William Crawford was the son of Valentine Crawford and Honoria Grimes . He was born north of present-day Winchester, Virginia, in what is now Berkeley County, West Virginia and was then Spotsylvania County, Virginia. Some researchers say he was born in 1732, others state 1722: the discovery of the family bible provides proof for the 1722 date.
William Crawford's first wife was identified as being Ann Stewart who sadly passed away shortly after giving birth to their first child, Ann. This is supported by the Bradford Family Bible . With the Will from John Vance, there is confirmation that his daughter, Hannah, was the wife of Col. William Crawford and the mother of John and Sarah. We do have a will but it's not definitive on exactly who his children were. He does mention John - but states his son also had two sons - Moses and Richard. John perished shortly after his father was killed by Indians - it is believed that he was killed by Indians at the same time his Brother-in-Law, Major Harrison, was killed. There is a letter residing in the Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files that states Sarah Springer, husband of Uriah Springer, a Captain in the 9th Virginia Unit and was a Lieutenant serving under Col William Crawford, is entitled to receive jointly with Effie McCormick 500 acres of Bounty Land (Warrant: 921) issued 1 Jun 1820. 
Crawford is famous, in part, because he was burned innocently at the stake by American Indians at the end of the Revolution. He was not the only American killed in this way, but his was the most famous case of what people called the “barbaric cruelty” of Britain’s Indian allies in the Revolution. The war ended shortly afterward, but his “horrific execution” was widely publicized and sensationalized in the United States, which worsened the already bad relationship between European Americans and American Indians.
The two quickly became friends. Crawford accompanied Washington on surveying trips and learned the trade. He received his first military appointment from Washington in 1755, as an ensign in a company of scouts that were defeated by the French and their American Indian allies.
For more about Crawford's relationship with Washington, see the Mount Vernon website (although it has the wrong year of his birth): Crawford served throughout the French and Indian War, becoming familiar with western Pennsylvania and the Ohio country and decided this was where he preferred to live. After the war, he surveyed a tract of land on the Youghiogheny River and erected a log cabin there. 
Crawford became a leader in civil affairs, serving as a justice in succeeding western Pennsylvania counties.
Crawford was returning from a successful campaign under Lord Dunmore, when the backwoods Virginians learned about the passage of what were called by disgruntled colonials the "Intolerable Acts." It was the British Parliament’s passing of this legislation that drove Virginia frontiersmen to draft what has been called the "First Declaration of Independence."
Although the acts were directed at Massachusetts as punishment for the Boston Tea Party of 1773, many colonists saw the acts as a violation of their constitutional rights, their natural rights, and their colonial charters. They therefore viewed the acts as a threat to the liberties of all of British America, not just Massachusetts.
These brave backwoods Virginians having just returned from a successful campaign under Lord Dunmore, learned about the passage of what were called by disgruntled colonials the "Intolerable Acts." This meant they could find themselves under orders to stop an uprising of their own countrymen. If they were to raise any objection, this could be seen as treason.
A year later the colonies and Britain were at war. In the Revolution, Crawford became colonel of a Virginia regiment, fought alongside Washington at Long Island, then crossed the Delaware with him and fought at the battles of Trenton, Princeton and later at Brandywine.
As the fighting drew to a close, he returned to western Pennsylvania, looking forward to the "art of becoming a grandfather." A few months later, in 1782, Crawford came out of retirement reluctantly, resisting the movement to give him command of an enterprise against pro-British Indians in northern Ohio.
But Gen. William Irvine, the regular Army commander of the Western Deptartment, and others finally prevailed on him to accept nomination to lead an expedition the Indians.
Because this was a volunteer expedition and not a regular army operation, the men elected their officers. Crawford had one rival for the spot, David Williamson. (Williamson, a militia colonel had commanded an expedition in March that had shot — from behind — the women and children of a group of pacifist Christian Indians as they knelt in prayer at a Moravian mission at Gnadenhutten in east central Ohio. Indians throughout Ohio were enraged by the slaughter.) For more about the Gnadenhutten affair and David Williamson, see Wikipedia's "Gnadenhutten massacre", The Moravian massacre and David Williamson Crawford was a veteran of expeditions against the natives, having destroyed two Mingo villages during Dunmore’s War in 1774. He “won” the election by five votes.
Crawford wrote his will on May 16 1782 two days before leaving on the expedition: He gave his wife, during life, the home farm, and three slaves (Dick, Daniel and Betty) and all his personal property except a slave boy named Martin. He gave Martin to his son John as well as five hundred acres of land, and (after his wife's death) the home farm, and the three slaves Dick, Daniel and Betty. He gave to each of his grand children, Moses and Richard, sons of John Crawford, four hundred acres, and to his grand daughter Anne four hundred acres. He made bequests to Anne Connell, and her four children; all the rest of his estate was to be divided equally between his other three children.
