Tuesday, February 8, 2022

The Case of Crissy Keith - Reconstruction Epidemic Pt 3


Union County, Illinois Meeting of the Baptists and Dunkards

On May the 9th, 1854 in the courts of Stanly County, North Carolina, Jennings Crowell, Esquire, reported to court with $5.00 he had recieved in the case of State vs 'Crecia' Keith for refusing to swear her 'ilegetamate' child. While this was not part of the after war baby boom, I came across it while researching the bond of her sister, Edna Keith in 1870, which was.

Christina Keith, the oldest daughter of James and Penelope Sell Keith, who lived in "Gladstone" had her own story. Her father was related to Sion Keith Sr. of Montgomery County in some manner, probably a brother. He shows up first in Stanly County, being taxed in 1842 for 58 acres of property on Ryals Creek. 

Name:Chusie Kerce[][]
Birth Year:abt 1830
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1850:Harris, Stanly, North Carolina, USA
Line Number:17
Dwelling Number:301
Family Number:302
Household MembersAge
James Kerce60
Pena Kerce45
Chusie Kerce20
Edny Kerce18
John Kerce17
Rhoda Kerce14
Wesley Kerce13
Dorothy Kerce10
Nancy Kerce5

James appears in the 1850 census with Chrissy, her name mangled by transcriptionist, showing up as his oldest daughter.

And in 1854, Chrissy finds herself pregnant and unmarried and is brought to court to be charged with Bastardy. Young women could skip the fines and confinement of this charge if they named the father of the child, and he would be brought to court and fined for money that would take care of the child in its first years,so it would not become a financial burdon on the county. Then at about 7, the child, if it lived, would be brought to court to be bound out to an intact family, to be raised and taught a trade. That was the 19th century form of child support. 

Chrissy refused to name the father of the child, therefore, she and her father, James D. Keith, were 'held and firmly bound to the State in the amount of Five Hundred dollars."  From what I have learned  about James Keith, he was not a wealthy man, neither was he a pauper, he supported his large family, but $500 was a lot of money in those days. 

So, why did Chrissy not name the father? Well, he may have been a married man who didn't want his reputation soiled, and paid the girl, and her father or family, to keep quiet. This may have been the case in Chrissy's trial. I've seen cases where the mother probably didn't know the father's name, having operated or worked at a 'Disorderly House' and having been so charged, but this does not seem to be the case in this instance. 

Name:Crepy Ann Keith
Marriage Date:11 Jul 1857
Marriage Place:Stanly, North Carolina, USA
Spouse:David Cassen
Spouse Gender:Male
Event Type:Marriage

Three years after this case, Chrissy Ann Keith (forgiving the transcription errors) married David Caspar, in Stanly County, on July 11, 1857.

Name:David Casper
Birth Year:abt 1808
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1850:School District 34, Rowan, North Carolina, USA
Real Estate:800
Cannot Read, Write:Yes
Line Number:23
Dwelling Number:1751
Family Number:1776
Household MembersAge
David Casper42
Simeon Casper12
Sophia Casper10
Julia A Casper8
John Casper6
Elisabeth Casper44

David Caspar was an older man, who lived just across the county line in Rowan, not that far from whether the Keiths lived on Ryals Creek. He had married an Elizabeth Bame in February of 1844 in Rowan County and the couple had 5 children: Sophia, Simeon, Julia Ann, John and Margaret. Elizabeth must have died between 1850 and 1854 and David found himself in need of a helpmate to raise his children and there was Chrissy, in need of a husband. 

Name:David Casper
Birth Year:abt 1807
Birth Place:North Carolina
Home in 1860:Salisbury, Rowan, North Carolina
Post Office:Gold Hill
Dwelling Number:380
Family Number:367
Real Estate Value:1000
Personal Estate Value:270
Cannot Read, Write:Y
Household MembersAge
David Casper53
Christena Casper23
Sophia Casper20
Julia Ann Casper17
John Casper16
Margaret Casper13
Henry Casper
Mary L Casper11/12

In 1860, we find the couple in Gold Hill, with Davids older children in the home and Chrissy adding Henry 3 and Mary L., an infant, to the mix.

