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Wilkes: McCrary, Edinger, Edner, DNA, Bauguess, Roaring River

August 2, 2019


Christopher McCrary vs. Christopher Edinger


My ancestor Christopher McCrary has always been a mystery to me.  Since the mid-1990s when I first saw him listed under a different name in the 1850 census, I’ve wanted to know more about his story.  In 1850 he was listed as Christopher Edner, age 52, a farmer born in Rowan County.  My first theory in those early days was that he must have been a criminal who changed his name to avoid capture by the authorities!  While that would certainly be an exciting story to discover, I no longer think that’s what happened. 

I’ve seen a few references to people remembering “Old Stuffer Edner”.  Without some research, you’d never know he was the same man as Christopher McCrary, but he was.  “Stuffer” was a short form of Christopher.  And Edner was a misspelling of his other surname. Edinger.

I started writing this as a brief article to document the various uses of McCrary and Edinger.  Before I knew it, it turned into a larger article that details almost everything I’ve learned about Christopher’s family.  While it’s several pages long, I hope those with ancestors related to the McCrary’s will find something useful to add to their research.


Christopher McCrary in the Census

There are many references to Christopher McCrary in Wilkes County records.  I’ll begin with census records when he is first listed in the 1830 Wilkes Co census in a household of 4 males and 3 females.


In 1840 his family is listed in Johnson’s District in a household of 3 males and 5 females.


The only census that lists him as Edner is the one from 1850 when he is living with his wife, his two young children, and his older daughter Margaret and her new husband.


In 1860 the household included Christopher, wife Priscilla, and their two youngest children.


In 1870 Christopher and his wife and daughter are in Rock Creek Township, Haymeadow Post Office.


Christopher isn’t found in the 1880 census, so it’s presumed he died during the 1870s.  Priscilla was living with their daughter in 1880.  She wasn’t his first wife.  “Christopher Maccrary” first married Polly Wiles on 2/4/1823 in Wilkes Co according to the marriage bond index. 

As the story goes, Christopher was a teenager when he was out “mossing deer” with John Wiles near the forks of Roaring River late one night in 1815.  In relating the story, perhaps in the 1960s, Harriet Harold explained that there was a certain type of moss that the deer liked, and the two men were baiting a place to catch one.  That’s when Christopher suddenly saw John fall to the ground.  Christopher knew that it was John by the way he carried his torch.  John had been bitten by a rattlesnake.  John died a few days later at the age of 25.  Today he is often referred to as “Snakebite” John Wiles.

John was married at the time of his death, but eight years later Christopher married his widow Polly Aulsbury Wiles.  Much of this information was compiled by Martin Wiles of Dallas, TX. 

Christopher and Polly had six children together.

1.     Nancy McCrary                   (1823 – 1880)    1880

2.     William McCrary                (1825 – after 1900)

3.     Joseph McCrary                  (1827 – 1890)

4.     Mary McCrary

5.     Elizabeth McCrary             (1831 – 1908)

6.     Margaret McCrary             (1833 – after 1870)


With his second wife Priscilla, he had two more children


7.     Christopher McCrary Jr    (1842 – 1863)

8.     Martha McCrary                (1848 – 1916)


I descend from daughter Elizabeth McCrary who married James Madison Bauguess.  Elizabeth’s daughter Martha died in 1923, and her death certificate lists her mother as “Betsy Edner”.

Continuing with the family of Christopher McCrary, his children are listed in several school censuses from the 1840s.  The first is in 1842, District 32, when Christopher is listed with five children eligible for school.  This census is the reason for listing Christopher with a daughter Mary.


In 1845, District 63, his son Joseph and daughter Margaret are listed in the school census.


On 3/20/1848, three McCrary children are listed in the census for District 37.


For the school term beginning on 8/28/1848 and ending on 1/26/1849, three McCrary children are listed in District 37.  His son Christopher and daughter Elizabeth are listed near the top of the page, and daughter Margaret (Pegga) is listed further down the list.


In each of these school censuses, they are consistently listed as some version of McCrary, never Edner.


Introducing Frederick Edinger

The census records provide useful information about Christopher’s family, but why was he listed as Edner in 1850?  For clues, we’ll investigate some land records.  This isn’t necessarily a list of all the deeds with a reference to Christopher, but I will list all the ones that give clues about his Edner connection.  As it turns out, Christopher was often mentioned on the same deeds as Frederick Edinger.

·        10/30/1816, Grant #3087 (file #2737) to Frederick Edinger.  20a at the south end of Dehart Community Center Rd.

·        11/12/1816, to Frederick Adinger from Moses Arms (DB 24, p145).  100a on Traphill Rd, just south of Dehart Community Center Rd.

·        4/4/1817, Grant #3139 (file #2845) to Frederick Edinger.  50a on the east side of his 1816 purchase, witnesses: William Hawkins and Christopher Edinger.  This was sold by John McCrary and Elizabeth Cothren on 1/1/1855 to George W. B. Wheatley (DB A2, p254).

