Biography of James D. Crail
Jefferson County, IA Biographies





JAMES D. CRAIL.
A well known pioneer of Jefferson county, who for many years was successfully identified with the agricultural and dairying interests of the county, was the late James D. Crail. He was born in Beaver county. Pennsylvania, on the 24th of March, 1822, and was a son of Benjamin and Nancy (Daugherty) Crail. The father, who was of Scotch descent was born in the Keystone state in 1793, and there he was educated and reared to manhood. When old enough to decide upon a life vocation he took up the miller's trade and subsequently became the owner of a grist mill in Beaver county, Pennsylvania, that he operated until his death in 1846. The mother was born in Scotland in 1798, but she was brought to the United States in her early childhood and here she was reared and educated. She was married to Mr. Grail in Beaver county, and following his death she continued to make her home there until 1855, when she came to Iowa with her children. She made her home in Jefferson county for many years, but she was living with her daughter, Mrs. Ella Snodgrass, at Winterset, Madison county, Iowa, when she passed away in 1886. The family of Mr.,and Mrs. Crail numbered ten, as follows: John and Irwin. both of whom are deceased; James D., our subject; Benjamin F., of Fairfield; Milton and Mary, who are also deceased; Cynthia, who is living in Shenandoah; Ella, who is deceased; Elizabeth, who died in infancy; and Matilda, who is deceased.

The early years in the life of James D. Crail were typical to those of other youths of the period who were reared in the more sparsely settled communities. He attended the common schools in the acquirement of an education, and when qualified to begin preparations for his life vocation laid aside his text books and applied himself to the ship carpenter's trade. After the completion of his period of apprenticeship he entered the shipyards at Pittsburg, where he was employed until he came west. In 1855 he gave up his position and came to Jefferson county, locating in Fairfield. He subsequently purchased a farm in the vicinity of Brookville upon which he settled with his family successfully devoting his energies to its operation for many years. Mr. Grail was a capable agriculturist and prospered in his undertakings, but owing to the state of his health was forced to retire in 1876. He rented his farm and withdrawing from all active work made two extensive trips through the west. Later he removed to a dairy farm he purchased south of Fairfield, and there he continued to reside until his death, which occurred on May 12, 1896.

On the 15th of December, 1861, Mr. Crail was joined in wedlock to Miss Elizabeth J. Holton, a daughter of Alexander and Nancy (Sellers) Holton, both natives of Bracken county, Kentucky, and of Scotch-Irish descent. Mr. and Mrs. Holton began their domestic life on a farm in the Blue Grass state, but they later removed to Missouri, settling on a farm where they both passed away, after the war. Mrs. Crail's paternal grandfather, Joshua Holton, served with distinction in the Revolutionary war, thus entitling his descendants to membership in the various societies organized by the sons and daughters of the heroes of the Revolution. Mrs. Crail is the third in order of birth of the ten children born to her parents, the others being; Frances, who is living in Missouri; Ruth, who is deceased; Calvin, who is also deceased; Lydia, a resident of Missouri; Polly and Emily, both of whom are deceased; and Amanda, John and a baby, all of whom died in infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Gail were the parents of two children: Benjamin Franklin, who is a stockbuyer in Fairfield, married Mary E. Poulton, and they also have two children, James, who is attending the military school at Lexington, Missouri, and Helen, who is in the Fairfield high school; and Matilda, who married Bruce Rateliff, a traveling salesman of J. M. Gobble & Company, wholesale grocers at Muscatine, Iowa. They reside with Mrs. Grail and Mrs. Ratcliff is a member of the Log Cabin Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution of Fairfield.


The family always attended the Methodist Episcopal church of Fairfield, in which the parents held membership, Mrs. Crail still being identified with this organization. In politics Mr. Crail was a republican, but he never figured in public affairs as an aspirant to official honors. Owing to the state of his health Mr. Grail was not able to go to the front during the Civil war, but his brother, Captain Benjamin F. Crail, made a brilliant record on the battlefields of the south. Mr. Crail led a somewhat unobtrusive life, devoting his attention to the development of his personal interests, but he possessed many most estimable qualities and had a large circle of friends in the county, who held him in high regard.

From:
History of Jefferson County, Iowa
A Record of Settlement, Organizatin,
Progress and Achievement Vol II
BY: Charles J. Fulton
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1914


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