Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Mrs. John J. (Moss) Crittenden 1804 ~ 1873


Mrs. John J. Crittenden was one of the American women who shared the glory and distinction of her husband, contributing her part as a wife to his success. The ancestors of Mrs. Crittenden were from Albemarle and Goochland Counties, Virginia. Her great-grandfather was General John Woodson, who had inherited from his father a large estate on the James River in Goochland County, called Dover. He married Dorothea Randolph.

One of her sisters was the mother of Thomas Jefferson. Another, Mrs. Pleasants, was the mother of Governor Pleasants of Virginia. Her only brother was Thomas Mann Randolph. A son of Mr. and Mrs. Woodson, Josiah, married his cousin, Elizabeth Woodson, and their daughter, Mary in 1801, married Dr. James W. Moss of Albermarle County, Virginia and they were the parents of Elizabeth Moss, who became later Mrs. Crittenden.

Elizabeth was born while her parents were living in Kentucky but when quite a young girl they removed to Missouri which had just been admitted as a state to the Union. Their home was for a time in St. Louis, but later her father removed to the town of Columbia in that state. Elizabeth married when quite young a physician. Dr. William P. Wilcox, who was at that time a member of the state legislature. Dr. Wilcox survived but a short time, leaving his wife with two daughters. The eldest, Mary, became the wife of Mr. Andrew McKinley, only son of Justice McKinley of the Supreme Court of the United States. The youngest daughter, Anna, became the wife of Honorable E. Carrington Cabell, a representative in Congress from Florida and son of Honorable William Cabell late Chief Justice of Virginia.

In 1852 Mrs. Wilcox married General William H. Ashley, then the only representative in Congress from Missouri. General Ashley was a resident of St Louis and one of its distinguished citizens. Mrs. Ashley accompanied her husband to Washington immediately after their marriage and at once became the subject of general admiration and the center of a large social circle. Her natural grace, affability, frank cordiality, intellectual cultivation and above all her genuine kindness of heart drew about her those who appreciated such sterling qualities and charming graces.

In 1838, General Ashley died and Mrs. Ashley returned to her home in St Louis. Occasionally she spent her time in Philadelphia and Washington while her children were being educated. She was always a favorite wherever she went and remained unspoilt notwithstanding the attentions and homage lavished upon her. It is said of her she was never known to speak harshly or censoriously of anyone, nor did she ever forget an acquaintance or wound by a change of manner. She was perfectly familiar with all' the political issues of the day but never advocated as a partisan either side; always intelligent and fluent in conversation, she never assumed the slightest superiority or seemed conscious that her own opinion or judgment was better than that of others. Her delicate tact and regard for the feelings or the pride of others rendered her an ornament of every social circle.

Honorable John J. Crittenden, then attorney general of the United States in Mr. Fillmore's cabinet in 1853, won the heart of this distinguished woman. After Mr. Crittenden's retirement from the cabinet he was returned to the senate, where he remained until his death in 1863. Mrs. Crittenden always accompanied her husband to Washington and it is said the political and diplomatic world flocked about them. Mr. Crittenden's service was during the stormy days which preceded the outbreak of the Rebellion and many were the trials they were called upon to endure. Mrs. Crittenden sympathized deeply with her husband in his efforts to preserve the Union. After Mr. Crittenden's death Mrs. Crittenden remained for a time at Frankfort Kentucky, and later removed to New York City.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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