John Turner Cromwell

John Turner Cromwell

By Marshall T. Page and Bobby Joe Seales

This article appeared in the  "Shelby County Historical Society Quarterly"   magazine, dated July 2000.
Visit the Shelby County Historical Society, Inc.   for further information.

Wiley B. & Mary Jane (Seale) Cromwell & Family
Photo restoration by BlueMoon Studios

(Left to Right) Thomas Oliver "Tom" Cromwell ... Mary Jane (Seale) Cromwell ... Wiley Baker Cromwell ... Willaby Turner "Will" Cromwell
"Our Home 1898"

John Turner Cromwell (Sr.), born about 1818 in Georgia and on February 26, 1840 in Shelby County Alabama married Jane Catherine McClanahan, born about 1822, the daughter of Samuel Micthell & Catherine McClanahan, both of South Carolina. The Last Will and Testament for John T. Cromwell was probated in Shelby County Alabama on October 26, 1896 at which time all of his children were listed.

The second marriage for John T. Cromwell was on May 26, 1864 in Shelby County Alabama to Dempsey A.R. Stinson. Redempsey A. Rebecca "Dempsey" Stinson, born January 14, 1847 in Shelby County Alabama, was the only daughter of Hugh Acy Mack Stinson and Elizabeth B. Farr. She died in 1918 in Ringgold, Texas and is buried in the Ringgold Cemetery. (See Descendants of Hugh Acey Mack Stinson and Elizabeth B. Farr, by Thelma H. Bull, 1983.) The June 10, 1870 Shelby County Alabama census records indicate John Cromwell, age 52 years, born in Georgia. However, Wiley Cromwell, age 28 years, was listed as head of household. Living with them, all born in Alabama, were (1) Rebecca, age 21 years, "keeping house", (2) Mary, female, age 18 years, (3) Georgia, female, age 15 years, (4) George O., male, age 12 years, (5) Corene, female, age 9 years, (6) Frances, female, age 5 years, this being the first child born to John T. and Rebecca Cromwell, (7) Elisabeth, female, age 3 years, (8) Infant, female, age 3 months, born in February, and (9) Bragg Cromwell, male, age 14 years, "works on farm."  It is unknown as to what relation Bragg was to John and Rebecca "Dempsey" Cromwell.

The Shelby Sentinel, Thursday, October 31, 1878, "Died on Friday last, the 25th inst., in this place, Ellis, infant son of Mr. and Mrs. John T. Cromwell, Sr."

John T. and Catherine Cromwell had eight known children.

(1) Their first child was Wiley B. Cromwell, born February 2, 1841 and died November 19, 1915 in Shelby County Alabama. He enlisted as a Private, Company "C", 25th Regt. Alabama Infantry, C.S.A. His obituary is found in The Peoples Advocate, dated Thursday, November 25, 1915, and indicate  "... He was born and raised in Columbiana, and served four years in the civil war, and had been a member of the Methodist church for thirty years. He was well known and highly esteemed. He is survived by two brothers, John T. Cromwell of this place and David Cromwell of Montgomery, three sisters and several half brothers and sisters who reside in Texas and Oklahoma. The funeral services were conducted Saturday afternoon and interment was made in Beaver Creek Cemetery near Shelby."   He married in Shelby County Alabama on December 25, 1870 to Mary Jane Seale, born July 3, 1848 and died October 11, 1907. Her obituary is found in The Peoples Advocate, dated Thursday, October 17, 1907. She was the only daughter of Willaby Seale and Sarah Sophronia Ford. Wiley B. and Mary Jane Cromwell had two sons, Willaby Turner Cromwell, born January 25, 1882, died March 11, 1915 and Thomas Oliver Cromwell, born August 20, 1884, died December 6, 1912. The obituary for Will T. Cromwell is found in The Peoples Advocate, dated Thursday, April 15, 1915, and the obituary for Tom Cromwell is found in The Peoples Advocate, dated Thursday, December 12, 1912. They are all buried in Old Beaver Creek Cemetery, also known as Seale Cemetery, which is located about half way between Columbiana and Shelby on County Road 47 in Shelby County Alabama.

