CRAIGHEAD, John, of Bedford and Franklin Counties VA


If you are descended from John Craighead and have taken an autosomal DNA test, please let me know if you have any shared matches with these surnames: Agee, Ligon, Moseley.

John Craighead was born ca 1740, probably in Chesterfield Co VA,[1] the son of Robert Craighead and his third wife, said without evidence to have been Susannah Haile.[2] He died in 1808 in Franklin Co VA.

The late Dave Casto in about 1991 sent me an early version of his monograph, “An Overview of Craighead Origins.” The full text is available online.[3]

The family of John Craighead has been covered in print by Mrs. W.B.(Dorothy) Craghead and Mrs. F.A.Craighead. Their book is entitled Cra(i)ghead Family, Va-Mo, Fulton, MO, 1953. Self-published on mimeograph machine. 350+ pages, plus addendum. It includes index of primary and secondary persons.

A useful website, “Cra(i)gheads Online: A Site devoted to the search for our elusive Craighead and Craghead ancestors,” says this about the book, “For all those descending from John Craighead of Franklin County, Virginia, (whose house still stands!) is this rather large work. Dorothy & Co produced a master work here, one of the clearest and most valuable works. Everyone, regardless of who you are descended from, should read the introduction and the first chapter dealing with the origins of the family. The addenda alone is fascinating, a compilation of transcribed records and letters to the author containing many gems, along with comments made by Dorothy on some of them.”[4] This writer has a copy of the book and would be happy to do lookups for anyone who inquires.

John Craighead was married three times, first ca 1763 probably in Bedford Co VA to Jane Maxey[5], second on 3 Apr 1786 in Franklin Co VA to Elizabeth (Edmonson) Haile[6], third to Elizabeth Robinson, 22 Oct 1799, Bedford Co VA.[7]

Jane Maxey was born in 1747 in Lynchburg, Virginia, daughter of Walter Justinian and Mary (Netherland) Maxey. She died in 1785 in Bedford or Franklin Co VA.[8]

Elizabeth Edmonson was born, say, in 1746, the daughter of Richard and Priscilla (Leveall?) Edmonson. She married first Richard Haile ca 1764, and was the mother of eleven children. After Richard Haile’s death before 28 Jun 1784, Elizabeth married John Craighead. She died between 1791, when she was named guardian for one of her Haile children, and 1799, when her husband remarried.

Paul D. Craghead published the following references to John Craighead/Craghead and noted that neither John nor his brother Peter could read or write:

John Craghead was active in the affairs of the county as was found when he signed a petition for the formation of Franklin County. Old court records show that in February 1788 John Craghead, Richard Booth, Richard Compton and Phillip Rasley or any three of them are appointed to view a road from Hales Ford on Staunton River across the county South, to cross Blackwater River near John Cragheads and to lead into the road that goes by the Black place at the mouth of Snow Creek and make a report there of. In August 1788 the court ordered that leave is granted to John Craghead to build a water grist mill on Gills Creek, he being proprietor of both sides of the said creek….

Amherst County Deed Book C page 37 – March 5, 1770 John Craghead sold, for 40 pounds, 170 acres on Lackeys thoroughfare and both sides of North branch Davis Creek to John and Agnes Key.

December 6, 1773 John Craghead and wife Jenny, ac, to John Boles, Buckingham County for 67-10 pounds for surveys of 309 acres on both sides of Lackey’s Mountain and Corbin Creek and North side Davis Creek lines.

The Virginia Taxpayers 1782-1787 lists John as paying a poll tax and tax on two slaves in Bedford County. John’s name appears on a petition dated May 23, 1780 to the General Assembly for a new county to be formed on the south side of the Staunton River, then in Bedford County. From the land books in the land office at Richmond Virginia: John Craghead purchased 270 acres on the South side of Blackwater River adjoining Samuel Smith June 1, 1784.

