Volume 7, Number 11, Spring 1982
"Im looking for the Cross lands" was my greeting to Mr. Junior Smith when I drove into his filling station along the highway between Doniphan, Missouri, and Pocahontas, Arkansas, just south of the State line. "Youre standing on it. Just step over here a few feet and Ill show you the old Cross cabin built in 1845", he said. To my surprise I saw a remarkably well-preserved double log cabin a short distance over in the field. This was in the late summer of 1976. The end of a search begun earlier when I had gone to Pocahontas to try to find some trace of my mother- in-laws family. Birdie Elfleetah ross Brown had been born in Randolph County, AR. in August 1874, the daughter of John Cross and Frona C. Bollinger. She had been orphaned at an early age and she remembered riding on a horse, behind her uncle, West Cross, a long distance to live with her Grandmother Cross. She had always wondered about her family, but no one had ever taken the time and effort to help her find them. She died in 1950, and it was more than 25 years before I had the time and opportunity to look for her family history and graves. Mr. Smith went on to tell that we would have to come back later in the year, when the leaves had fallen, to find the old Cross graveyard located on the hillside above the cabin. He said that his father formerly owned that farm and that his father always cautioned his boys to be careful about disturbing the old graveyard; that they were the Cross graves. He said that they were marked by large field stones with no inscriptions and that there were probably five or six graves in the middle of a plum thicket. Bessie Teague and my sister-in-law, Ada Harris, were with me on this trip and we went down to the old house, wading thru ragweeds shoulder high. Ada and Bessie climbed up into the house and found it to be well built and solid, showing little trace of its more than 135 years.
On my first trip to Pocahontas, a few weeks earlier, I had gone to the Pocahontas Library in the old Court House and found the census of 1850. It contained a whole community of Cross and Cross relatives living in the north part of Randolph County. Among them were Uriah Cross and his wife, Sarah, both 59 years of age, who were the parents of several children. One son was James D. Cross, who with his 2nd wife, Marinda, had two children - James Polk Cross, 2 years old , and a baby boy, Asahel, 8 months old. I knew Birdie had an uncle, Polk Cross, who had lived in Howell County, so I knew I was on the right track. I went to the new Randolph County Court House and discovered numerous Cross probate proceedings and deeds on record concerning different Cross families, including a small estate belonging to Birdie Cross. Asahel Cross was listed as her guardian. I never discovered the source of that estate. I was unable to remain in that area at that time long enough to find very much, hence the necessity of a second trip.
Mr. Smith very kindly allowed me to copy a partition suit among the heirs of Uriah and Sarah Cross from the abstract to his one acre of land, which was part of the original tract. We then went to Doniphan and secured the services of Mrs. Thelma McManus, a genealogist, who furnished us with the marriage record of James D. Cross and Marinda Gordon, April 2, 1846, and of Marinda Cross to Stacy Woods on August 5, 1858. We had discovered that James D. Cross, who had died in 1857, while treasurer of Randolph County, AR., was survived by three little boys, James Polk, John and West. The 1860 census of Ripley County, Missouri, shows Stacy Woods, 46, Marinda Woods, 41, and several Woods children: J. K. Cross, 12, John Cross, 6, and West Cross, 4. We could find no further reference to Stacy Woods. That is one of the mysteries encountered in this search. The 1880 census of Howell County, Missouri, shows in Residence No. 231 James P. Cross, 32, as head of the family; Haley H., his wife, age 25; Julie, daughter, age 2; Martha Cross, 60, mother; West Cross, 25, brother; and Elfleetah, 6, niece. This is another unsolved mystery! The census record shows that Martha Cross could neither read nor write. We know that they are the same person.
The Ripley County, Missouri, records show the marriage of John Cross and Frona C. Buliner on September 22, 1872. Mrs. McManus could find no other person of that surname in Ripley or any other adjoining county, so it is assumed that BULINER is a misspelling of the name BOLLINGER. There are Bollinger families in Southeast Missouri. That is another puzzle to be ferreted out on future trips.
Mrs. McManus found records to show that James D. Cross, grandfather of Birdie Elfleetah Cross, had been one of the founders of old Siloam Methodist Church located about 3 miles east of Middlebrook, Arkansas. Birdie always wondered where her mother and father were buried, and it seems reasonable that all of the Cross family not buried in the original burying ground in the field would have been buried in the cemetery adjacent to the old church.
In May, 1977, Bessie Teague and I took my brother-in-law, Orville Brown of Chadwick, to Arkansas to try to locate his- grandparents graves. We enlisted the help of Mr. Junior Smith again and he went with us to Old Siloam Cemetery. We were very disappointed to find so few legible tombstones, most of the graves being marked only with field rocks. We agreed among ourselves that the stones in the older part of the cemetery, close to the church building, probably marked the last resting place of the Crosses. Orville seemed satisfied that we had found the long lost graves. He went into the old cabin in the field and was pleased with the good condition in which he had found it. Mr. Smith led us to the old graves in the thicket and we took pictures. Within a month after this trip Orville died of a heart attack at the wheel of his sisters car enroute to Springfield.
As to the genealogy of the Cross family, the earliest record I have found that seems to tie in with the Crosses of Randolph County, AR., is a marriage of John Cross and Mary (?) on 7 July, 1815. Also, a marriage of John Cross and Sarah Wilkinson on 25 April, 1745, and John Cross and Philliszana Hicks on 28 August 1753, in Baltimore County, Maryland. I have found 17 marriages of Cross males in Maryland between 1634 and 1777 and I have learned that there were many Cross men serving in the Revolutionary War.
The name Asahel, Asel, Ashel and Acel appears in many of the Cross families. The will of John Cross, Baltimore County, Maryland, 15 June 1764, lists his children as: Solomon, John, Benjamin, William, Zachariah, Richard, Asel and Ruth Cole. Assuming
that Asel Cross is the ancestor of the Arkansas Crosses, his marriage to Mary Demmett took place in Baltimore County, Maryland, 28 August 1760. From North Carolina Chronicles it appears that one Asel Cross was convicted of treason in Rowan County in 1789, but he was such a good man his neighbors interceded for him and his sentence was commuted. Uriah Cross was born in North Carolina in 1791. From the census records I learned that all of Uriah's Children were born in Tennessee. There is a gap between the Asel Cross , who was married in Baltimore County, Maryland, in 1760 and Uriah Cross born in 1791. That is another mystery to be solved.
*The Cross family are ancestors of the Polk Cross family; the West Cross family which includes the late Sallie Cross Rozells family - Dr. Bill Rozell of Ozark, Mary Rozell Casey, Joe Rozell of Sparta, James Rozell & Delpha T. McTeer of Fresno, CA.; and the Andrew Cross family of Springfield, MO. The children of Birdie Cross Brown include Ina Ray Johnson of Seymour, Clarence of Sparta, Lloyd B. of Port Richey, FL., Amos of Christian County, Floyd and Elbert of Washington, D.C. Sons Omer E. and Orville a and daughter Ada Harris are deceased.
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