Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Crewson/Cruzen/Crusin Bell

Of course, he's not just mine, but whenever I find a family member, I just consider him or her "mine."

I've been searching for the family of birth of Lydia (Bell) Thompson, my great-great-grandmother. I've found some of her siblings, but not all. This post explains part of my search for one of her brothers.

In February I explained my search for Cruzin Bell and how I found Robison Cruzen Beall in a book of death records transcriptions. Since Cruzen - or Crewson, Cruzin, Cruson, or any other number of variations - is such an uncommon name I wondered if that was my man. I asked readers if Bell might sound like Beall when pronounced with a Southern accent and if, sometimes, the spelling might change. Several readers responded, and I was encouraged to search further.

The transcription in the book stated that Robison Cruzen Beall died in November, 1900. State death records for Ohio begin in 1908. Prior to that, records were kept at the county level. It's harder to obtain a photocopy of a county death record than a state death record, though I have in the past purchased them.

In this case I decided to look through the local newspapers for an obituary for Robison Cruzen Beall or Crusin Bell, and then decide whether to request a county death record (if I found Beall) or see what family information the obituary contributed to my search (if I found Bell).

With film numbers in hand, I headed to the Ohio Historical Society files of microfilm, pulled the ones I wanted to view (so I could search all three newspapers if I needed to), and rolled the first one to November 20, 1900. And then I began my search, column by column, page by page.

And there he was: Cruzen Bell! And Crewson Bell! I found no one by the name of Robison Cruzen Beall. I continued by search through the other two newspapers, just to be sure, and found two more obituaries, one for Crewson Bell and another for Cruzen Bell. Nary a Beall in sight.

I was hoping that knowing that Bell and Beall might sometimes sound alike and be transposed would help me find his parents in the 1860 and 1900 census records and death information for other members of his family. It hasn’t so far but as I continue to search I’ll be aware of the possibility that I should be searching for both names.

Thanks to Herstoryan who told me that in her Texas accent Bell and Beall are pronounced the same and to the others who responded about name variations. I appreciate your comments and help.

The first obituary is from The Steubenville Weekly Herald-Star, Friday, November 23, 1900, p. 4, column 7.
The second obituary is from The Steubenville Daily Gazette, Tuesday, November 20, 1900, p. 5, column 3.

Copyright © 2010 by Nancy Messier.


  1. Ha, those old newspapers sure didn't hold back any of the indelicate details, did they?

  2. They sure didn't. But this one is pretty mild compared some others I have! Maybe newspapers were as close as they could get to the "live" version of events - sort of like our TV programs?


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