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Biography: General George Whitfield Crabb born February 22, 1804

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Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Gen. George W. Crabb was born to Ralph and Mary (Thomas) Crabb in Botetourt County, Virginia Feb. 22, 1802. He was the brother of Judge Henry Crabb (b. Oct. 1793 VA. died Nov. 28, 1827 Nashville, Davidson Co., Tennessee), who was on the Bench of the Supreme Court of Tennessee. His parents moved to Tennessee when he was very young where his father Col. Ralph Crabb (b. Sep. 28, 1760) died in Winchester, Franklin, Tennessee in Jan. 3, 1836. He served in the Revolutionary War and was a member of the Revolutionary Volunteers of Franklin County, Tennessee. Since the young men of Franklin County had gone to war, this group was formed from men over forty-five, most of who were Revolutionary soldiers to protect the people of Franklin County while the young men wre gone. Ralph Crabb was appointed commissioners for the purpose of regulating the town of Winchester, Tennessee and with the authority to levy and collect taxes and compel the inhabitants to work on the streets and alleys. Col. Ralph Crabb married Miriam Lewis, widow of Joel Lewis around March 1818 and they remained married till his death and she went to live with a Doctor William M. Lea of Lauderdale. i


His mother born 1765 in Frederich, Maryland died 1816 in Franklin, Tennessee. George W. Crabb moved to Alabama by 1820 where he entered the practice of law and started acquiring land in Tuscaloosa, then the Seat of Government. During a public debate at a school in Tuscaloosa, Gen. George Crabb was then a prominent lawyer in Alabama and he was attracted by the unusual intellect and forensic talent of William Russell Smith that he offered to defray his expenses at college and afterwards Smith repaid him by clerical work in Gem. Crabb’S office. ii

Gen. Crabb was first elected Assistant Secretary of the Senate, and afterwards to the office of Comptroller of Public Accounts which he held a few years.

“After this, the Indian war in Florida opened, and he went, in a campaign of twelve months, as Lieutenant-Colonel of a regiment raised in Alabama. In this he established a high character for bravery, and for kindness toward those under his command, and returned home the idol of his men. His future preferment was certain. Immediately elected a Major-General, and to the Senate, he took high rank in that body, not only for his excellent business qualities but for ability in debate.”

Judge Joab Lawler died in 1838 and George Crabb was brought forward by his friends, and the Whig party, to which he belonged, as a candidate for Congress. He opposed Harvey W. Ellis Esq., the Democratic candidate. “The contest was animated, and the District was closely canvassed in debate with an ability seldom before exhibited in the State. The public mind was greatly excited, and everybody took sides.”General Crabb was elected by a small majority.

General Crabb faced Harvey again in 1839 during the regular election and another spirited campaign followed butGeneral Crabb was re-elected. “He took position in Congress, from his high personal worth, that reflected honor upon the State. In 1841, in the election under the general ticket system, he was defeated, and left for private life.”

To the surprise and regret of his Whig friends, he espoused the cause of ” Polk, Dallas and Texas,” in 1844, and at a public barbecue given by the Democrats at Tuscaloosa in June, he made a speech of considerable length and power, in which he reviewed the former relation of Texas to the United States; the circumstances under which it was ceded to Spain in 1819; the opposition of Mr. Clay to that treaty, as shown by his speech in the House of Representatives, April 3, 1820, on the ground that he (Mr. Clay) considered Texas of greater value to us than Florida; and the general opinion entertained by the Whigs of the South that Mr. Cla was in favor of annexation until the Raleigh letter of April, first published in the ” National Intelligencer,” announced his disapproval of that measure, with the reasons assigned, which Gen. Crabb did not consider satisfactory, and at once determined him to cooperate with the party which had made the annexation of Texas an article in its platform. This brought him in unison with the Democrats at least upon that question. The elegant speech of Gen. Crabb, was extensively published in the newspapers, and henceforth he ceased all connection with the Whig party, of which he had been a shining light since its organization under the gallant lead of Mr. Clay.

In February, 1844, I was in Mobile when the Hon. Henry Clay visited that city, on his Southern tour to fulfill an engagement at Raleigh, to be present at the celebration of his sixty- seventh birthday, April 12, 1844. A committee of twenty had been appointed by the Whigs of Tuscaloosa to wait on Mr. Clay in person, and to invite him to the hospitalities of the Seat of Government. Gen. Crabb was then in Mobile, and through his civilities, the intercourse between Mr. Clay and the committee was rendered very pleasant. Though differing politically from all the parties engaged in this mission of respect to their illustrious chief, as the members of the committee were my fellow-townsmen, and some of them my personal friends, I take occasion to introduce their names as a memento of other days. The gentlemen of the committee present in Mobile, were Robert Jemison, Esq., chairman, Marion Banks, Alfred Battle, William Braly, Thomas Carson, J. C. Clements, Gen. Dennis Dent, Dr. John R. Drish, Capt. Otis Dyer, John Fritrh, Dr. Rufus Haywood, Robert Lacy, Stephen F. Miller, Daniel T. Nooe, Major Hardin Perkins, Dr. Nicholas Perkins, A. P. Pfister, and Hon. Benjamin F. Porter.

After this brief digression, I return to Gen. Crabb, who was appointed by Governor Martin, in 1846, Judge of the County Court of Mobile, the duties of which office he faithfully discharged. His declining health induced him to pass the Winter of that year in Havana, Island of Cuba, and the next Summer he visited Philadelphia to consult the best of the medical faculty, where he died Aug. 15, 1846.

As to the personal character of Gen. Crabb, there can be no diversity of opinion among those who knew him. He was the model of a high-minded, chivalrous, upright gentleman in all the relations of life, public and private. His talents were of a high order, and his dignity was never compromised by any departure from the strictest propriety of conduct. He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.”



  • Reminiscences of public men in Alabama By William Garrett 1872
  • # 7366015

Thomas D. Wiggins was the first merchant in Winchester, and sold his goods in a log cabin. The next merchants were Col. Crabb, Hayter, Spyker and Daugherty, and following them were the Decherds, Tom Pryor, Alfred Henderson, Tom Wilson, Joe Klepper, Mark Hutchins and Mr. Blackwood. The first saloon or grocery where liquors were sold was kept by Daniel Eanes & Son, between 1810 and 1820. The town grew rapidly at its commencement, and by an act of the General Assembly of the State, passed October 28, 1813, Ralph Crabb, Jonathan Spyker, James S. M. Wherter, James Estill and James Russell were appointed commissioners for the purpose of regulating the town, with authority to levy and collect taxes and compel the inhabitants to work on the streets and alleys. He built the third hotel and third brick building in the town. (Goodspeed -History of Franklin County, Tennessee).

i Pension Application of Joel Lewis: W780 Transcribed and annotated by C. Leon Harris State of Tennessee}

ii“William Russell Smith” by Anne Easby-Smith, pg 20

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