William H CRISWELL John Jefferson CRISWELL Ida Myrtle CRISWELL Leona CRISWELL Robert Bryan CRISWELL Alice RAY Noah D CRISWELL Jane C MCSWAIN Martha J CONNELLY Caledonia CRISWELL Manuel Harvey CRISWELL Margaret CRISWELL Thomas Jefferson CRISWELL Robert F CRISWELL Joseph L CRISWELL Edd Ragan CRISWELL Margaret E CRISWELL Lee Jackson CRISWELL Jesse Quitman CRISWELL Martha A JACKSON Mini tree diagram

James B CRISWELL1,2,1,4,1,5,6,7,3,8

Oct 18701,2,3,1,4,1,5,6,7,8 - after 19408

Life History

Oct 1870

Born in Attala County, Mississippi.1,2,3,1,4,1,5,6,7,8


Resident in Newport, Attala, Mississippi.6

18th Jan 1894

Married Alice RAY in Arkansas County, Arkansas.1

14th Dec 1894

Birth of daughter Ida Myrtle CRISWELL in Arkansas.2,1,9,5

26th Aug 1898

Birth of daughter Leona CRISWELL in Arkansas.10,1,11

11th Mar 1900

Birth of son Robert Bryan CRISWELL in Arkansas.12,13,4,1,14,5,2

before Oct 1906

Death of Alice RAY

28th Oct 1906

Married Jane C MCSWAIN in Arkansas County, Arkansas.1,4

Oct 1908

Birth of son Noah D CRISWELL in Arkansas.4,2

before 1913

Death of Jane C MCSWAIN in Prairie Township, Arkansas, Arkansas.15

18th Aug 1913

Married Martha J CONNELLY in Arkansas County, Arkansas.4,1

after 1940

Death of Martha J CONNELLY in Arkansas

after 1940

Died in Arkansas.8


  • For a long time the earliest information I could find about JamesCriswell and family was the 1900 census.  I found the 1880 census onlyin February 2010.  In 1880 we find James with his parents and siblingsin Attala County, Mississippi, where the children were born.

    1880 Federal Census, Attala County, Mississippi, 24 June, Beat 4,District 17, p 51, #461, Fam #465
    Criswell, William 40    Farmer MS MS MS (b abt 1840)
    Criswell, Martha W F 38 Wife Keeping House b MS MS MS (b abt 1842)
    Criswell, James    W M 10 Son  MS MS MS (b abt 1870)

    James married Alice Ray in 1894.

    Arkansas, County Marriages Index, 1837-1957
    J B Criswell
    Gender: Male
    Age: 23, Birth Year abt 1871
    Residence: Ethel, Arkansas, Arkansas
    Spouse's Name: Alice Ray
    Spouse's Age: 16
    Spouse's Residence: Ethel, Arkansas, Arkansas
    Marriage 18 Jan 1894 Arkansas County
    Marriage License Date: 18 Jan 1894

    In 1900 James and his family are living next door to Phillip KMcSwain, and some of the Padgetts.  His brother Harvey is boardingwith the McSwains.  Before the next census, Harvey will marryPhillip's niece, Callie McSwain, daughter of George B and Harriet.

    1900 Federal Census, Arkansas County, Arkansas, 19 June, PrairieTownship, Country Road, District 7, page 13B, Hse #219, Fam #293
    Criswell, James Head W M  Oct 1870  29  married 6 years  MS AL AL FarmLaborer
    Criswell, Allice Wife W F  Oct 1876  23  married 6 years  Borne 4children, 3 living  AR AR AR
    Criswell, Myrtle Dau W F  Dec 1894  5  AR MS AR
    Criswell, Leona Dau W F  Aug 1897  2  AR MS AR
    Criswell, Robert F  Son W M Mar 1900  2mos AR MS AR

    Note that both James' parents are reported here as born in Alabama,but in 1880 they had been reported born in Mississippi.  In 1906,James married Jane Holden.  I cannot determine for sure if Alice hasdied or the couple divorced.

