Blake L. Cromwell Biography

Source: Rowland, Dunbar, ed. Mississippi: Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form. Atlanta: Southern Historical Publishing, 1907. Vol. III, Pages 167-169.

Cromwell, Blake L., one of the well known and distinctively popular citizens of West Point, has long been prominent in political affairs, and was one of the gallant defenders of the Confederate cause in the war between the States, having been made captain of his company and having served during the entire course of the great conflict as a member of Adams' brigade, taking part in the innumerable engagements in which that command was involved. Captain Cromwell was born in Sumpter county, Ala., July 14, 1835, and thus has passed the span of three score years and ten, but his years are not evidenced in his appearance or bearing, for he has been a thorough sportsman, has lived much out of doors and has retained a wonderful vitality and sturdiness of constitution. He is a son of Patrick S. and Penninah (Little) Cromwell, both natives of North Carolina, where the former was born in 1803 and the latter in 1810. Patrick S. Cromwell removed from his native State to Alabama in 1835, there continuing to reside about twenty years, during which period he gave his attention principally to his extensive plantation interests. He then disposed of his property in Alabama and came to Oktibbeha county, Miss., where he became a prosperous agriculturist and the owner of a large number of slaves. He was also a railroad contractor, having constructed seventeen miles of the Mobile & Ohio railroad, in which he was a large stockholder. He continued to reside in Oktibbeha county until his death, which occurred in 1860, his widow surviving until 1870. They became the parents of three sons and two daughters, of whom the subject of this sketch is now the only survivor. After due preliminary training, Capt. Cromwell entered Brownwood Institute, at Lagrange, where he took an academic course and properly fitted himself for the active duties of life. After leaving school he engaged in farming near West Point, Miss., being thus placed and occupied at the time when there came the call to higher duty, at the outbreak of the war between the States. His loyalty to the Confederacy was of no equivocal order, as is evidenced by the fact that, Oct. 1, 1861, he enlisted as a private in Capt. Robt. Muldrow's company E, Adams' regiment and brigade of Mississippi cavalry, which command was continously skirmishing and fighting during the remainder of the war. Among other important engagements in which he took part were the battles of Shiloh and Bowling Green, and his command made a notable record in following Sherman's forces from Vicksburg to Jackson, the history of that famous brigade being the record of the military career of the subject of this sketch. He was elected lieutenant of his company at the time of its formal organization and was later promoted to its captain, in which office he served until the close of the war, having been mustered out at Gainesville, Ala., in May, 1865. After the war Captain Cromwell resumed his association with the agricultural interests of Mississippi, then prostrate and perturbed through the ravages of the great conflict. In 1865 he was elected a member of the legislature, from Oktibbeha county, and served until he was removed from office with the incoming of the notorious "carpet-bag" regime. In 1879 he received through Congressman H. L. Muldrow, an appointment as clerk in the national house of representatives, in which capacity he served three years, at the expiration of which he returned to Mississippi and located in West Point, where he became a member of the mercantile firm of W. H. Robertson & Company, with which he was identified four years. At the time of President Cleveland's first administration, Captain Cromwell was appointed United States revenue agent, being first sent to Chicago and then assigned to duty in New Orleans, where he remained during the residue of Cleveland's administration. Upon the re-election of Cleveland to the presidency, the captain was reappointed a revenue agent, being first stationed in New Orleans, later in St. Louis, and finally in San Francisco, where he remained during the rest of his term of office. He has long been prominent in the political affairs of Mississippi and has rendered effective service in the party cause. He is affiliated with the United Confederate Veterans and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and holds membership in the Baptist church, as did also his first and second wives. In 1857 Captain Cromwell was married to Miss Laura Binion, daughter of Col. Martin Binion, of Alabama, and she died within the progress of the Civil war, as did also their two children. In 1870 was solemnized the marriage of the captain to Miss Sallie Ellis, daughter of Dr. James B. Ellis, a prominent physician of North Mississippi. Mrs. Cromwell was summoned to the life eternal in April, 1902, her death occurring at the family home, in West Point. Of the five children of the second marriage, three are living: Edwin B., who is now in the employ of the American Tobacco Company, having his headquarters in the city of Memphis and having the management of a territory in which seventeen men work under his supervision; William B., who is city marshal of West Point; and Ellis, who is now a revenue collector in the city of Manila, Philippine Islands. At the time of the outbreak of the Spanish-American war, Ellis Cromwell was captain of the military company at West Point, Miss., which office he retained when the command was mustered into the United States service as Company A, Second Mississippi infantry. At the age of twenty-one years he was senior captain in his regiment, which was stationed at Jacksonville, Fla., its services not having been required in Cuba. After the cessation of hostilities the members of the command received their honorable discharge, at Columbia, Tenn. Capt. Ellis Cromwell later went to the Philippine Islands, under appointment as first lieutenant in the Thirty-ninth United States volunteer infantry, having command of his company much of the time while it was in active field service. He was later appointed a tax collector in the city of Manila, where he is now serving as government revenue collector, as already stated.


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