Friday, June 30, 2017

Wilcox County pioneer, prominent Freemason was born 249 years ago

June 28, 2017 marked the 249th birthday of Wilcox County pioneer Thomas Bivin Creagh, who was also one of Alabama’s most prominent early Freemasons.

Creagh (pronounced “cree-ah”) was born on June 28, 1768 in Albemarle County, Va., which is also home to Charlottesville, the University of Virginia and Thomas Jefferson’s famous home, Monticello. Creagh and his sizeable family moved around a lot in his early years and lived in Georgia and South Carolina before finally settling near Suggsville in Clarke County. Creagh, who was well on his way to becoming a wealthy planter, eventually moved to Wilcox County after purchasing land there in 1819, the same year that Alabama became a state.

From his earliest days in Alabama, Creagh was heavily involved in Freemasonry. The Alabama Grand Lodge was established at Cahawba in Dallas County in 1821, and two years later, in 1823, Creagh became a member of Suggsville’s now-defunct Marion Masonic Lodge No. 23.

Wilcox County’s Dale Masonic Lodge No. 25, currently located in Camden, was organized in 1827 at what is now Prairie Bluff, and Creagh served as the lodge’s Worshipful Master, that is, its highest office, during the 1827 Masonic year. As many readers know, Dale Masonic Lodge, which is currently one of the oldest lodges in the entire state, moved to Camden the 1840s and has been there ever since.

Creagh gained further notoriety in Masonry in 1828 when he was elected Grand Master of the Alabama Grand Lodge, a position that made him the top Freemason in all of Alabama. Creagh went on to serve in that same position in 1829 and 1830, and it’s said that he is the only Alabama Grand Master to have served in that lofty position for three consecutive years.

On March 29, 1842, Creagh passed away at the ripe old age of 73, and he was buried in the Creagh-Glover Family Cemetery near Catherine. Located on private property off Dove Lane, in the northwest corner of Wilcox County, this old cemetery contains around 25 graves, mostly from between 1826 and 1887 when the property served as a burial ground for the nearby Creagh family plantations. The cemetery, which is also known as the Cooper Cemetery, is located on land that was originally bought by Thomas Bivin Creagh in 1819.

Sources say that Thomas Bivin Creagh established the Creagh-Glover Family Cemetery in 1826 when his son Richard P. Creagh passed away unexpectedly at the age of 30 in Mississippi. Born in Abbeville County, South Carolina in 1796, Richard P. Creagh graduated from South Carolina College (known today at the University of South Carolina) before becoming a lawyer in frontier Mississippi. Some sources even reflect that he served for a time as Mississippi’s attorney general.

In the end, I’d like to hear from anyone in the reading audience with more biographical information about Thomas Bivin (sometimes spelled Bevin) Creagh. My feeling is that there is much more to his story, and if I can get more information about him, I’ll be happy to pass it on to readers of The Progressive Era.

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