JOHN CRAWFORD BERNHARDT was the youngest of 12 children of John Christian Bernhardt II and his wife Sarah Elizabeth Lentz Bernhardt. He was born on October 3, 1835, when his father was 49 years old, and his mother was 39. The family lived in the house now known as the Moose House. They worshipped at Bethel Bear Creek Church in Stanley County.
On July 17, 1836, when he was 9 months old, John Crawford was christened there “as Johu Crofford and was sponsored by his parents. He was listed as an active member in 1854, the year his father died. He was nineteen years old then and had been only thirteen when his mother died. The U.S. Census of 1850, Cabarrus County, lists his father John C. as age sixty-four; a son, Matthias A., age thirty; a daughter, Mary C., age seventeen; and a granddaughter, Leah B., age nine. John Crawford, then age fifteen, was not listed. He must have been away at school or living with his sister, Margaret B. Linn. His brother, George M., was listed in the 1850 census as age twenty-eight; his wife, Mary Ann, age twenty-five; a son, Caleb T., age eight; and a son, Paul N., age three.”
Before he was married, John Crawford served in the War Between the States. At the age of 26, he enlisted in the military. On June 15, 1861, a company, initially composed of men from Cabarrus County, North Carolina, was organized for the war at Concord. They were known as the “Cabarrus Rangers.” Two weeks later, they “set out for Asheville, where the western companies of the regiment had been ordered into camp for drill and discipline. About August 1, 1861, the companies at Asheville were moved to Camp Beauregard, at Ridgeway, Warren County [North Carolina]. This camp had been designated as a regular school of cavalry instruction and it was here that the 9th Regiment N.C. Troops (1st Regiment NC Cavalry) was formed on August 12, 1861. After that date the company fuctioned as a part of the regiment and its history for the war period is recorded as a part of the regimental history.”
Hal and Lydia Kluttz posted on the Bernhardt family website information about John Crawford Bernhardt’s military service: The organization of John Crawford’s regiment “was accomplished under the act of legislature entitled ‘An Act to Raise Ten Thousand Troops’. All units organized under this act were enlisted for the war, their regimental and company officers were appointed by the governor, and their equipment, uniforms, accouterments, and horses were provided by the state. They were officially designated as State Troops. On October 21, 1861, the regiment was mustered into Confederate States service with (10) companies, Co. A through Co. K.” John Crawford was a part of Company F. At Camp Beauregard in Warren County, NC, the recruits learned calvalry tactics and how to be a soldier.
In October 1861, the regiment was moved to Richmond and then to Manassas Junction, Virginia, “where it was placed under the command of General J.E. B. Stuart’s Cavalry Brigade.”
John Crawford “was a private in the Ninth Regiment Calvary, Company F. He was listed in the Roll of Honor which ‘embraces the names of officers and privates who continued in service until they were killed, captured or honorably discharged.’ (Rumple: History of Rowan County, pp. 341, 342.) Legend has it that he received a foot injury at Chancellorsville, Virginia, site of a Confederate Victory in 1863.”
James William (Bill) Kluttz notes the following details of John Crawford Bernhardt’s war record: “Detached service 22 Apr 1862. On Roll 28 at Hanover Junction 28 Apr 1863. At camp, cripple, 20 Jul 1863. Absent with dead line horse 20 July 1863. At home on furlough of indulgence 28 Mar 1864. Absent – detailed to purchase horse Dec 1864.”
Bill Kluttz suggested [in conversation with Glenna Sears] that when John Crawford was injured, he returned to his sister’s house to convalesce. (This sister, Mary Caroline Bernhardt Fisher, was only 2 years older than John Crawford. She was married to Captain Jacob Allison Fisher who was also in the Civil War. He developed the Fisher Mill near Salisbury. )
John Crawford Bernhardt “ended military service on 16 May 1865 at Salisbury, Rowan County, North Carolina. He was paroled. He took the Oath of Allegiance at Salisbury on June 5, 1865.” By swearing the Oath of Allegiance he regained his rights of citizenship after having served as a Confederate soldier.