·        3/7/1825, Grant #3351 (file #3064) to Christopher McCrary.  25a at the intersection of Traphill Rd and Yellow Banks Rd in Rock Creek Twnp.  Witnesses were Frederick Adinger and William Hawkins.  This was near Frederick’s 100a from 1816.  Christopher sold this on 9/4/1847 (DB Z, p376).

·        1/7/1835, Grant #3835 (file #3548) to Frederick Edner.  50a on the north side of Bethany Ford Rd near Roaring River.  Witnesses were Christopher McCrary, Thomas Wiles.  Two other grants adjoin this one:

o   Grant #6256 (file #6500) entered in 1873 mentions a boundary that runs to the corner of the Adinger tract.  This is an example of the original grant using the “Edner” spelling, and a later deed spelling his name “Adinger”.

o   Grant #5210 (file #4772) to Richard J. Cook begins at the SW corner of the Frederick Adinger old tract, crossing Adinger’s Branch.  At this time, I think “Adinger’s Branch” is the branch that runs behind the north side of Bethany Church on Bethany Ford Rd.

·        1/30/1836, Grant #3860 (file #3575) to Christopher McCrary.  50a straddling the fork of Roaring River including the mouth of Round Mountain Branch.

·        12/18/1842, Frederic Adenger and Sarah Maquary sold 50a to Adam Grimes (DB Q, p192).  The deed was proven in court in February 1847.  I believe this land was located at the back side of North Wilkes High School.  The deed for Frederick buying this land must have been lost.

·        1/4/1848, Grant #5301 (file #4863) to Christopher McCrary.  60a adjoining his 50a at the SW corner of the fork of Roaring River.

·        1/4/1848, Grant #5300 (file #4862) to Christopher McCrary.  25a adjoining his 50a and 60a along the south side of the Middle Prong of Roaring River near the fork.

·        7/29/1870, Christopher McCrary Adinger and Prissilla Adinger sold their 60a tract to Martha McAdinger (DB B2, p597-9).  The deed was presented in Probate Court on 9/28/1871.  Priscilla gave her free and lawful consent to sell the land on 1/6/1872.  The deed was registered on 3/30/1875.  Since this was in Probate Court, I wonder if that means Christopher had died by 1871.


The name Edinger has been spelled many different ways in these records:  Edinger, Eddinger, Edner, Adinger, and Adenger.  The family likely came from Rowan Co.  I’ve seen earlier records where the name is spelled Ottinger which is perhaps closer to the old German spelling.

For reference, the map below shows the vicinity where Christopher McCrary and Frederick Edinger lived.  The various tracts they owned are generally to the east of Traphill Rd; north of Rock Creek Rd and Bethany Ford Rd; and south and west of Roaring River.



My Theory

A Wilkes Co marriage bond dated 3/10/1820 appears to provide an important missing piece of the puzzle.  Frederic Adinger and Christopher McCray made a bond application for the marriage of Frederic Adinger to Elizabeth McCray.


My theory is that Christopher’s mother was Elizabeth McCrary.  I don’t know if that was her maiden name or if she was a widow, but she married Frederick Edinger in 1820.  Her grown 20-year-old son was the bondsman.  In some records, Christopher uses his mother’s surname; and in others he uses his step father’s name.

I believe that Elizabeth continued to live with Frederick until his death soon before the 1840 census.  Even though Frederick is listed as selling land in 1842, that doesn’t necessarily mean he was still living.  I’ve often found that deeds were filed years or even decades after someone died.  It’s almost as if the deceased’s family members filed the deed later because their loved one “meant” to do so, but unfortunately died before making the trip to the courthouse.

Elizabeth is very possibly the female (age 60-69) listed in the 1840 census in her son Christopher’s household.  I haven’t seen any later references to her.



I also believe that Christopher had a sister Sarah who was about the same age.  In 1820, Sarah McCrary is listed as head of household (age 10-16) living with a young boy under age 10.  (I know that seems too young for her to be living alone, but that’s what it says.  Or, maybe the censustaker checked the wrong box and she was actually age 16-26.  Either way, she was likely under age 20.)

In 1830, perhaps she is the age 30-40 female living in the household of Frederick Edinger and his wife.  Also living with them are one boy and three girls all under age 15.  Perhaps Sarah is living with her mother and step father as well as with her four children.

Sarah is again living on her own in the 1840 census when she is listed as head of household (age 30-39).  She is living with a male (20-29) and female (10-14). 

The only later mention of sister Sarah is in the 1842 deed where she and Frederick sold 50 acres.  If the children from the census in her household were indeed hers, I don’t know their names.

The diagram below is one possible family tree.  But as I state later, I’m not completely convinced this is correct.


Is It That Simple?

Maybe I’m missing something.

