John J. Criswell


JOHN J. CRISWELL, conducting his mercantile business in the town of Smithfield, Ohio, resides on his small farm in Smithfield Township, where he finds pleasant relaxation in raising fruit and fine poultry, making a specialty of Rhode Island red chickens. He was born at Claysville, Washington County, Pa., January 15, 1851, and is a son of John A. and Elizabeth (Mounts) Criswell.

John A. Criswell was born at Baltimore, Md., and in early manhood came to Washington County, Pa., where he was married to Elizabeth Mounts. In 1854 they came to Jefferson County and located at what was then called Lagrange but now is known as Brilliant, in Wells Township. He was a shoemaker by trade but opened a general store there and was made postmaster. In 1862 he entered the army, serving one year before his health failed, in Co. E, 64th O. Vol. Inf., under Captain Coulter. During his absence his eldest daughter, Mary E., a very capable young woman, conducted both the store and post office, the responsiblilities of which he again assumed upon his return. His health, however, had been shattered by exposure and he later sold out to Richard Boyle and moved to New Alexandria, where he lived retired until his death, at the age of seventy-five years. His widow survived until her seventy-sixth year, dying in 1899. They had five children, namely: Mary E., who is the widow of J. B. Tarr; Nannie, who is the wife of R. G. Porter; John Joseph; Frank P; and James A.

John J. Criswell was three years old when the family came to Jefferson County and he remained at home until his own marriage. He was educated in the public schools and the Normal School at Hopedale, and when only sixteen years of age began to teach and continued in educational work for thirteen years. WHen he definitely left the school room he opened a general store at New Alexandria and conducted it for twenty years, when he sold out to T. R. Thompson and in 1903 moved to Smithfield. Here he purchased, in partnership with his son-in-law, J.W. Polen, the general store of W.J. Jones, the business being conducted under the style of J.J. Criswell & Co.

On October 30, 1873, Mr. Criswell was married to Miss Emma L. Dean, an adopted daughter of James Dean, of Jefferson County, and they have two children: Dean, who married Cora Thompson, and lives on the old Dean farm in Wells Township, has two children--Joseph and Helen; and Eva, who is the wife of J.W. Polen, and they have five children--Dean, Daisy, Harry, Frank and Mary. Mr. Polen and family reside with Mr. Criswell.

In politics Mr. Criswell is nominally a Democrat, but is very apt to cast his vote independently. He and his wife are members of the Presbyterian Church at Smithfield, he being an elder. Fraternally he is an Odd Fellow. Mr. Criswell is a natural musician, playing on almost all instruments but preferring the piano and mansolin. He has furnished the music for 500 funerals in Jefferson County.

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