Lucraft and Luckraft One-name Study

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Joseph and Sarah Lucraft of Illinois

For years I have been on the track of this family group in America, reporting in past newsletters on fragments of new information; now I have been contacted by Joe Bedell from Washington State in America, who is a descendant of this family, and found out about our Luc(k)raft family research from the web-site.

He and his father are sharing the work they have done on their family group, and we are the lucky beneficiaries. The Lucraft name died out in this family in the 19th century and so we have had to wait for someone to find us.

The Early Story in Lympstone

The family origins lie back in the same Devon roots as all the Lucraft groups descended from Nicholas Lucraft, who married Margaret Westcott in 1691 in the beautiful little church in the hamlet of Farringdon, near Woodbury.

Nicholas’ and Margaret’s grandson, John Lucraft, was baptised in 1760 in Woodbury, and married Ann Eastman (baptised Woodbury c 1754) in Lympstone in 1786. Lympstone is nearby, on the Exe estuary. (For many years now it has been the training home of the British Commandos.) We don’t know why they were married there; perhaps Ann and her parents had moved there.

John and Ann Lucraft had at least eight children, starting with a Joseph in 1787, through to a James in 1805. One of these children also carried the name Eastman as a middle name, Elizabeth Eastman Lucraft, baptised 1794 in Lympstone.

Ann died and John remarried in 1809 to Mary Arthur Newbury, a lacemaker of Lympstone. Lace-making was and still is a traditional Devon craft. John and Mary then had at least two children. Mary lived until 1852, when she died aged about 78.

John lived until 1832, aged about 72, but we don’t know anything more about him yet. There was much poverty in the Lucraft household in Lympstone, they were not alone at that time. The Poor Records show that the Widow Lucraft got 4 shillings in 1833. This could be John’s widow.

Joseph the Carpenter

Returning to John and his first wife Ann Eastman’s first child, Joseph, born 1787, we find Joseph apprenticed as a carpenter on 2nd May 1796 at the age of nine, which was quite common. At the censuses of 1841 and 1851 he is listed as a carpenter at one of the big houses in Heavitree near Exeter; No 7 Oakfield Place. Joseph may also have had a brother John living and working with his own family too at the same house.

Joseph and a woman named Mary (no marriage found as yet) then had at least six children, all baptised in Heavitree, starting with a John in 1816 who also became a carpenter, and ending with a Thomas Eastman Lucraft in 1832. This last son Thomas was working with his father at the same house in Heavitree at the 1851 census as a Gardener, and one of the daughters was working there too as a servant.

The second son, William, baptised 1816 may also have become a carpenter. He is a prime candidate for the William Lucraft who is recorded as being transported to Australia from Exeter Assizes, in 1841, but we cannot be sure as yet.

Joseph Eastman Lucraft

The third son, Joseph and his family got travelling feet. He was baptised in Heavitree Parish Church on 9th December 1821, and I believe he grew up to be a shoemaker. I have no more evidence of him in the Exeter area after his baptism record. (There is an unconnected record of a Joseph Lucraft working as a shoemaker in Halwell, the other side of Exeter in 1850.)

Joseph re-appears about 200 miles East of Exeter in 1848, when he marries a young woman named Sarah Elphick, on 9th October in the parish church in the tiny hamlet of Hooe, just outside Hastings in Sussex. Joseph is recorded as being a shoemaker, aged 26, which would put his birth at 1822, but he does say his father is Joseph Lucraft a Carpenter. Sarah Elphick is recorded as a spinster, without an occupation, and as a minor. This is unusual, and means she was under 21, and she would have needed her father’s formal permission to be married. Her father is listed as Stephen Elphick a labourer. The marriage was witnessed by Stephen Carey and Sarah Carey, who made her mark; we do not know who these people were.

[The name Elphick is usually spelled with a ‘k’, though there are a few uses without. This family in America have always used it without, though the English marriage certificate in 1848 has the ‘k’. Elphick researchers treat the two as the same, but it helps with different family groups.]

Over the first 4 years of their relationship I believe Joseph and Sarah had four children. Joseph, the first son, has dates that suggest a birth about 1847, before they were married, which would not have been uncommon. He was followed by Marjery Hannah in 1848, Mary Ann in 1849 and James in 1850, though only Joseph b c 1847 and one daughter would emigrate with them.

Go West, young man

The papers from Joe Bedell in America now pick up much of the story. The family know Joseph, born 1821, as Joseph Eastman Lucraft, and confirm that his birth was 19th November 1821, in Heavitree, just three weeks before his baptism.

