Crawford-Harrill House

Copyright 2007 * All rights reserved
J.C. (Jim) Tumblin, OD, DOS
3604 Kesterwood Drive, East
Knoxville, Tennessee 37918-2557
(865) 687-1948

Fountain City Places That Made A Difference

Crawford House, Circa 1920 (Evelyn G. Kirby Collection)

James Moses Crawford


A visit with Fountain City historian Evelyn Goddard Kirby is like a trip down memory lane. Now in her 99th year, she has been pursuing today’s popular hobby, "Scrapbooking," since her pre-teen years. The many hours she has spent in clipping news articles, visiting and researching in local repositories and transcribing interviews indicates scrapbooking was more than just a hobby for her.

The "Webb Book," one of her scrapbooks, will soon reside at the East Tennessee Historical Center thanks to Mrs. Kirby’s foresight and the courtesy of Natalie Leach Haslam, past-president of the East Tennessee Historical Society, who facilitated the gift.

Over two inches thick, this is not an ordinary scrapbook. During one recent morning, the author was privileged to go through it with Mrs. Kirby. In addition to the Webb family history, the book also includes the history of the McNutt, Anderson, Woodson and Owens families.

The Goddard "line" includes her great-great-great-grandfather George McNutt (1822-1900), who built the first brick house in Knoxville near Rev. William G. "Parson" Brownlow’s house on East Cumberland Avenue at South Central. An excellent photograph of the McNutt house is in her scrapbook.

McNutt House (Evelyn G. Kirby Collection)

Evelyn "Eva" Anderson became the wife of our subject, James Moses Crawford. Eva was a distant cousin to Evelyn Goddard’s mother, through Drucilla Anderson Webb, her great-grandmother. In her youth Miss Goddard found the distance from her home in Fountain City, near old Central High School (now Gresham Middle School), to the Crawford home on Tazewell Pike just about right for occasional visits on her bicycle. And "Cousin" Eva Crawford had the best big, red, juicy apples.

Both of our Evelyns were descendants of Rev. Isaac Anderson who founded the Union Academy off Murphy Road in 1802 and the scrapbook has a section dedicated to him. Rev. Anderson was called to serve Maryville’s New Providence Presbyterian Church in 1812 and moved his school to Blount County. That school was the predecessor to Maryville College. Union Academy provided early education to two future governors, John Reynolds, the fourth governor of Illinois (1830-1834), and the illustrious Sam Houston, the 7th governor of Texas (1859-1861).

In addition to interesting documents and photographs regarding the McNutts, the Andersons and other families, the scrapbook also contains a number of essays by Evelyn Kirby and others by her sister, Pauline Goddard McGuire (1902-1980). Pauline lived in Washington, D.C. and worked for the Federal government and did extensive research in the National Archives.

Sometime in the 1920s, probably during her late teen years, Evelyn Goddard interviewed James M. Crawford and his wife, Evelyn Anderson Crawford. She has authorized the author to quote her story in its entirety:

"On the Tazewell Pike, six miles out from town, stands a two story red brick house back among the trees. Many who pass this house say, ‘That’s an interesting looking place.’ And no wonder!

"We open the iron gate and walk between the rows of boxwoods. What spiciness they give the air! One is possessed with the same feeling of excitement as at Christmas time when one opens the door of the house and smells the cedar. These boxwoods have their story too, but we’ll be reminded of that later as we pass between them when leaving.

"Let us ignore the house and pass on to the back yard. Here we find a little hollow in the yard. That is where the clay was dug to make the brick from which the house was built. Near the hole stood the machine or apparatus, which made the clay into bricks. Then they are taken to the front yard to the brick kiln and baked. These same bricks now stand before us in the form of a house!

"Work for the house began in 1857. First came the clearing of the land for it was thickly wooded. Then preparing the lumber to be used in building. Construction of the house took a year and it was completed in April 1858.

"It was built by William Crawford, father of James Crawford, who now owns the property and lives there. The father’s abode there was of short duration, he died only a year later. Cousin Jim was six or seven years old when they moved into the house.

"The outer walls contain three rows of bricks and the inner walls two. The house is two story and has ten rooms, five on each floor.

"In talking about the house, Cousin ‘Eva’ (Evelyn Anderson Crawford) points out, ‘Have you ever noticed the cornice? I don’t think I’ve seen a prettier one.’

"With the exception of a new roof, a few windows, and other minor repairs necessitated by the storm of 1934, no changes have been made in the house. Even the plaster is original.

"But yes! There is one modern improvement—electric lights.

"Scattered about the lawn are many fine old trees, which make a picturesque setting for a lovely old house.

"The original tract of land covered two-hundred and forty acres and each of the four children received sixty acres when the farm was divided. There is still about fifty acres with the house in this tract."

James Moses Crawford was born on March 10, 1852, the oldest of three children of William D. Crawford (1813-1859) and Lucinda T. Anderson. He attended the common schools in the Beverly community. Although only 11 at the time, he remembered hearing of the Battle of Fort Sanders (November 29, 1863) then occurring in west Knoxville. Later in life he entertained the youth of the community by narrating tales of the soldiers who camped near Beverly during the Siege of Knoxville.

James attended Maryville College and then farmed, ran a grocery store at the intersection of Beverly Road and Tazewell Pike and also served as the Beverly postmaster from 1880 until the office was discontinued in 1905. A charter member of Shannondale Presbyterian Church when it was founded in 1886, he also served as a trustee to Maryville College for many years.

On April 17, 1890, James M. Crawford and Margaret Evelyn "Eva" Anderson were married. Eva, as she preferred to be called, was busy with the domestic duties associated with the large house but she found time to enjoy tending the flowers and shrubs surrounding it.

After a weeklong bout with pneumonia, James Moses Crawford succumbed to the disease on January 24, 1941. His services were held at Shannondale Presbyterian Church with Rev. W.F. Stephenson conducting. His beloved wife Eva survived another seven years living with her niece and nephew, Elizabeth and Henry Gouffon. She passed away on November 22, 1948, and is interred beside her husband of 51 years at Anderson-Gouffon Cemetery only 1.5 miles from their home.

Author’s Note: Thanks to Evelyn Goddard Kirby for her many years of honoring and preserving Fountain City history and for permission to use her materials on many occasions. Her book, "Early Fountain City Memories" (2000), which is in the reference shelves in the Fountain City Methodist Church Heritage Room and the new Fountain City Library, records much of our history. Also thanks to Clifford D. Quinton, present owner of the Crawford-Harrill House. City Directory information indicates that Charles J. and Stella Jones Webb purchased the House from Fred McCampbell in 1958. They sold it to the present owners, Clifford D. and Deborah T. Quinton, in 1995.

Crawford-Harrill House, Circa 2002

D-CrawfordJames.doc (FC-FMM) (6/30/07= 37 para., 1291 words)