The Robertson Genealogy Exchange

Colonel Harlee's Notes on 1224 Elijah Robertson

[1224] Elijah Robertson was [a] son of [122] John and Mary (Gower) Robertson. Ample evidence that [1221] James Robertson was their son has been herein presented..., [and] there is ample evidence to support the well-known family information that [1221] James and [1224] Elijah [Robertson] were brothers.

In a letter dated Nashville, April 15th 1797, to Governor John Sevier signed "Jas. Robertson," published in The Quarterly Publication of the Historical and Philosophical Society of Ohio, Vol. 8 (1913), pp. 95-96, [1221] Gen. James Robertson stated: "My Brother [1224] Elijah Robertson departed this life yesterday, he had a sever attack of the Jandies."

The following sketch by [1224] Elijah and Sarah (Maclin) Robertson's grandson, [122431] Gen. Elijah Sterling Clack Robertson, is from [a] manuscript in his handwriting, dated "Jan 16, 1875" and signed "E. Sterling C. Robertson," preserved among the papers collected by his daughter, [122431C] Eliza Sophia ("Birdie") Robertson (Mrs. Cone Johnson). From it we learn that [1224] Elijah Robertson was born about 1744 in Brunswick Co., Va., and an outline of his movements.

[Colonel Harlee's evidence, in fact, establishes a conflict between the birth year that 122431 General Elijah Sterling Clack Robertson implied in the sketch and the birth year that 1224 Elijah Robertson's widow implied in an 1844 interview with Lyman Draper. 122431 General Robertson wrote that 1224 Elijah Robertson was born "about two years" after June 28, 1742, the date 1221 General James Robertson was born, while 1224 Elijah Robertson's widow implied that he was born in 1752. The conflict was resolved through the records discovered during the course of John A. Brayton's research. According to the Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions of Johnston County, North Carolina, Book 2, 1767-1777, page 95, 1224 Elijah Robertson was apponted a guardian on November 7, 1770; had he been born in 1744 as 122431 General Robertson maintained, he would not have needed a guardian in 1770. TR]

Its writer indicates that he had access to the writings of the historians mentioned whose works had then been published. No doubt he drew some of his information from them but we may infer that he knew from reliable family information that his grandfather, [1224] Elijah Robertson, was [a] brother to...[1221] General James Robertson....

[However, according to his family Bible, 122431 General Robertson was born August 23, 1820, 23 years after 1224 Elijah Robertson's death, and the statements he made concerning his grandfather, who he never knew, must be viewed in that context. TR]


[1221] James and [1224] Elijah Robertson were born in Brunswick Co., Va. The former on the 28th of June 1742 and the latter about two years later. [Once more, the evidence indicates that he was born in 1752, not 1744, and probably not in Brunswick County. TR]

When very young, their parents, who were originally from Scotland, [There is primary evidence that 122 John Robertson was born in Virginia, not Scotland. TR] moved to Wake Co., N. C. [Wake County was not yet formed when 122 John Robertson died. TR]

About the beginning of the year 1769 they determined to remove to the western field of settlement that had about this time been explored by their countryman and neighbor, Daniel Boone, and made corn this year on the Holston, near where the settlement was made, afterward known in the annals of Tenn. as Watauga in the neighborhood of the present town of Knoxville.

In 1770 they organized a small colony and moved their families to the new settlement, which became the parent settlement or hive, from which proceeded the swarms that overran and settled Tennessee and Kentucky which finally redeemed from the savage the great valley of the Mississippi.

About the year 1780 they organized a small colony and penetrated the wilderness with their families as far as the present site of Nashville on the Cumberland.

They were both men of great energy and enterprise and were prominent actors in the settlement of Tennessee, holding various positions of danger and public trust among their countrymen. In the military, [1221] James was advanced to the position of General and [1224] Elijah, being the younger, that of Colonel. They were the leaders of their countrymen in all of the campaigns of their day against the Indians.See Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee, Haywood's History of Tennessee, and Life of James Robertson by Putnam.

