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           Crow's Islands
         Sea of Memories!


An Introduction

 This project of assembling and recording the family history and background, relating to the Crow lineage began in the summer of 1980 and has proven to be very rewarding.  It has resulted in bringing together the memories of yesteryear and focusing on the heritage of this family.  We must recognize that the Crow family of previous years had a tremendous bearing upon history as well as today's generation.  And it will continue to enrich history in the generations to come!

  We are proud to be part of this family and to share with our bloodline the many treasured stories of the past and the present.  For the very young, we challenge you to carry on the proud tradition, the good name of the Crow family, and to pass on the names and stories of your ancestors.

     Let us focus on the area around Dexter and Bernie to set the stage as to how our ancestors lived.  We will also address the problems they faced and resolved in the hopes that we will better understand and appreciate our good life today.


   Before the year 1869, the place we now call Dexter was covered with a thick forest.  There were two different groups of people who lived in this area prior to the "white man" - the Mound Builders (early settlers) and the Indians.  The Mound Builders who either died from a plague or immigrated (probably to Mexico) built the Indian mounds that were numerous until the last 50 years.  Then the Indians came into the area and lived for many years.  They settled on the high ridge areas where wild game and food was plentiful.  When the white settlers came to the area the Indians either moved or were forced to move to other areas.


  There was but one road in the area prior to 1869 and that was Cape Road - from Cape Girardeau to Kennett.  This road runs along the ridge just east of the present Highway 25 and the Missouri Pacific railroad.  This was the main artery of travel for people traveling from small communities such as Bernie, Millers Mill, Townley, McGuire and several others.  These small communities were the hub of activity and included a General Store, Saloon, Blacksmith Shop, Wood Shop, and a Gristmill (where wheat and corn were ground into flour or meal).  In later years, cotton gins were constructed in these small towns.  The surrounding area was all timberland, and lumber was a large business.  Small areas were gradually cleared for farming.  As the timber was cut away, the beginning of a farm now took shape.

  The old pioneer spirit was needed to clear our area and to build the towns which sprung up everywhere.  The area we live in goes by many different names - Southeast Lowlands, Swamp East Missouri, and the Bootheel (because of the shape on the map) are some of the most common references.  These lands once were swampy and covered with dense forest and underbrush.  There were many mosquitoes and snakes to contend with, but this did not discourage our pioneers.  Water would not drain away because of the flatness of the ground.  Gradually, the trees were cut away for lumber and drainage ditches were dug to help the water drain into the rivers.  This made the region more habitable and it is now one of the most productive agriculture areas in the state as well as in the Midwest.  The area is sometimes called "the breadbasket".  Once land could be bought for as little as .75 cents an acre.  That same land today sells for an excess of $3,000 per acre.

  These early settlers did not waste their resources.  They used the slabs for building wooden corduroy roads through the swampy areas in the lowlands east of Bernie.  Many of these settlers lived several miles in the swamp, working the timber and farming small plots on high spots.  They lived in either log cabins or homes built from the slabs after the lumber was sawed from the logs.  Most lived in dirt-floor houses of only one room.

  We can be certain of one thing, James Levi Crow was an important part in the settlement of the area.  Not only he, but his son Grover, helped in clearing the timberland to make way for farm land to till.  Many of the descendents of James Levi have gone on to become established farmers in the area.  They have maintained a rich and fertile land through soil conservation and crop rotation.

  James Levi served his country during the Civil war for a just cause.  And we are proud to say that his descendents also responded to similar causes for freedom.  James lost a son, Edward, in the Spanish-American War.  Many of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren beckoned the call to arms.  Some served in World War II in both the European and Pacific areas.  Others came forward during the Korean War, Vietnam war, and the Gulf War.  We are proud of each and every one of them!

  The occupations vary for the James Levi family line.  Some went on to become farmers, senators, professional singers, teachers, ministers, lawyers, dentists, doctors, railroad employees, barbers, NASA engineers, factory workers, die & thread setters, state inspectors, and nurses.  We must not forget however, the most important person - the one who has the hardest job of all - the homemaker!  Let us recognize these people who make sure everything runs smoothly.

  And recognition to all who have gone on to become fathers and mothers and carry on the proud name of Crow.  Congratulations to each and every one of you!


In dedication to the memory of my grandparents - 
Grover Cleveland and Martha Rosa Crow

And our parents - Wenzil, Paul & Ruby, Denzil, Kenneth and Shelby

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