History and Biography of Christian Craley – Patriarch of the Craley’s of York County, PA
Christian Craley is the patriarch of the Craley family in York County, PA. However, he was not the first male Craley who resided in this area. His father, John (Johannes) Craley, was the first male Craley. Not much information is known about John because he died sometime around 1767 since that is when Orphans Court records first appeared for him. It is believed John arrived on the ship Neptune in 1754, and there is a Johannes Krayly listed on the Philadelphia census in 1754 as well. It is unclear when John arrived in York County, as he is not listed on the 1762 York County tax list and I have not been able to find any records of him owning land. There is also no indication of his age from his will or estate records, but his will was written in 1764. Either John was an advanced age and knew he might be passing away in a few years or he was younger but in failing health and had time to prepare by composing a will.
Christian’s mother was named Christina, and shortly after her husband’s death, she re-married to Jacob Spots/Spotz/Spatz, who was also a widow. We know this because Jacob Spots is listed as Christian’s step-father in Orphans Court records when he applied for John Coon/Gohn to be appointed guardian of Christian. Also, when Christian was confirmed on May 9, 1782 at St. Luke’s (Stehli’s) Church it describes Christian as being able to “read, well-behaved, orderly boy” and his step-father as Jacob Spatz.
Christian was born about 1763, that approximate birth date is based on the 1768 Orphans Court record where his step-father Jacob Spotz applied to have John Gohn appointed guardian. This year of birth makes sense, as Christian initially shows up on the Chanceford Twp tax lists in 1783 and is taxed for 80 acres. In subsequent years he is taxed for less acreage, so it is not clear if he was renting the land and moving to different farms or what was happening.
On July 19, 1792, Christian applied for a warrant for 165 acres in Chanceford Twp. The land was surveyed on December 29, 1798 and was finally patented on August 14, 1811. As the photo below shows, the property bordered the Susquehanna River. The creek on the right side is now called Green Branch and there is now a road that runs along side that creek called Green Branch Road. Christian’s property lies between Green Branch Creek which borders the property on the southern edge and Fishing Creek which is just to the north of Christian’s property. The 1798 US Direct Tax (better known as the Glass Tax) describes Christian’s home as a 20′ x 18′ log house, with a 35′ x 18′ log barn and was adjoining the land of the deceased Andreas Coon (Andrew Gohn).
Christian was married twice, with his first wife being Catherine Gohn. Catherine was the daughter of the Andrew Gohn that is mentioned as the deceased neighbor of Christian in the 1798 Glass Tax. Christian and Catherine were the parents of at least 8 known children, although only 4 were living at the time of Christian’s death in 1823. It is unknown when the other 4 children passed away. Sometime between 1804 and 1807 Catherine passed away, this is based on the fact that her youngest known child Catharina was born on February 15, 1804 and by 1808 Christian was re-married and his second wife gave birth to their first child that year (the daughter was also named Catharina). It is unknown exactly when Catherine died or where she is buried.
Elizabeth Wackerman, born about 1788, was the 2nd wife of Christian Craley. She is the daughter of George Wackerman and Maria Hertzog. There is a recorded deed transaction between Elizabeth Baymiller (after Christian died Elizabeth re-married to a Frederick Baymiller) and George Wackerman Jr. on August 28, 1849 in which it mentions that Elizabeth is the daughter of George Wackerman Sr. Christian and Elizabeth had 5 known children, although only 4 were alive at the time of his death in 1823. Their oldest daughter Catharina is not mentioned is his will. Elizabeth, their next oldest daughter, was born February 9, 1810 which matches the same birth date of an Elizabeth (last name unknown) who is buried in Gipe Burial Grounds and passed away on June 26, 1890. Gipe Burial Grounds is a small family burial plot that contains several other Craley family members. This Elizabeth is likely the daughter of Christian and Elizabeth Wackerman, however I have not been able to locate her in any census records as Elizabeth Craley or place her with a possible unknown spouse. The biography of Aaron H Craley (son of Elizabeth’s brother George Craley) in the History Of York County, 1907 by George Prowell mentions that Elizabeth died unmarried when well advanced in years. The youngest daughter of Christian and Elizabeth is Christina Craley and she is mentioned in the estate of Christian, however I am unsure if she passed away after his death or if she had married by the 1850 census.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, after Christian passed away in 1823, Elizabeth re-married Frederick Baymiller. She was not married to Frederick long, as his estate records indicate that Frederick passed away around 1832. Elizabeth lived much longer, as in 1866 and 1868 she applied for a widower’s pension for Frederick’s service in the War of 1812. It was her application for the pension in 1866 that lists her age as about to be 78 that gives us an approximate birth year of 1788 for her. Her applications list her as a resident of Lower Windsor Twp, however I have not been able to find her in either the 1850 or 1860 census. In both applications she identified herself as Elizabeth Baymiller, which makes one assume she did not re-marry. Elizabeth died between August 11, 1868, the date her will was written and October 29, 1868, the date when her administrators filed for a bond for her estate with the courts in York County, PA.
Christian Craley, son of John Craley and Christina, was born about 1763 in Pennsylvania and died around 1823 in York County, PA. He married (first) Catherine Gohn, daughter of Andrew Gohn and Veronica Kuster. She was born around 1770 in York County, PA and died around 1806 in York County, PA. He married (second) Elizabeth Wackerman, daughter of George Wackerman and Maria Hertzog. She was born about 1788 in York County, PA. and died in 1868 in York County, PA.
Children of Christian Craley and Catherine Gohn:
- Sarah Craley (1788-1872) married Frederick Smeltzer (1789-1859)
- John Craley (1790-1827) married Sarah Ilgis (1792-1868)
- Christina Craley (November 13, 1793 – unknown) baptized at St. Luke’s Church
- Christian Craley (1795-1841) married Susan Smeltzer (1796-1827) and Mary Blouse (1810-1887)
- Andrew Craley (1797-1888) married Elizabeth Wilhelm (1800-1887)
- Jonas Craley (November 10, 1799 – unknown) baptized at St. Luke’s Church
- Feronica Craley (January 28, 1802 – unknown) baptized at St. Luke’s Church
- Catharina Craley (February 15, 1804 – unknown) baptized at St. Luke’s Church
Children of Christian Craley and Elizabeth Wackerman:
- Catharina Craley (February 2, 1808-unknown) baptized at St. Luke’s Church
- Elizabeth Craley (February 9, 1810 – June 26, 1890) baptized at St. Luke’s Church and buried at Gipe’s Burial Ground
- George Craley (1814-1877) married Julia Ann Peters (1813-1882)
- Martin Craley (1816-1859) married Elizabeth Mitzel (1824-1885)
- Christina Craley (1818-unknown)