Elijah had two sons and two daughters. (Note: His will shows that he had three sons. It is presumed that one of them died young. WCH).


[1224] Elijah and Sarah (Maclin) Robertson were married presumably where he and her parents resided in the part of North Carolina which is now Tennessee. They all resided in the settlement on the Watauga River in present East Tennessee. He did not remove to the Cumberland River settlement, now Nashville, until 1783. Their daughter, [12241] Elizabeth, presumably their oldest child, was born 12 March 1783. It is assumed that they were married about 1782. They were probably married at the Watauga settlement. Records show that Sarah (Maclin) Robertson's father, William Maclin..., was in Nashville in 1783, but it is probable that he removed his family there later....


In the Draper collection of manuscripts..., [there] are numerous references to [1224] Elijah Robertson and his widow.

Dr. Lyman C. Draper, 11 Mar 1844, wrote that he had seen [1224] Elijah Robertson's widow (Draper MS. 3XX25). His notes of that interview include the following with his notation, "From Mrs. Col. Elijah R. & son." (The notes in parentheses are mine. WCH)

"Col. Elijah Robertson died near Nashville, 14th April 1797 (aged) about 45 during the seige (1776)then upon the north fork of HolstonEmigrated to the Cumberland country in 1783. Two or three times rep (resente)d the county (Davidson) in the N. C. Legislature." (Draper MS. 315204).

Having been aged "about 45" when he died, 14 Apr 1797, he was born about 1744. This corroborates the information in sketch by his grandson. [If 1224 Elijah Robertson died in 1797 at the age of 45, as his widow said, his birth year was 1752, not 1744. TR]

Fort Caswell was the place where "he lived at Wotaga during the seige." All the Watauga settlers gathered there. Fort Patrick Henry was "upon the north fork of Holston." It was at site of present city of Kingsport. The Indian allies of the British government attacked both these places at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. Elijah Robertson participated in their defense.

The "Adventurer" and flotilla of boats with the family of [1221] James Robertson and others began its memorable voyage to the Cumberland settlement from Fort Patrick Henry in 1779.

[1224] Elijah Robertson followed his brother, [1221] James, to the Cumberland settlement four years later, in 1783, as stated by his widow to Dr. Draper.

[1224] Elijah Robertson was a captain in the campaign of 1776, during the Revolutionary War against the Cherokee Indian allies of the British. Jacob Beeler of Sullivan Co., Tenn., in his pension statement, 22 Aug 1832, stated that he was associated with [1224] Capt. Elijah Robertson in the Cherokee campaign. (Draper MS. 2DD439) .

He was later colonel, commanding the militia of Davidson Co., then in "The Territory South of the River Ohio." Brigadier Gerd. Daniel Smith was Secretary of the Territory and was acting Governor in absence of Gov. Blount. The following letter is among the Draper MSS. (4XX7).


(Endorsed) 24th June 1789—[1224] Elijah Robertson—Frontiers threaten to break upAn expedition proposedJoshua Norrington Killed & Wm. Dunham mortally woundedHodges Station breaks.

D Genl.                                               Nashville 24th June 1798.

On Saturday Last the officers of this County met, and it was thought proper that Half the Militia Should be Draughted in order to Set out on Monday two weeks for the Tennessee, if this meets with your approbation, you will addopt Such measures in the upper and Lower Counties as your Judgement may point out to be most Expedient. I am pursuaded half the men ought to be on foot and Take at Least Twelve Days provision, if something of the Kind is not Immediately put in execution I am Sensible the frontiers must entirely Break you will please to write me by the Earliest opportunity and I will loose no Time in preparing the Militia of this County as my Brothers Precarious Situation will not admit of his Leaving home. I am Sorry I have to inform you on Monday Last Joshua Norrington was kild and Wm. Dunham Mortally wounded, who I buryed this morning at my house; Hodges Station are about to Break Tomorrow.

I am D Sir--Yr Most Obtd & Very Humb Servt

Elijah Robertson.

(To) Brigadier Genl. Daniel Smith.

