Deep California Roots

Crow family history - Charles Lewis Crow
My 4x great grandfather, Charles Lewis Crow.

One of the lines on my father’s side is the Crow line. As a Californian, our Crow family history is of particular interest to me. Like so many families of the era, the Crows made their way across the country from the East coast. They left Maryland and, as they migrated, they settled in places such as Kentucky and Missouri.

In 1850, several Crows travelled to California, seeking wealth during the California Gold Rush. But they ended up returning to their home states. In 1865, they returned to California as part of one of the largest wagon trains of the era, led by John Bradford Crow. This time they stayed. They established the town of Crows Landing, California.

Mussel Slough Tragedy

One cousin, Walter J. Crow is remembered for his violent and untimely death in The Mussel Slough Tragedy of 1880. This dispute pitted land settlers against the powerful Southern Pacific Railroad. It left eight dead, including Walter, who fought for the interests of the Southern Pacific Railroad in this debacle. One writer calls him a “gunslinger of the Old West”. Walter left behind his pregnant wife, Vanie, who gave birth to their only child just a few weeks after her husband’s death.

The Crow family history in America is a rich one. These ancestors played an important role in the development of towns and cities in Northern California, my home since the mid-1990s. I have had the opportunity to visit the gravesites of many of my Crow ancestors. Along with research, this proved to be another tool that has helped give me a deeper understanding of this branch of my family and my own roots. 

The children of Walter J. Crow, California pioneer.
The children of California pioneer Walter J. Crow, Circa 1864. Left to right: Isaac Pritchet Crow, William Henry Crow, James Addison Crow, Benjamin Hamilton Crow, John Bradford Crow, Arthur McDowell Crow, Lewis Jacob Crow, Clinton Pike Crow, Susan Eleanor Crow Smith.
Historical marker of the Mussel Slough Tragedy, Stanislaus County, California
Mussel Slough Tragedy Historical Marker, Stanislaus County, California

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