PROBLEM #1:  The 1810 Wilkes census.  There are four in the household:  one male (under 10), one male (26-45), one female (10-16), and one female (26-45).  This could easily be Frederick, Elizabeth, Christopher, and Sarah.  If so, then Frederick Edinger is already living with Elizabeth and his two step children ten years before he married Elizabeth in 1820.  While that’s certainly possible, it seems unusual.

Maybe Frederick’s relationship to the McCrary family was somehow more complicated than simply step father.  Maybe Frederick and Elizabeth had already married in Rowan Co, but they felt a need to marry again in their new community.

The 1850 census says Christopher was born in Rowan Co, and that’s the same place the Edingers are from.  Perhaps Frederick met the widow Elizabeth McCrary in Rowan Co, and together they moved to Wilkes Co between 1800 and 1810.  They lived together until they married in 1820.

PROBLEM #2:  Christopher was a grown man in 1820.  If Christopher McCrary’s mother became an Edinger at her marriage in 1820, then he was already 21 years old.  You would think that his McCrary surname would be set, and that he wouldn’t be tempted to use the Edinger name later in his life.

PROBLEM #3:  Christopher Edinger in 1817.  Why was Christopher listed as an Edinger as a witness to Frederick’s 1817 land grant?  His mother hadn’t even married Frederick yet, so Christopher was still a McCrary!  I don’t have an answer, but I’m convinced there’s more to the story.

PROBLEM #4:  The McCrary and Edinger names were extremely intertwined.  Perhaps too intertwined.  Going back to the list of deeds, the one from 1870 is really strange.  Christopher McCrary Adinger and his wife Priscilla sold land to their youngest daughter Martha McAdinger.  It’s strange that these later records seemed insistent on maintaining both surnames.  In 1880, “Priscilla Adinger”, Christopher’s widow, is living with her daughter Martha and her husband James Wood.  Martha’s 1916 death certificate lists her father as “C. McCreary Edner”. 

In the early years, the two surnames were interchangeable, with Christopher usually having the McCrary name.  In later years, they started using both as if they weren’t sure which was correct.  That makes me really curious to learn who Christopher’s father was.



My grandmother has taken a DNA test.  She is the great great granddaughter of Christopher McCrary.  She has some DNA matches to people who descend from Andrew McCreary who was born in 1761 in South Carolina.  This might only be a coincidence, but it’s worth keeping this fact filed away for later.

Another thing that would help complete the puzzle is for a male descendant to take a yDNA test.  That is, a man who likely has the McCrary name who descends from a male line of McCrarys back to Christopher.  Since Christopher only had two sons who had children, that means we’re looking for a man who descends from either William McCrary (b1825) or his brother Joseph McCrary (b1827).

If someone reading this knows of a man whose paternal line goes back to Christopher McCrary, let me know.  Especially if he’s interested in helping us learn more about our McCrary ancestors! 


I’ll take care of all the details including hand-delivering the test kit.  It only takes one minute to rub the cotton swab on the inside of your cheek, and you’ll be helping many people take a step toward learning who Christopher McCrary’s father is.  Below is a list of paternal-line McCrary descendants.  Any of their male descendants would be perfect candidates to take the yDNA test.

Male-Line Descendants of Christopher McCrary

·  William McCrary (1825)

o William Asa 1850

§ William Lawrence 1869 -> GA

§ Joseph Henry 1875

·  Roy Guy 1909 Surry

·  William G. 1912

·  Coy Lee 1917

·  Robert Warren 1920

§ Christopher C. 1893 -> Davie Co

§ James Richard 1898 -> Davie Co

·  Bruce Columbus 1934

§ Stanley Mansfield 1905 -> Davie Co

·  William Joseph 1937

·  Frankie Lee 1946

o Joseph L. 1857

§ Shober Marvin 1883

·  Ben Seldon 1917

·  Don Weldon Adams 1931

§ Marvel S. 1888

·  Joseph McCrary (1827)

o William Calvin 1869 -> to MD

§ Lloyd Vernon 1894

·  Roy Eugene McCreary 1914

·  Blaine M. McCreary 1920

·  William Brice McCreary 1922

§ Joseph Brackston 1896

·  Raymond James McCreary 1919

§ James Leonard 1898

·  James Luther McCreary 1922

§ Harry Franklin 1906

·  Harry Franklin McCreary 1931

§ William Sherman 1908


o James P. 1872 -> TX

o   Thomas Earl McCreary 1901

§  Troy Byron McCreary 1927


I’m sure this isn’t a complete list, but any male descendant whose father’s father’s father’s line goes back to Christopher McCrary would help us learn more about the generation before Christopher.  If you’re that person or know someone who is and is interested in helping, let me know (



Research Continues

As I wrap this up, I’m realizing that I’ve posed almost as many questions as I’ve answered.  That’s the way my genealogy research seems to go.  I set out to answer one question, and I come back with three new ones!  Genealogy isn’t a project that you “finish”.  There’s always more to be learned.  I’d appreciate hearing from anyone who has more information on the McCrary and Edinger families.  I’m sure the answers are out there somewhere.  We just have to keep looking.