JAMES CRABTREE, farmer, section 14, Big Prairie Township, was born July 11, 1813, in Maine, and is a son of Richard A. and Mary (Giggey) Crabtree. The former was born Nov. 30,, 1789, in the State of New York, and was a son of John Crabtree, a native of London, England, who emigrated to America in its earliest days. Himself and brother were residents of the City of New York when it was an insignificant "Dutch seaport town." The mother was born Nov. 2, 1788, in Virginia, and was the daughter of parents who were natives of the Lowlands of Scotland.
Mr. Crabtree remained with his parents in his native State until their removal to New Brunswick in 1818, where he resided during the remainder of the years of his minority. Mr. Crabtree records one memorable day when about 20 years old. A school was started in the vicinity of his home, and he attended its lessons one day, the only experience of the kind in his whole life. He passed all his early life assisting his father, and at the age of 21 found himself for the first time at liberty to operate in his own behalf. He obtained an engagement as foreman of a lumber-camp, in which occupation he had been engaged four years previously. After two years he quit lumbering and became a sailor. He was "before the mast" six years, when he was made Captain of a vessel, and two years later was a ship owner. He was at sea with his vessel, the "Montgomery," four years, and during the time sailed round the world. He was in the Gulf of Mexico when the Mexican war broke out, and he "tied up" to the wharf in the city of New Orleans, went ashore and in 48 hours raised a company of 112 volunteers for the United States service. Feeling incompetent to take command, he went out with the company as Sergeant and remained in the army until the close of the war, serving one year under Gen. Taylor and the remainder of the time attached to the command of Gen. Scott. He was at the head of his company during the last year. He was in the closing fight at the city of Mexico, and brought home the national colors. After the end of the war he spent some time in travel and visited the principal cities of the United States. This accomplished, he felt a desire to visit his friends from whom he had not heard for 13 years. He returned to New Brunswick, and after a year there came to Chicago, Ill., where he resided two years. His next removal was to Amboy, Ill., where he conducted a saw-mill six years. In 1857 he came to Muskegon and resided four years, whence he came to Croton, and six months later to Big Prairie, where he now owns 140 acres of land, with 40 acres cleared, well improved and placed under advance cultivation, with good buildings and other creditable farm fixtures.
Mr. Crabtree was a soldier in the civil war. He enlisted in Co. A, Tenth Mich. Cav., in 1864, and was discharged at the close of the war in Memphis, Tenn. His command was in all the active campaign service of the last year of the war, and amid other active duty, he was in the detail of soldiers sent into North Carolina to cut off the communications of Lee with the railroad. He was in Stoneman's raid, and the last battles in which he participated were those of Salisbury and Lexington, or High Points. He sustained a sun-stroke at Sweet Water, Tenn., from which he has become blind, being able only to distinguish light with one eye.
Mr. Crabtree was married Aug. 9, 1849, in St. John, N.B., to Mry Jane Darragh. She was born March 11, 1829, in County Tyrone, Ireland, and is a daughter of George and Isabella (Hawthorne) Darragh. Her parents were born in Ireland near the city of Dublin. Her father was born in 1799 and is still living. Her mother was born in 1801 adn died in 1873, in New Brunswick. Nine children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Crabtree, seven of whom are living: Their names are, George R., Mary I., Eliza J., James E. (dec), Charles L., Wm. Ellsworth, Abraham F., Joseph F. (dec) and Franklin I.