The Beginning Crabtree Family History Page Three
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Son of WILLIAM CRABTREE and HANNAH WHITAKER

ISAAC CRABTREE, b. 1757, Baltimore Co, Maryland; d. Bet. 1844 - 1847, Wayne County, Kentucky3; m. SALLY PIKE, 1780, Baltimore Co, Maryland; d. Unknown. Isaac served in the Virginia Militia as did his brothers.

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Isaac Crabtree Was One Of Two Survivors
Of The James Boone Massacre

In the year 1773, Daniel Boone and Benjamin Cutbirth went to Kentucky on a hunting trip. As they returned, they met Captain William Russell in Clinch Valley. Russell lived at Castlewood. They told him of the rich lands in the Cumberland and Ohio Valley. Russell joined heartily into a plan with them to make a settlement in Kentucky. They determined to arrange at once for a trip. Boone could get flour, seed corn and farming tools from Russell for the proposed settlement. Boone went on home to make immediate preparations to return for the undertaking.

He was enthusiastic about the plan. He sold his home on the Yadkin River in North Carolina, and organized a party to go from the Yadkin, from Castlewood and from the Valley of Virginia. There would be quite a company coming from different points to join in the undertaking. Arrangements were made for the different groups to meet in Powells Valley the last of September, 1773.

When Boone and his family and party reached Abingdon, then called Wolf Hills, he sent his son James, 16 years of age, and John and Richard Mendenhall of Guilford, North Carolina, to Captain Russell’s place to inform him the party had started. They were to obtain the flour, seed corn and farming tools, and join the party at the appointed place in Powells Valley, apparently near the head of Station Creek about the foot of Wallens Ridge, where the whole force would assemble for the trip.

This prearranged meeting place was accessible from all points, as some were coming from Powells Valley, some by the Lovelady Road, and some by Kanes Gap and Stickleyville. Most of the travel at that time was by Kanes Gap on Powells Mountain above Duffield. The Pattonsville route across to Stickleyville did not come into general use until about 1804. The Kanes Gap route was evidently the one taken by Boone and his party.

Colonel Robert Spear was a very intelligent man who lived to be more than a hundred years of age. He was a native of Lee County, and removed with his father to Speers Ferry, then a part of Lee County, in his boyhood days, in the year 1800, he made the trip several times over the Boone Path, and knew the route well. Colonel A. L. Pridemore talked with Spear in his old days. He was a man of good memory, and served in the Virginia Legislature after he was ninety. In talking with Pridemore, he definitely placed the route across Kanes Gap, down by Stickleyville, and across Wallens Ridge to Station Creek. The road passed a large spring just north of Stickleyville, on the south side of Wallens Ridge. From this spring it is about three miles to the foot of the Ridge on the north side.

It was a good day’s journey from Holston settlement to Powells Valley by Kanes Gap. James Boone and companions were expected to join his father at the appointed camping place by nightfall. From Captain Russell’s place James and his party were joined by Henry Russell, 17 year old son of Captain Russell. Two of Russell’s slaves, Charles and Adam, were along. Besides John and Richard Mendenhall there was Isaac Crabtree. The party was heavily loaded. They came through Rye Cove, and across Powells Mountain at Kanes Gap. They lost their way and were delayed on the way. Night came on, and they were three miles short of the goal, and had to go into camp at the Fannon Spring. J. H. Duff’s map (Draper Mss 6 C 89) locates this point on the south side of Wallens Ridge near Stickleyville. But they had gotten in sight of Cumberland Mountain from Powells Mountain at Kanes Gap.

That night, when wolves howled dismally around their camp, the Mendenhalls became afraid. Isaac Crabtree joked them and said that in Kentucky they would hear “buffaloes and wolves howling in the tree tops.”

At daybreak the next morning the party was attacked by Shawnee Indians. They were taken by surprise. There were no indications of a struggle or battle. In fact there is no evidence that they were even armed. They were heavily loaded with supplies, and as they were preceded by Daniel Boone’s party, and followed by William Russell and David Gass, and as they expected to reach Daniel Boone’s camp that night, it was perhaps thought that rifles would not be needed. At any rate they were powerless before the enemy.

