Biography of Isaac Crabtree
Contributed by LaVelda Faull, Jan 2000

My "infamous" ancestor, Isaac Crabtree, once lived in Pulaski County in the early days (1799-1800). While still a teenager, Isaac, almost caused an Indian war on the Virginia frontier. The Governor of Virginia offered a reward of $50 for Isaac's arrest.

Isaac was born in 1757 on the banks of Deer Creek in Baltimore County, Maryland to William and Hannah (Whitaker) Crabtree III. In approximately 1758, William Crabtree III moved his large family down the Valley of Virginia into Bedford County where they lived on Cub Run and Maggotty Creek. By 1772, they had moved to the vicinity of what was known as Wolf Hills (now Abingdon). The family lived on the "Big Salt Lick" or "Big Lick" which was later to become Saltville and presently lies in the County of Smythe. In those days, it was in Washington County. Isaac became a Longhunter and was seen in the company of the famous pioneer Daniel Boone on hunting expeditions. In September of 1773, Daniel Boone, with his family, his brother Squire Boone, and a number of other families and hunting companions, set out for Kentucky from Castle's Woods in Washington Co., Virginia. Running low on supplies, Daniel sent his son, James Boone, and two other young men back to Castle's Woods to obtain more supplies. There, they obtained the supplies and picked up several more traveling companions, two of whom were Isaac Crabtree and his brother John Crabtree. They camped for the night on the banks of Wallen Creek, only about two miles, from Boone's main encampment, not realizing that they were so close to the others. As dawn came on October 10, 1773, a party of Indians swooped down upon the unsuspecting young men. They tortured and killed all but one slave who hid in a wood pile, and Isaac who managed to escape. Isaac was hit in the back with an arrow as he awoke and fled into the woods. His brother also was wounded as he fled. John Crabtree was never seen again. Isaac wandered for three days until he finally made his way back to Castle's Woods. This incident haunted Isaac for months and his grief and hatred for the Indians increased. The next spring, during a festival held at Sycamore Shoals in what is now Jonesboro, Tennessee in which the whites intended to sign a treaty with the Cherokee, Isaac shot and killed Cherokee Billy, the nephew of one of the Chiefs. Isaac later stated that he recognized Cherokee Billy as one of his assailants at the massacre. This "infamous" act almost caused a war on the Virginia frontier with the Indians. In the Draper Manuscripts, there are quite a few references to this shooting, although in most instances, Isaac is shown in a bad light. Isaac continued solitary hunting expeditions against the Indians. In July of 1774 he stood trial for this killing, but was never convicted. During Dunmore's War, he served under Capt. James Thompson against the Indians.

In 1775, he scouted in Kentucky and was at Boonesborough for a time. He returned to Virginia, where he enlisted in the army during the Revolutionary War. He served under Captain Aaron Lewis and Capt. James Thompson. Isaac "guarded the frontiers against the Indians" who were allied with the British. He and several of his brothers were in the Cherokee Expedition in September of 1776, known as Christian's Campaign. The miltia marched to the Cherokee towns in Tennessee, destroyed them and burned crops, and scattered the Cherokee warriors. He and his company of militia under Colonel Daniel Smith were attacked at Glade Hollow Fort in 1778. Isaac gives an account of this attack in his Revolutionary War Pension application. It is also believed that Isaac may have been at the Siege of Boonesborough after he was discharged from the army. There are evidences that he was there, although some believe that the Crabtree who was there may have been Isaac's brother, William. "Crabtree" is said to have been one of the men who met with the Indians outside of the fort and who "shook them off like little children" when they were betrayed and attacked.

In the 1780's, Isaac moved to western Tennessee, exact location presently unknown, although I believe he may have gone with his brother James Crabtree (there is controversy over whether the James in Davidson/Robertson Co., TN was his brother or whether it was the James Crabtree in Jackson County, TN).

