Abbeville Alabama 1910

Abbeville Alabama 1910

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Secrets behind our family name

This story isn't one of a distant relative.  This story is about my grandfather.  Herbert Thomas Crippen (Sterling).

My Grandparents Marie Estelle Preston and Herbert Thomas Crippen

Now I know that you've noticed I added Sterling in parentheses, let me explain.  My grandfather's parents were Laura Corbin of Princess Anne Maryland and George Crippen of Accomack Virginia married in 1902, 10 years later on January 8th, 1912 in Princess Anne Maryland the 4th of  8 surviving children "Herbert Thomas Crippen" was born.   The story passed down is that George was actually my grandfathers step dad.  His real father is a white man that went by the last name Sterling.  What was this relationship or non-relationship between Laura and the Sterling guy?  Sterling was said to be a Sheriff or hold some office in law.  There was even an incident where my grandfather had to make a delivery or something to the Sterling family's house and the mother saw him and said "What is your name?"  He answered, "Herbert Crippen" and she replies "Oh yes, I know who you are."     (What was that about? mmmmhhhh?)


Laura Corbin-Crippen
Herbert's mother
I don't know the situation with Laura and George Crippen.  I've only see him in one census with her and that was in 1910 before my grandfather was born, she had other children after my grandfather and George is not in any other documentation with her or the younger siblings.  So where is George Crippen?  I have seen George Crippen's name in other documentation with other families, is this the same George Crippen?  I don't know.  Are my grandfather's younger siblings Crippen's since George wasn't in the picture?  

Griffin should be Crippen.
Also listed my grandfather's 3 older siblings and my Uncle Theodore Corbin, Laura's brother and  his wife.

My Aunt Louise my grandfathers older sister,  in a conversation with my mom one day while at the casino gave some interesting information.  My mother was at the counter redeeming a prize and the lady behind the counter checked her license and saw the name Crippen, she also was a Crippen and was surprised because she never met any other Crippens, well that's what she told my mother.  So my mother said "We'll my husband is the Crippen, but I have a true Crippen right here pointing her towards my Aunt Louise.  So, the lady begins to ask my aunt questions and my aunt replied,  she really didn't know too much about her dad and his family and the Crippen side.  So that was pretty much the end of the conversation and she went back to her counter.   

My Aunt Louise later said to my mother, "I didn't want to say anything but I heard that there were 3  sets of Crippen's".  I suppose all stemming from George.  I guess that is too embarrassing to tell a stranger as its a little awkward blogging about it.  But as genealogist we all know that every family has its secrets and the only way we can ever truly know who's who is to talk about it and tell the truth.  It really makes you question what other secrets there are.  Now I have an idea why our ancestors don't like to give information and don't want to speak on the past.  (Below are my grandfather's siblings.  Charles Crippen not shown)


Mary Crippen

Harold Crippen

Howard Crippen

Hawthorne Crippen

Louise Crippen

Henry Crippen


I haven't started to research the Sterling name yet, because I was raised as a Crippen. We were never raised around or known of any other Crippen's except for my grandfathers siblings and their decendants.  We don't know any older family on the Crippen side except for George, but still, raised a Crippen.  I've thought about searching the Sterling's but not really sure if I want to know about them yet, even though that is my heritage, I might not like what I find.  

 I know of Laura Corbin and the Corbin ancestors,  I will blog about the Corbin family from Princess Anne Maryland, Snowhill, Salisbury and Philadelphia PA at another time.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Story of William B. Robinson Sr my maternal great grandfather.

The Story of William B. Robinson Sr my maternal great grandfather. 


Nobody knows when he was born, where he came from, nor any members of his family.  This story of William B Robinson begins and ends with him.  William B Robinson Sr. appeared one hot day (smile),  I don't know if it was hot, but he did appear in the small town of Abbeville, Alabama one day also known as the City of Dogwoods for its groves of beautiful Dogwood trees.  

I'm not exactly sure how my great-grandparents met, I can only speculate that it probably happened at a church meeting, him being a traveling Methodist minister and all.  William Robinson and Fredonia Ward courted for a while and on July 16th 1904 in Union Springs Bullock County Alabama,  about 60-70 miles from her hometown my maternal great grandparents were married.  


It has been said that it was a May-December wedding, William was a great deal older than Fredonia, he was closer to Fredonia's mother Rebecca Teague Ward Culver's (Grandma Becky) age. I haven't been able to find anything on William except the marriage document from Familysearch.org and a death index page in Florida.



