Crabb, Hillary Mercer (1804–1876)

By: James L. Hailey and Laurie E. Jasinski

Type: Biography

Published: September 3, 2014

Hillary Mercer Crabb, judge, state legislator, and sheriff, was born in Columbia County, Georgia, on November 1, 1804, to Enoch and Rebecca (Cook) Crabb. Hillary served as a first lieutenant in the 480th District Company of the Georgia militia in 1822. He married Rosannah Guinn in Upson County, Georgia, on February 19, 1824. The Crabb family moved to the Sabine District of Texas in 1830. On August 2, 1832, Crabb fought in the battle of Nacogdoches. Three years later, on February 10, 1835, Hillary M. Crabb received title to more than 4,000 acres of land near Huntsville in Walker County. A community soon developed adjacent to his home site which became known as Crabb’s Prairie. He served as Walker County’s first probate judge in 1846. Subsequently he was justice of the peace and chief justice (county judge) of the county. In the 1850 Walker County census, Crabb was listed as a probate judge with a total worth of $6,000. Seven children ranging from age four to twenty-four lived in the household.

In the 1850s he was elected state representative from District 31 (Walker County) to the Fourth Texas Legislature. He served from January 10, 1853, to November 7, 1853, and was on the County Boundaries, Penitentiary, and Public Printing committees. Crabb is credited with introducing the bill which created Madison County. He also represented Walker County, this time for District 38, in the House of the Sixth Texas legislature and served from November 5, 1855, to November 2, 1857. Crabb was on the Contingent Expenses, Penitentiary, Private Land Claims No. 2, and Amendments to Constitution committees and was possibly a member of the Know-Nothing Party (see AMERICAN PARTY).

Crabb’s first wife died on September 20, 1856, and he remarried shortly thereafter. His second wife was Mary Proctor Sweeney, widow of Rev. Benton H. Sweeney. They married on December 29, 1858. He was listed in the 1860 census in Madisonville, Madison County, Texas. Crabb, like Sam Houston, opposed secession and with the outbreak of the Civil War moved to Lavaca County. In his later years, Crabb settled in the county he had helped to create, Madison County, where he held the office of sheriff from November 1871 to November 1872. In addition to his civic activities, Crabb was a Mason and church leader. He died on September 8, 1876, and is buried in the Madisonville Cemetery. A Texas Historical Marker honoring Crabb stands in Huntsville.

Historical Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Hillary Crabb (, accessed September 2, 2014. Wanda Crabb Pannell, “Descendants of Asa Crabb: Revolutionary War Soldier and Georgia Pioneer” (, accessed September 2, 2014. Walker County Genealogical Society and Walker County Historical Commission, Walker County, Texas: A History (Dallas: Curtis, 1986).

  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges
  • Sheriffs
  • Fourth Legislature (1851-1853)
  • Sixth Legislature (1855-1856)
  • House

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

James L. Hailey and Laurie E. Jasinski, “Crabb, Hillary Mercer,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 3, 2014