Category Archives: Crabtree

Humberson Lyons Everywhere! Who Were They?

When I came across Humberson Lyon and his connection to Abraham Crabtree, I was not expecting to stumble into a giant morass of information.

Will of Humberson Lyon, Proved 1784 in Washington County, VA
Will begins, left, four lines from the bottom of the page
Part of a Chancery Suit, 1809, Augusta County, Virginia
Lyons Heirs v. George Pemberton

Other than naming wife, Mary (MNU), and his five children – William, James, Stephen, and Jacob plus daughter Susannah – there are no other important details in Humberson Lyon’s will. As William is named first and Susannah married in 1801, the children were most likely listed in birth order.

While some online trees state that this man was born in 1732, I do NOT believe that. His will makes no mention of previous children from any other marriage and all five of these children are quite young, based on the dates of their marriages. Also, if Humberson was born that early, it seems much more likely that a man older than Abraham Crabtree (about 34 years old and illiterate) would have been chosen as executor of an estate that would remain open and active for perhaps fifteen years.

I believe that this Humberson Lyon was more likely born in the late 1740s or maybe 1750. If William was born about 1773, his parents probably married around 1772 with Humberson probably 21-25 years old.

Here, then, is the family of Humberson Lyon (born c1750) and wife Mary (MNU):

1. William, born c1773; married (1) Margaret Clark, between 15 October 1794-27 January 1795 (undated marriage return in Washington County, Virginia, but filed between those dates.) He may also be the same William Lyon who married (2) Betsey Clemon, 18 December 1805, also in Washington County.

2. James, born c1775; married Jane Clark, 25 November 1798, Washington County, Virginia

3. Stephen, born c1777; said to have married Margaret Snodgrass, c1802. There are DAR members who joined through descent from this couple.

4. Jacob, born c1779; living in Sullivan County, Tennessee in 1850 and Washington County, Virginia in 1860; married Polly Snodgrass, 10 December 1818, Washington County, Virginia. He may have an earlier unrecorded marriage, given that he was 39 when he married Polly.

5. Susannah, born c1781; married Joseph Miller, 20 May 1801, Washington County, Virginia

Let’s move on to Humberson Lyon #2 (born c1760-1780 at Battle of Kings Mountain). By all accounts, there were militiamen from Washington County, Virginia who fought and died at the Battle of Kings Mountain, South Carolina in 1780. One of the men honored with a plaque is Humberson Lyon, but this man is a bit of a conundrum. It is thought that he was a young, unmarried man because there was no estate entered for him on 24 November 1780 in Washington County, Virginia. There were estates entered for other Washington County men killed in that battle.

Many have conflated Humberson who married Mary and left the 1784 estate with Humberson who died at Kings Mountain in 1780. Others have made the two men father and son, which would push the estimated birth year for Humberson Sr. way earlier than 1750. It is thought that the Kings Mountain Humberson was around 20 or 21 when he died, putting his birth year around 1760.

There isn’t much else to add about this man.

Next, we have Humberson Lyon #3. This man is attributed as the father of Humberson who died early in 1784. Humberson Lyon #3 was in Monocacy, Maryland by 1732 and living in Prince George’s County, Maryland by 1739. On 16 October 1742, he signed a petition requesting the formation of Frederick County, Maryland, which happened in 1748.

Clearly, this “Humberston” Lyon was born no later than 1711 to be of legal age in 1732 records. However, it is very possible that he was much older than 21. How much? There isn’t really an answer to that question because I can’t find him anywhere before the mention in 1732.

This man is more of a mess than the questions surrounding Humberson #2 because #3 supposedly died in Augusta County, Virginia in 1743. However, I can find no mention of and estate administration or will for any Lyon in the 1740s in Augusta County and I have no idea where someone got that date.