(2) Missouri P. Cromwell, born October 14, 1844, died March 26, 1902. Col. D.H. Huyett, born October 25, 1832, died September 6, 1873. They are buried in Columbiana City Cemetery in Shelby County Alabama. On March 17, 1867 in Shelby County Alabama, D.H. Huyett married Missouri Cromwell. In 1896, at the time her father’s Last Will and Testament was probated, she was indicated as Mrs. Missouri Huyett, residing in Shelby County Alabama. Her obituary is found in The Peoples Advocate, dated Thursday, April 3, 1902, and indicate,  "... Mrs. Missouri P. Huyett, (died) on the morning of March 26, 1902, at the age of 57 years ... Mrs. Huyett kept boarders for a long time, in fact, this was her means of support ... She leaves two daughters, Miss Belle Huyett of this city, and Mrs. (Randolph) Kate Chandler, of Craft, Ga., and several relatives to mourn her departure ...."

(3) Mary P. Cromwell, female, born about 1850. The October 30, 1850 Shelby County Alabama census indicate that she was 7 months old. The June 10th, 1870 Shelby County Alabama census records indicate that she was 18 years of age. In 1896, at the time her father’s Last Will and Testament was probated, she was indicated as Mrs. Mary P. Sharpe residing in Montgomery County Alabama.

(4) George Oliver Cromwell, born about 1858. In 1896, at the time his father’s Last Will and Testament was probated, it was indicated, "Richard, Lou Ella and Oliver Cromwell, minor children of Oliver Cromwell, deceased, residing with their mother, Virgie Cromwell, in Montgomery County Alabama."

(5) Corine Cromwell, born about 1861. In 1896, at the time her father’s Last Will and Testament was probated, she was indicated as Corine Harrison, wife of Joe Harrison, residing in Coosa County Alabama.

(6) David A. Cromwell, born about 1845 and died October 28, 1923 in Montgomery County Alabama. The obituary, The Shelby County Advocate, dated November 1, 1923,  "David A. Cromwell, 77, for seventeen years an officer of the Montgomery police department, and a Confederate Veteran, died at a locat hospital Sunday morning at 6 o’clock, following an illness of several weeks. A native of Shelby county, Mr. Cromwell had been a resident of Montgomery for 31 years and was widely known and beloved throughout the city and county. At the age of 17 years Mr. Cromwell enlisted in the Confederate Army and served throughout the civil war, with honor and distinction as a brave and gallant soldier of the South. He was a Christian gentleman and a devoted member of the Highland Avenue Baptist Church. In addition to his widow, Mr. Cromwell is survived by one daughter, Mrs. Otto Hake of Esponois, New Mexico, one son, J.O. Cromwell of Washington D.C., also two sisters, Mrs. William Fraser of Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Mrs. Joseph Haralson of Dallas, Texas. - Montgomery Advertiser, October 29. Mr. Cromwell was a brother of the late John T. Cromwell of this place, and was well known to many of our older citizens. He was born and reared in this county."

(7) Georgia Viola Cromwell was born February 6, 1856 in Shelby County and died March 7, 1938 in Tuscaloosa County Alabama. She married at her home in Columbiana, Alabama on November 20, 1873 to George William Fraser, born September 9, 1850 and died August 31, 1935. George and Georgia Fraser had nine known children, but only three lived past the age of four. They were George William Fraser, Jr., 1878-1944, Robert Fraser, born October 6, 1883 and died February 14, 1912, Agnes Louise Fraser, born March 27, 1894 and died November 24, 1949, was married on July 20, 1921 to Eugene Sample Jackson. Family tradition says that George was a descendant of one of the five survivor of the 14th century Fraser clan and that Georgia is a descendant of Oliver Cromwell.

(8) John Turner Cromwell (Jr), born April 3, 1847, died February 27, 1920 in Shelby County Alabama. John T. Cromwell married in Shelby County Alabama on April 8, 1869 to Emily Vines, born February 14, 1846 in Wetumpka, Elmore County, Alabama and died June 29, 1937 in Greenville, South Carolina. She was the daughter of John Vines and Mary Patience Clarke. At the time of her death she was living with Oliver Cromwell Johnson who was the son of F.M. Johnson and Georgia Cromwell. Her obituary, Shelby County Reporter, July 1, 1937,  "Rev. T.K. Roberts received the following telegram Wednesday morning: ‘Grandma, Emily Cromwell living in Greenville, S.C. with me since last April, died tonight, June 29, age 90. She went peacefully and without pain. Her body will be cremated and held for funeral at Columbiana at some future date.’ Signed, Oliver Cromwell Johnson. Mrs. Cromwell was the widow of the late John Cromwell and Columbiana was their home for many years. She was a faithful and devoted member of the Methodist church and she has many friends in Columbiana and the county who will be saddened by the news of her death."

