Joseph (Joe) Slagle was born in Augusta County, Virginia, on September 26, 1810. He was the youngest of twelve children from the marriage of George Slagle and Elizabeth Koiner of Lancaster County, Pa. His father was a prominent businessman and landowner.
All applicable sources say that young Joe "succeeded in acquiring an education by no means limited."
The portions of The History of Caldwell and Livingston Counties (1886) that referenced Joe specifically was most certainly edited and sanctioned by Joe himself. This book will be termed the "official" 1886 record henceforth.
It mentioned that Joe had attended Charlottesville College. I have not found any indication that this school ever existed.
However, a family source from that era tells us that Joe attended the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville, Va. at its earliest opening (March, 1825.) There were about fifty plus students and ten faculty per the UVA website. It was said that Joe studied for the ministry.
However, history tells us that the founder of this storied public institution was NOT in favor of establishing a School of Theology. He was a firm believer in the separation of church and state. In 1895, the first and only church building on UVA's Rotunda(campus) was constructed. Did the school's founder "flip over" in his grave? Just maybe.
The University of Virginia was founded by one of our nation’s most prominent forebearers: Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was very proud of this achievement; his letters indicate its planning had begun decades before. More than likely, the Slagles’ knew President Jefferson personally. The Slagle’s Mill and Tannery near Crimora, Va. were about 20-25 miles from Charlottesville.
George Slagle's tuition for a very young Joe (14 years old) supported this fledgling school at a critical time. From UVA historical accounts, Thomas Jefferson typically opened his home on Sunday afternoons to his students. Could Joe have sipped tea at Monticello and discussed religion with Mr. Jefferson? Just maybe.
During Joe's second year at UVA, Thomas Jefferson died. He passed on July 4, 1826, on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson drafted this document and was an avowed enemy of former President John Adams of Massachusetts. One of the more interesting sidebars in American history is that in their latter years these two American icons became best friends through correspondence.
Ninety-one year old John Adams died in his Braintree, Ma. home in the early evening hours of July 4, 1826. Some of Mr. Adam's last words were "...Thomas Jefferson survives." In fact, 560 miles away at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson had died only a few hours earlier. Two Founding Fathers had died on the same day and that it was, of all days, the Fourth of July!
Joe seemed to have abruptly left the UVA for Richmond, Va. in 1827. No reason was given. Could it be that Joe provided a fictious school for the official 1886 record for a reason? Just maybe.
In 1828, George Slagle passed; shortly thereafter sixteen year old Joe emigrated with his mother Elizabeth to Greene County, Ohio so that she could be closer to her brothers.
In 1832, twenty two year old Joe married his first wife: Miss Catherine Long of Greene County. He started teaching school and she started having babies.
It was highly likely that the Slagle's knew a Crawford family that lived only a few miles away from their Crimea, Va. homeplace.
Mason Crawford's county of birth (Botetourt) was once a part of Augusta County, Va. in the late 1700s. In those days, given names of males were often the maiden names of their mothers. The Mason Family of Virginia was quite prominent and landed. Back then, "landed" meant rich.
So why do we care about Mason Crawford?
Mason Crawford emigrated to Kentucky and from there to Livingston County by the late 1840's. He was listed in the 1850 census as living in Livingston County. This census listed a wife Susan (Allenthorpe) and seven children; one daughter was named Elizabeth (age 20). She would soon be Joe's fifth wife in 1851 and was the half sister of Benjamin Collins who was murdered by Joe in 1853.
I now believe that this Elizabeth Crawford was the half sister to the mysterious "Miss Crawford" in the official 1886 record. Her first name was ...drum roll... Elizabeth!
The official 1886 record tells us that she (Elizabeth I) was married to Joe in 1848 (fourth wife) and passed suddenly in 1849. The Slagle cemetery marker indicates she was born in 1826.
Also note that Elizabeth Crawford II was never mentioned in the official 1886 record. We have numerous sources that tell us she was quite real. However I have not as yet found any trace of her since late 1853; more on that topic in later posts.
So Joe (on record) had but five wives...not so. We know he had six for certain. I have one source that indicates one more.
Confused? That was Joe's plan.
It turns out that Mason Crawford's first wife Mary Jane (McCreary), had thirteen children with him within twenty years---until she died. There were several daughters; none with the given name of Elizabeth; but I still think that Elizabeth I came from that union.
Did Joe marry two half sisters called by the same name? Just maybe.
To be Continued