Franklin County Virginia 1800 Tax List

Name                        Free Tithables    Horses     Slaves 16+    Slaves 12-16

Stephen Craghead      0                        0             0                  0

John Craghead Sr.      3                        11           1                  0

John Craghead Jr.       1                       3             1                  0

William Craghead      1                        1             0                  0

Robert Craghead        1                        2             0                  0[9]

John Craighead has been approved as a Patriot Ancestor by the Daughters of the American Revolution. He “gave material aid, i.e.: 743 lbs of beef for the use of the Republic (certified by Christopher Irwin, District Commissioner of Public Levy)” and “also gave 475 lbs beef, 2 diets, 1 bushel oats.”[10]

This part of John Craighead’s personal history comes from “JR Young Ancestors” at, edited: Since Walter Maxey had requested in his will that Jane’s children have a share of his real and personal property equal to that of one of his own children, it was necessary for John Craighead to come into court in January 1798 and acknowledge that he was guardian of his minor children, William, Timothy, and Isaiah, and to be bonded to cover their share of their grandfather’s inheritance. The older Craighead children were also included in the chancery suit filed on 8 May for the purpose of having commissioners appointed to sell some of Walter’s land. In his will dated 29 May 1808, John left his land on the Staunton river to his son John, Jr.— land on which the son was then living—and also the land adjoining it. He then left to his wife Betty and all of his children 200 pounds each, and made the extra provision that daughter Lucy should have her schooling out of the estate.

The Franklin Co VA will, dated 29 May 1808, was settled leaving the guardianship of his orphan daughter, Lucy R(Robinson?) Craighead, was given to Betty Craighead, her mother, Franklin Co VA, Mar 5 1810.[11]

The children of John and Jane (Maxey) Craighead were:

  1. Susannah CRAIGHEAD. Born in Oct 1763 in VA. Susannah died in Missouri. On 22 Aug 1785, she married George KEY in Bedford Co VA. Born in 1753. George died in 1836. They had the following children:
    1.  George T (ca1785-)
    2. Martin (ca1786-)
    3. Arphaxad (ca1788-)
    4. Susan (ca1791-)
    5. Jerusha (1794-)
    6. Adonijah (ca1796-)
    7.  Urijah (ca1798-)
    8. Jesse W (ca1800-)
    9. Joanna (ca1802-)

2. Jane CRAIGHEAD. Born about 1764 in VA. Jane died in Lawrence Co TN, after 21 Aug 1849. On 2 Oct 1786, she married James Edmonson HAIL, son of Richard HAILE & Elizabeth EDMONSON, in Bedford Co VA. Born in 1766 in Bedford Co VA. James Edmonson died in Lawrence Co TN, on 6 Oct 1826. They had the following children:

