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WILLIAM F. CRITES (1838-1925) by Marian E. Karpisek

 
 
William Franklin Crites:
Born: April 13, 1838, Dover, Ohio
Parents: George and Mary (Mygrants) Crites
Died: July 8, 1925 (age 87), Dover, Ohio
 
Catharine (Moore) Crites:
Born: January 29, 1842
Parents: Isaac and Elizabeth Cook Moore
Died: January 8, 1919 (age 77), Dover, Ohio
 
William F. Crites was born at 117 E. 3rd St., Dover, Ohio in a four-room house built by his father, George Crites, a carpenter, in 1830 from lumber cut off the property. Bill followed in his father’s footsteps and became a carpenter. The Rev. Amos Pratt married William and Catherine on June 9, 1861 and together they had nine children, seven girls and two boys:
  1. May Crites who married Annias Harper
  2. Helen Nora Crites who married Dr. S.N. Ware (Cape May, NJ)
  3. Charles Malcolm Crites (died in childhood)
  4. Wealthy Elizabeth Crites who married Frank Tyler
  5. William E. Crites (died in childhood)
  6. Minnie Crites (died in childhood)
  7. Catherine "Kit" Crites who was a teacher and principal of 2nd Street School, Dover, Ohio
  8. Florence “Emma” Crites who married Harry S. Ream 09 Nov 1902
  9. Edith (died in childhood)
Bill joined the 80th Ohio Volunteers (Fighting Eightieth) in the Civil War and served for three years and three months. During that time, he took part in 15 of the hardest battles of the Civil War and at least 25 skirmishes that took place in Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Texas. He was very proud to be a veteran of the Civil War and, while entitled to a pension of $40 per month, he refused it until he was unable to work.

According to an article in the local paper, William was known to have had a brilliant record in the Union army.

“One of the most glorious events for me in the entire war”, said Mr. Crites, “was when after a 40-day siege of Vicksburg we marched victorious into the Southern city. I was beating a base drum as we filed through Vicksburg July 4, 1863. The temperature was up to 115 degrees in the shade.

Just before the battle of Missionary Ridge my regiment and two others was sent out to “feel out” the Confederates and get their exact location.

Before we knew what had happened they were on three sides of us attempting to cut us off from the other Union forces. During the encounter a large number of my comrades were killed and wounded. The man to my right was killed instantly by a Confederate shot and the man to my left was badly wounded.” Said Mr. Crites.

"It was in the engagement at Missionary Ridge that I had my narrowest escape during my life as a soldier.

A bullet whizzed across the back of my neck in such a manner as to cut in two the leather strap which was slung across my shoulder and to which hung my knapsack. The knapsack fell to the ground for the strap had been cut as if by a sharp knife. I fell over stunned, but was up immediately and after assisting a wounded comrade to a spring of water was back to the fighting area.”

Mr. Crites was in Sherman’s march to the sea until it reached Savannah, Ga. At which the time for his discharge was at hand. He was discharged December 20, 1864 at Miller’s Plantation near Savannah and shortly after was bound by boat for New York City.

“On our trip to New York,” said Mr. Crites, “we had nothing to eat but raw ham, coffee and a small supply of bread. When we reached America’s largest city there was two inches of snow on the ground. We walked barefooted down Broadway as we did in most of our march to the sea. With our ragged clothes and in our bare feet, we sure were a sight.

During the first night in New York City there were 14 of us together. We went to a restaurant expecting, each of us, to eat at least a five dollar dinner.

The boys appointed me to order the meal and each of them gave me five dollars with which to pay for what we ate. I ordered a big chicken dinner, plenty of raw oysters and anything else that the boys could wish for. One fellow ate at least twelve dozen oysters himself. After the meal the boys ordered what they wanted to drink and had plenty of smokes. When I went to settle up the proprietor of the restaurant told us that the entire bill came to $5.85. We were dumbfounded to get such a meal for so low a price.”