Joseph and Sarah’s first son, called Joseph, is reported born 18th January 1847 in Heavitree, which is over a year before Joseph and Sarah were married, and a long way from Sarah’s home. The American family only know of one other child from England, a younger sister called May, who could be Marjorie, Mary Ann, or another child. We do not know which ones survived.

What we do know is that Joseph and his young wife Sarah (Elphic) travelled to America in 1852 with two children, Joseph and May. Tragically Sarah died shortly after the family’s arrival in America, at Whitewater, Wisconsin.

In 1856 Joseph re-married, this time to Sarah’s sister, Sylvia Elphic. Joseph and Sylvia moved to the remote village of Oregon in Illinois about 1860, where Sylvia bore eight children to Joseph. In the 1860 US Census the family is shown with “Sarah” being 23 years old, and with three children, Joseph, aged 13, Margery Hannah aged 12 (both born England) and Sarah aged 1 (born Illinois). This suggests Sylvia, for it must have been her, was born about 1837. She was 16 years younger than Joseph, her husband, and married him when she was about 19, perhaps almost the same age her sister had been when she married Joseph in Hooe. One wonders whether Sylvia had travelled out with them in the first place, when she would have been just 15, or went out to care for the children when her sister died. At what stage does such a practical arrangement become a relationship, leading to marriage and a new family? On a following page there is an example of a widow re-marrying her husband’s brother; again in the difficult times of 19th century American expansion. And through history there have been many examples of families supporting each other this way. Catherine of Aragon also did the same.

[We do not yet have all the details of these eight children with Joseph’s second wife, but I have been able to piece together some. Joe Bedell says there were at least 6 daughters and one son. The son was William H Lucraft, who moved to California and owned a beach hotel at Redondo beach in the 1920s-30s. I believe he died on 30th Jun 1950 in LA Co, Cal. He never married so there were no Lucraft descendants from Joseph and Sylvia’s union. I believe one daughter to be Sarah Jane, born about 1858, who married William Charles Rust in 1894 in Calhoun Iowa. Another was Florence, whom Joe reports lived to the age of 104.

Civil War Veteran

Re-focusing then again on Joseph and Sarah’s son Joseph, born 1847 in England, he enlisted in the Union Army on Feb 20th 1864, aged about 17, though the family thought it might be he was younger. He served as a private in Company “I”46th Regiment of Illinois Veteran volunteers. He was engaged through the Civil War in the battles of Jackson, Mississippi, and the assault of Fort Blakely, Alabama. He was discharged at Baton rouge, Louisiana, on January 20th 1866.

There is no known record of his whereabouts or activities immediately after the Civil War, though he may be the Joseph who got a job as a lighthouse keeper at several lighthouses along the coast, including Mississippi, in the months after the war. At some point he probably returned to Oregon Illinois and back to farming.

On July 8th 1870 he married Anna Crockett at Mount Morris, about six miles northwest of Oregon Ill.. Young Joseph and Mary had three children; George A (b 1871), Nell (b 1873, and Kate (b Christmas Day either 1874 or 1875).
The young family moved from Illinois to Iowa, and then to The Dakota Territory and finally to Fairbury Nebraska. Their son George graduated from Fairbury High School on May 29th 1891, and was then awarded a contract to teach grade school in Jefferson Country, Nebraska from the fall. Sadly, before fall came he had died from consumption and never took up the post. This last male on this side of the family meant that the Lucraft name would die out in this family. George’s two sisters married brothers. Nell married Homer Bedell in 1891 at Fairbury, and Kate married Melvin Bedell in 1902 at Fresno, California.

In 1908 Joseph applied for pension based on his civil war service. I have a copy of the declaration he signed, stating at the time he was living in Redondo Beach, aged 62. He was 5 feet five and a half inches tall, with blue eyes and brown hair, and he said he had been born on 18th January 1846.

Laid to rest

Old Joseph Eastman Lucraft, the young man who had left England in 1852, lived until 1913, when he died at the home of his daughter at Sac City Iowa. He is buried in Scranton Iowa. His second wife, Sylvia Elphic I believe had died by 1870 .

His son, Joseph, died on 4th November 1930, at Sebastopol, California, and he was buried back in Fairbury. This Joseph’s wife, Anna Crockett died just two months later on 7th January 1931 in Contra Costa Co Cal, and was also buried in Fairbury. Joseph and Anna were buried in the same grave (section C8) in the old part of the Fairbury cemetery, as their son George, who had died aged 20, forty years before.

My thanks to Joe Bedell for the photos and the later data. I’m sure we will be able to fill out and complete this tree in years to come.

[This item first appeared in the Luc(k)raft Newsletter vol 10.]


  • I have more informaton after nell and homer. email me at

    By Blogger Alex, at 11:22 PM  

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