Here are more Lyon family clues – factual clues – found in county documents, abstracted by Lyman Chalkley:

In Maryland

24 June 1741 – Richard Ratcliffe by deed of renunciation signed over his administrative rights to his uncle, Richard Touchstone of Monocacy Hundred, Maryland. Then on 25 June 1741, Richard Touchstone gave bond as the administrator of the estate of brother-in-law Robert Ratcliffe. “Humbertston” Lyon witnessed the deed and then was one of the securities for Richard Touchstone. Could Humberson Lyon’s wife been a Ratcliffe or Touchstone???
16 October 1742Humberstone Lyon signed a petition to form Frederick County, Maryland

In Augusta County, Virginia

1 April 1743 – Capt. Thomas Cresap vs. Humberstone Lyon. Defendant from Prince George’s County, Maryland
19 March 1746Humberstone Lyon witnessed a deed transaction
19 November 1746Humberson Lyon on road work
20 November 1746Humberson Lyon and Susan, wife of William Miles, charged with adultery
12 February 1746/47Humberstone Lyon deposes that James Conoly accused Humberstone of stealing 15 red deer skins and 28 red deer skins from the house of James Skaggs.
21 May 1747Humberson Lyon, vice constable
11 May 1749Humberson Lyon signed a petition for a road for “frontier inhabitants”
23 May 1750Humberson Lyon, road work
August 1753 – Stuart assignee vs. Humblestone Lyon

1754Stephen Lyon killed on the Holston River

1760Nathaniel Lyon married Margaret Armstrong
25 August 1764, Nathaniel Lyon, (summons?) returned, not in bailiwick
19 November 1764Nathaniel and Margaret (Armstrong) Lyon sold 220 acres to John Cotton
October 1765 Devit vs. Francisco – Nathaniel Lyon called brother-in-law of Robert Armstrong
22 November 1768, Lydda Lyon, orphan, bound to Francis Smith
1769 – Nathaniel Lyon, jailed for debt, 20 days

Now, why do I think there perhaps is Humberson Lyon #4? Because of this entry in Chalkley:

On 29 January 1767,  Humbertson Lyon appraised the estate of Robert Andrews. In 1766 there is some kind of note about a commission involving Humbertson Lyon JUNIOR. That implies that there is a Humberson Sr. wandering around and both Humbersons would have been 21 years old or older so born no later than 1745.

If a Humberson died in 1743, then who is the second Humberson mentioned in the 1760s? If no Humberson died in 1743, do we have the man who came from Prince George’s County plus a second man, maybe his son? Remember, too, we have Humberson #2 who died at Kings Mountain. If born in 1760, he certainly wouldn’t be mentioned in a court record, but it would mean that at least 3 Humbersons were alive in the 1760s.

I would dearly love to know if there really was a Humberson Lyon who died in 1743!!!

Back to my research question – Was Abraham Crabtree’s wife Mary LYON? Given the lack of vital records so far found, there is no evidence to dissuade me from the idea and the fact that Abraham Crabtree took on the executor role for Humberson Lyon’s estate, I still think this is a distinct possibility.

Next, I need to search land records and probates for myself.

The Mystery of Abraham Crabtree & Humberson Lyon, 1784

As far as I can determine, no one has ever suggested a possible maiden name for Mary, wife of Abraham Crabtree. Quite a bit is known about Abraham’s life, but to try to sort out why Abraham Crabtree was named as the executor of the will of Humberson Lyon in 1784, readers need to know just a bit about Abraham’s parents and siblings.

First, Abraham was the son of William Crabtree, who died in 1777 in Washington County, Virginia. His mother was Hannah Whitaker and the family settled on the Virginia frontier before the American Revolution from Maryland.

