William J. McCroskey
In his comfortable home in Valley View, William
J. McCroskey is enjoying a well earned retirement, and can look back upon
forty-three years of residence in North Texas, most of it at that time having
been spent in the toil and practical management of farming and stock raising,
out of which in spite of many adverse conditions, he achieved a prosperity
sufficient for his declining years.
Mr. McCroskey, who is an ex-Confederate soldier, was born in
Sullivan County, Tennessee, March 1, 1837. His grand-father, James McCroskey was of
Irish ancestry and spent his last years on a farm in what is now West
James McCroskey married a Miss Duff, and several of their decendants
subsequently bore the Christian Name of Duff.
Mathew McCroskey, father of the Valley View citizen, was
born in Virginia, was a farmer
and also a Methodist minister. He
married Elizabeth Hickey, lived for many years in Tennessee,
and in 1843 moved to Green
County Missouri, and spent the rest of his life in the southwestern part of
that state. His children were ten in
number: Rachel, who married Benjamin
Patterson; Jane wife of Joe Merritt; Margaret, second wife of Joe Merritt;
Martha who married John McCroskey; William J. of Valley View; Mrs. Mary Barnes;
Amanda who died unmarried; Mrs. Ellen Glenn; Charlotte, who married Hamilton
Doran; and Duff
who lives on the old farm in Missouria.
William J. McCroskey was six years of age when his parents
moved to the vicinity of Springfield Missouria.
He grew up on a farm in that rugged district and farming was the
vocation which he took up when he became of age. The McCroskey home was within four miles of
the battlefield of Wilson Creek,
and those at home could clearly hear the sounds of that battle. Soon afterwards William McCroskey entered the
He was wounded in the fight at Corinth
and taken prisoner, later paroled and sent to the hospital for wounded
Confederates at Iuka, and after recovering he rejoined his command at Vicksburg. He was in service until the end of the war,
and following that worked several months for wages as a farm hand in Illinois. Returning to Missouria he located in Saline
County and was a farmer in that
rich and prosperous section of central Missouria until he came to Texas.
When he left Saline
County in 1877 he had a family of
wife and four children. They traveled
with two wagons and teams and made the thousand mile journey without incident
in about four weeks. Two other children
were born after they came to Texas. Mr. McCroskey located five miles southeast of
Valley View. His land comprised 280
acres, practically virgin soil and it was the task of many years to develop it
into a productive general farm.
His first home contained only two rooms, and out of
necessity this had to be sufficient until he had the money to build a better
one. Mr. McCroskey was not a capitalist
when he came to Texas and he had
to realize something from his labors every season in order to maintain his
family. For three years he gave his time
exclusively to the raising of grain. In
later years he planted a limited crop of cotton.
For his land he paid only five dollars an acre and added to
his holdings until he had more than half a section. Forty years ago Cooke
County was more of a stock region
than strictly farming country. Few of
the farms were fenced and there was an almost unlimited range for
livestock. Mr. McCroskey utilized some
of this pasture for his modest ventures as a stock man and he was never in the
business on an extensive scale, selling his surplus to local buyers. He and his neighbors took no pride in pure
bred cattle, handling only the stock usually found in Texas
at the time, inferior grades and scrubs.
Mr. McCroskey diligently cultivated and occupied his farm for thirty
years. He went through the ups and downs
of markets, much of his wheat selling for less than a dollar a bushel, some of
his cotton bringing four cents a pound, though at one time cotton was only
three cents a pound.
While he has never been in politics or public affairs it is
safe to say there is no more highly esteemed and substantial citizen of Cooke
County than Mr. McCroskey. He was for several years a trustee of his
county school district and he and Mrs. McCroskey took an active part in the
organizing and maintenance of the Methodist
Church in their community and he
served as a steward of the congregation.
It was in 1867, only a year or so after he left the army
that Mr. McCroskey married
Benanna Elliott. She was born
and reared in Saline County Missouria, daughter of Benjamin and Angeline
Elliot. The oldest of their children is
Duff D. now a resident of Vernon Texas;
Lena, wife of C. L. Miller of Cooke
County; Charles, who lives at El
Paso; Miss Vannie V. lives at Valley View; Walter is
in Tom Green
County, and Ethel the youngest is
the wife of Charles Steadman of Valley View.
[The original was written in an address book. Written on the last page is a note written in
Alexander Judd Doran’s handwriting. It
states “I don’t know who wrote this history / must have been Vannie / Her or
Lillian F. Doran.” My mother and I are
assuming Vannie (Mc Croskey) wrote it rather than Lillian Francis Stroud
because she was more likely to know the McCroskey family history.]
Transcribed by Stacy A. (Rosa)
Chadwick from a journal in the possession of Charla (Doran) Rosa.