Rebecca Teague Ward Culver  (Grandma Becky)

My grandmother Willie B Robinson, the oldest daughter of William and Fredonia would say that she never did know anything about her pappa.  You see, her mother passed away young, my grand mom was only 7 years old at the time of her mother's death with 3 younger siblings (Carrie Lee, William Jr and Blandon).  William would travel from place to place leaving them with aunts and other members of their mother's family to care for them, separating the siblings by leaving them at different family members homes because 4 children was a great deal harder to take care of than one.  My grandmom would say from time to time "A motherless child sees a hard time."  I didn't realize what she meant when I was younger, looking back now I understand. 

Willie B Robinson (McToy- McCloud) 1905 - 1990



 Grandmom had a hard life,  at the age of 13 William Sr gave permission for her to be married.   I believe he thought she would be well taken care of while he traveled. That was her first marriage to Claudie Guilford.  It was similar to the story of Mister and Celie from "The Color Purple" which should never have happened, but her aunts came and took her back with them just a few months later. (I'll blog about my grandmother's story at another time, but back to her father William Sr).

William B Robinson Sr did settle down in later years in Wildwood Sumter County Florida where he owned a store and 30 acres of land which my uncle's children now own part.  Acutally my great grandfather did divide the land between his four children, but I'm not exactly sure what happended to the land for 3 of them. William also married again while living in Florida to a woman named Sarah, to which I can find no documentation.     In 1929 he fell ill and my grandmother took care of him until he passed away.  After all of those years my grandmother never found out anything about him or his family history and so like I said the story begins and ends with him.   For now........


Update:  I found Information where it looks like his 2nd wife's name is Sarah Hankerson and William/W.B Robinson may have been born in 1872.  He and Sarah were married Jan 18, 1917 Manatee Co Fl, he was 45 and she was 29

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Mystery of my great-grandfather William H Preston.

So since I didn't know who to start with, I decided to start on one of my biggest brick walls. This story will be short but not so sweet.  You see, I have been hearing stories over the years about my family from my mother who is the family historian and Griot, she knows the history from both sides of the family.   My mom and dad had been dating since she was age 13.  My mother has the gift of gab and knows just what questions to ask.  The man you see below if I remember correctly is a picture of my paternal great grandfather
 William Henry Preston.  
Now,  what I'm getting ready to tell you I didn't find out until just some months ago, but as I was doing my research I couldn't remember my great grandfathers name to research him so I found my grandmothers obituary and found his name...when I searched his name,  I found a draft card from World War 1 1917-1918 .  

I examined the draft card and found that this person was a  Chauffeur with a wife and 3 children living in Washington DC,  for some reason I never really knew or asked about my grandmothers dad, I guess because she never really talked about him, she mentioned other family members regularly but never him.  I was young and never really paid attention,  but apparently at some point she must have spoken of her father, because my mom and oldest brother knew the story. 

I told my mom what I found she said "yes," that my grandmom, her mother-in-law used to say her dad was a Chauffeur and they did live in DC for a time when she was a young girl.  Great! I thought, this has to be him, then I found on familysearch.org some pages where there was  a marriage between Frances Thompson my paternal great-grandmother and William Henry Preston.



Now I have an estimate of the year he was born.   I asked my mother and oldest brother more questions, this is when I learned the rest of the story... At some point when my grandmother was a little girl, her father had left one day and no one ever knew where he went or what happened to him, they never heard anything else about him.   Now I know I really need to search more intently because I would really like to get to the bottom of this mystery.   The technology and access to documents and things that we have now, I thought surely,   I should be able to find out something.  To my surprise I think I might have found the mystery but I can't confirm anything yet and even if this is him the story is still sad.  It looks like he may have been put in jail, my search led to some documents saying that there was a William Henry Preston of Washington DC put in jail, maybe sent to a penitentiary in Atlanta Georgia.
The time adds up,  it was around the time that he had left, we believe that my grandmother said she was between the ages of 6-8 yrs old and she was born in 1912 making it 1918 - 1920 which would be right around the right time for the 31 year old William Preston #7850.  So this is my brick wall for now.  My next step is to send for these records and find out the truth.   If this is him, I wish that my grandmother would have been here to know that he didn't leave them, he was taken away.  But I know that he is back with his family and they are all together again, William, Frances, my grandmother Marie and her 2 sisters Bernice and Theresa.
Frances Thompson the mother top left, William H Preston father top right
L-R Theresa Preston Elliott, Marie Preston Crippen(my grandmother) and Bernice Preston 

and their baby brother Maurice Dennis.   His father was Roy Dennis whom I don't know anything about and that is another story for another day.