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Crobarger Surname

The Crobarger family has not been easy to research. One reason is that the spelling of the name has varied over the years. The most common versions are Crobarger, Croberger, Crowbarger, and Crowberger. Other errors I have seen include Crobrudy, Cooper and Croborger. Some researchers believe that Crobarger may derive from either Grauberger or Cronenberger, two different documented German-American families.


1st Generation:

George Michael Crobarger was born circa 1750. He died after 1812, probably in Tennessee.

As an adult, he always went by his middle name Michael. We do not know the names of his parents, but he was probably the brother of George Crobarger of Hawkins County, Tennessee and perhaps also of Leonard Crobarger of Franklin County, Pennsylvania.

Michael was married to Eva Barbara Lauderbach, sometime before 1772. In 1772 and 1774, they were in Elizabethtown, Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania; where they had two children baptized. Sometime after this (between 1774 and 1780), they moved to Letterkenny Township in what is now Franklin Co., Pennsylvania. They were still in Franklin County as late as 1790. Sometime during the 1790s, Michael moved with his family to Rockingham County, Virginia. While living there, Michael and his wife Eve sold some land to Jacob Crobarger (relationship unknown). In 1797 in Rockingham County, a Michael Crowbarger was married to an Elizabeth Thompson. It is not clear if Eva had died and Michael remarried; or if there was another Michael (possibly a son).

Sometime after this, Michael apparently moved with various relatives to eastern Tennessee. In 1811-1812, he was in Sullivan County, Tennessee.

He married Eva Barbara Lauderbach sometime before 1772, probably in Pennsylvania.

They had at least the following children:

1Catharina Crobarger
2Johann Georg Crobarger
3Susannah Crobarger
4Christina Crobarger was born on or about December 16, 1777 in Pennsylvania. She died on February 6, 1861 in Clinton Co., Indiana. She is buried in the Kilmore United Methodist Church Cemetery, Frankfort, Clinton Co., Indiana.
She married George Pence on September 25, 1798 in Rockingham Co., Virginia.
5Catherine Crobarger

2nd Generation:

Catherine Crobarger was born on or about December 16, 1777 4,12 in Pennsylvania. She died on March 4, 1875 near Galesville, Douglas Co., Oregon 4,12.

Father: George Michael Crobarger
Mother: Eva Barbara Lauderbach

It has long been the assumption of other researchers that her name was Catherine McCreedy and that she was married to George Washington Crobarger. In reality, McCreedy was just one person's misreading of her name on one census record ("Crobreedy") and her husband's full name was just a guess based on the name of their son. All we know is that in 1830, she was the head of her own household in Jefferson County, Tennessee and was living with her four children (enumerated as Katharine Croborger). The assumption had been that her husband, an unknown Mr. Crobarger, was dead and she was a widow. She used the name Crobarger for the next 45 years until her death in 1875. It was only recently that I began to wonder whether Crobarger was her birth name and whether she ever married the father(s) of her children. She was never explicitly described as the wife or widow of anyone, and surviving family histories are strangely silent on the subject of the father of her children. I then realized that Catherine shared a birthdate (December 16, 1777) with Christina Crobarger (see above), who had a documented relationship to the same Crobarger family we know this family was somehow related to. If these two women were twins, it would make sense because twins definitely occurred among descendants of both of them.

Catherine Crobarger was probably born in either Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (where her parents were living as late as 1774) or Franklin County, Pennsylvania (where they were living in 1780). The family remained in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, until sometime during the 1790s, when they moved to Rockingham County, Virginia. The whereabouts of Catherine over the next few decades is unclear. She may have moved with some family to southwest Virginia in the late 1790s or early 1800s. In 1808 (when she was 30), Catherine's first known child - George Washington Crobarger - was born, somewhere in Virginia. Then in 1809, her second child - Susannah Crobarger - was born somewhere in Tennessee. Her third child - Francis Asbury Crobarger - was born in 1813 in Tennessee and her fourth child - Harriet Catherine Crobarger - was born in 1816 or 1817, probably in Virginia.