In late May of 1782, Crawford led about 500 volunteers into north central Ohio, hoping to surprise the Indians. But on June 6 his supply chain disintegrated and the Indians surrounded him and his men. The Delaware Indians were determined that Col. Crawford pay for the attack and massacre on the pacifist Indians at Gnadenhutten even though he had not been part of that expedition. They took their revenge by torturing the members of Crawford’s party, which included many men who had been involved in the Gnadenhutten expedition. Crawford and his son-in-law William Harrison were scalped and burned at the stake; Crawford finally died (near Tymochtee Creek, a tributary of the Sandusky River) after two hours of torment. At least 250 members of Crawford’s party were killed in the disastrous encounter.
On June 11 1782, the morning after the defeat, Col. Crawford was taken by a scouting party of the Indians, and led in triumph to their encampment, on Tomochte creek, about 3 miles west of Sandusky River, where among a very extensive assemblage of Indians he was prepared for the torture.
There are at least two different accounts of Crawford’s death:
He was fastened to a tree by a grape vine; the vine being first tied around his neck, and then around the tree, so as to give him an opportunity of walking round a small distance from it; a circle of burning coals was then placed at a proper distance from the tree for him to walk upon; this fiery circle the intrepid commander was compelled to traverse barefooted. This however, did not elicit so much as a groan, or a sigh, which much exasperated his enemies; as it is well known that nothing is so pleasing to them as to see their victim shrink from the torture. After trying in vain for sometime to subdue the dauntless spirit of the hero, one of the Indians indignantly seized upon him and tore off his scalp. But still unsubdued he continued to traverse the burning circle with a firm and dignified step looking defiance upon the savage host that surrounded him. At length one of the chiefs in a rage at the unexampled hardiness of the dauntless warrior, seized a large firebrand and placing it upon his skinless head, held it there for a time; when (probably from the heat communicating with the brain) he fell and instantly expired.
The other account portrays his response in somewhat less heroic tones: He was tied to a post and "seventy shots of powder were fired at his body. Indians then cut off his ears, prodded him with burning sticks, and tossed hot embers at him. [He] continued in the extremities of pain for an hour and three quarters or two hours longer... when at last, being almost totally exhausted, he laid down on his belly; they then scalped him. An old squaw got a board, took a parcel of coals and ashes and laid them on his back and head, after he had been scalped. Colonel Crawford then raised himself upon his feet and began to walk around the post; they next put a burning stick to him as usual, but he seemed more insensible of pain than before." Crawford finally died from his wounds, but not before begging those around him to end his misery with a bullet.
Col. Crawford was captured by the Delaware Indians, a different tribe from the one that Simon Girty was affiliated with, Seneca Indians. Girty had to tread lightly here or would have suffered the same fate. We seem to want to forget the different crimes committed by Simon Kenton and Col. Crawford. In the crime of Simon Kenton, the theft of horses was nothing compared to the crime of Col. Crawford's association with Col. Williamson; the one that ordered the Massacre of Gnadenhutten. There was nothing Girty could have done to have prevented the death by torture of Col. Crawford.
There are two different accounts of Girty's actions from fellow captives. One such account states that Girty attempted over and over negotiating for the release of Col. Crawford, till he was threatened with the same death. The other account states he was a tormentor and even took part in the torture. This second account was proved to be false - but it was this account that was sensationalized and repeated over and over.
Those wanting to read the more graphic detail of the torture the brave Officer was subjected to may visit Dark and Bizaare Stories.
"Thus perished,” wrote a sentimental contemporary, “the gallant Crawford, the early friend and companion of Washington. This story is well authenticated by the white persons who were suffered to survive that fatal event, and were present at the scene of their commander’s suffering; and also by many of the old Indians who still inhabit the neighborhood. The place where this tragic scene was acted is distinctly pointed out by them, even the tree to which he was fastened is still standing.”
Crawford’s horrendous death ensured that he would be remembered as a martyr. The site of his execution is included on the National Register of Historic Places and a monument has been erected there in his memory. Counties in central Ohio and western Pennsylvania also bear his name.
For descriptions of the torture, see Revolutionary War, Sandusky Expedition (at genealogytrails.com).
A nineteenth century description of the expedition and biographical information on Crawford can be found in James H. Anderson, "COLONEL WILLIAM CRAWFORD", Ohio History Journal, Vol VI-1 (OHIO Archaeological and Historical PUBLICATIONS.) (link to page). Also see Butterfield, Consul Willshire, An historical account of the expedition against Sandusky under Col. William Crawford in 1782 : with biographical sketches, personal reminiscences, and descriptions of interesting localities; including, also, details of the disastrous retreat, the barbarities of the savages, and the awful death of Crawford by torture, by (Cincinnati, R. Clarke & Co., 1873).
Ironically, David Williamson, the man who led the militia at Gnadenhutten – the travesty that set so much of this in motion – made his way safely back to Pennsylvania. He died in poverty in 1814.
Have you taken a DNA test? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Ancestry DNA.
William is 25 degrees from Alfred Nobel, 31 degrees from Henri Becquerel, 20 degrees from Niels Bohr, 20 degrees from Marie Curie, 26 degrees from Alec Fleming, 18 degrees from Howard Florey, 23 degrees from Albert Imre Szent-Györgyi, 18 degrees from Barbara McClintock, 28 degrees from Wilhelm Roentgen and 16 degrees from Chandra Garrow on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.