    Arkansas, County Marriages Index, 1837-1957
    Janie Holdon [Holden]
    Age 28, Birth Year abt 1878
    Residence Ethel, Arkansas, Arkansas
    Spouse's Name: J B Criswell
    Spouse's Age: 36
    Spouse's Residence: Ethel, Arkansas, Arkansas
    Marriage 28 Oct 1906 Arkansas County
    Marriage License Date: 27 Oct 1906

    1910 Federal Census, Arkansas County, Arkansas, 18 April, PrairieTownship, Country Road, District 15, page 2A, Hse/Fam #18
    Criswell, James Head M W 39  2nd marriage, married 3 years  MS SC ALFarmer
    Criswell, Janie C Wife F W 32   2nd marriage, married 3 years  Borne 6children, 5 living  AR NC NC
    Criswell, Bryan R  Son M W 10  AR MS AR Farm Laborer
    Criswell, Noah D  Daughter [sic] M W 1yr 6mos  AR MS AR [born Oct1908]
    Holden, Caldonia Step-daughter F W 9 AR MS AR
    Holden, Wattie [Mattie?] Son [Step-Son/Step-Daughter?] F W 6 AR MS AR

    The birth place of James' father has changed again.  Now it is SouthCarolina.  Note that this is the second marriage for both, accordingto the enumerator.  This is the only census that indicates the howmany time they have been married.  They have been married for 3 years,so they married about 1907.  Bryan R is 10 years old, so this is theson of James' first wife.  She must have died soon after Bryan'sbirth, because there are no other children, until Noah, son of Janie.

    Where is Myrtle?  She should be about 15 in this census.  Leona, about12 at this time, is also missing.  This might indicate that theparents were divorced, and the girls are living with their mother.Their son Bryan, who appears to be the same child as Robert in 1900,is in this household with his father.  I have not found a separatehousehold with Allice (Alice) and the two girls.  Perhaps these girlsare living with family members.  Myrtle comes back into the household,and is still single at the time of the 1920 census.

    The last two children in the household confirm that this is the secondmarriage for Janie.  Ancestry.com has transcribed Janie's son Wattieas Mattie.  A descendant of Caldonia also tells me that her brother'sname was Mattie.  The entry for Mattie is a bit puzzling.  Theenumerator first wrote for the relationship "Step-daughter" thenpartially erased it, then wrote over it the word "Son."  But Mattiewould be a step-son of James, a brother to Caldonia.  This child, whowould be 16 in the 1920 census, is not enumerated with this family in1920.

    I learned from other genealogies that Jane was previously married toWilliam Holden.  The Caldonia here matches information on the Holdengenealogy of Jerry Griffitt.  Jerry details the Criswell and Holdenfamily connections in Arkansas County.  Here is his configuration ofthe Holden family of Jane, whom he reports as Jane R.

    William H Holden
    Birth Nov 1859 in Mississippi,
    Death BET 1903 AND 1907 in Prarie, Arkansas Co., Arkansas
    Marriage 1895 Prarie, Arkansas, Arkansas, to Jane R Mar 1878
    Born in Prairie, Arkansas, Arkansas, Died 1930 in Prairie Township,Arkansas, Arkansas
    Ethel Holden b Mar 1884 in Mississippi
    John H Holden, Birth 27 Sep 1896 in Arkansas, Death 1 Oct 1978 in LosAngeles City, California
    Caldonia Holden, Birth 22 Jan 1901 in Prarie, Arkansas, Arkansas,Death 11 March 1995 in Dallas, Polk, Oregon
    Mattie Holden b 1904 in Arkansas
    --  Holden Family,http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/10407308/person/-645503526

    Griffitt reports the male child I mentioned above as Mattie.  Griffittcites the 1900 census, which seems to match the form of the name inthe 1910 census of the Criswell-Holden family above.  If this listingis correct, perhaps this is a nickname for the full name Matthew.

    The name of James' wife in 1920 is Mattie, which matches the 1930entry for Martha J.  I could not find the documentation for this thirdwife until August 2012, when the marriage record turned up in theever-improving Ancestry.com resources.

