Cranford Family of Walker County, Alabama left a
great heritage to their descendants. I will start with John and
Elizabeth Cranford, their son Chelsey
his son Henry Wilson Cranford and wife Edna Mae
Newson Cranford, and their only child, Mary
Brumbach. She leaves a son, Madison.
John and Josiah Cranford came through
Walker County, Alabama with Andrew
Jackson. They came through the Oakman
area and liked the looks of the land for corn growing. They later
formed a caravan and settled in the county. This was a pilgrimage
from Morgan County, Alabama to Walker County in 1838.
Cranford Brumbach was a teacher for
years at Walker College in Jasper, Alabama. She told me many tales
about her ancestors. She finally wrote her stories and gifted me
with a copy. She titled it THE STORY OF JOHN AND ELIZABETH WILKES
CRANFORD. It was strictly a family book and was meant to preserve
her heritage. These types of family books contribute much to our
oldest son was John Harvey Cranford, better known as Jack. He was
by far the most colorful of the sons. Jack was born in 1855 in the
southern part of Walker County. During his whole life, he attended
school 18 months. When he was 20 years of age, he accepted a job to
teach school in a country school, and farmed betweens sessions of
later became a clerk at B.M. Long’s
store. School terms lasted only 40 days in those times, but it was
long enough for him to fall in love with one of his students, Willie
Ann Phifer. Jack went into business
with Dr. W.C. Rosamund and later bought
out the business. His dear wife died young and Jack channeled all
of his energies into business and community affairs. He was elected
Mayor of Jasper in 1892. He served Jasper for years both as mayor
1897, Jack organized a little banking venture in the corner of his
merchandise store. It was called “Spencer and Cranford Banking
Company.” First National Bank of Jasper came
from this small “hole in the wall” banking venture.
1891, Jack and a friend, W.R. Spigt,
were watching a “fast” train at the Jasper station and it stopped
for fuel. A beautiful girl, Annie Eleanor Lyon, saw them and waved
her bunch of roses at Jack. She became his wife and presided over
his home with dignity. In 1898, Jack built
Forest Acres, a white columned house
later to become known as “the Bankhead
house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Jack’s many civic ventures were: shipping the first bale of cotton
by rail out of Jasper, founding the Jasper Light and Water Company,
developing the subdivisions of West Jasper, and placing concrete
sidewalks throughout the city.
Cranford’s owned the first
Stanley Steamer car in town. It was bought in Birmingham and driven
to Jasper by Cam Smith. I have heard stories in the past about the
crowds forming on the streets to see the car.
Needless to say, the 14 children of John Cranford with their
marriages across Walker
County merged many old families into one. It is like a roll call of
the early settlers to list these many families.