Edward E. Word, A Vintage Vignette

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Edward E. Word
A Vintage Vignette by John P. Rankin
December 20, 2007

There is a small cemetery just east of Segars Road and north of old Highway 20 in Limestone County, a little west of County Line Road. The cemetery has less than 50 marked graves in it, but some of the tombstones show births in the 1700s. This is the Peete Cemetery, located in a field on private property. When I visited the cemetery in February of 2003, I found one tombstone that has two names on it. The double stone was buried underneath about a foot of soil from the rootball where a tree had fallen over the grave. One of the names was Edward E. Word. He was born January 27, 1856; and he died June 14, 1906. The other name was not for his wife, which would be fairly common. Rather, it was the name of his son, Crutcher O. Word, who was born July 1, 1904 and died June 14, 1906. Father and son died on the same day. Additional engraving stated that they died from “typhoid flux”, which is now called typhoid fever and prevented or treated with modern medicines and sanitation.

The simultaneous deaths of the father and son weighed on my mind, as I contemplated the wife and mother’s situation while she no doubt helplessly watched them die over a period of many days. The 1900 census shows that the household headed by the only Edward E. Word in Limestone County included his wife and no children, as Crutcher was born four years after the census, per the tombstone data. Their marriage was noted as being the first for each of them, even though Edward was age 44 and his wife Mamie W. Word was shown as age 24. He was listed as a farmer born in Alabama, with his father from North Carolina and his mother from Virginia. Mamie and her parents were indicated as all being born in Alabama. They owned their farm.

The fact that their son was given the first name of Crutcher indicates a likely connection to that surname. Indeed, many Crutcher families lived in the area, going back to the well-known Primitive Baptist preacher Reuben W. Crutcher and his brothers Thomas, William, and Cheaney (Chaney) who all came to Alabama in the early 1800s. The Word and Crutcher families are interconnected with the area’s Spragins, Bailey, Chaney, Petty, and Fulks (Fowlkes) families.

The cemetery gives some clues about the Word family genealogy. Nearby is the grave of Eliza J. Crutcher Word, 1823-1899. She was the wife of Benjamin Neighbors Word, who is likewise buried beside Eliza. Eliza is almost certain to be the mother of Edward and grandmother of Crutcher. The oldest Word grave data found on a tombstone in the cemetery is for William Word, born 1771, died 1851. He was born in Virginia per the 1850 census. Census data for others of the family indicate that they must have moved to South Carolina and North Carolina from Virginia before coming to Alabama. Another William Word (born in 1807) was father of Benjamin N. F. Word, per the 1850 census. It is probable that the senior William was the grandfather of Benjamin, the husband of Eliza and father of Edward. Life would have been hard for these pioneers, but especially so for Mamie, who was left alone as a widow in the summer of 1906 at age 30. One can only wonder what ever became of her afterward.

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