The Peoples Advocate, Thursday, June 9, 1892, indicate  "John T. Cromwell, who has secured the star route mail contract between this place and Shelby will enter upon the duties incident to his contract on July 1. Mr. Cromwell is making an effort to have the time so changed as to leave Columbiana in the morning instead of Shelby. If his prayer is granted by the department he will make an extra trip each week, delivering the mail at Shelby on Saturdays after the southbound mail train passes this point in the afternoon. The business men of Shelby readily signed Mr. Cromwell’s petition praying for the change."

As indicated in The Peoples Advocate, March 4, 1920,  "Mr. John T. Cromwell, better known as ‘Uncle John,’ died at his home in this place last Friday morning at 5 o’clock, after an illness of several days with pneumonia, and other complications ... For over 30 years he carried the mail from the post office to the Southern depot for the government, and was always faithful in the discharge of his duties, and held that position until his death. He was 72 years and 11 months old, and had always been a member of the Methodist Church for many years. He is survived by his wife, two daughters, Mrs. Georgia Johnson of Bessemer, Mrs. J.W.M. Page of this place; one son, Joe Cromwell of Selma; one brother, Oliver Cromwell of Montgomery; two sisters, Mrs. Joe Harrison of Texas, and Mrs. W.F. Frasher of Tuscaloosa, several half brothers and sisters, and many grandchildren. Funeral services were conducted from the Methodist Church last Saturday at 2 o’clock by the pastor, Rev. Wm. Neil, assisted by Rev. I.J. Davis, and interment was made in the city cemetery ...."   He is probably buried, however, no grave marker, in Columbiana City Cemetery next to their son, Willie A. Cromwell, "son of John T. and Emily Cromwell", born June 29, 1870, died July 25, 1887.

In Memoriam, The Peoples Advocate, dated March 18, 1920, indicate  "John Turner Cromwell was born in Columbiana, Ala., April 3, 1847, and died February 27, 1920. April 8, 1869, he married Miss Emily Vines. The union was blessed with six children, three of whom survive as follows: Mrs. J.W.M. Page, of this city; Mrs. F.M. Johnson, of Bessemer, and J.R. Cromwell, of Selma. The grandchildren number fifteen ...."

The three surviving children of John T. amd Emily Cromwell were: Mary Adaline "Addie" Cromwell, born June 27, 1873 and married in Shelby County Alabama on March 17, 1897 to James Woodson Marshall Page. (See Heritage of Shelby County, Alabama.) Georgia Olivette Cromwell, born February 4, 1878 and married in Shelby County Alabama on November 24, 1903 to Frank Marion Johnson. In 1924 she was listed as a “widow” and living with her son, a student, at 1715 Second Avenue, in Bessemer, Jefferson County, Alabama. Joseph O.R. Cromwell, born March 27, 1880. He married Emice C. Bryan in Jefferson County Alabama on June 3, 1908.

As told by Marshall T. Page, quoting the remaining of this article,  "In the period of the 1840's to 1890's most of the schools were one-room buildings and were either built using logs or hand hued timbers, with a window cut into two of the walls to let light in and on one end an opening for a door was made the other end there would be a blackboard. The benches were made out of split logs with legs for the students to sit on and sometime placed around the walls to give them something to lean on. Desks were made the same way that the seats were, but had longer legs and would serve as special writing desk, most of the time they just laid their papers or slates on the seat beside them when writing. And just about every small community of Shelby County had a school for the local residents to learn how to read and write.

One of the earliest schools that I found of interest was the Prospect School which was started about 1895 and met in the home of the Keller's in the area long known as Keller's Hill and that one of the first teachers was my grand aunt Georgia Cromwell. She was a sister of my grandmother, Mary Adaline "Addie" (Cromwell) Page, and the daughter of John T. and Emily Cromwell.

The school was moved to the old Prospect Church, which stood near the farms of Green Seale and Henry Beasley. This building eventually became dilapidated, thus an appeal was made to the deacons of the new Prospect Baptist Church for permission to have school in the new church building. Permission was finally granted, but there were some members that had strong feelings that the children would break out the highly prized glass windows, which was very costly in that period of time. It came to pass that the students did not break any of the windows. The move to the new church was made about 1915 and students were taught there yearly until about 1930 when they started attending the Shelby Consolidated School.

Teachers of the Prospect School, including Miss Georgia Cromwell, were Webster Guy, Miss Schrader, Miss Vonzelle Mooney, Miss Ethel Bearden, Phillip Friedberger, Miss Agnes Wingard, Miss Emmie Pitts, Mrs. Laurie Sparks, and Miss Maurine Dobbs."