During his three years and three months of service Mr. Crites was never wounded. In Paduka, Ky in the early part of 1862 he contracted typhoid fever, however, and was severely ill for some time. “I was taken to the regimental hospital for six weeks and was then given a 30 day furlough to come home. When I first became sick I weighed 186 pounds and when I reached home I had dropped to 118 pounds. It was three months before I was able to be back to my regiment again.1

An indication of the casualties is revealed by the fact that when the 80th Regiment came home in April, 1864, on a 30-day furlough, the torchlight parade that greeted it found only 327 of the 930 men who had left the Fairgrounds in February, 1862. Most of the others had been killed, wounded or captured or [were] casualties by reason of illness or other causes.2

 
He marched in every Decoration (Memorial) Day parade and, after being paralyzed, was pushed in his wheelchair. Not until the last two years of his life would he ride in an automobile in the parade.
 
Minutes from a Post Meeting:

Ricksecker Post met in special session. W F Crites Adjunct, John Rodick S.V., J. Weber Jr. V., Naylor Chaplain, Conrad J.C. Joss. Report on transportation by W.F. Crites. J. C. Joss and J. A. Slingluff as follows route on Penn RR $4.95. Other rate $4.50 Penn RR to fresh coach for Dover. C.S. tir. Also agreed to fresh coach on motion of Crin Weber. The post voted to go via of C.S. Tiv. Seconded by Louis Wandell as their chair of accounts. As moved of Wardell that we would prefer to go on Thursday morning August 23 on Special G.A.R. train. Post closed in due form.
J.A. Slingluff, Adj. Position

After the war, he resumed his trade as a carpenter. In 1870, he added three rooms onto the front of the house where he was born. He lived there until he died.

In the 1880s, he had a contract to build several houses in Mineral City. Each Monday morning, he would march his crew to Mineral City (twelve miles away from Dover) where they worked all week. On Saturday night, they would march back to Dover, regardless of the weather. His last job was as a foreman in building the Dover High School, completed in 1917.

In 1918, he suffered from a stroke that paralyzed both his legs and he was confined to a wheelchair for the balance of his life. Although unable to walk, his eyes were in excellent condition and he continued to read extensively without glasses. He would read newspapers for current affairs and four to six books as well as a number of magazines.

He was a staunch Democrat and voted the straight ticket except when he campaigned and voted for William McKinley, a Civil War Soldier, who became a Republican President.

One year, after he had been confined to a wheelchair, he told his daughter, Kit, that he didn’t feel “up to par.” Since he was a staunch Democrat and Kit was a staunch Republican, he suggested that neither one vote since they would just cancel each other out. When school let out that day, William was out in front of his house in his wheelchair waiting for Stock, his grandson. When Stock got there, he said, “Where the hell have you been? Hurry and get me to the voting booth so I can vote before Kit gets home.” When Kit came home, he told her he had voted. She said, “Oh, I knew you were trying to put something over on me. I was up early and voted before I left for school.”

William appears to have been somewhat self-centered and lacking in common courtesy. Samuel C. Ream, grandson of William, relates that when William wanted a refill of coffee, he would hold his cup out so Catherine could pour it. When it was as full as he wished, he would pull the cup back without comment letting the coffee spill onto the table.

Stock Ream, another grandson, told his daughter, Barbara King, that one Thanksgiving when there was no cranberry sauce on the table, William became so angry that he knocked over the table.

Catherine’s will left her house in Dover, Ohio (lot #149 Oldtown) and lot, all household goods, furniture and other goods and chattel, to her husband and daughter, Catharine (Katherine or Kit,) as long as Catharine remained unmarried. At the death of her husband and daughter, the executor was to sell the property and divide the assets among her other children: Helen N. Ware, Wealthy Tylor, Florence Emma Ream, the children of Mary M. Harper, and Catharine Crites. If Helen were to die before her, that share was to be divided among the others.3

William and Catherine are buried in the Maple Grove Cemetery in Dover located on the corner of Slingluff Avenue and Walnut Street.4

 
 
 
SOURCES
 
  1. Dover Reporter, 1924
  2. The History of Tuscarawas County, Ohio by Hency C. Hagloch; Dover Historical Society, 1956
  3. Last Will and Testament of Catharine Crites - 25 Jun 1913
  4. Cemetery Deed, 1889
 
 


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