From letter, 29 Sep 1847, Joseph Brown to Dr. Draper:

". . . Col. Wm. Pillow . . . said to me that you had rote to him to know who command the Guard threw when he Pillow came to this Country and he had lost your letter before he had time to answer it but he says it was [1224] Col. Elijah Robertson . . ." (Draper MS. 6XX27).

[1224] Col. Elijah Robertson seems to have been quite active with military duties about that time. Travel in the territory without an armed guard was unsafe. The following letter (Draper MS. 7ZZ31), words faded out in parts as shown, informs us of the conditions. The names of the addressees do not appear.


Bledsoes Lick (near Nashville) June 20th 1791.


I have the pleasure to inform you that we all arrived here safe that started together from Clinch. We met with no interruptions from the Indians, tho we saw their signs on the Cany ridge about half way between the foot of the Cumberland Mountains by the head of Flins Creek.

I understand that the Indians lately killed a man at - - station & wounded .another. I am also informed that a few nights ago they again came to Rains' station and stole every Horse Creature that he had on the - - - & that - - - Elijah Robertson with a party of men - - - upon their trail. Last evening just before we arrived here a boy was run by the Indians . - . and if - - - station and - - - to try if they can dis. cover their traces &c.

This is all the information that I can collect except that - - - you have been heretofore. I am-Genl, your most obdt

John Dickson.

Draper MS. 305174-Notes writen by Dr. Draper "Octr. 21, 1841. Communicated by Gen. Stephen Cocke" (m 7M70b4)

"Colo. Wm. Cocke (m 7M70b) . . . His first wife was a Miss - - - Maclin whose sister was married to Gen. Landon Carter...& another sister to [1224] Col. Elijah Robertson. The widow of Col. Robertson is yet living, well nigh a hundred years old near Nashville."

Dr. Draper's informant, Gen. Stephen Cocke, exaggerated the age of his aunt, Mrs. Sarah (Maclin) Robertson. The marriage bond of her parents was dated 25 Sep 1754; she was probably not over 86 years old in 1841. She was then, however, called "Old Aunt Robertson,"' and was considered to be very old.

His name appears as "[1224] Elijah Robison" on an original roll prepared by Capt. Shelby, signed "E. Shelby" now in the Draper collection of manuscripts (Draper MS. 2ZZ37, 38)

"A list of Capt. Shelbys Company of Volunteers from Fincastle.

"1 Capt.

"1 Lieutenant

"1 Ensign

"4 Sergts. (The list does not name the officers and sergeants).

(Then follows the names of 45 privates, among them:) [1224] Elijah Robison . . . [1261] Julius Robison . . .

"The 45 privates including six of Captn. Herberts men from Fincastle.

"(Signed) E. Shelby

"7 Oct (17) 74"

This roll has been published in Crozier's Virginia Colonial Militia, p. 87, and in Thwaites and Kellogg's Dunmore's War, p. 412.

[1261] Julius "Robison" was son of [126] Col. Charles Robertson....

Capt. Shelby's company joined other troops at Point Pleasant at the junction of the Great Kanawha and Ohio Rivers. Here, on 10 Oct 1774, their force of about eleven. hundred men was attacked by a formidable force of Indians which was disastrously defeated....


[1224] Elijah Robertson went to the Watauga settlement in what is now East Tennessee not later than 1774. In that year he joined Capt. Evan Shelby's company for service against hostile Indians in what is called Lord Dunmores War.

John Moore, Earl of Dunmore, Governor of Province of Virginia, the same who was later the British colonial governor of the Bahamas, organized troops to operate against the hostile Indians on the then western frontier. Capt. Evan Shelby was captain of a company organized in Fincastle Co. (formed 1772 and abolished in 1777 when it was distributed among three counties now in Kentucky)

Part of the present State of Tennessee where Capt. Evan Shelby and other settlers resided, north of the Holston River, of which the Watauga is a southern tributary, was then considered to be in Virginia, Fincastle Co. Men from south of the Holston in the Watauga settlement, over which jurisdiction was not claimed by any state, as it was considered to be on lands south of Virginia reserved for the Cherokee Indians, joined Capt. Shelby's company. Among these were [1224] Elijah Robertson, private, and his brother [1221] James Robertson and their friend Valentine Sevier, sergeants.

