SUBMITTED BY: Judy E. Stainback – Written by Joyce L. Granger
Zerald Crowder was born about 1818 in Petersburg, Virginia but lived in Warren County, North Carolina for the later part of his life. His name was recorded in a variety of different ways: Zerald (the most common), Zearell, Zearel, Zeral, and John. According to the 1850 Census from Petersburg, Virginia, Zerald was a thirty-three-year-old marble cutter who was married to a woman named Elizabeth and was the father of three children: Stephen, James, and Octavia.
On December 31, 1857, Zerald was married to Suphronia Renn (also spelled Surphrone, Suphrona, and Sufronia) by A.L. Steed, Justice of the Peace in Warren County, North Carolina. She was the daughter of Green and Jane Renn of Sandy Creek, Warren County, NC. According to North Carolina 1850 census records, the Renn family included Green Renn, a fifty-year-old farmer, his wife, Jane Renn, who was 49, and their five children: Susan (22 years old), “Surphrona” (20), Mildred (17), Martha (14) and Joseph (11). The Renns were born in North Carolina.
Zerald was a stone cutter by trade. On April 16, 1862, Zerald enlisted in the Confederate Army as a private; he was forty-five years old at that time. He served in Company C of the 46th Infantry (North Carolina). Zerald was injured during the war and returned home disabled.
A group of Warren County residents decided to select a veteran who had worn the Confederate gray to prepare a monument from Warren County granite for Annie Carter Lee, Robert E. Lee’s daughter, who had died on October 20, 1862 while staying at White Sulphur Springs in North Carolina with her mother and sisters. They wrote to her father to ask for his ideas regarding an inscription and asked if he could come to help erect the stone. Lee wrote the inscription but could not come due to his military responsibilities.
Zerald Crowder was chosen to carve the granite monument for Annie C. Lee. Zerald prepared the monument as requested, and the shaft was placed in position by Captain Orren Randolph Smith at the ceremony in 1866. The memorial still stands today at the William D. Jones Family Cemetery in Warren County, North Carolina.
Zerald and Suphronia lived in the Sandy Creek Township of Warren County in 1870 according to the 1870 census. It lists Zerald as “John,” aged 52 and a stone cutter, and “Suphrona” as 39-years-old and a housekeeper.
Sources – Warren County Census Records, North Carolina Troops 1861-65, A Roster, (1993), Warren County Heritage Book – Vol 1 2002, and North Carolina, Index to Marriage Bonds, 1741- 1868