Saturday, July 26, 2008

James W. Craft mystery

I was doing a search to see who had today as a birthday and I came across two James W. Craft's who shared today 100 years apart.  I thought it would be interesting to see how the two people who shared the same name lived.  Then I figured out that the second James was an input error and was actually the same person as the first.

I didn't have much on him, but thought I would do a bit more sleuthing to see what I could find.  What I found was a mystery.

James W. Craft was born July 26, 1841 to Joseph B. Craft and Martha Irby Bates.  He was the fourth of twelve children.  Many folks have in their research that James died at birth or in the same year he was born.  I found him in the 1850 census with his parents:

  • Craft, Joseph, 32, Farmer KY
  • Martha 32, VA
  • John H. 15 KY
  • Sarah 14 KY
  • Druscilla 12 KY
  • James W. 9 KY idiotic
  • William R. 6 KY
  • Martha Manerva 4 KY
  • Mary 2 KY
  • Joseph 6 months KY
This would discount those who said James died at birth, but it presents new information saying he was "idiotic".  This is not the mystery.

In 1860 the census went like this:

  • Joseph Craft, 43
  • Martha 43
  • James 18, Idiot
  • William 16
  • Martha 14
  • Mary 12
  • Joseph 10
  • Eliza  7
  • Nancy 4
  • Robert 3 months
  • All born in KY except Martha who was born in Virginia.
So again, James is there and he is marked as an Idiot.

In the 1870 Census Joseph and Martha are listed with Joseph, Elizabeth, Nancy, Robert, and Morgan.  No James.  My first thought was that he had died.  I looked and could not find a death certificate.  I started looking at what others had in their research on  I found that those who did not show him as dying as a baby had his death listed in Laurel County (London), Kentucky.  I still couldn't find a death certificate.  But here is the mystery -- they have him listed with a daughter, Sarah Pearl Craft.

Sarah was listed with a birth year of 1869 and a death date of September 15, 1947 in London.  She was listed with a husband, George Lucas.

If James died in 1898 I should at least be able to find him in the 1870 and 1880 census records. I tried James, Jim, Craft, Croft, Kraft etc and no one fit in Letcher or Laurel County.

I found a death certificate for Sally Pearl Lucas.  Her birthdate was listed as July 1, 1868 in London.  Her husband was listed as Dr. George Lucas.  Her parents were listed as Granville Pearl and Elizabeth Adams.  Aha! I thought.  Here she is and the researchers have it wrong.  She didn't have anything to do with our James W. Craft.  And then I saw the informant's name on the death certificate:  James W. Craft, Jr.  Sigh.  What was her connection to James W.

Searching for the Pearls, I found Granville and Elizabeth in 1870

  • Pearl, Granville 50
  • Elizabeth 29
  • John 9
  • Helen 8
  • Sallie 5
  • Baker, W. P. Druggist, TN
  • Ann 23
  • Charlie A. 1
  • Kerr, Martha 25, mullato, domestic servant
  • John 2, mullato
  • Barnett, Robert, 15, black, laborer of all work
Then in 1880:

  • Pearl, Granville, 61
  • Elizabeth 39
  • John 19, printer
  • Helen 17
  • Sallie 14
  • Christopher 6
I found a death certificate for Christopher Pitman Pearl.  He died of a stroke.  His parents were listed as Granville Pearl and Martha Elizabeth Adams.  The informant was Martha Adams.  His wife was Mary Catherine Farris.

I found the death certificate for Helen Pearl.  She married E. H. Harbey.  Her parents were listed as Granville Pearl and Elizabeth Adams.

I left out what I read on Sallie's death certificate. She had another disease to do with senility.   She died of arteriosclerosis heart disease after spending seven years, seven months and thirteen days in Anchorage, Jefferson County, Kentucky at the Pleasant Grove Hospital.  Oh no, another mental case, I was thinking.  But so far, all I have found out about the hospital is it is for drug and substance abuse.  She was returned to Laurel county for burial.

Was she hooked on drugs?  A closet drinker? What was her connection to James W. Craft?  Why do people list him as her father?  Why was James W. Craft the informant on her death certificate rather than her husband George Lucas or someone in the Pearl family?

I can't imagine James with a life of his own after being listed as idiotic on the two census records.  However, Margaret Wright was listed that way and the family says it was because she didn't speak English and the census taker marked her that way because he couldn't understand her. 

I wonder about James and Sallie and their relationship.  And where is James in 1870 and 1880?  Where is his death certificate? 


  1. I have an answer to your question about James W. Craft and Sallie Pearl Lucas. There is a Sallie Pearl who married Morgan T. Craft, James' younger brother. Morgan was born in 1862, so I am assuming this is the same Sallie Pearl you have been researching. That would make James W. her brother-in-law.

    I was interested in your Blog because you have a lot of the same family names that I do. I was born a Tacket, supposedly a descendant of Philip Tacket, but I have yet to find the proof. My mother was a Pennington from Letcher Co. and my grandmother a Caudill from the same ancestry that Bucky Tackett married into. I also have Adams, Boggs, Craft, and Webb in there too. We must be kin. I think like you do and have to trace down all the little puzzles that I find.

  2. Thanks for confirming the info about Sallie Pearl. I love puzzles, but I sure like it better when they come together. Thank you for reading and please comment or share whenever you like.