Theodore Roosevelt's The Winning of the West, Vol. I, in Chapters VIII, Lord Dunmore's War, and IX, The Battle of the Great Kanawha (Point Pleasant) 1774, pp. 194-243, gives a descriptive narrative of the Battle of Point Pleasant, a bloody close-up engagement with Shawnee and other northwestern Indians under their aggressive leader, Cornstalk.

This war was the culmination of conflicts with the white settlers and Indians. Its results opened the "over the mountains" region to white settlement.

Participation in the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774, renders eligible for membership in The National Society of Colonial Dames of America "composed entirely of women who are descended in their own right from some ancestor of worthy life who came to reside in an American colony prior to 1750, which ancestor or some of his descendants being a lineal ascendant of the applicant, shall have rendered efficient service to his country during the Colonial period," etc., and of other societies with similar requirements, the descendants of the participants who were in America prior to 1750, as were [1221] James and [1224] Elijah Robertson. [Descent from 12 Israel Roberson works as well since her served in the Granville County, N. C. militia in 1754. 122 John Robertson is also listed in the militia rolls. TR]

Valentine Sevier who, with [1221] James and [1224] Elijah Robertson, participated in the Battle of Point Pleasant, witnessed the will...of [1224] Elijah Robertson in 1797. He was brother of Gov. John Sevier who was conspicuous in Tennessee history.


From [1224] Elijah Robertson's youth when he began Indian warfare in 1774 at the age of twenty in "Lord Dunmore's War" and participated in the bloody Battle of Point Pleasant until a few years before his death, when the Indians were subdued in operations directed by his brother, [1221] Gen. James Robertson, which prevented their further depredations in Tennessee, and ending in 1794, he lived amid the dangers of Indian depredations from which the localities where he lived suffered, perhaps more than any other parts of our country, from repeated attacks.

During a period of twenty years, he, in company with the other settlers, was engaged in Indian warfare, leading his companions during many engagements with Indian allies of the British government during the Revolutionary War and finally becoming the commander of the militia of his county.

"The name [1224] Elijah Robertson has not been found on the records on file in this office of soldiers in the Revolutionary War from North Carolina." (Adjutant General, War Department, Washington, D. C.) His Revolutionary War service was with volunteer bodies of troops maintained locally for constant service. No records of them were regularly submitted.


[The] Colonial and State Records of North Carolina contain numerous references to [1224] Elijah Robertson.

Elijah Robertson was one of the "settlers at Watauga and District of Washington" who in 1776 petitioned "to be annexed" to North Carolina. (Vol. 10, pp. 708-11)....

[1224] Elijah Robertson represented Davidson Co. in the House of Commons of the General Assembly of North Carolina between the formation of Davidson Co. in 1783 and 1790 when North Carolina ceded to the United States its territory which later became Tennessee. (Vols. 17, 19, 20, and 21. Numerous references in each to him as member of the General Assembly).

In April, 1784, Robertson and other members "appeared and qualified by taking Oaths of Law appointed for qualification of members of the General Assembly." (Vol. 19, p. 487--House journal).

On a bill ceding to the Congress of the United States certain western lands (now the whole State of Tennessee) [1224] "E. Roberson" voted nay. The motion was carried (Vol. 19, p 613--House Journal 18 Apr 1784). This act, in which North Carolina attempted to get rid of its territory "over the mountains," and the burdens it imposed upon the state to protect the inhabitants and to compensate them for their expenditures during the Revolutionary War precipitated dissatisfaction in that region and resulted in an attempt in present east Tennessee to form the new State of Franklin. The act was repealed the next year.

"House Journal--Tuesday 11 May 1784... Having read the Memorial of [1224] Elijah Roberson, it is the opinion of your Committee that the said Roberson be allowed nine hundred and sixty acres of land for his services as a Commissary to the Commissioners appointed to lay off the lands for the officers and soldiers of the Continental Line of this State" (Vol. 19, p. 579) . There are further references in North Carolina records to this subject.