  1.  Elizabeth (ca1788-<1849)
  2. John A (ca1790-1852)
  3. Nancy (1792->1850)
  4. Sarah J (ca1795-<1820)
  1. Anne CRAIGHEAD. Born about 1765 in VA and called Nancy. On 20 Jul 1789, she married James Lewis HALE, son of Stephen HAILE, in Franklin Co VA. Born in 1769. James Lewis died in 1850. They had the following children:
    1. Nancy (1791-1852)
    2. Susannah (1798-)
    3. John W
    4. Stephen A (ca1805-)
    5. Bennett (1808-1887)
    6. Jane (ca1810-)
  1. Dicey CRAIGHEAD. Born about 1768 in VA and probably named Leodicia. Dicey died bet 1840 and 1845. On 3 Nov 1789, she married a first cousin, Haile MAXEY, son of Jeremiah MAXEY & Mourning HAILE, in Franklin Co VA. Born ca 1769 in Bedford Co VA. Haile died in Oglethorpe Co GA, in 1849. They had the following children:
    1. Jane (1790-)
    2. William (1791-)
    3. Delilah (ca1791-)
    4. Sarah (1793-)
    5. Stephen (1797-)
    6. Elizabeth (1800-)
    7. Nancy (ca1806-)
    8. Bennett Hail (1808-)
    9. Malinda M (>1808-)
  2. Mary CRAIGHEAD. Born about 1770 in VA. Mary died in Bedford Co VA, on 23 Dec 1790; this was less than a month after she married Thomas Allen on 6 Dec 1790.
  3. Robert Maxey CRAIGHEAD. Born on 25 Sep 1772 in Bedford Co VA. Robert Maxey died in Callaway Co MO, on 7 Dec 1857. On 18 Nov 1792, he married Nancy POWELL in Franklin Co VA. They had the following children:
    1. William (1796-)
    2. Solomon (1797-)
    3. Elizabeth P (1800-)
    4. Robert A (1803-)
    5. Stephen (1808-)
    6. Jonathan (ca1810-)
    7. Mary P (1811-)
    8. Sarah P (1813-)
    9. Nancy Powell (1816-)
  1. John CRAIGHEAD. Born on 25 Sep 1774 in Franklin Co VA. John died in Franklin Co VA, on 24 Jan 1859. On 2 Jan 1794, he married Sally POWELL in Franklin Co VA. They had the following children:
    1. John
    2. Robert
    3. Charles
    4. Townley
    5. Alexander
    6. Virginia
    7. Catherine
    8. Lily
    9. Thomas Lodowick (1819-)
  2. William CRAIGHEAD. Born about 1776 in Franklin Co VA. He married Jean Dunn, 13 Jun 1800, Franklin Co VA. Probably in Franklin Co VA, 1820, William Craghead: 210010/31010. He was possibly the William Craighead, 70 VA, with Thomas Craighead, 44 VA, and Thomas’s four children, in Cass Co IN, 1850.
  3. Timothy CRAIGHEAD. Born in 1782 in Franklin Co VA. Timothy died in Franklin Co VA, on 22 Jul 1847. On 6 Dec 1802, he married Mary AGEE in Franklin Co VA. Born in 1782 in Franklin Co VA. They had the following children:
    1. William Thomas (1804-1894)
    2. Jennie (1806-)
    3. John Henry (1808-)
    4. Elizabeth (1810-)
  4. Hester CRAIGHEAD. Born ca 1777/1778 in Franklin Co VA. She married John Burdett; nothing further is known.
  5. Isaiah CRAIGHEAD. Born on 10 Sep 1782 in Franklin Co VA. Isaiah died in Callaway Co MO, on 22 Aug 1864. On 27 Dec 1802, he married Feminine ROBINSON in Bedford Co VA. Born on 24 Sep 1777 in VA. Feminine died in Callaway Co MO, on 2 Jan 1848. They had the following children:
    1. Isaiah Washington (1813-1873)
    2. John R
    3. George
    4. James
    5. William A B
    6. Jane
    7. Nancy P

The child of John and Betsy (Robinson) Craighead was:

15. Lucy R CRAIGHEAD. Born abt 1801 in Franklin Co VA. Lucy R died in Cumberland Co KY, in 1851. On 24 Jan 1820, she married James ENGLISH in Franklin Co VA. Born in 1795 in Bedford Co VA. James died in Cumberland Co KY, in 1872. They had the following children:

  1. Charles H (1820-)
  2. John C (1822-1856)
  3. Eliza Jane (1823-1893)
  4. Mary Ann (1824-1892)
  5. George R (1826-1912)
  6. Benjamin S (1827-1852)
  7. Permelia J (1828-)
  8. William Henry (1830-)
  9. Caroline M (1831-)
  10. Stephen B (1832-)
  11. Lucy Ellen (1834-)
  12. J W (ca1836-)
  13. A N (ca1838-)
  14. Harriet (ca1840-)
  15. Robert A (ca1842-)
  16. Laticia B (ca1844-)

© 2009, 2018  Kathy Alvis Patterson

[1] Dorothy Ford Wulfeck, Marriages of Some Virginia Residents, Volume 1, Clearfield, 2009, cited in Paul D. Craghead, “The Craghead Family of Western Virginia,” Virginia Room Digital Collection, accessed December 11, 2018, digital/document/CragheadFamily.

[2] The daughter of Nicholas and Ann (Long) Haile, often identified as the third wife, married someone else. Also, the researchers who first made this identification apparently did not realize that John’s second wife was Elizabeth (Edmonson) Haile.


