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Below is a family biography included in The History of DeKalb County, Tennessee published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1887.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Maj. W. G. Crowley, an ex-judge and attorney at law of Smithville, was born in Smith (now De Kalb) County in 1830. His parents, John J. and Elizabeth Crowley, were both natives of Virginia. The father was of Scotch-Irish descent, a farmer by occupation. He married in his native State and in 1830 came to Tennessee by way of the Cumberland River. He died in Smith County in May of the same year, when but twenty-two years of age. His wife was born in 1810. Her second marriage was with Mr. Peter Adams, who is also dead. Mrs. Adams died in 1866. Our subject was the only child, and but one month old when his father died. When a mere lad he was ambitious to gain information, as his step-father was poor, and there being but little benefit derived from public schools, his advantages were indeed limited. He labored and saved a few dollars which enabled him to enter school. At the age of sixteen he began teaching in the neighborhood. He attended school at Alexandria as well as other schools at different places, and in this way obtained a good practical education. After his schooling was finished he was in debt $500 and taught school and paid it. In 1850 he commenced reading law under guidance of Col. S. H. Colms of Smithville. In March, 1851, he was admitted to the bar, and immediately entered the profession, buying his law books on a year’s credit He first formed a partnership with Samuel Turney in De Kalb County business, and at the same time a partnership with Col. S. H. Colms in the Cannon County practice. He soon had a lucrative practice. July 4, 1853, he married Rebecca, daughter of Martin and Polly Foutch, who was born in 1837 in De Kalb County. Their union resulted in the birth of ten children: Mary E., wife of Judge W. W. Wade; Martha E.; Martin A., who is clerk and master of the chancery court of De Kalb County; John B., a farmer and miller; Jessie Frances, wife of John B. Tubb, a lawyer of Smithville; William L., a farmer; Kate, wife of W. B. Foster, a merchant of Smithville; Pleasant C.; Prudence and Leslie (deceased). In June, 1861, Mr. Crowley enlisted in the Twenty-third Tennessee Infantry (Confederate Army), and at the organization of the regiment he was appointed sergeant major. He was in the battle of Shiloh, in which he was severely wounded April 6, 1862, by a canister-shot, just above the left knee. He was taken to Corinth and afterward to Jackson, Miss., in a helpless condition. September 7, 1862, he reached home, greatly to the surprise of his family, who believed him to have been killed at Shiloh. In 1863 he moved to the western portion of De Kalb County and taught a subscription school until hostilities ceased. In 1866 he returned to Smithville and resumed his practice in partnership with Col. John H. Savage, afterward with Joseph Clark and M. D. Smallman, now circuit judge. In 1872 our subject was elected chancellor of the Fifth Division of Tennessee, Col. Colms being one of his competitors. In 1878 he was re-elected. Judge Crowley is now engaged in the law practice and has many friends. He is also one of the county’s eldest native citizens. He has been unusually prosperous in life, considering his opportunities and will do well in his profession. His residence is a half mile east of Smithville on the Sligo Ferry Turnpike. He has been a member of the Christian Church since 1860. Previous to the war he was a Whig, voting the first time for Fillmore in 1852. He is now a Democrat.

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This family biography is one of 45 biographies included in The History of DeKalb County, Tennessee published in 1887.  The History of Dekalb County was included within The History of Cannon, Coffee, DeKalb, Warren & White Counties of Tennessee. For the complete description, click here: History of Cannon, Coffee, DeKalb, Warren, White Counties of Tennessee

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