Concerning this Commission the following is extracted from an article, The Early History of Giles County (Tenn.), by James McCallum, in American Historical Magazine, October 1897, pp. 312-4: "In 1782 the General Assembly (of N. C.) appointed...Commissioners to lay off the lands appropriated to the officers and soldiers and also 25,000 acres donated to Gen. Greene, and provided that the Governor should appoint a suitable guard, with the requisite officers, not to exceed one hundred men to accompany the Commissioners. Early in 1783 the Commissioners, with a guard and a large number of settlers on the Cumberland set out from Nashville... Among the settlers who accompanied the Commissioners were [1224] Elijah Robertson, [1221] Gen. James Robertson...and others, being sixty or eighty in all.... These were the first white men that explored Giles County or were ever through it, so far as is now known.... After they left 'Latitude Hill' they went up Indian Creek, and over to the head of Buchanan Creek, and thence to Haywood where they camped the first night after they left Elk River, and there [1224] Elijah Robertson located a tract of 5,000 acres for John Haywood and it is believed named the creek."

"At a General Assembly begun and held at Newbern" 19 November 1785...Members...Davidson County: William Polk and [1224] Elijah Robertson." (House Journal Vol. 17, p. 264)

[1224] Elijah Robertson was elected Lieutenant Colonel of the Militia of Davidson Co. by the General Assembly of North Carolina (Vol. 20) , 20 Dec 1787 by the House (p. 273) , and 27 Dec 1787 by the Senate (p. 461) .

The following correspondence is published in State Records of N. C.

Governor Caswell from Elijah Robertson
(Vol. 20, p. 787)

Nashville, 25th Nov., 1787


By Major Evans' Express I am favored with the opportunity of informing your Excellency of the hostile disposition of our Savage neighbors. On the 30th October four men were -killed between here and Kentucky near this settlement, they were uncommonly massacred with signs of war and cruelty. On the 2d Instant a man was dangerously wounded within a few steps of Col. Bledsoe's door. The day following a Negro boy taken prisoner within a few miles of the same place, but immediately released. On the 10th three men were killed and another wounded near the extreme parts of this settlement; I am informed about the same time several boats from the Illinois and Falls of the Ohio, laden with Merchandise and bound for this place, were taken in the river and the men all killed, so that immigration and commerce seem to be finally stopt. In consequence of these alarming circumstances our officers, Civil and Military, collected together with a full determination that the perpetrators should not pass with impunity, but after serious and mature consideration concluded by endeavoring to pursue the enemy we might inadvertently fall upon those who possessed friendship to the United States, and by that means involve us in a war with the Chocktaw and Chickasaw Nations. I therefore thought it might be most prudent to inform your Excellency of our present situation and am pursuaded that Government or the honorable Continental Congress will interfere in our behalf, as it is beyond a doubt that those Savage barbarities are Countenanced and encouraged by a foreign Court.

I am Sir, with much Esteem and Regard,
Your Excellency's most Obedient Humble Servant,
Elijah Robertson.

Gov. Sam'l Johnston to Elijah Robertson, Esq.
(Vol. 21, p. 442 )

Edenton, 29th January, 1788.


I have this day received your letter of the 25th of November addressed to Mr. Caswell, the late Governor. It is with uncommon concern that I understand the distresses of your part of the Country, at the same time that I lament the apparent difculty of affording you any immediate effectual relief, your distant situation, the exhausted State of the Treasury and the impracticability . of raising and marching any considerable number of men at this inclement season are obstacles that at first view seem insurmountable.

I will however, lay your Letter and other relating to this business before the Council where the subject will be considered with that deliberation and attention which its importance demands. I could wish that this matter had been fully stated to the Assembly whose powers were more adequate to the purpose of affording you that protection and relief which your critical and alarming situation calls for.

I am with great Respect, Your most Obedient Svt.,
Saml. Johnston.