Only two of the party escaped, Isaac Crabtree and Adam the slave. The two young men, James Boone and Henry Russell, were killed, also John and Richard Mendenhall. Among the attackers was “Big Jim,” a Shawnee who had once visited the Boones at their cabin. He was recognized by James. Young Boone pleaded for his life and that of his companions, but the Indians cruelly tortured them with knives. When they would strike young Russell with a knife, he would seize the knife with his hand. This caused his terrible bloody mutilation. When the torture continued, James begged the Shawnee to end his work quickly and not torture them any longer.

Charles the Negro was taken captive. It was learned later from the Indians that two of the warriors quarreled on their way over which would own the slave. To settle the quarrel, the chief killed the Negro with his tomahawk. The other Negro Adam, wandered several days and made his way back home to the settlement. He was set free several years later by the will of Mrs. Russell.

Soon after the tragedy, Captain William Russell and Captain David Gass came along and found the mutilated bodies of the victims. Daniel Boone was reached at his waiting place and apprised of the tragedy. Some of the party rushed back to Holston settlement for aid, and made the trip and back the same day. This was good time over a trail like they had to travel at that time.

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Isaac Crabtree witnessed the killing of James Boone and his companions. He was so enraged that ever after he tried to kill any Indian that he might reach, friend or enemy. He would not tolerate the presence of an Indian. Once while attending a horse race on the Watauga, he spied there Indians watching the race, two men and a squaw. One of the men was “Cherokee Billy,” a relative of Chief Connastota. Crabtree shot Cherokee Billy and tried to get the other two, but was prevented by the crowd with much difficulty. It was greatly feared that this might bring trouble from the Indians. There was a local reward of fifty pounds sterling, and one hundred pounds more by the governor, offered for Crabtree, but he was never apprehended. Still he did not desist in his efforts to contact the Indians. The only way those in authority could prevent him from doing some overt act to cause grave danger to the pioneers along the sparcely settled frontier was to keep him busy with necessary military duties.

On the day of the tragic death of James Boone and his party, Boone’s expected reinforcements arrived from different routes. There were forty new comers, quite a good crowd on their way to Kentucky to make the new settlement. But finding the grave situation, they were all for immediate return to their home settlements. Only Daniel Boone was for pressing on to their goal. He had sold his home on the Yadkin and had nothing to go back to. His one big purpose was to make a settlement in Kentucky, and he could hardly give up under my circumstances. But the large company prevailed, and insisted on going back to await a more favorable time.

James Boone and his companions were buried there at their camping place. Their lonely graves remain unmarked and undiscovered. Daniel Boone was known to have made a hasty visit to the place in 1775, but it seems that no effort was ever made to permanently mark the graves.

The grief stricken father and mother of James Boone sadly returned to Captain Russell’s place at Castlewood, and there lived in a deserted cabin belonging to Captain David Gass. It was two years before the trip could be undertaken again because of Indian troubles.

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Son of WILLIAM CRABTREE and HANNAH WHITAKER
JACOB CRABTREE, b. Bet. 1759 - 1760, Bedford Co, VA; d. March 19, 1846, Lee Co, VA.

Notes for JACOB CRABTREE:

JACOB CRABTREE, in March of 1775, went with a company of thirty men, led by Daniel Boone, and marked a path through the forest to the Kentucky River. They arrived on April 6, 1775 at Big Lick on the Kentucky River just below the mouth of Otter Creek. Here it was decided to build a town called Boonesborough. The men in the expedition were:

Daniel Boone John KennedySquire Boone
John KingEdward Bradley William Miller
James Bridges William Moore William Bush
James Nall Samual Coburn James Peeke
Coln. Richard CollowayBartlet Seary Capt. Jacob Crabtree
Rouben Seary Benjamin Cutbuth Michael Stoner
David GassSamuel TateJohn Hart
Oswell Townes William Hays Capt. William Twitty
William Hicks John Vandeman Edmund Jennings
Felix WalkerThomas Johnson

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source: FTM Genealogy Rpt: T.E. Crabtree