The family of
Nancy Elizabeth Crawley
By Leatha Alston Glasgow
E. B. Alston
Paperback-110 pages- $12.00
Gideon Branch Alston married Nancy Elizabeth Crawley in August, 1898. By 1929 they had six sons and four daughters. This is the genealogy of their descendants and vintage photographs of this family’s journey from then until now.
According to the Society and Family Book, Volume 1, 1958-1961 compiled by the Alston – Williams – Boddie – Hilliard Society which is affiliated with North Carolina’s First Family Society, my ancestor, John Alston, was born in Bedfordshire, England on December 5, 1673 to John Alston and Anne Wallis.
He arrived in Newport News, Colony of Virginia, around 1698 and in 1711 he was granted 270 acres of land on the northwest side of Bennetts Creek in Albemarle County, North Carolina. By 1719, he had married Mary Clarke and owned 1,421 acres in the Bertie Precinct.
He became prominent in local affairs, serving as a juror and foreman of a grand jury. In 1724 he was commissioned assistant justice of the Court of Oyer. This commission was renewed continuously until 1729. He was also a captain in the local militia. In 1725 he was promoted to major and in 1729 he was promoted to colonel. From then on, he was referred to as “Colonel Alston.”
He was elected vestryman of St. Paul’s Parrish in Chowan County, North Carolina on April 3, 1738. This beautiful church is still standing in Edenton.
He was elected sheriff of Chowan County in 1746. While he was sheriff, the county was asked to send two representatives to the Colonial Assembly in New Bern. They had an election and when the votes were counted, all five candidates had an equal number of votes. In typical Alston fashion; he sent all five to the General Assembly. This caused quite stir and there was an official investigation although nothing was done to penalize him. A deposition indicates that Sheriff Alston said if he had it to do all over again, he wouldn’t send all five. Again, a typical Alston analysis. We’re all like that.
William Byrd of Virginia wrote of the time when Major Alston and Captain Baker visited and dined with his family on March 24, 1728. There is a paragraph discussing the beauty of the local women and it seems that Major Alston’s daughter was said to be the prettiest young lady in North Carolina. Byrd didn’t say what her name was but it is believed she was John’s daughter, Sarah Alston, who married Thomas Kearney.
John Alston died in 1758 at 85 years of age. His descendents continued to prosper in the rich lowlands of North Carolina. By the time of the Civil War, the Alston clan was both prominent and well-to-do.
Not to put too fine a point on this, but our ancestors were not members of the genteel Southern aristocracy. They were land hungry, money-grubbing farmers who, from the old pictures, admired good-looking robust women and who produced many robust offspring.
The branch of the Alston family left in England died out two generations later.
The Alston clan sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War and when that was over, the family fortunes took a turn for the worse. My great grandfather, Gideon Alston owned a 22,000 acre plantation called Odell on what is now Justice Branch Road east of Littleton, North Carolina. There was a sign marking the spot a few years ago but it is gone now. By 1867 most of his land was lost to taxes due in U.S. dollars instead of Confederate money.