Crowley Progenitors II

Crowley Progenitors: Picking up the thread from Sue Crowley's Article in Vol. 10, No.1 March, 2005

by Samuel Crowley Descendant Don Perkins

Samuel Crowley b. 1742, in Virginia, d. 10 Oct. 1774 may well be the first soldier to die in the American Revolution since the U.S. Congress declared the Battle of Pt. Pleasant VA now W.VA to be the first battle of the American Revolution. No. 10, Jeffrey Crowley in Sue Crowley's Crowley Progenitors was the father of Benjamin and Samuel Crowley. Their mother is Effie Nearne. Jeffrey's will was probated in Feb 1762. This is where our story begins. Our major source is Jack Grantham of TX. He did not discover the line before Jeffrey, but he filled in many of the details. Sue Crowley has breached his brick wall for us!

Jack Grantham's research is well supported by authentic sources. The present day Crowleys reunite annually in Williamsburg, KY. Family records confirm Jack Grantham's and other Crowley researchers' sources. Grantham says these Crowleys bred, traded, raised, and raced horses. Jeffrey owned a racetrack known as Jeffrey's Path and raced horses there and at other tracks. Jeffrey also grew peaches and made peach brandy for sale to inns and ordinary houses all over Virginia. From these the Crowley family's prominence grew.

Benjamin and Samuel grew up able to ride, shoot, hunt, race and trade with the best. Living on the frontier, they also traded with the Indians and learned Indian languages. They used these talents to spy on the Indians in time of war.

Benjamin and later brother Samuel became Long Hunters in the 1760's and made a small fortune in skins. Benjamin rode with the Boones, Finleys, Callaways and introduced Samuel to them during their trips to Kentucky. Virginia law required all able bodied males to join the militia at age 16. Benjamin fought in the French & Indian Wars. Samuel joined him later in the Botetourt County, Virginia Militia.

Benjamin Crowley married Sarah Strong. Samuel married her sister Elizabeth. The Strongs were another prominent VA family. By 1774, Samuel and Elizabeth Crowley had 7 children. He was age 33 then.

In 1774, the Botetourt County, Militia was called up by Gov. Dunmore for service against the Shawnee of Ohio, to be joined by the Virginia British Regulars. They were to meet and assemble at Point Pleasant where the Great Kanawha meets the Ohio River (a natural trap). Samuel Crowley was detached from the Botetourt County Militia and assigned to Commander Lewis as a scout and Indian Spy (Virginia Ranger). Grantham has found evidence that our Samuel Crowley was sent out early the morning of 10 Oct 1774 with another man, Robertson, to search for Indians.

Unbeknownst to the Militia, Governor Dunmore had made an agreement with Shawnee Chieftain Cornstalk to let Cornstalk make a surprise attack on the Militia while he held back his Regulars. Without the Militia to protect them, the settlers west of the Appalachians would have to withdraw from Indian Territory as agreed to in the Treaty of 1763. As the Indians were about to make their surprise attack, Crowley and Robertson came into view. A Shawnee warrior fired and mortally wounded Crowley, while Robertson raced back giving the alarm. We won that battle. So it may very well be that Samuel Crowley was the first American to die in our War of Independence.

Samuel Crowley was the only Virginia Ranger recognized by the Virginia House of Burgesses for his sacrifice. His wife Elizabeth Strong Crowley received a widow's pension for the care of her seven children.

Elizabeth Crowley stayed in Virginia until 1791 growing peaches and making brandy until her children were old enough to travel and she could sell her land. Her oldest son James and the Widow Crowley signed over the deed and left to make a 900 mile journey first by wagon over the famed Wilderness Road and then by river down to join with Benjamin and Sarah Crowley in Oglethorpe County, GA.

The Samuel Crowley story is then carried on by his seven children:

  1. Effie married Jeremiah Burnett, Jr.
  2. Agnes married Thomas Perry
  3. James (b. 1763) married 1786 Mary McClain
  4. Mary ( b. abt. 1765, d. 1835) married James Kimsey
  5. John (b. 1768) married (1) Elizabeth McClain (sister of Mary)
  6. Littleberry I or Greenberry and sometimes called Benjamin. (b. 1773, d. 1816) married Mary Polly Gibson.
  7. William (b. 1774, d. ca. 1875) married ?? Ch.: Littleberry II.

Brothers Littleberry I and James migrated from Georgia to Powell Valley, TN in 1803. Records also show brother William as deed witness by 1808 in Tennessee. Campbell County, TN. court records show a petition signed by Littleberry I, Wm., James, John and Jeremiah Croley in 1813. Mary Ann Croley married Burgess Siler about 1825 and they settled in Whitley County, KY where many of their Croley Descendants still live. Samuel Crowley's name is on two monuments at Tue Endie Wei Park (Shawanese for "place mingling two waters") where the Battle of Point Pleasant was fought. He was buried with the officers and other scouts assigned to the Commander who were killed or mortally wounded in battle. The graves are under an enormous black granite disc slanted to read the inscriptions. His name is misspelled Samuel Corley. However examination of the rolls shows there was no Corley, but there were two Croley names. One was Sam Croley and the other was his nephew James Crawley. Evidently the stone engraver got his o's and r's reversed. An 85-foot tall stone monument a short distance away has several bronze plaques telling about the battle and listing who died. One of them says Samuel Croley, Militia, unit unknown.

Samuel Crowley is buried under the Pt. Pleasant Battlefield Powder Magazine. The rolls are contained in numerous books about the closing war of the French and Indian Wars and the opening battle of our War of Independence. Battleday Celebrations are held annually at Pt. Pleasant with parades, Governors luncheons, Governor's Ball and Memorial Services. Samuel Cro(w)ley is represented in the Parade of Warriors. For questions e-mail me at