From there, Isaac moved to the "old settlement of Kentucky" where he lived on Upper Howards Creek in Clark County and served as Captain of the 17th Regiment of Militia. Isaac was there from 1794 through 1799 according to Clark County, Kentucky tax lists. In 1799, he moved to the area now part of Wayne County, Kentucky. He owned land in what was then Cumberland County, Kentucky and PULASKI County, Kentucky. Isaac is found on the 1799 Cumberland County tax lists with his brother Abraham Crabtree who owned land on Bear Creek and Sulphur Creek (Abraham moved back to Virginia where he died in 1838). Isaac owned land adjoining Joshua Jones in Elk Spring Valley (now Wayne County, then Pulaski County). Pulaski County Court Orders dated 24 Sept 1799 state:

"On motion of Joshua Jones for leave to erect a dam in the Elk Spring Valley, he owning the land on one side there of the stream and Isaac Crabtree and Robert Beaty the proprietors of the land on the opposite side against which the said Joshua Jones wishes to abut his dam..."

Joshua Jones built a mill there. He also built an iron furnace or "bloomery" at a site called "Furnace Mountain". Isaac Crabtrees owned land adjoining Joshua Jones Furnace. A number of references are found in Wayne County records which mention the "furnace by Isaac Crabtree". Furnace Mountain still bears that name. It is only about a mile from Monticello, Kentucky to the west.

Early land surveys in Pulaski County for Isaac Crabtree were taken from an old book in the Somerset, Kentucky Court House entitled "Pulaski County Land Surveyors Book 1"

p. 40 NO. 153, dated 2 Aug 1800.
Surveyed for Isaac Crabtree assignee of Aron Lawson who was assignee of David McKelson? McKilwin? two hundred acres of second rate land by virtue of an entry made August the 2nd 1800 on a certificate No. 277 removed from a prior claim according to law the land lying and being in the County of Pulaski on the waters of Beaver Creek and bounded as follows: Beginning on a two post oaks Rodgers corner thence with the foot of the mountain south.....passing Dulands corner and with his line 140 poles to his corner....with said Doolins line west 60 a sweet gum in William Adams line thence with his said Adams two sugartrees Rodgers said Rodgers southwest corner thence with his line N 25 E 179 poles to beginning.
Saml McKee, S. P.C.
Squire Crabtree, C.C.
Rhees Crabtree, C.C.

Pulaski Co. Surveyors Book 1, pgs 39-40, No. 152, dated 4 Aug 1800.
Surveyed for Isaac Crabtree, assignee of Henry Woddle, 150 acres, County of Pulaski, south side of the Cumberland River, adjoining Gabril Lacy's corner, James Moors line, Robert Williams' corner... Saml McKee, S.P.C.
Squire Crabtree, C.C.
Rees Crabtree, C.C.
(Note: the Index to the Green County Land Entries South of the Green River, Grant Book 3 p 474-6, indicates that Isaac Crabtree sold this land to John Huffaker).

Pulaski County, Kentucky Land Surveyor's Book 1 p 39 No. 151, 4 Aug 1800
Surveyed for Isaac Crabtree, assignee of Aron Lawson, land in Pulaski County, south side of the Cumberland River, bounded by Robert Williams' line, corner to the survey on which Isaac Crabtree now lives, Samuel Forbises line, Forbises corner, Gabril Lacy's line, Lacy's corner, line of said Crabtree's survey of 150 acres, Robert Williams' line....
Samuel McKee, S.P.C.
Squire Crabtree, C.C.
Rhees Crabtree, C.C.

Isaac became one of the first Trustees of Monticello and helped in laying out the town. In 1806, he was elected to the Kentucky State Legislature as a Representative from Wayne County. In approximately 1816, Isaac moved south to Tennessee where he owned land in Roane County (now Morgan County) on Clear Fork of the Emery River (1817 survey). From there he moved to Overton County, Tennessee where he lived until about 1839. In Overton County, he received a number of Tennessee land grants. In 1839, Isaac, having become "old and feeble" returned to Wayne County, Kentucky where he lived with his son, John Crabtree, on Hancock's Fork of the Cumberland River. They were actually living in Clinton County, Kentucky on the Wayne County line near Poplar Mountain.

Isaac died in 1849 in Clinton County, Kentucky. His wife's name is believed to have been "Sally Pike", although I have never seen any evidence of this. Isaac was the father of: Squire Crabtree, Humberston Crabtree (possibly William Humberston Crabtree whose name was mistranscribed as "Wheelon"), Reece Crabtree, Mark Crabtree, John Crabtree, Job Crabtree and Elizabeth (who married W.D. Hurt).

If anyone wants more information, I have a lot more on Isaac. This is only a brief synopsis of his life.
LaVelda Faull, 1 Jan 2000 -

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