Abraham, the second born child,  had the following siblings. The marriages took place in Washington County, Virginia:

William, born c1748, who married Catherine (MNU)
Isaac, born c1757, who married maybe Miss (Mary?) Pike
Jacob, born c1760, married Mary Price, 4 August 1786
James, born 20 February 1762; no evidence that he ever married
Job, born 29 April 1765; married Rebecca Smith, between 7 December 1790-18 May 1791 by Rev. Nicholas Reagan, who often turned in marriage records with not dates.
Hannah, born c1766; married Edward Smith, 7 September 1787
Priscilla, born c1768; married Richard Price, 7 December 1790
Margaret, born c1770; married John Simmons
born 25 August 1774; married Alice Friend, 29 July 1800

It is important to note here that there are statements – undocumented – that William Crabtree (born 1748) married Hannah Lyon as his first wife and that his second wife was Catherine Starnes, who he reportedly married c1777. I haven’t found any proof of these statements, but I haven’t found any evidence to shed doubt on them either.

By 1758, the young Crabtree family was living in Bedford County, Virginia, but removed to what was then Fincastle County, Virginia no later than the spring of 1774, when land was surveyed for William Crabtree, in addition to Isaac, William, James, John (probably uncle of Abraham) and  Abraham himself. Fincastle County later became Washington County.

Now for the mysterious Humberson Lyon connection. How difficult do you think it could be to find someone named Humberson Lyon? Not exactly like looking for John Smith, is it?

Well, it turns out that I found Humberson #1, Humberson #2, probably Humberson #3 and maybe even Humberson #4. As you might imagine, given this many Humberson Lyons, online family trees are a total mess. Although one of these men left a will proved in 1784, which named his wife and five children – fours sons and one daughter, all minors – trees have his eldest child born years before him, his last child born years after he died and way more children than those named in his will.

At the start of the 19th century, a lawsuit was filed in the Chancery Court of Augusta County, Virginia by the heirs of Humberson Lyon. By 1804, all five Lyon children – James, William, Stephen, Jacob and Susannnah (Lyon) Miller, wife of Joseph Miller (married 1801), were of legal age and they sued their stepfather, George Pemberton, for keeping part of the estate that was willed to them by their father. George Pemberton had married widow Mary Lyon on 5 November 1785 and had been given custody of her children.

To estimate the birth years of the children, Susannah, who married in 1801, appears to have been the youngest child and probably born between 1780-1783, assuming she was between 18-21 years old when she married. A starting point, then, for possible birth years of her brothers would be to count back by two years each. Another assumption, that they were named in birth order in their father’s will, would mean James was born c1773, William c1775, Stephen c1777 and Jacob c1779.

What does all this Humberson Lyon information have to do with Abraham Crabtree? Abraham was named as the executor of the will of Humberson Lyon. I want to know why and I wonder if Abraham’s wife, Mary, was a sister of Humberson Lyon? Otherwise, why would someone agree to take on managing an estate for years? Not only was Abraham not a lawyer, he wasn’t even able to read and write. There must have been some other close connection to get him to agree to that job.

Not only was Abraham the executor, but EVERY – all four witnesses to the will were Crabtrees – Abraham, Isaac, Job and their mother, Hannah.

1782 Tithables, Washington County, Virginia

Note that in Colonel Aaron Lewis’s precinct, several Crabtrees are listed, but particularly, William Crabtree is followed by Humberson Lyon who is followed by Abraham Crabtree. It appears these men were close, if not next-door, neighbors.

Next, we will take a much closer look at all these Humberson Lyons to see what can be proven as fact.

William Crabtree & Jane (MNU), Immigrant Ancestors of MD Crabtrees

William Crabtree was the immigrant ancestor of the Crabtrees who settled in Baltimore County, Maryland in the early 1700s.

He was likely born in England, c1680 or possibly a bit earlier if he was transported as an indentured servant. It is said that he sent for Jane (MNU) after he settled in Maryland. However, records are silent as to whether he came to Maryland as a young married man or if he married Jane after she arrived in the colonies.

Charlotte Crabtree Fisher was a 20th century researcher of this Crabtree family. Her Crabtree Family Papers are housed at the Utah State University Library. I have not seen this collection, which is quite extensive based on the library finding aid.

However, I am a suspicious type when it comes to genealogical information and my hair immediately stood up on end when the collection description begins:

I have found no documented evidence that William Crabtree hailed form Yorkshire, England. It’s certainly possible, but there is no record out there that I’ve come across supporting that statement.

