“The Seven Wives of Josiah Crouch”

Oysterville Baptist Church 1903When I asked Cuzzin Ralph to do a little research about Josiah Crouch, I had no idea that I would be presented with the seeds of another book… maybe.  It all came about because of an ongoing discussion I’ve been having with singer/songwriter Larry Murante.

Some years ago, Larry wrote a wonderful ballad about the ghost who hangs around our house – the house that used to be a parsonage.  Her name is Mrs. Sarah Crouch.  In Larry’s song, she is the third wife of an early Baptist preacher here in Oysterville, the not-so-righteous Josiah Crouch.

Sarah drowned under rather mysterious circumstances on the Willapa River in July 1893.  Though marks were found on her neck, it was decided that they were inconclusive and Josiah was not arrested.  He left town shortly afterwards, however… with another man’s wife.  But, I digress.

The following November a letter arrived at the Oysterville Post Office from Topeka, Kansas.  It began …I am the ferst [sic] wife of one Josiah Crouch.  I was married to him the 5 day of August in 1885 at St. Joseph, Mo. County Buccanan [sic].  In 1888 he left me at Havensville Kans and I understand that he went to Ark. In 1889 he married a woman by the name of Tedden at Gladstone Ark as I had too [sic] letters from D. P. Tedden the father of his last wife.  I have a little girl 7 years old.  It was signed Tillie Crouch.

My discussion with Larry revolves around that letter.  His interpretation is that Tillie was Josiah’s first wife, that the Tedden woman was the second, and that Sarah Crouch was the third.  I wrote Cuzzin Ralph (a research wizard to my way of thinking) to see if he could find out what Sarah’s maiden name was.  And voilà!! It was Tedden!  But that was only part of what Ralph found out!

Josiah Crouch continued marrying.  By the time of his death in 1942, he had been wed seven times!  He had also been defrocked from the ministry, had become an attorney but was disbarred for committing a felony and who knows what else.  The obvious question, of course:  what happened to his other wives?  Did any of them, besides our Sarah, die prematurely and under mysterious circumstances?  Were there ever any divorces recorded or was he a bigamist from the get-go?

I think there may be a book here, or maybe several!  To say nothing of another song or two!  Stay tuned…as they say.

8 Responses to ““The Seven Wives of Josiah Crouch””

  1. Linda J says:

    A book, a song, a play, a movie, an episode on “Secrets of the Dead.” Poor Sarah. I hope Cuzzin Ralph keeps looking.

  2. Steve Wright says:

    There seem to be several skeletons hanging in old Josiahs’ closet!!! As Artie Johnson would say, “Verrdy interestingk…”

  3. Stephanie Frieze says:

    Oooo, I am so excited by the thought of another book or two and especially this topic! Yay!

  4. Maria Mills says:

    You have a picture of my 3rd great grandfather he’s the one with the beard. He’s wearing an odd fellow sash. His wife is my 3rd great grandmother is Louisa Branham. Both died in Indiana and both are buried there. And also Josiah Crouch was born in Campbell County Tennessee and so was Louisa.Madison County is where they died she died in1900 and he 1901.

  5. Maria "Crouch" Mills says:

    The man with the beard is my 3rd great grandfather. Josiah S.Crouch born 1820. Tennessee. Died 1901 Madison County Indiana. He eas married to Louisa Branham born in Tennessee about 1827 died 1901 in Madison County Indiana. I am not disputing young book I’m disputing the image. You are using

  6. sydney says:

    Hi Maria!
    It’s so great to get the information about your 3X great grandfather. I’m assuming you are talking about the photo of the 1902 Oysterville Baptist Congregation. Since there are several men with beards (including my own grandfather on the far right), I’m not quite sure which one is your ancestor. I’m also a bit confused as to exactly what you are disputing about the photo or the book. The Reverend Josiah Columbus Crouch who served as the minister to this congregation is not shown in this photo. We believe it was taken before he arrived in Oysterville. Josiah C. Crouch (the subject of several of my ghost stories) was born in Buckingham County Missouri in 1866. In doing the research for this story, I came across several men named Josiah Crouch, but all of them other than the Reverend had different middle names and initials. It is entirely possible that “your” Josiah S. Crouch was related in some way to Rev. Josiah C. Crouch, but it appears that Josiah S. would have been 46 years older than the young man who was a preacher here.
    If Josiah S. Crouch was in this 1902 photograph, he would have been 80 years old. Please let me know which gentleman he is.
    Thanks for being in touch.

  7. Maria Mills says:

    Josiah S.Crouch my 3rd. Great grandfather is on the right. He is wearing an odd fellow uniform. He was born in the state of Tennessee about 1820 died in Madison County Indiana in 1901.I just don’t want anyone thinking he was a bad person. He was one of the most honorable people in my tree.

  8. sydney says:

    Thanks for clarifying by sending the information you saw on Google. I’m still a bit confused about it and I hope, between the two of us, we can get to the bottom of it! Stay in touch!

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