The authors of the Bernhardt Family History book note that John Crawford “rode horseback to the home of his sister, Mary B. Fisher, who lived about seven miles southwest of Salisbury, North Carolina. He [had] acquired a brass surveyor’s compass, chains and a Jacobs staff from a northern officer.”
Three days before his 30th birthday, on September 20, 1865, “John Crawford married Laura Elizabeth Davis [age 23], daughter of Michael Davis, Salisbury, North Carolina. Pastor Dreher, of St. James Lutheran Church, Concord, performed the ceremony.” John Crawford had been out of the military for about four months.
Laura Elizabeth Davis was the daughter of Michael Davis and Sarah Elizabeth Trexler Davis. She was the fifth of their eight children. She was born Christmas Day, 1841. “The Davis home was located in the 300 block of East Innes Street, Salisbury, North Carolina. Michael, Laura’s father, was a colonel in the War Between the States. According to ancestral recollection, he was a silversmith. He died of face cancer at the age of seventy-seven.”
After their marriage, John Crawford and Laura Elizabeth Davis Bernhardt lived near “St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Rowan County, where he ran a grist mill for his sister, Margaret Linn Lentz.”
John Crawford and Laura Elizabeth acquired farm land [235 acres] where St. Peter’s Church cemetery is now and going back beyond Dutch Second Creek, encompassing part of a curve of the current Panhandle Road. The grist mill must have been not too far away. Their “land was located on both sides of Dutch Second Creek but did not include the three acres Jacob Fulenwider had sold for $12 to the trustees of St. Peter’s Church, Rowan County on May 12, 1832….”
John Crawford and Laura Elizabeth’s first five children were born on this property and were all baptized at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. I like to think of them frolicking on the rolling land, and perhaps playing in the creek on a warm summer day. At the time they moved from this property, John Adolphus would have been 7, George Michael would have been 5, Cora Lee would have been 4, Mary Augusta (Mollie) would have been 2 or 3, and little Sarah Elizabeth (Sally) would have only been a year old.
“The family left that area and moved to Marion, North Carolina about 1873. [Their sixth child] William Mathias was born there on March 13, 1874. The operation of a general store there was not successful.” Bill Kluttz (in conversation with GS) said that John Crawford worked for a relative who owned the general store. Addie Glover Ketner (in conversation with GS) volunteered that this was about the time the railroad was laid there. She said Grandpa and the family did not live there long.
“The family then returned to Rowan County, and John Crawford sold the Dutch Second Creek property….” John Crawford and Laura Elizabeth’s sale of their land at St. Peter’s is recorded in “Deed Book 48, page 495, dated August 12, 1874, J.C. Bernhardt and wife, L.E., conveyed to George M. Bernhardt, C.T. and P.N. (all of Rowan County) 235 acres of land for $2,650. [Sale was probably to John Crawford’s uncle, Colonel George M. Barnhardt, and his sons, Caleb Theophilus and Paul N. Bernhardt. John Crawford got $11.28 per acre.--GS]
Two weeks later, “On August 27, 1874, he bought the John C.O. Graham place, consisting of 121½ acres on Grant Creek waters, for $1150, Deed Book 48, page 505. [This land cost John Crawford $9.47 per acre.] His sister, Mary B. Fisher, and her husband, Captain Jake Fisher, also lived in this section where they operated a mill and farmed.”
Bill Kluttz prepared an overlay on USGS Quadrangle Sheet showing the entry to John Crawford’s property here about 1500 feet east of Grace Church on Grace Church Road. The property is comparatively narrow for about 2000’ from Grace Church Road, and then widens out into a larger parcel. [I believe this entry road is called “Bernhardt Road.”—GS] Bill Kluttz said there is nothing to see there—no house remains.