    Arkansas, County Marriages Index, 1837-1957
    J B Criswell
    Gender Male
    Age 43, Birth Year abt 1870
    Residence Ethel, Arkansas, Arkansas
    Spouse Mattie Connelly
    Spouse's Age 46
    Spouse's Residence Ethel, Arkansas, Arkansas
    Marriage 18 Aug 1913 Arkansas County
    Marriage License Date 15 Aug 1913

    Note that Giriffitt reports that Janie Holden Criswell died in 1930,though he does not have an exact date of death, and not source.  TheHolden genealogy follows him on this.  Neither has documentation, andI have found no details related to Janie's death.  Griffitt providescensus information as a source, so the unsourced information seems tobe from family knowledge.  Mattie in 1920, matching Martha of 1930 inage and name, would be this third wife, Martha (Mattie) Connelly.Mattie is reported as James Criswell's wife in the 1920 census.

    1920 Federal Census, Arkansas County, Arkansas, 9 February, PrairieTownship, Country Road, District 15, page 6A, Hse/Fam #109
    Criswell, James Head M W 49  MS SC SC Farmer
    Criswell, Mattie Wife F W 53  AR AR AR
    Criswell, Myrtle Dau F W 25  AR MS AR Farm Laborer
    Criswell, Robert Son M W 20  AR MS AR Farm Laborer
    Criswell, Noah Son M W 11  AR MS AR

    Now both James' parents are said to have been born in South Carolina.The child Robert here matches the child Bryan R in 1910.  We canconclude, then, that his name was Bryan Robert.  But I recall that inthe 1900 census, there was a Robert F.  This complicates the matter.Both these names also have middle initials:  Bryan R and Robert F.Something is wrong somewhere.  I find Robert Criswell married in the1930 census.  He matches the other entries here.  It appears theentries for Bryan R and for Robert and Robert F are for the same son.

    25-year-old Myrtle should have been in the 1910 census.  In 1920, Noahis reported as a son, which we would expect from the name.  But in1910 the child Noah D was reported as being a daughter!

    I note that this census reports that James' parents were both born inSouth Carolina.  In 1910, his father was born in South Carolina, buthis mother in Alabama.  The Simons Family Genealogy reporting on theCriswells gives the birth of both of them at Attala County,Mississippi.  This seems to be an error based on the fact that thefamily lived in Attala County, Mississippi, before moving to Arkansas.

    The birthplace of parents is not very helpful, since this changes inevery census.  1910 Janie's parents were both reported to have beenborn in North Carolina.  But in 1920, Mattie's parents are both bornin Arkansas.  But we see in the 1930 census below that they are bothreported born in Tennessee!

    Ages might be more definitive.  James' age is constant, with 10 yearsdifference in each census.  This is actually unusual.  With this as aconstant, we can compare the difference in ages between James and hiswife.  In 1910, Janie C is 7 years YOUNGER.  In 1920, Mattie is 4years OLDER.  The names make it seem that Mattie of 1920 and Martha Jof 1930 are the same, and we find that again there Martha J is 4 yearsOLDER.

    The age information seems to push the weight of evidence slightlytoward the view that James was married a third time between 1910 and1920, meaning Janie seems to have died before census time in 1920, not1930 (unless they were divorced, for which we also lack records).  Ihave found no corroborating source on the death of Janie.

    1930 Federal Census, Arkansas County, Arkansas, 22 April, PrairieTownship, Ethel & Chute Rd, District 7, page 7B, Hse #127 Fam #128
    Criswell, James B  Head M W 59  MS SC USA Farmer
    Criswell, Martha J Wife F W 63  AR TN TN
    Nixie M  Granddaughter F W 14 AR AR AR Farm Laborer

    Here the birth place of James' father remains the same, but now nostate is reported for his mother.  Note that in 1930 the birth datefor Martha's parents has changed from Arkansas to Tennessee.  Thedesignation of relationship for Nixie is scrawly and uncertain, but atage 14, she is most likely their granddaughter.  I do not know,however, which of their sons is her father.


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