I’ve also seen information online stating that Jane’s maiden name was Halstead, but again, I’ve seen no proof.

What is a fact is that Thomas Crabtree, son of William, was born in Baltimore County, Maryland on 12 October 1707, so William and Jane were settled in their new home by that date.

William Crabtree died on or before 9 October 1756 in Baltimore County, Maryland, as his will was proved that day in court.

I don’t have the actual images of his will, but here is a transcription:

I, William Crabtree of Baltimore County in the Providence of Maryland, being weak and sick in body, but in perfect sound mind and memory thanks be give to Almighty God, therefore but calling to mind the uncertain state of this transitory life do for the better settlement of my temporal affairs and disposal of such Estate as God has blessed me withal, make and ordain this may last will and testament revoking and therby disannulling all former will or wills, testament or testaments by me heretofore made and herby constituting and appointing this present writing to contain my last Will and Testament, which I make as follows,

Viz: I give and bequeath to my loving wife Jane Crabtree my dwelling plantation with one hundred and fifty acres of land of the Southern most and during her natural life or widowhood that shall first happen then to go to my son, William Crabtree, his heirs and assigns forever.

I likewise give and bequeath unto my loving wife Jane Crabtree one Irish serving lad called Alexander Anderson, during her widowhood then to go to my son William Crabtree,

2nd, I give and bequeath to my son, Thomas Crabtree, one servant man that Samuel Webb owes me, to him and his heirs and assigns.

3rd. I give and bequeath to my son John Crabtree one hundred and fifty acres of land adjoining to where he now lives, being the northeast part to him, his heirs and assigns forever. I also give and bequeath to my son, John Crabtree, one Negro boy called Duke to him, his heirs and assigns forever, but my will is that my son John Crabtree shall pay unto his brother, James Crabtree, Five Pounds current money in goods and chattels. And also unto his brother Samuel Crabtree Five pounds current money in goods and Chattels.

And as for the remaining part of my Estate, personable Estate, my will and mind is that my wife, Jane Crabtree, shall have her equal thirds out of it and the remainder to be equally shared betwixt my five sons, and three daughters, share and share alike without any administration.

I further appoint that my wife, Jane Crabtree, and 5 sons and 3 daughters shall have an equal share in paying all my just debts and burying in a decent manner.

In witness whereof I shall to this present writing containing one side and piece of paper, set my hand and affix my seal the day and year above written.

William (his X mark)  Crabtree
Signed, Sealed and Delivered in the Presence of Thomas Bond, Jacob Bond and Rebecca Pattee

Jane Crabtree reportedly died before 14 Jul 1759, Baltimore County, Maryland.


  1. William, born c1705; died c1767, Orange County, North Carolina; married Mary Pike, 17 February 1724/25, Baltimore County, Maryland.
  2. Thomas, born 12 October 1707, Baltimore County, Maryland; died c1774, Orange County, North Carolina; married Mary Poteet.
  3. Mary, born 29 May 1711, Baltimore County, Maryland; died after her father’s will was written, as he mentions his five sons and three daughters; married John Hayes, 31 October 1727, Baltimore County, Maryland.
  4. Ann, born 15 January 1713/14, Baltimore County, Maryland; married William Wilborn, 21 January 1730/31, Baltimore County, Maryland. The Wilborns settled in Rowan County, North Carolina.
  5. James, born 20 February 1715/16, Baltimore County, Maryland; d. c1784, Washington County, Maryland; married Catherine Dumas.
  6. John, born 5 September 1718, Baltimore County, Maryland; d. 1799; married Margaret (MNU). This family settled in Randolph County, North Carolina.
  7. Elizabeth, born 13 December 1720, Baltimore County, Maryland; married James Billingsley, c1744.
  8. Samuel, born 25 July 1725, Baltimore County, Maryland; died c1776; married Esther (MNU); settled in Talbot County, Maryland.

If you are able to add any documented information to this early Crabtree family, please contact me.