Name:Letitia Keith
Birth Year:abt 1852
Home in 1860:Stanly, North Carolina
Post Office:Albemarle
Dwelling Number:1129
Family Number:1145
Household MembersAge
Penelope Keith50
Edney Keith25
Rhody Keith22
Dolly Keith21
Nancy Keith18
Letitia Keith8
Susan Keith2
Omy Scarlet50

Letitia, the child I believe was the result of the 1854 bastardy bond, was living with mother and sisters. Two year old Susan was also most likely a grandchild, but by which daughter, I've not yet determined.

Name:John Casper
Age in 1870:26
Birth Date:abt 1844
Birthplace:North Carolina
Dwelling Number:147
Home in 1870:Dongola, Union, Illinois
Post Office:Dongola
Cannot Read:Yes
Cannot Write:Yes
Disability Condition:Idiotic
Inferred Father:David Casper
Household MembersAge
David Casper60
Crissie Casper40
John Casper26
Margaret Casper
Peter Casper10
Eva C Casper8
William D Casper6
Jacob Casper4

By 1870, David has moved his growing family to Dongola in Union County, Illinois. Illinois was actually a common destination for folks from this part of North Carolina and ancestry.com has proven that.

Central North Carolina, Southeast Missouri & Southern Illinois Settlers

Living with David and Chrissie are two of Davids adult children by Elizabeth Brame, John and Margaret. John was labeled idiotic. Chrissie has had four more children, Peter, Eva C., William and Jacob. Peter and Eva C. were born in North Carolina and the younger two, Illinois, so their move was between 1862 and 1864, the Civil War era. Notice there is no Henry or Mary L. Child mortality was terribly high.

Dongola is an unassuming little village established in the 1850's as a stop along the railway. Yet to boast a thousand inhabitants, it's located in the southern tip of Illinois. One would wonder why David would choose to settle there. However, a look at the 1865 State census of Union County showed  no less than 9 families headed by men named Caspar, and this was before David and Chrissy arrived. There were 2 Jacobs, 2 Henry's, 2 Adams, Peter, Moses, and Levi, names reflected in the sons of David Caspar and relatives, no doubt. In fact, I found in the noted biographies of Union County, that the Caspars most definately came from Rowan County, as did several other noted early families of Johnson, the parent county of Union, and Union itself. A few of these were Barnhardts, Stokes, Lingles, Browns and Whitakers. With the Mississppi River as its western boundary and the spur of the Ozarks along the north and west, I can see the alure to early settlers, farmers and those in search of that good bottom land.

Bluff via Illinois tourism

One biography I found very interestesting was that of a Moses Caspar. David had a brother named Moses, although this was not the same one, there could be a relative connection. And it all began with a Peter, so the trip was most likely made to join family.

The below excerpt comes from "100 Years of Progress: The Centennial History of Anna, Illinois".

 The original Casper family to settle in Union County
was that of Peter Casper [Sr.] who came to the county in 1818, driving his team and wagon from Rowan County, North
Carolina.  Some of the land which he held was originally
granted to him by the government.  To this he added a
considerable acreage lying north of Anna and Jonesboro. 
A part of this tract was what is now the site of the Anna
State Hospital.  The land was heavily wooded with mag-
nificent timber.  Peter Casper was married to Esther Fullen-
wider on September 17, 1803, and to this union nine children
were born.
   Peter Casper donated the land for a Community cemetery and a site for a school and church now known as the Casper Church and Cemetery.  He was one of the pioneer Horticulturists of the County and was one of the first to ship strawberries to the Chicago market from this area.  His interests in his vocation was deep and left a heritage of interests in this vocation which endures to the present time.  In fact the fourth generation of Casper fruit growers are still engaged in this profession and are recognized as leaders in the field of quality production of apples, peaches, and nuts.  Two of the original tracts of Casper land are still in fruit production and operated by the fourth generation of Caspers.  These farms are Conrad R. Casper and son farm, originally the Oscar H. Casper farm.  Orchard Home, now operated by Wallace L. Casper, along with Donald W. Casper who lives on an adjoining farm.  This farm is known as the L.L.Casper and sons, and until recently was owned and operated by Wallace L. and Manley W. who passed away in 1953.  Ralph Casper is also engaged in Horticulture in the eastern part of the county.
   Peter Casper was known as a hunter and lover of the woods and streams.  This devotion to the rod and gun has persisted to the present.  The Casper family has always been known for its interest and participation in public affairs.  The family has been influential in the development of the Union County Farm Bureau, and The Illinois Horticultural Society.  The name "Casper" is a symbol of quality in the production of fruits.

