Marvin C Cruzan, Shell Knob, MO
The Cruzan family immigrated to the new world from Europe before the American Revolution. Colonial records show a variety of spellings including Cruzon, Cruzen, Crusen, Crusan, Kroesen, Krusen, Kruzan, Kruzon and Crewsan. Continental Army records even show my Great-Great-Great Grandfather's name as Benjamin Cruidson. This was no doubt caused by the general illiteracy of the times and his heavy Dutch accent.
Many of the civil records, including birth and marriage records which were maintained by western European countries, have been destroyed over the past several centuries due to wars. Because of these unfortunate circumstances, the actual family origin has not been successfully traced. The best speculation to date is that the name, based on the various spellings, has it that they were originally French Basque Protestants from the Pyrenean region in southern France. From there, they would have emigrated to Holland to escape the religious persecution of the late sixteenth century. Then, late in the seventeenth century, they emigrated to the new world where they settled in the Carolina colony.
Over the next half century they spread from the Carolina colony north to New Jersey and New York, west into Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Ohio, and south into Georgia, Alabama and what is now Louisana. Doubtless, they faced each other on the battlefields of the Civil War. Now we decendents are dispersed from Florida to the state of Washington; from New York to southern California.
My earliest documented direct ancestor is Benjamin Cruzan, Sr., 1753-1843, the one whose name was misspelled by the Continental Army. Benjamin Cruzan, Sr. served with the 1st Regiment Light Dragoons during the Revolutionary War. I have been told by family members that his father was killed with the British General Edward Braddock during the French and Indian Wars while crossing the Monongahela River on the way to attack Fort Duquesne in 1755. This has never been documented, but the story does come from several sources.
In 1992, before I retired from The Department of the Army, I visited the Grave site of Benjamin Cruzan, Sr. The marker for Benjamin Cruzan, Sr. is on my left and that of his oldest son, Isaac, is on my right.
They are buried in the cemetery at Cross Plains Methodist Church, Cross Plains, Ripley County, Indiana.
His third son, Benjamin Cruzan, Jr., 1790-1843, my Great-Great Grandfather, is buried in Old Salem Cemetery near Plymouth, Indiana, in Marshall County. In 1956, while I was attending Valparaiso University in northern Indiana, I visited this site with my father, Benjamin Edgar Cruzan, 1895-1986. Benjamin Cruzan, Jr. served with the Kentucky Volunteers during the War of 1812.
Also buried in Old Salem Cemetery is my Great Grandfather, Lemuel Cruzan, 1826-1850. Lemuel died of typhus but his first son, William Manton Cruzan, 1846-1936, my Grandfather, fought in the Civil War with the 12th Indiana Volunteer Cavalry. Only one anecdote was passed on to me by my Father about my Grandfather. While marching through Tennessee, his troop passed a farmhouse where the farmer's wife had placed some freshly baked apple pies on the kitchen windowsill. The troops helped themselves to the pies and had their first "home cooked" meal in months. Such was the life for the dismounted cavalry.
After the war, William moved to Norwood, Missouri, in Wright County, where he built a log home for his new bride. There my father was born in 1895. In 1966, the old log home was still standing though Grandfather had converted it to a barn when he built a new house for his growing family. In 1912 he moved his family to Kansas City, Kansas, where he went to work for the Department of the Interior. It was from there that my father went off to World War I in 1917.
My father, in uniform, is standing with an older brother, Harry Cruzan, and my Grandfather is seated.
He served in France with the 89th Division during the St. Mihiel offensive and later with the occupation army. In 1963, he retired from the Department of Agriculture after 42 years.
Benjamin, Sr., Benjamin, Jr., Lemuel, William and Benjamin Edgar are my connections with our great nation and some of the wars that we have fought. In all, the Cruzan family has shared a long and interesting history in these United States. We are in-laws to President Ulysses S Grant and have competed with Alexander Graham Bell for the first successful telephone. We've served our nation in military and civilian capacities. And we have our black sheep as well. A military deserter and two outlaws, one of which is buried along with the Hole-in-the-wall gang in Arizona.
But most of all, I'm proud of our military tradition.
These records have been compiled from the records of the National Archives, the St. Louis Record Center and from family members. Unfortunately, over the years, many government records have been lost. First when the British sacked and burned Washington during the War of 1812 and later when a fire spread through the St. Louis Records Center destroying many of the records from World Wars I and II and the Korean conflict.