“Four more children were born to John Crawford and Laura in their new home place; Ernest Theophilus, Joseph Clarence, an infant twin [to Clarence] who died, and Jacob Alphonso. The Rowan County Census of 1880 listed the entire family, except Jacob A….” [who hadn’t been born yet].
It appears that it was after he moved to the Grace Church area in 1874 that John Crawford actively became a surveyor. John Crawford had “acquired a brass surveyor’s compass, chains and a Jacobs staff from a northern officer [during the Civil War]. He used these instruments in his profession as surveyor of Rowan County. Among properties John Crawford surveyed was the land for the development of the Spencer Shops for the Southern Railway System in the late 1800’s.” “He was Appointed County Surveyor from 1876 to 1885 at Salisbury, Rowan County, North Carolina. Before becoming the County Surveyor, however, he married, had a number of children, and worked as a grist mill operator and briefly operated a general store.
Six years after John Crawford and Laura moved to the Grace Church area, “Grace Lutheran Church was organized in 1880 with twenty-two members. John Crawford was active in this development and served as an Elder and Sunday School Superintendent. His brother-in-law, Captain Jake Fisher, was Secretary and Treasurer of the new church. Before it was completed, Laura died of pneumonia on March 22, 1882. She was forty years of age and was the first person buried in the Grace Lutheran Church Cemetery.” Laura’s brother John David [John Burton Davis?] had “often visited his sister, Laura, and always gave her children money. Laura was buried in a black dress made from material that he gave her.” Laura’s oldest child was 17, and her youngest was less than a year old.
Life must have been hard for a family of nine children without a mother to cook their supper, make their clothes, and wipe the little one’s noses. I imagine John Crawford eagerly welcomed his new wife to the large family. “On December 6, 1883, John Crawford married Martha Jane Brown.” She was age 30. He was 48. John Crawford’s children—grandparents to many of us, were the following ages when they acquired their new stepmother: John Adolphus was 17, George Michael was 15, Cora Lee was 14, Mollie was 13, Sally was 11, Will was 9, Ern was 7, Joseph Clarence was 5, and Jacob Alphonso was 2. [I wonder how the children reacted to their stepmother. Were the older children resentful of her taking their mother’s place? Were the younger ones so happy to have a mother again—someone to “mother” them besides their older sisters?—GS]
John Crawford’s second wife, Martha Jane Brown “was a great granddaughter of Michael Brown of the old historic Brown House near Salisbury. Their first three children were born at their farm home near the Grace Lutheran Church. They were Annie Laura, Joline, who died young, and Paul Crawford.”
In 1889, after they had been married 6 years, John Crawford and Martha moved their family “to the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Community seven miles south of Salisbury…where they had purchased a small farm [on Glover Road]. Their last two children were born there, Ida Pearle, who died young, and Ira Leo. Martha Jane survived John Crawford by seventeen years. During that time she made her home with Leo and family at the home place. She and John Crawford are buried at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Cemetery. A compass is engraved on his stone monument.”
“John Crawford was Rowan County Surveyor for many years. He continued in this position until his death at the age of seventy-seven. He also was a successful farmer and a Justice of the Peace. On his seventy-seventh birthday, his children gave him a big dinner and made the occasion a great one by having a large number of his friends from the county and Salisbury present. It was one of the largest gatherings of this kind held in Rowan County. He was one of the most popular men in the county. [The photograph in The Bernhardt Family history was taken on this occasion. Last year, at our Bernhardt reunion, we sat in front of John Crawford’s home and again celebrated his life by having our photograph made in the same spot—the descendants of John Crawford Bernhardt.]
“As reported in the local newspaper on October 30, 1912: ‘His death occurred at 7:00 A.M. Tuesday, October 29, 1912. While sitting in a chair, he died of heart trouble, supposedly heart neuralgia. In the death of Mr. Bernhardt, Rowan County loses a valuable citizen, the people of St. Paul's section a splendid neighbor, his children a tender and affectionate father and his church a wise counselor, loyal defender and supporter.”
Compiled and written by Glenna Sears, great granddaughter of J C Bernhardt.