And from


Union County Illinois Genealogy Trails

MOSES CASPER, farmer, P. O. Wetaug, Ill., is a son of Peter and Catharine (Frick) Casper, and was born January 5, 1833 in Rowan County, N. C.  His father was a farmer, born also in North Carolina, January 12, 1797, and died February 25, 1855.  The mother was born February 3, 1804 and died March 26, 1864.  The parents' family consisted of ten children, only two of whom are living--Eve Caroline, born June 26, 1841, the wife of Nathaniel Earnhart, of this county, and our subject.  The latter received his early eduation in the old time schools of his native county, and he afterward attended a little in Union County, his parents removing here in the fall of 1853.  He started in life as a farm hand, assisting his father till the latter's death.  He afterward purchased the home place from the other heirs, and now has 175 acres, which is given to general farming.  For a few years past he has run a distillery on the place, which turns out applejack of an enviable quality.  September 27, 1863 our subject was united in marriage to Anna Hoffner, born December 24, 1845, a daughter of Levi and Mary Hoffner.  Seven children have blessed the happy union all of whom are living--Malinda, born September 22, 1864, wife of J. H. Beaver; Eleanora, March 6, 1867; Matilda, November 10, 1869; Huldah, March 6, 1872; Silas, December 27, 1874; Laura, November 21, 1877; and Flora, August 3, 1880.  Mr. and Mrs. Casper are members of the German Reformed Church.  In politics he votes the Democratic ticket.  -- Source:  Perrin's 1883 History of Union County

David Caspar died sometime between 1870 and 1880. His grave has been lost to time. In all liklihood, he was buried at the Caspar Church Cemetery in Anna, Union County, Illinois with others of his family. It's not for certain, just a possibility.

Caspar Church in Anna, Union County, Ill. by The Bearded Genealogist

Sometime between 1870 and 1880, probably following Davids death, Chrissy relocated to Pulaski County, Illinois and took up with another North Carolinian, a man named Green Britt. In the 1880 census, she is living in his home employed as a housekeeper, with her 3 children Peter, 19, Eva Catherine 17 and William 13. Also of note are their neighbors, Henry and Margaret Gaines, also from North Carolina. As they are an African American couple, I wonder if they were from Montgomery County, NC where a large Gaines family originated from around Zion.

Pulaski County was not a big move for the family. As you can see in the map below, it was just south of Union and Johnson. 

Green Brett was an interesting character. Born in Chatham County, NC, he there married a Mary Martin and had 3 children: JuliaAnn, William A. and Daniel J. They are found in Morgan County, Tennessee in 1850. They then move to McCraken County, Kentucky and Mary Martin Britt died. After that, Green moves to Arkansas, where his son Daniel marries and his grandson, William Rueben Britt is born. By 1865, they have relocated again to Pulaski County, Illinois and show up in the state census there. Green is there, single, in 1870, with his 10 year old grandson, Rueben. In 1872, he marries Lucinda Hennington or Pennigton. She disappears, but he's still there in 1880, with Christina Keith Caspar and her younger children in his home. Green Britt marries an Elizabeth Parker in 1882 in Pulaski and then moeves to Mississippi by 1885, where he shows up in the state census and some grland grants. He dies sometime in the late 1880's in Texas and his buried at the Smith Bend - Coon Creek Cemetery in Bosque County, Texas, where his name was spelled with an atrocious southern accent.

photo added to Find-a-Grave by Kelly Robson

I almost want to do a post on this guy, he was such a tumbling tumbleweed, but instead, decided to crush his very interesting life into one paragraph. His grandson William Rueben Britt went on to be a Saloon Keeper in Pulaski County, Illinois and their family story is so classically American Old West.

There found is a mini-biography of his father, Daniel Britt, and gives more detail to the life of Green. The name Britt is just as often seen as Brett in old records.

We often do not connect the old west to our east coast ancesters, but it was the children and siblings of our steadfastly rooted forefathers who were the pioneers of the old west.

The story of Christina "Chrissy" or "Crecia" Keith Caspar ends in Pulaski County, Illinois around 1886, but that of her children go on. I don't know the extent of her relationship with Green Britt, but he did remarry in 1882, so I assume it was platonic.

