|John CRAPSEY, Jr.|
Thirty-six-year-old Reverend John CRAPSEY, Jr. was a widower1 with a ten-year-old son, Angelo.2 He was also described as crazy and a false prophet.3
John hailed from Western New York State,4 a region described by the evangelist Charles G. Finney as the "burned-over district," meaning it was so heavily evangelized, there was no fuel (unconverted souls) left over to "burn" (convert). It was a region where Protestant evangelists such as Finney achieved many converts to the Congregationalist, Methodist, and Baptist churches. However, there were a large number of uneducated people who were easily influenced by folk religion (Christianity impacted by superstition). Furthermore, there were a number of nonconformist movements founded by laypeople that caused much concern among the traditional church bodies. These included Mormonism, the Millerites, Spiritualism, the Shakers, and the Oneida Society.5
So when John started preaching hellfire and brimstone, with his congregation speaking in tongues, trembling, and seeing visions of graves opening from earthquakes, it was not surprising that a mob of 70 men confronted him with a warrant to leave Roulette and never return.6
Despite this, Lura married him on 18 January 1853.7 Was it a marriage of convenience, love, or a little of both?
Besides Lura's daughter, Viola, and John's son, Angelo, they added four more children to the family within the next ten years: Alice, William Merrick ("Willie"), Harriet (sometimes called "Suky,"8 but more often, "Hattie"), and George Bayard CRAPSEY.9
But religious fervor was not the only thing troubling the country.
To be continued....
1 Dennis W. Brandt, Pathway to Hell: A Tragedy of the American Civil War (Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 2010), 33.↩
2 Ibid., 30.↩
3 Ibid., 25.↩
4 Ibid., 31.↩
5 Wikipedia contributors, "Burned-over district," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Burned-over_district&oldid=635275417 (accessed January 12, 2015).↩
6 Brandt, Pathway to Hell, 35, 36↩
7 Ibid., 35.↩
8 1870 U.S. census, Cottonwood County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Southwood, p. 6, dwelling 89, family 89, John Crapsey household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 16 January 2006); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 187.↩
9 Brandt, Pathway to Helll, 35.↩