Rose Fortner Crouch > Caldona Crouch Scott > Lela Scott Rose > Darlene Rose Miller > Me
Rosie Lovenia FORTNER Crouch—my 2x great grandmother—was born on July 8, 1860 in Fayette County, Tennessee. Fayette County, part of the Mississippi delta, is in the southeast corner of Tennessee, next to Shelby County on the border with Mississippi. While a lot of counties of the 1860s have gone through dramatic boundary changes, Fayette County looks pretty much the same as it did 150 years ago.
Note: I’ve seen her name as Rosina, Rosa, Rosy, and Rosie. The different spellings below refer to the spelling in the census report I’m referencing.
When Rosie was born her father, James Burrows Fortner was 20 and her mother, Martha Jane Birdwell Fortner was 24. There are no children listed with the Fortners in the 1860 census. The 1860 census I have was taken in Mountain Township, Valley Springs post office in Van Buren County Arkansas.
Either Rosie was born in Arkansas, or she was born in Tennessee and was missed when the census was taken in Arkansas.
Rosie married George Washington CROUCH on July 30, 1876 in Settlement, Arkansas. This marriage date is listed differently in subsequent census records. Some family trees say they were married in Shirley, Arkansas, but the town didn’t exist until 1911. Settlement was along the Middle Branch of the Little Red River deep in the hill country of the Ozark Mountains in present day Van Buren County, Arkansas.
Shortly after the Crouches moved to Oklahoma the railroad came through Van Buren County and crossed the river upstream from Settlement. In 1911 the town of Shirley was established at the location of the new depot and bridge. It spelled the end of Settlement. The community dwindled, eventually disappearing completely.
Wisconsin Bridge & Iron Co. was hired by Missouri & North Arkansas Railroad to build a bridge over the Little Red River near Settlement in 1908. Sheer bluffs prevented the cut from being made at the long-established town of Settlement just down river, resulting in the town of Shirley being officially established at the alternate location in 1911.
Here’s a map of Shirley, Arkansas and my best guess at the location of Settlement. My source is a 1976 map in A History of Van Buren County celebrating the Arkansas sesquicentennial, that’s 150 years, 1833–1983. While Settlement isn’t on the map, my mom got the book while doing research in Arkansas and she has pointed out Shirley and marked the approximate location of Settlement.
George W Crouch received a patent for 160.95 acres May 3, 1895 thanks to the Homestead Act of 1862. This means he had lived on and improved that piece of land for at least five years. The family is counted here in the U.S. Census of 1900, but by the 1910 census they are in Oklahoma. Their daughter Caldona—my great grandmother—married in Oklahoma in 1906 so they migrated between 1900 and 1906.
Land records could provide more information. If we find out when they sold the family farm we might get a better idea of when they moved. Although the couple never divorced, they separated before 1910 and lived apart the rest of their lives. Rosie died on November 24, 1934, in Byars, Oklahoma, at the age of 74.
July 30, 1876 is the wedding date I have for Rosie & George. This date conflicts with the 1900 census that reports they had been married 31 years, which puts their wedding date at 1869. However, if Rosie was born in 1860 this means she married at age 9. More likely they’d been married 21 years at the time which puts their wedding date in 1879. Marriage records will solve the mystery if we can find them. George Washington Crouch was a widower with one daughter. He was first married to Martha Stephens and they had a daughter, Sarah Lou Ann. Family sources say Wash was a blacksmith and dentist. Since blacksmiths had the tools to do the job, they were called upon when a tooth went bad and needed pulling.
In 1880, Rosa L. Fortner Crouch was 19 years old, although it looks like “14” to me when I read the census. She lives in Union Township, Van Buren County, Arkansas with her husband, George, their baby daughter Eliza, 5 months old, and George’s daughter Sarah, age 11. They live “next door” to Rosa’s family: her dad, James B. Fortner, Martha J Birdwell Fortner, her mom; and siblings: William, 12; James, 10; Mary, 7; and Susan, 4. If Rosa was 14, that means she was born about 1866. If she was 19, that puts her birth year in 1861.
Here are the kids listed in the 1880 census.
1. 1880 – Eliza Jane
1868 – Sarah L, age 11, daughter of George W. and Martha Stephens (Sarah Lou Ann)
In 1895 George receives a patent for 160 acres in Van Buren County.
This census says Rosa and George have been married 31 years, which means they married in 1869. This census also says Rosa was born in 1859, which means she got married when she was ten years old. Not likely.
By 1900 Eliza and James have moved out of the family home, but Sarah, George’s oldest daughter, and the five youngest kids are in the home. This census incorrectly lists “Dony” as a son, but she is my great grandmother. Dony—pronounced with a long o—is a nickname for Caldona.
1868 – Sarah, 30
2. 1882 – James Washington
3. 1884 – Mary Magdoline (Meg)
4. 1888 – John William5. 1890 – Flave Thaddeus
6. 1892 – Caldona Della Kathryn, my great grandma—we called her Mommie.
7. 1895 – Beulah Louisa (Chub)
In 1906 in Oklahoma Caldona Della Kathryn Crouch marries Avery Albert Scott which means the Crouch family left Arkansas after the 1900 Census.
This census says Rosa Crouch was 49 years old in 1910. Which still puts her birth year in 1859. She is counted as “married” but she and her youngest daughter Beulah (Chub), 14, lived with the family of Eliza, her oldest daughter. Eliza is married to Charlie Willard and they have 4 kids ages 9, 7, 2, and 2 months.
Wash was known as a drinker, which is likely the cause of the split. I wonder if she lived with him at all after they came to Oklahoma.
In 1920, Rosy L. Crouch was 58 years old (this puts her birth year in 1862) and lived in Eason Township, Pottawatomie County, Oklahoma with her son, Flave, his wife and their three kids.
In 1930, Rosie Crouch was 69 years old (1861) and lived in Byars, Oklahoma with her daughter, Eliza, and her husband and three kids.
1930 United States Federal Census
Rosie A Crouch; July 8, 1869; Nov. 24, 1934
I’ve always heard her name was Rosie Lovenia Fortner but her headstone says Rosie A. Rosie L. is how she is listed in any census with a middle initial, so where does the “A” come from? And I’m still not sure of her birth year. Her husband, George Washington Crouch, shaved two years off his age starting with the 1880 census. (I’ll share his bio soon.) If she was 14 when they married she probably added years to her age to make the difference less dramatic. She is buried in the Byars Cemetery in McClain County, Oklahoma.
Next steps in my Fortner/Crouch research:
1. Look for marriage records for Rosie and George in Settlement, Van Buren Co., Arkansas.
2. Look at Rosie’s parents—Fortner/Birdwell—for clues about Rosie’ birthplace and date.
3. Look for land records for sale of land in Arkansas.
Anyone out there have more information about these people? Any suggestions about where to look next?