My guess is that all four children were born to the same father, who was probably a Cherokee or Melungeon, which would probably explain why they were never married. The birthplaces of her children suggest that she may have moved around relatively frequently during this time period. She is first found in records in 1830, when she was head of her household in Jefferson County, Tennessee. In Jefferson County, they were relatively close to other relatives, including her uncle George Crobarger who lived in Hawkins County, Tennessee. In 1834, her daughter Susannah was married in Jefferson County. Sometime after this, Catherine probably moved with her children to the state of Indiana, where they only lived briefly (until about 1837). At about that time, they moved to Platte Co., Missouri. In 1840, she was living in a household in Platte County with her two sons. In 1846, she moved over the Oregon Trail with youngest daughter Harriet and family. They lived in at least 4 different locations in Oregon before settling in the tiny town of Galesville, in Douglas County, Oregon in about 1863. Catherine resided there until her death in 1875, at the age of 97. Scrutinization of known burial records so far have come up empty. She was either buried in an unmarked grave on the family estate, in an unmarked grave in the Glendale Cemetery (even though their earliest known burial was in 1883), or in an unmarked grave in the Quines Creek/Gilliam Cemetery.

She had a relationship with an unknown man (possibly Cherokee) during the early 1800s. He was born at an unknown date, probably in Virginia and he may have died sometime between about 1815 and 1830, probably in Tennessee.

Upon consideration of various family legends and DNA test results of some of his descendants, my guess is that the father of at least one of Catherine Crobarger's children was a Cherokee Indian or possibly Melungeon. Catherine Crobarger had four known children born between 1808 and 1816. She was apparently never married and all four of her children used her maiden name - Crobarger - as their own. There are stories in at least two branches of the family that they descended in some way from Native Americans. In addition, DNA tests of five descendants of her daughter Harriet show relatively high amount of DNA from the Caucasus region of the Middle East. This is baffling, but agrees with research that Cherokee Indians from North Carolina actually display Middle Eastern DNA. As far as I know, there is no consensus about how or why that is the case, but it probably explains the "Caucasus" DNA among Crobarger descendants and also probably identifies them as Cherokee descendants.

The Cherokees had a matriarchal society, and clan identity was passed down through the mother. This might explain why the children of this interracial union took the mother's last name. In addition, it's also relevant to note that their second son was named after Francis Asbury - a famous preacher/bishop who was responsible for spreading Methodism throughout America. Perhaps this might be an indication that this unidentified man was converted by Christian missionaries and that there was a conscious effort to abandon his tribal identity, which might also explain why all four children were given "white" names.

They had at least the following children:
1 George Washington Crobarger was born on May 22, 1808 in Virginia 5. He died on March 25, 1875 in Platte Co., Missouri 5.
He married first to Elizabeth Young Cooper on February 2, 1843 in Platte Co., Missouri 3.
They had the following children:
John R. Crobarger (1844-aft. 1860)
Mary Catherine Crobarger (1844-1928)
md. Lewis C. Magers
George Washington Crobarger (1847-1931)
md. Armilda Anderson
Robert Hall Crobarger (1848-1925)
He married second Elizabeth Remington, widow of Mr. Horr, on June 7, 1855 in Platte Co., Missouri.
They had one child:
Eugene S. Crobarger (1858-1934)

George was a farmer. He resided in Platte County, Missouri from the late 1830s until his death in 1875, wwhile his mother and all of his siblings had moved away from that area. In later years, George was a slave owner and a supporter of the Confederacy during the Civil War. His oldest son John served in the Confederate Army.

