Private John Crooms
Company C
5th USCC

John Crooms was born into slavery in April 1840 in Bardstown. On Aug. 30, 1864, when Crooms was 24, he left the plantation to fight for his freedom. Crooms escaped slavery to join the 5th U.S. Colored Cavalry, Company C.  His unit was based at Camp Nelson in Kentucky, Crooms was skilled at riding horses and he was a stable hand on the farm, so that is likely why he joined the cavalry.  At least 118 of the 400 men who fought from Croomsís unit were killed, missing or wounded at the first Battle of Saltville - including Crooms - who was shot in the thigh. He remained in service for another 18 months, but didnít fight in any other battles. He, along with the rest of his unit, was discharged in March 1866 in Helena, Ark.

After the war, Crooms returned to Kentucky. He filed a declaration for marriage in February 1868 to Mary Beam. The family stayed in Kentucky until the 1880s, where he was a farmer. In the early 1880s, John and Mary Crooms and Maryís sisterís family moved to Kansas. Crooms probably heard about free land from the Homestead Act of 1862, which offered free land to those who settled in the West.

John Crooms originally settled in Grant County, Kansas before moving to Reno County, Kansas. By 1885. John Crooms was a new member of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), which listed him as a farmer.

Mary Crooms suffered a stroke in 1892 and died in 1907. John Crooms remarried Amanda McDowell in 1912 after spending a year in the National Home of Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Leavenworth. In 1920, John and Amanda moved to the 700 block of W. 17th St in Hutchinson, Kansas. He died on July 3, 1922.

Source:  Kristen Roderick, The Hutchinson News, Sep 26, 2013 - Memorial set for Civil War soldier