Cregers of Wythe Co., Virginia

Elmira Jane Creger, 1842-1885

Martin Weiser, 1837-1917 and Elmira Jane Creger, 1842-1885, were Grandmother Mary Douthat Burgess' grandparents. They lived and raised their family in Wytheville, Virginia. My attempts to trace her parents provide an example of the kind of errors you can make.

There were no family records of her parents but I found Elmira in the 1850 census records in Wythe in Valentine and Mahala (Kinser) Creiger's household. This family moved to Missouri before 1860, and she seemed to have been captured both in Missouri (Elmira Creiger, 19) and Wythe Co., Virginia (Elmira Cregor, age 18) in the 1860 census. I assumed she didn't like Missouri and was old enough and had enough family connections to return to Virginia on her own. Mistake #1.

I have now found Elmyria Jack's death certificate in Missouri from 1921. It lists her parents as Ransom Valentine Criger and Mahaney Kincer. Of course, it was always suspicious that she appeared in the census twice in 1860. Further research shows that there are 2 completely separate Creger families who settled in Wythe Co., both German and both using many of the same names. So my error attached her to a completely unrelated family.

I did not immediately find a second Elmira Creger/Creager/Creiger,etc. in the 1850 census records, when she was about 8 years old, so the main clue I had to her family is the 1880 census listing for "Ruhana Crigger". She was living with the Elmira and Martin Weiser and is listed as "aunt"; she was single and her father was born in Pennsylvania. Valentine Creger did not have a sister named Ruhanna, and his anticedents entered the Valley from Maryland. But there was someone who matched these facts in Wythe Co. who appears in census records starting in 1850.

Ruhanna Creiger was the daughter of George and Nancy Cregor. George Creger/Creager appears in Wythe census records from 1820 through 1860. He lived from 1792 to 1863, and was married to Nancy Jane Lanter, 1794-1858. We know about their children from census records and we have baptismal records for the older children, including Ruhanna. In 1850 George and Nancy Creiger and 7 of their offspring including their daughter Ruehany (30, unmarried) appear together. (George Cregor, 80, and 5 of these offspring, including Ruhanna, age 42, also appear together in 1860.)

The christenings of Joel, James R. and Ruhena Creger are recorded at St. John's Lutheran Church, which stands about 1 mile north of Wytheville. These 2 older sons are already absent from their parents' household in 1850. Their younger brothers, Waymon and Eli, were still at home, unmarried. James R. and his wife are listed without issue, so of these four sons Joel is the only one unaccounted for and so I focussed on him to be Elmira's father. Mistake # 2.

Elmira and Martin Weiser's marriage record, located in 2009, lists her father as James, not Joel. In 1850 when Elmira was 8 he was recently married with no children. The marriage record does not include mother's name. I guessed she was illegitimate, but that James eventually acknowledged her. Perhaps she felt abandoned by her mother? I was afraid this might be Mistake #3. (Early records can be fragmentary, but the registrar noted specifically that "wife's mother and husband's occupation not stated," strongly suggesting it was intentionally withheld.)

Determining Elmira's mother was very speculative. One possible clue is that Elmira's first daughter was named Mary Theresa. Martin Weiser's mother was named Theresa, suggesting Elmira's mother may have been named Mary.

Ancestry.com's OneWorldTree is so full of contradictory, unfounded material that I totally ignore it. However, as I looked for more information on Elmira, I noticed that it actually included a mother for her. I followed the links to the family tree that provided this information, and hit the mother lode, so to speak. The information given finally led me to the 1850 census record for Elmira that has eluded me. Although the information in the tree was un-sourced, census records and other sources located since support much of what it claims.

For the period, it is a pretty scandelous picture that emerges. In 1850 she appears as Mary Nicholes, head of her own household which included 4 children 8 and under and a young carpenter, whom she would marry in 1853. The 2 boys under the age of 5 who were living with her in 1840 are not in the household. Almira Crieger was the oldest of the children. The other children are all called 'Nicholes,' although 2 would later adopt 'Davis' and the youngest infant is later called 'Baumgardner.' It seems clear that Mary had a series of relationships, but was not married to the fathers.

All of which tempted me to make another foray into dna research. My maternal line, which is reflected in mitochondrial dna, traces now to Mary Vaughn and then stops. Despite the report that she was born in Halifax Co. it seems much more likely she was local. There were many Vaughns in Wythe Co., mostly one large family in the southern portion that became Grayson Co. This frontier family stood a little outside normal society, and the most promising potential father married a woman who was purportedly a Native American. I gave into the temptation, this is yet another deadend. My (and her) mitochondrial dna is the most common European haplogroup H, with no interesting or distinctive features. She wasn't an Indian, so maybe she was from Halifax.

Maternal line:

© 2007 Footie Lund, rev. 2012