"At a General Assembly begun and held at Fayetteville" 3 Nov 1788, "members . . . For Davidson, [1224] Elijah Robertson . . ." (House Journal, Vol. 21, p. 1). At this time his brother, [1221] James Robertson, represented the Cumberland River district in the N. C. Senate.

"Estimate of Allowances to Members of House of CommonsDecember 1788...[1224] Elijah RobertsonAttendance 34 (days); miles travelling 1400 (probably for round trip as his home near Nashville was about 700 miles from Fayetteville, N. C. WCH) ; Sum £80:13:4" (Vol. 21, p. 189). Seven hundred miles is a long distance to repeatedly travel, horseback, to attend sessions of a legislature. Part of the route was infested by hostile Indiana.

The First U. S. Census1790N. C. shows one "Elijah Roberson" as head of family in Orange Co., N. C. This was not [1224] Elijah Robertson; he then resided in Davidson Co. which in 1790 ceased to be a part of North Carolina and was in the part of the "Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio," which later became Tennessee. The 1790 Census of that territory was among those lost when British troops captured Washington in 1814 and burned the Capitol.


North Carolina having ceded to the United States in 1790 its territory west of the mountains, William Blount was appointed by President Washington as Governor of "The Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio" (commonly called "The Southwest Territory"). He continued as territorial governor until 1796 when the territory became the State of Tennessee, and John Sevier was elected governor.

Davidson Co., now in Tennessee, was formed in 1783 while it was part of North. Carolina.

From Governor Blount's Journal, published in American Historical Magazine, July 1897: "The Governor then (in 1790) appointed...[1221] James Robertson...[1224] Elijah Robertson (and others) Justices of the Peace for the County of Davidson... Then he appointed and commissioned the following militia officers in the County of Davidson namely [1221] James Robertson, Lieutenant Colonel Commandant; [1224] Elijah Robertson, Lieutenant Colonel (p. 231).... June 2d 1791The Governor commissioned and appointed [1224] Elijah Robertson, Lieutenant Colonel Commandant of Davidson County, in place of [1221] James Robertson, Esquire, promoted (p. 237).... October 27th 1792Isaac Roberts, Lieutenant Col. Commandant of Davidson County in place of Elijah Robertson, resigned (p. 247) "


The next mentioned instruments are recorded in Davidson Co., Clerk of Court's office in Will Book 1-2. Records of all kinds appear recorded in the early "Will Books."

On 19 Jan 1792 "James Lenier of the County of Bourbon and District of Kentucky having special confidence in the abilities and integrity of [1224] Col. Elijah Robertson of the Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio...authorize the [said 1224] Elijah Robertson, Esq. to sell such parts or parcels of my lands in the Territory South of the Ohio," etc. This was witnessed by [1224] Elijah Robertson's father-in-law, William Maclin..., and later, 4 Dec 1796, was acknowledged before John McNairy, "one of the Judges of the State of Tennessee." John McNairy had married the widow of [1224] Elijah Robertson's brother, [1226] Mark Robertson, and was later mentioned in the will...of [1224] Elijah Robertson thus: "I also wish that Judge John McNairy have the direction of the education of my son [12243] Sterling."

On 27 Nov 1792 "[1224] Elijah Robertson of Davidson County and Territory of the United States South of the Ohio River" gave bond "in the sum of five hundred pounds current money" to "Theodorus Malott of the County and Territory above mentioned.... The conditions of the above obligation is such that the Theodorus Malott doth hereby agree that he will take a tract on the south side of Cumberland River lying in three or five miles of Hay's Station on Stoners Lick containing three hundred and twenty acres to be good second rate land with a never failing spring, provided the Robertson doth make the Malott a deed in fee simple clear of incumbrances on or before the 25th day of November 1794." William Maclin...and Richard Cross...were witnesses.

[1224] Elijah Robertson was named as one of the executors in the will, 15 May 1786, Davidson Co., N. C., of his wife's sister, Rebecca (Maclin) Bosley....