2 Susannah Crobarger was born on August 29, 1809 in Tennessee 5. She died on December 23, 1882 in Lookingglass, Douglas Co., Oregon 5. She is buried in the Lookingglass Cemetery, Lookingglass, Douglas Co., Oregon.
She married Samuel Creswell Braden on January 28, 1834 in Jefferson Co., Tennessee 5. (He was born on October 11, 1811 in Claiborne Co., Tennessee and died on August 11, 1895 in Myrtle Point, Coos Co., Oregon. He is buried in the Lookingglass Cemetery, Lookingglass, Douglas Co., Oregon.)
They had the following children:
Francis Asbury Braden (1835-1894)
md. Sarah G. Buell
Rebecca Catherine Braden (1837-aft. 1880)
md. Phillip A. Decker
America Agnes Braden (1841-1878)
md. Daniel Giles
Alice Braden (c. 1845-1913)
md. J. Livingston
Virginia Susannah Braden (1847-1925)
md. Franklin Cyrus Buell
Margaret Missouri Braden (c. 1849-c. 1875)
md. Thomas Jefferson Rowley
John Jacob Astor Braden (1851-1929)
md. Dora Maria Eagan

Census records consistently list Susannah's birth place in Tennessee; while the birth places of her younger siblings are variously listed as Tennessee and Virginia. This may be an indication that Susannah spent parts of her youth in both Tennessee and Virginia. Susannah was married in 1834, at the age of 24. Then in 1834 or 1835, she and her husband (and possibly her mother and siblings) moved to somewhere in the state of Indiana; where the only remained a few years. In about 1838, they moved to Platte County, Missouri; where they lived for many years. In 1846, Susannah's mother and sister moved to Oregon on the Oregon Trail and apparently influenced Susannah's family to make the same trip. In 1852, Susannah and her family crossed the Oregon Trail and settled in Douglas County, Oregon; where her sister and mother were living. They first lived in Roseburg, Oregon, before moving out to the coast near what is now Coos Bay, Oregon.

3 "Berry" Francis Asbury Crobarger was born on November 9, 1813 13 or November 20, 1815 5 in Tennessee. He died on November 9, 1881 in Nortonville, Jefferson Co., Kansas 5,13. He is buried in the Nortonville Cemetery, Nortonville, Jefferson Co., Kansas.
He married Ann Lamar on January 7, 1845 in Platte Co., Missouri 3. (She was born on February 17, 1809 in Jefferson Co., Tennessee and died on November 3, 1893 in Nortonville, Jefferson Co., Kansas. She was buried in the Nortonville Cemetery, Nortonville, Jefferson Co., Kansas.)
They had one child:
John Marcus Crobarger (1848-1908)

Francis and Ann were distant relatives by marriage, and likely knew each other from their youth in eastern Tennessee. Ann's uncle, Jacob Seaver, was married to Esther Crobarger - who was most likely the first cousin of Francis' mother Catherine Crobarger.

For the first 10 years of marriage, Francis and his family lived in Platte County, Missouri. In the spring of 1855, they moved to Jefferson County, Kansas; where they settled off of the Crooked River, near Nortonville. He lived there until his death in 1883 from heart disease. He was primarily a farmer and stock raiser, but also apparently operated a hotel for a brief period during the 1860s.

According to one source, he "had odd ways and notions. A staunch Presbyterian, he always kept whisky about his house, asserting it to be a blessing of God to be enjoyed as other blessings. No one ever saw him intoxicated. Temperate and industrious he was a prosperous farmer. The first cabin he built happened to be burned down in his absence, he remarked when told of it that it lacked 3/4 of an inch of being square anyhow and he didn't care if it did burn." He also was a free-state advocate in Kansas, was opposed to slavery, and a supporter of the North during the Civil War. This was interesting because his brother George Crobarger - who lived about 30 miles away in Missouri - was a slaver owner and a supporter of the South/Confederacy during the Civil War. Apparently Francis' political beliefs against slavery made him endure "many persecutions at the hands of the border ruffians. For about two years he was kept away from home, visiting his family only under cover of the night, or at times when an opportunity offered itself, there being a reward of $100 offered for his head."

4 Harriet Catherine Crobarger

2nd Generation:

Harriet Catherine Crobarger was born on about November 15, 1816 6 or on about December 15, 1817 7, probably in Virginia. She died on March 7 7,8, March 8 2,6 or March 9 9, 1884 in Galesville, Douglas Co., Oregon.

