uncle Wing, because even after losing part of his arm, he could still pitch a mean baseball. Family said “He could ‘wing’ that ball!” He was married to Viola Curry, and they resided in the Red Level area where Lewis farmed. They were the parents of the following 10 children: Ozell Curry, Robert, Ola Bell, Essie Mae, Mary Alice, Gracie, Clara, Octavia, Janice and Willie Edna.

Robert Crittenden, the sixth child, was born in 1912 and became known as Uncle Tutt. He was married to Willie Edna Gamble, and they lived in Red Level where he was a farmer. They were the parents of the following four children: Patricia, Gordon, James Cowan and Artilda.

George Crittenden, the seventh child, was born in 1915. Upon being graduated from high school, he joined the Job Corps, and he was later drafted for serviced in the U.S. Army. He was married to Bessie Cobb, and they resided in Los Angeles, Cal. They were the parents of two daughters, Mattie George and Betty.

Arzell Crittenden, the eighth child, was born in 1917 and became known as Uncle Doll. He earned the nickname from getting hooked on the horns of his favorite cow named Doll. He was married to Willie Mae Cowan, and they moved to Detroit where he worked as a butler. He and Willie Mae did not have any children.

Alfonza Crittenden, the ninth and youngest child, was born in 1920 and became known as Uncle Al. He married Louise Henry, and they moved to Detroit as two of his older brothers had. He worked as a delivery man for Love Brothers Furniture. He and Louise were the parents of four children: Donald, Willie, Patsy and Barbara.

There are many other Crittenden families who are related to the ones featured in this column. It is hope that the various lines will continue to compile their genealogy for future generations.

The descendants of Lonnie and Isabella Crittenden have a tradition of holding family reunions. Although they were begun years earlier, they are now called The Third Generation of Lonnie and Isabella Crittenden reunions. This reunion is open to all descendants of Lonnie and Isabella. Their latest one was held on July 18-21, 2019, in Savannah, Ga. There is a rotation among the families as to who hosts the occasion.

A very special celebration is planned for later this summer for a Crittenden descendant, Dankie Crittenden, who will be honored on his 105th birthday!  His family is planning a party to be held on August 31 at the River Falls Community Center, which is the former River Falls School, Number 2. There will certainly be a large host of relatives and friends who gather to recognize him on this special date.

Sources for today’s narrative were primarily the family records of Mattie (Jones) Freeney, daughter of Mattie (Crittenden) and Willie Lee Jones.

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