[1224] Elijah Robertson owned extensive lands in various parts of Tennessee.

In Haywood Co., "Large grants, laid under North Carolina entries, included...[1224] Elijah Robertson, brother of [1221] General James Robertson, 5,000 acres." (Williams' Beginnings of West Tennessee).


Tenn., Davidson Co., Nashville, Clerk of County Court. From photostat of original will....

I [1224] Elijah Robertson of Davidson County & State of Tennessee do make ordain this my last Will and Testament, in the following manner (To wit). It is my Will and desire that, [1221] James Robertson, Salley Robertson my wife, Bennet Searcy & Robert Searcy are hereby authorised, to make an Equal division of all my Estate, both real and personal, and divide equally as it can be, as to quantity, quality land situation amongst all my Children, namly, [12241] Elizabeth [12242] Patsey [12243] Sterling [12244] Eldridge and [12245] James to them their heirs and each of their heirs forever, taken into consideration what I have already given to them.

It is my Will also that all my sons are to enjoy & have a double portion of my Indian Lands, and my Daughters are also to have a double portion of the money or negroes due me from Col. William Cocke, to them their heirs &c.

It is my wish and desire that my wife Salley Robertson have and enjoy the Lands and plantation that I now live on near Nashville, during her natural life it is also to be observed that the timber on the tracts is not to be destroyed more than necessary requires it, And it further to be observed, that at the time the division of my Estate amongst my children, that my wife Salley Robertson, is to have an Equal share with my children of all such property as shall be divided, to her, her heirs forever. I also wish that Judge John McNairy, have the direction of the education of my son [12243] Sterling, and wish him to have as liberal education as the circumstances will admit of. I appoint, my wife Salley executrix & [1221] James Robertson Bennet Searcy and Robert Searcy executors to this my last Will and Testament hereby revoking all other or former Wills by me made. In Testimony I have hereunto set my hand & seal this 17th February, 1797.

E. Robertson

Signed Sealed & declared to be the last will and Testa. ment of said [1224] Elijah Robertson in presence
Val. Sevier
B Searcy Juratt.
All Exchs. Qualified.

State of Tennessee Davidson County Court July Sessions 1797 Bennet Searcy A Subscribing witness Proved on Oath the Execution of the within to be the Act and Deed of [1224] Elijah Robertson and the same With Probate is Registered Verbatim in book No. 4 page 76 August 3d 1797

Andrew Ewing.


His signature "E. Robertson" appears on his will....

"Bennet Searcy, a lawyer . . . came to Nashville about the year 1789 in company with Andrew Jackson and Judge John McNairy" (Mrs. Bond's Kinship Book, p. 63). Bennet Searcy and Robert Searcy who were two of the executors named in [1224] Elijah Robertson's will are not known to have been related to him.

[1221] James Robertson, another executor, was brother of [1224] Elijah whose son, [12245] James, was then but a small boy.

Judge John McNairy, whom [1224] Elijah Robertson wished to "have the direction of the education of my son [12243] Sterling," was notable in Tennessee history. He and Andrew Jackson studied law together in Salisbury, N. C., and went to Tennessee together. Their friendship ceased in 1797 when they disagreed. McNairy was Tennessee's first federal judge. McNairy Go., Tenn., was named for him.

Valentine Sevier who witnessed the will had been a comrade of [1224] Elijah Robertson and his brother, [1221] James Robertson, at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774 and their companion during their residence in the Watauga settlement and after they all removed to present Davidson Co. and in Indian warfare in both regions.

His will divides his estate among his children "equally as can be," "taken in consideration what I have already given to them." Inasmuch as they were then all minors and unmarried it is probable that his previous gifts to them had been such items of personal property as he had promised them and negroes who, according to the custom of the time, he had assigned to them.


