Martial Bristol Crossett




Family Data




The eldest son of whom we have much information is Martial Bristol. He was executor of his father's will and inherited the farm. The other sons were given money enough to purchase land out west which they all did. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Here is the prosperous M. B. Crossett.

And his wife Sarah Webster Crossett.

He was born December 14, 1806 and did not marry until he was 26 and had found a suitable mate in Sarah Webster of Orangeville who was born February 22, 1811. Sarah was a distant cousin of Noah Webster, the famous compiler of Dictionaries.

The couple were married in Orangeville, N.Y. in 1832. There they produced a family of eleven children, two of whom died young.

  • Mark b. October 10, 1833, d. January 11, 1835.
  • Dwight b. April 9, 1835 m.(1) Minerva D. Johnson (2) Eunice L. Thompson.
  • Harlan b. July 27, 1837, m. Sarah Baxton
  • Sarah b. July 9, 1839, m. Joshua Emery Hall
  • Russell b. February 4, 1842, m. Eugenia L. Merryfield.
  • Emma b. April 16, 1845, d. August 22, 1847.
  • Kirk b. October 20, 1847, m. Lillian Merryfield.
  • Eli b. December 20, 1848, d. December 17, 1872.
  • John Bristol b. November 25, 1850, m. Ella Hawley.
  • Ann Orpah Webster b. November 13, 1851
  • Loyd b. February 27, 1854, m. Finette Belle Johnson  

Martial, who did not like "sh" and so spelled his name with a "t", also could see no sense in  two "l"s in Loyd. He was a very prosperous farmer and was also Postmaster and Overseer of the Poor. Much of the information about this family comes from cousin Judy Stitt Mollica who graciously sent me a copy of many family photos and a book of reminiscences written in 1948 by Ms. Halliette Hall when she was 86 years old. These memories are priceless.

It is remembered that Sarah Webster was very well educated and at age fourteen she was employed to teach school. She was mature for her age and brought it off very well. Her grand-daughter, Fannie Hall repeated the feat.

The story was told and retold in the family how Martial, tithed hundreds of dollars to the Presbyterian Church of which he was a Deacon as was his father before him. His door was often knocked upon by those in want. One cold night a knock was answered and an Indian asked if he could stay the night. Martial said "yes" and in he came, followed by eleven more! They ranged themselves in a semicircle, feet to the fire and went to sleep for the night. It is said that Martial and especially Sarah in next room did not sleep all that well.

In the early 1800s the government began selling off federal land in several states west of the Applachins. They sold plots for $1.25 per acre and they were snapped up quickly by land speculators and those wishing to establish farms. It should be remembered that all this land was taken from Native American inhabitants and is only now being paid for in some small measure. Our family settled on land occupied by the Sauk and Fox tribes until the Black Hawk War of 1832. Chief Black Hawk fought hard to keep his land but like so many others such as Chief Joseph of the Nez Perse, Sitting Bull of the Sioux, and Geronimo of the Apache, his effort was in vain. It is a mystery of human nature why their memories are not entitled to as much honor as men who actually opposed their country in defense of their land like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. But, I digress.

The Crossetts bought land as early as 1837 and continued to purchase and sell plots through the years. Most of Martial and Sarah's children moved west and settled ultimately in Illinois. Russell settled in Kane County and Kirk and Loyd in Marion County. Both counties are in the southern part of Illinois which was then forested and hilly. Dwight and Harlan settled in DeKalb County in the north where their uncles Martin, Jacob Royal, and Sheldon had preceded them. The north was mainly prairie country. Many of the boys made names for themselves:

Dwight was a member of the House of Representatives of Illinois in the General Assembly of 1888-90 and is probably the D. Crossett listed as Superintendent of Schools in DeKalb County for 1861-1862. He was first principal of the 1867 school erected in DeKalb.  He was a town supervisor from 1873-74 and again 1878-81.

Sarah Crossett and her husband Joshua Emory Hall moved to Kansas. They were teachers. Mr. Hall was also Justice of the Peace, Custom House Officer, and editor of the local paper in Kioua, Kansas. 

Russell Crossett owned a farm in Salem, Illinois which bordered on the farm of William Jennings Bryan, whom they referred to as "Billy". Russell was Tax Collector for the county.

Kirk Crossett settled in Marion County, Illinois, the area known as "Little Egypt". He was a farmer all his life. He battled late in life with the effects of drugs taken in his youth for rheumatism. Of him it was said,"true as the needle to the pole, and as square in character as mathematics and the Bible can make one, he was loved by many and respected by all."

Loyd Crossett graduated valedictorian from the College of Brockport in New York and became a teacher.

Eli and John Bristol Crossett remained in New York. Eli was a teacher and at an early age purchased a cheese factory which he ran until his untimely death from Typhoid Fever at age 23. John Bristol was first a teacher and then President of the Warsaw Knitting Mill in Warsaw, N.Y., a well educated man whose interest in family history indebts us to him. He traveled to Ireland and did research there on Crossett origins. John married Miss Ella Hawley in 1878. Ella Hawley Crossett was a very prominent suffragist and close friend and colleague of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

All of Martial Bristol and Sarah's children were fond of learning and achieved good educations, many going on to teach and hold office in the community. His grand children followed in those paths as well. The couple did much to populate the western frontier. When Martial died in 1877, Sarah followed the children west and lived with them until her death in 1885.