The oldest daughter of David Caspar and his first wife, Elizabeth Brame, Sophia Caspar (1836-1883), married Phillilp Ivey Hall in 1866 and settled in Stanly County, NC. She died on Novermber 20, 1883 and is buried in Misenheimer.

Simeon Caspar (1838-1862) Davids oldest son, enlisted for duty in Guilford County for the Confederate Army and died at Petersburg, Dinwiddie County, Virginia on July 21, 1862.

Julia Ann Caspar (1842-1933) married John Wagoner and settled in that area of Misenheimer that crosses over into Cabarrus County. She is died in Trinity, in Randolph County, but was also buried at her home church of Matton's Grove, in Misenheimer, Stanly County, with her sister, Sophia.

John Caspar, (1844- after 1880) was simple-minded, and had moved to Illinois with his father and Chrissy. He is last seen working as a farm laborer in Union County in 1880.

Margaret Caspar (1847-?) removed to Illinois with her parents. Some family trees have her returning to Rowan County, NC where she married a Waller and died in 1902, but I can't be sure this is the same Margaret Caspar, as there was another David Caspar in Rowan.

Henry (1857) and Mary (1859), Crissy's first two children with Davis Caspar apperently died as children, as they only show up in the 1860 census. They may have died in Gold Hill.

Simon Peter Caspar (1860-1927) was born in Gold Hill, NC and died in Pulaski County, Illinois. He married twice, to Clementine and Arvilla Mack and fathered 5 children, 2 by Clementine and 3 by Arvilla.

Eva or Evaline Catherine Caspar (1862 - aft 1900) married a Joseph Young and died in Illinois between 1900 and 1910.

Jacob Caspar (1866 - before 1880) must have died as a child. He only appears in the 1870 census. He was the first one born in Illinois.

William David Caspar (1870-1896) was the youngest child of David and Chrissy. He married a Lizzie Byers and moved to Kansas.

But the most interesting of Chrissy's children to me was her firstborn, Mary Letiicia Keith aka Caspar.

Leticia (also spelled Luticia) was living in the home of her grandmother, Penelope Sells Keith, in 1860 and 1870. She was the child Crissy had to have been pregnant with in that Bastardy bond, where Chrissy refused to name the father of her child. She was born in 1856 and two years later, Chrissy married Davis Casapr. He could have been the father.

Name:Lutitia Keith
Age in 1870:14
Birth Date:abt 1856
Birthplace:North Carolina
Dwelling Number:22
Home in 1870:Salisbury, Rowan, North Carolina
Post Office:Salisbury
Occupation:Farm Laborer
Cannot Read:Yes
Cannot Write:Yes
Inferred Mother:Penny Keith
Household MembersAge
Penny Keith61
Edney Keith25
Nancy Keith21
Lutitia Keith14
Camma Keith12
Roma Keith4

I don't know if Chrissy was the mother of Sarah Camilla Keith, age 12 in this census. It could have been her sister, Rhoda, who died before 1870. Edna, or Edney, was the mother of 4 year old Roma, shown above.

Name:Letitia Dix
Birth Date:Abt 1858
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1880:Ashland, Riley, Kansas, USA
Dwelling Number:14
Relation to Head of House:Wife
Marital Status:Married
Spouse's Name:Owen T. Dix
Father's Birthplace:Pennsylvania
Mother's Birthplace:Pennsylvania
Occupation:Keeping House
Household MembersAgeRelationship
Owen T. Dix36Self (Head)
Letitia Dix22Wife
Sallia Dix2Daughter

Sometime after the death of her grandmother Penelope or of David Caspar, or both, Leticia joins her mother in Illinois,  where she marries an Owen Hix. Shortly thereafter, she moves to Kansas. After the death of her husband, Letitia Keith Hix returns to Anna, Union County, Illinois to live among family, and there she died at the grand old age of  96.

L.K. Dix
Death Age
Birth Date
21 Mar 1856
Birth Place
Salisbury, N. C
Marriage Date
Residence Place
Anna, 111
Death Date
11 Jun 1952
Death Place
114 South Eighth
Burial Date
14 Jun
Obituary Date
23 Jun 1952
Obituary Place
Manhattan, Kansas, USA
Newspaper Title
The Manhattan Mercury
Owen Thomas Dix
W.R. Yenawine; Sally Yenawine; Jessie L. Worrel; Harvey H. Dix