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Christian Henry & Joanna Croom Girlinghouse

Submitted by Roland Heddins (roland(at)

Christian Henry Nov. 12, 1833, Germany
Death: Jul., 1869  Catahoula Parish

Christian Heinrich (Henry) Görlingshausen (Gerlingshausen/Girlinghouse) was a son of Heinrich Ludwig (Henry Louis) Görlingshausen (Gerlingshausen) and Anna Margaretha Weissgerber. Their family of five from Herborn, Hessen-Nassau, Germany crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the Draper which left the port of Bremen, Germany and arrived at the port of Baltimore, Maryland on 15 Dec. 1837.

Christian H. Gerlinghausen, Sr. married Catherine Sophia Young on 7 Nov 1857 in the First Presbeterian Church in New Orleans, La. She was unfaithful to him so he divorced her on 25 Feb. 1862 in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. By 1862 Christian started a family with Joanna Croom whose family lived at Manifest, Louisiana.

Christian Girlinghouse enlisted to fight for the Confederacy in the Civil War on 26 April 1862 at Vidalia, LA. In July 1863 he fought at the Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and was captured by Union troups. It was apparently there that he met Esaw Bass from Mississippi, who later became his next-door neighbor in Catahoula Parish, LA. In fact, years later Christian's son, Matt, married Esaw's daughter, Amret, and their thirteen children grew up to populate various parts of Louisiana and beyond. Christian Girlinghouse and Esaw Bass were both discharged from their service in the Civil War on 9 July 1863 at Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Christian is believed to have died in July 1869 (his tombstone date of death--and most of the other dates--is inaccurate), based on two things: Christian & Joanna's youngest son was said to have been six months old at the time of his father's death (source: Melba Girlinghouse Albritton), and the tax assessment records last listed Christian in the summer of 1869 (beginning in 1870 Joanna's name replaced his in the records).

Joanna Croom Girlinghouse
Sep., 1838 Amite County, Mississippi, USA
Death: Jun. 16, 1912 Manifest, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana, USA

Joanna Croom was a daughter of Joshua Croom and Elizabeth Jones. Joanna's birthdate has not yet been positively determined. According to census records she was born between 1837 and 1840. The 1900 census gives her month & year of birth as September 1838 which is probably accurate. We know for certain that the year on her tombstone (1843) is at least five years off.

Joanna Croom was born in Amite County, Mississippi and part Native American. It has been said by family members that she was 1/4 Choctaw, however since both her parents were born in the Carolinas (Joshua in NC, Elizabeth in SC), it is more likely that one of Joshua's or Elizabeth's mothers was Cherokee since that tribe lived in the Carolinas, not Choctaw who lived in Louisiana and Mississippi where Joanna herself was born and raised.

In 1843 or 1844 when Joanna was about 5 or 6 years old, Joshua Croom and his family moved from Amite County, Miss. to Catahoula Parish, La. They purchased land which had once belonged to the Bowie family (Jim Bowie's parents) in what was then known as Pisgah, later re-named Manifest.

At the age of about 20 Joanna first married William J. Burt on 22 June 1859 in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana. They didn't live together long and by 1861 Joanna was supposedly married to Christian H. Girlinghouse. During that time period the marriage & divorce records at the Catahoula parish court house are spotty at best. To date no marriage record has been found for William & Joanna's divorce, nor for Christian & Joanna's marriage. However, that doesn't mean for certain that Christian and Joanna were not legitimately married. One example of the court house record inconsistencies is that the marriage of William and Joanna Burt is not found in the marriage record index, but their original handwritten document was discovered in a box of un-indexed marriage certificates.

Christian and Joanna had four sons together: Matthew, William, Newman and Christian Jr. When Christian Jr. was six months old in about July 1869 (according to his daughter Melba), Christian Sr. died, leaving Joanna with four boys to raise. Joanna never remarried.

Joanna was a tough woman. Besides being strong and stout physically, she had a hard, tough disposition. Her grandchildren described her as being mean, and even celebrated when she would leave their house, chanting "Grandma's going home!"

Joanna was a midwife and even a dentist of sorts. She delivered most of her grandchildren and presumably many of the children in their community. She also was proficient at pulling teeth.

In her latter years Joanna alternated living with her sons' families, but spent most of her time with her son William and his wife Emma who never had any children to survive birth.

Joanna died at the age of about 74 and was buried next to Christian who had preceded her in death by about 43 years. It is very likely that her parents and possibly other Croom family members are also buried nearby in what is now know as the Girlinghouse family cemetery.