Father: Unknown
Mother:: Catherine Crobarger

Contemporary sources (census enumerations of herself and her children) are not consistent in whether Harriet was born in Virginia or Tennessee. My guess though is that she was born in Virginia, and raised in Tennessee. They were probably somewhere in the vicinity of the area between Scott County, Virginia and Hawkins County, Tennessee.

Regardless of where she was born, Harriet was eventually raised in northeast Tennessee. My guess is that Harriet was half German and half Cherokee. Her parents were never married and it is not clear what happened to her father. But he was dead or out of the picture by 1830. In 1830 and 1834, they were living in Jefferson Co., Tennessee. There is a strong possibility that Harriet and her family moved to somewhere in Indiana in the mid-1830s. If so, they only remained in Indiana for 2 or 3 years. In about 1838, the family moved out west and settled in Platte County, Missouri. Shortly after moving there, Harriet became engaged to William Martin, whose family were among the earliest white settlers of the county. They were married in 1839 in Martinsville (now Platte City), Missouri.

After the marriage, William and Harriet continued living in Platte County, Missouri. In 1843, William left on an expedition train to the Oregon Territory, leaving Harriet behind to care for their infant daughter. William returned the following year and immediately began making plans to move the entire family west to Oregon. In the spring of 1846, Harriet and her family left their home in Missouri and made the trek over the Oregon Trail, arriving in northern Oregon in September 1846. The family settled in Lafayette in Yamhill County, Oregon. There, William operated a general store. Then in 1851, the family moved to southern Oregon where they took advantage of the Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 and settled a claim of 640 acres near Winchester in Douglas County, Oregon. In Winchester, William reopened his general store. They remained on their Winchester farm until 1859, when they moved to the nearby city of Roseburg, Oregon. In that same year, Harriet signed an affidavit stating that she had property separate from her husband (the location of the property is not known). They only lived briefly in the city of Roseburg. In about 1861, they moved to the nearby town of Myrtle Creek, where William attempted a short career as a miller. Then in about 1863, they moved a final time to a farm near Galesville in southern Douglas County, Oregon. There, in 1867, her husband was operating a hotel.

Harriet spent the rest of her life residing at the family's home at Galesville (now near Azalea), in the Cow Creek Valley of Douglas County, Oregon. She died from paralysis (probably a stroke) in March of 1884, at the age of 66 or 67. Harriet's place of burial has not been located. She was probably buried on the family farm near Galesville (which is today between Glendale and Azalea) or perhaps in the Glendale Cemetery. Although her grave (wherever it is) is probably unmarked, we do know that her daughter Josephine paid for a marble headstone for her grave in May 1884.

Harriet married William Jennings Martin on July 16 2,9 or August 22 3,10,11, 1839 at Platte City, Platte Co., Missouri.
For more information on her children, see his page.

Sources:

1. Assorted US Federal Census Records
2. Obituary of William J. Martin, Roseburg Plaindealer, April 29, 1901
3. Missouri Marriages to 1850, Ancestry.com
4. Death Notice of Catherine Crobarger, Jacksonville Democratic Times, April 23, 1875
5. Online gedcom family files
6. Death Notice of Harriet C. Martin, The Douglas Independent [Roseburg, OR], Mar. 22, 1884
7. Death notice of Harriet C. Martin, Oregon Sentinel [Jacksonville, OR], Mar. 15, 1884, Pg. 3
8. Death notice of Harriet C. Martin, The Coast Mail [Marshfield, OR], Mar. 27, 1884, Pg. 3
9. Information from Ralph Roberts at RRob689080@aol.com
10. Marriage record of William Martin and Harriet Crobarger, 1839, Platte Co., Missouri. Marriage Register, Volume 1, Page 5.
11. Paxton, W.M. Annals of Platte County, Missouri. Hudson Kimberly Publishing Co., 1897.
12. Death notice of Catharine Crobarger, The Oregonian [Portland, OR], Apr. 27, 1875, Pg. 2
13. Tombstone inscriptions, Nortonville Cemetery, Nortonville, Kansas