Craig, John

submitted by George B. Coggins
John Craig and his three brothers, Robert, William and James lived in Augusta County, Virginia at Craigville. His brother Robert went to Greenbriar and established an Inn. His other two brothers raised large families and died prior to 1812. John Craig married Hannah Davis in Augusta County, and along with several other families moved to Buncombe County in 1789 with the first settlers.

Prior to the Blount grant he acquired a grant of 100 acres in the north of Asheville extending from Charlotte Street to Sunset Drive and north of Baird Street.

When Buncombe County was organized at Gum Spring, the County Court elected John Craig trustee, or the first treasurer of Buncombe County. Samuel and William Davidson were his sureties.

He bought a lot in the first Burton subdivision creating the city of Morristown which later became Asheville.

John Craig acquired numerous grants of large tracts of land from 100 acres to 1,000 acres each before 1795 in Buncombe County, including one tract of 100 acres at Bull Creek and 50 acres at Bee Tree. He later built a home at Bull Creek where he operated a mill and raised a family of several children including William, James and John and daughters Hannah, Elizabeth, Martha, Mary, Sarah and Jane.

John Craig’s body was found in a small clearing on his farm, Craigfields, near Bull Creek in 1708[?]. He had been shot in the back with a rifle by someone with a deformed foot, the only tracks found at the scene.

A neighbor of Craig, Henry West, a sailor who had injured his foot in an accident and had jumped ship at Charleston and later purchased several tracts of land in the Buncombe area, was arrested and charged with murder. He was convicted by the jury and sentenced to hang on a scaffold erected at the corner of East Street and Hillside Street in Asheville.

James Patton and his sister, Jane Erwin wife of Andrew Erwin, who was Patton’s business partner, were political opponents of John Craig and they sought to secure a pardon for West from the governor. Mrs. Erwin took a carriage to Raleigh and arranged on the way down for relays of horses to return the pardon if she obtained one.

West worried about being hanged and not getting a decent funeral so he appealed to the burying man, Philip Creasman, who agreed to give West a decent burial in exchange for a large tract of land which West owned on the Lower Grassy Branch Road adjacent to the Craig land. West gave Creasman the deed and Creasman recorded it.

When the time for the hanging arrived at 12 Noon on the appointed day, James Patton sat beside Henry West on the coffin in Creasman’s black funeral wagon as it arrived at the corner of Hillside and East Streets where the scaffold was built. Patton argued with Sherriff James Hughey over the time fixed for the execution and protested that the Sherriff’s watch was wrong. This delayed the execution for more than an hour, and just as the hangman was ready to throw the trap a horseman galloped over the hill with the pardon.

John and Hannah Davis Craig had three sons, James, William and John; and six daughters: Hannah who married John McCullough Patton and moved to Jefferson County, Indiana; Elizabeth who married Ruben Phillips; Martha; Mary and Jane who married Elderidge Melton and lived at Bee Tree. Jane Craig and Elderidge Melton had three sons and two daughters, William, James, and John and Harriett Elizabeth Rhea and Mary Jane Coggins. Their three sons died in the Civil War leaving the two daughters to inherit about 1,000 acres at Bee Tree and 1,000 acres at Bull Creek.

Mary Jane married John Wesley Coggins, son of Roland and Letticia Raper Coggins, and in the settlement of the Eldridge Melton and Jane Craig Melton estate Harriett received the Bull Creek property and Mary Jane Coggins the Bee Tree property. Mary Jane and John Wesley I first lived at Bull Creek where their son James Caswell was born, and later in the old Melton home at Bee Tree which was later the Coggins place where Henry Allen II was born.

Hannah Craig, the widow of John Craig, managed the large family and Craig estate after John’s murder. John and Hannah Davis Craig are buried in the Craig cemetery in a wooded area near the Craigfields farm now owned by their great, great, great grandchild Craig McKenzie “Copper” Coggins.

[WebMaster Note please note [?] in 7th paragraph. The text DOES say 1708 – but that doesn’t sound right.]

Heritage I, article 299, p. 187

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