Bruce I'm sorry that info came from Missouri Caves in History and Legend, Dwight Weaver, pg 50, 2008 University of Missouri Press. He places the death of Crabtree in '64. I quote from middle of the page "Secessionist Crabtree came north at the beginning of the war reportedly to recruit Cole and Miller County men to fight for the southern cause. To the displeasure of Miller County residents he stayed to raid, making his headquarters in caves, moving frequently cave to cave to avoid Federal patrols."
Peggy Hake on the Miller Co Historical Society web site also writes about the story.
Here is a link to more info she developed. She places the death in Aug 64 after the Curtman Island massacre with the men involved being in the PEMM. Yet still no distinct references. If you follow the rule that the closer to the event a report is made the more likely the accuracy of time frame, (e.g. a birth certificate is more accurate to DOB than a death certificate.) then the Brunswick Newspaper article though removed by a county or two is the closest in time and should hold sway for timing. I think, though note Jenkins puts it down as after Prices's raid in 64.
Here is the complete cut from Judge Jenkins book that places the death in '64 not '62.
>From Judge Jenkins History of Miller County, Vol. 2 Page 251.
"The Confederate guerrilla, General Crabtree, commanding the most
active group of bushwhackers in Miller County, continued stealing and
plundering for some time after Price's raid. However, his fate was
sealed when he entered the home of Herman Scheuler, and stole, among
other items, Herman's wedding suit.
This made Herman Schueler very, very angry, so with his half
brother, Adolph Loethen, Ben Bax, and others, they followed Crabtree for
several days. Eventually, late at night, a favorable opportunity
presenting itself, they surrounded Crabtree and his men in a barn,
situated in the midst of a large field of corn.
With a full moon brilliantly illuminating the countryside,
Herman and Adolph eased themselves down the rows of corn. Near the
doorway to the barn, they paused long enough to carefully observe the
place. They noticed men and horses in the hallway, then recognized
Crabtree, standing in the hallway, in full view, against the light of
the moon, about midway in the building.
Arising from crouched positions, to fire, they were jumped by
two huge sentry dogs. The sudden attack knocked the caps in the firing
tubes from Scheuler's gun and he yelled "Shoot, Adolph, Shoot!" The
blast from Adolph's gun shattered the night's still air; Herman and
Adolph immediately leaving the place, making the longest strides ever in
The next day, with reinforcements, they returned to the place,
finding the barn abandoned, except for a lame horse. In the horse's
right eye was the leaden ball from Adolph's gun, first having passed
through Crabtree's body, then a heavy barn timber before striking the
Even though seriously wounded, the old guerilla got to his cave
home in the north bluff of the river opposite the site of the later day
Hoecker; Crabtree having lived in this cave for some time with his
Loethen, Scheuler, and Bax, tracking Crabtree to his cave home,
were informed by the old Confederate's woman, "You have killed my
Crabtree, immediately after his death, was secretly buried by
his men, and by some means unknown to this day, Herman and Adolph
located his burial place. With the help of friends they exhumed the
body. They wanted to know if Crabtree was there. The old General was
there alright, wearing Herman Schueler's wedding suit.
Crabtree was buried some distance south of the residence of the
late Arthur Smith, in Cole County.
Crabtree killed more people, burned more buildings, stole and
destroyed more property, than any man in Miller County before or since
the Civil War.
Other members of his gang were wiped out. A few years after
Crabree's death, a man shot and killed near the present day Bagnell was
the last member of his band involved in the shooting of militiamen on
Curtman Island, August 30, 1864. "
Conrad's "Encyclopedia of History of Missouri:..." (1904) Vol 4 pg 387 has this to say about Crabtree Cave with nothing more added. Note I think he refers to a different cave than described above...
"On Big Tavern Creek in Miller County there is a cave very rich in stalactites of fanciful and grotesque formations The cave is in the on the creek near its confluence with Osage River the entrance being thirty feet above the water. Some of the stalactites resemble enormous marble statues. During the Civil War it was a hiding place for bandit Crabtree. A little distance further up the creek are two other caves one of is used by a brewery."
I found your discussion in 2002 (almost a lifetime ago :>) about this issue here:
Mr Blackburn seems to indicate that Crabtree was a fictional name. I still think that JW Crabtree is a pretty good fit but I don't have a smoking gun other than his CSR and Muster records indicate he was clearly in Missouri recruiting in '62 and part of '63 as well as his unit histories fit with him being in cahoots with Coleman for much of the war. Guess I'll put this on the list of questions to ask when I get to heaven...:>)