[4] This site appears to be hosted by Alexander B Craghead.

[5] Some researchers have stated her full name was Jane Leodicia Maxey, because her daughter Dicey’s marriage records says “daughter of John and Dicey Craighead.” I believe this to have been more likely a clerk’s mistake, writing the daughter’s name in place of the mother’s.

[6] Elizabeth’s son James Edmonson Haile married John Craighead’s daughter Jane. John’s second wife was his “consuegro,” as they say in Spanish. English lacks a good word for co-parent-in-law. The parents were married about six months before the children.

[7] Casto, op cit.

[8] Maxeys of Virginia, 1980, by Edythe Maxey Clark.

[9] Craghead, op. cit., 10-11.

[10] Public Claim Paper State Archives, Richmond VA, dated Nov. 2, 1781. See DAR app 565099 and supplemental DAR app 567615. Virginia Public Claims, Abercrombie & Slatten, 1992, 1: 102. See approved supplemental lineage, Katherine Alvis Patterson, NSDAR Nat’l No. 554,801.

[11] Will, Franklin Co VA, Bk 1, p 57.

Published on February 21, 2009 at 10:50 pm  Comments (12)  

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12 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I am a decendent of John Craighead 1748-1808 Where is his grave?

    • He died in Franklin Co VA, so he is likely buried there. See this site:
      I had not noticed that this website is by someone piling on yet another name for his wife, Jane Maxey.
      I know folks added Leodicia within the last 20 years or so when they found a daughter’s marriage bond; the daughter was Dicey and the clerk obviously wrote the daughter’s name instead of the mother’s, which was Jane (Dicey is a nickname for Leodicia). I suppose the Elizabeth is confusion with John’s second and third wives.

  2. I found the family cemetery near the old home but no John there

    • Probably he’s there but no surviving headstone. would you post or send photos of the site?

      Sent from my iPad

      • I do have a photo of John Jr.`s headstone and a photo of the homeplace how do I post the photos?

      • Calvin, Are they scanned or uploaded into your computer? Do you have a website anywhere? Most sites need JPEG, not TIFF, due to size. If you don’t know computer terms like that, let me know.

        I have a family tree at, profiles, and my own blog, whose address I sent you already. Any and all of them allow uploading and sharing photos.

        So, if you have a site, follow directions for uploading. Or you can email the photos to me and I’ll upload them to one of my sites.

        The trick of course is getting hard copies of photos scanned into your computer. Some printers will do that. I guess the easiest way is to find a kid somewhere. You can also photograph a photo with a smartphone, but that isn’t the best quality.

        I have three college degrees and really laugh at the time my four-year-old granddaughter took my phone away from me and said, “Here, Grandma, let me show you how.” Good luck, Kathy

        Sent from my iPad

      • I too have a tree on  under my name Ralph Calvin Matthews.  Here is a photo of John Jr. Craighead`s headstone, and John Sr.`s  home place. CM3


  3. William Craighead of the right age and BP is living in Carroll co in 1860 census (next door to Cass), in the home of William Armstrong. I do not know the connection with this Armstrong family, which I am researching for some earlier Tenn. links to some lines in my ancestry. I note you also work on Armstrong, but not from same locations.

    1860 US Federal Census: IND {Carroll} Jackson twp P.441 [M653:246]

  4. My Grandmother was Dorthy Craighead Hall, she grew up on Bent Mt. , Bottom Creek Va. I am not familiar with the Armstrong branch? My Grandmother married Clyde Hall of Copper Hill Va. They lived and died in Draper (Eden) N.C. I cant believe there are, (were) so many Craigheads. Would love to have a copy of the book.


  5. I am a mitchell and they go to Timothy craighead and have DAR pin with craighead on it. thank you

  6. I am a descendant of James L. Craighead, Lewis C., William T., Timothy Craighead, 1778 (82?) D. 1847. Any information you may have that would help me with my SAR would be appreciated.
    R. Calvin Matthews

  7. It is my understanding that John is buried in what is now The Waterfront Country Club on Smith Mountain Lake in Moneta, VA / Franklin County.

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