It is assumed that his children are named in his will in the order of their births. His first mentioned child, [12241] Elizabeth, was born 12 Mar 1783. His first mentioned son, [12243] Sterling Clack, was born 2 Oct 1785. It is therefore assumed that [12242] Matilda ("Patsy"), who came between them, was born 1784 and that [12244] Eldridge Blount and [12245] James were born after 1785 and before the year of the death of their father, 1797. Concerning his wife, Sarah (Maclin) Robertson, the following is stated in Mrs. Bond's Kinship Book, p. 494: "Two of her children who died in childhood were buried in her garden, as is shown by special provisions in the deed of transfer of the property, and the inference is that she was herself buried in a private burying ground of which no records have been kept. It is possible, however, that she was laid to rest in the family graveyard of her father, William Maclin..., about where Christ Church now (1928) stands, at the corner of Broad and McLemore Streets in Nashville." Dr. W. A. Provine writes that the children buried in this garden were not her children, but were of the family from which the lot was purchased for her; also that there was no family graveyard where Christ Church now stands and, that the Maclin plantation, where there was probably a family graveyard, was about one-half mile. West.

It is presumed that all his children were born in Davidson CO., Tenn,. at his plantation home near Nashville. His home is said to have been near "The Hermitage," the home of Andrew Jackson, and that their plantations adjoined.

The next mentioned location was not once part of his plantation. His widow removed from his plantation home to a residence in the city.

"The first mention of Mrs. Sarah (Maclin) Robertson found in early Nashville literature is in Mr. Willoughby Williams' 'Recollections of Nashville.' In describing the buildings as he knew them in the beginning of the nineteenth century he said: `The first house south of that on College Street was where Mrs. Robertson lived in a log house which is still standing. Mrs. Robertson was the widow of [1221] James Robertson's brother, [1224] Elijah Robertson, and was very wealthy in lands. She was the mother of [12241] Mrs. John Childress, [12242] Mrs. Hannon (Hannum WCH) and [12244] Eldridge B. and [12243] Sterling R. Robertsonshould be [12243] Sterling C. Robertsonprominent men who afterwards moved to Giles County. This same [12243] Sterling Robertson obtained a grant from the Mexican government for lands in Texas on the Brazos River where he settled a colony which is known as Robertson's Colony to this day'." (Mrs. Bond's Kinship Book, p. 493).


Mrs. Octavia Zollicoffer her Kinship Book, p. 497, presents a portrayal of "Old Aunt Robertson" and her maid, Hagar. She was under the impression that "Old Aunt Robertson" was Mrs. Dolly (Maclin) Robertson (7M70d) but it seems certain from other evidence herein presented that "Old Aunt Robertson" was her sister, Mrs. Sarah (Maclin) Robertson. Her will...dated 17 May 1845 and the record of its probation in November 1846 show that she died between those dates. She is named in her will as "Sarah Robertson of Nashville, Tennessee," and presumably died there.

Her will provides that Hagar be "set free" and "be provided for during her life-time as compensation for her kind services to me in my old age." Hagar had belonged to Mrs. Sarah Robertson's sons, [12243] Sterling C. Robertson and [12244] Eldridge B. Robertson, who, 5 Jan 1824, when Hagar was "aged about twenty years" conveyed her and other negroes to their mother: (Copy of conveyance hereinafter).

Another Hagar, is alleged to have been owned by Charlotte (Reeves) Robertson..., and to have been on the "Adventure" during its celebrated voyage in 1779-80, over a decade before the Hagar of whom we have record was born.

The authentic Hagar, born about 1804, was not so very aged during the childhood of Mrs. Bond, born 1848, who describes her and also gives us the only word picture we have of her mistress whose husband, [1224] Elijah Robertson, was a contemporary and neighbor of Andrew Jackson and of his early associate,

Judge John McNairy, whom [1224] Elijah Robertson, in his will, desired should have the direction of the education of his son, [12243] Sterling C. Robertson.

Mrs. Bond's description, with its cherished personal glimpse of "Old Aunt Robertson," follows.

"I recall distinctly an incident of early childhood when, out for a walk with our nurse, `Mammy Julia,' we passed down Market Street Third Avenuefrom the Public Square, on the west side of the street. We had almost reached Church Street when we came to a very old looking log house, seemingly out of place among the brick buildings that surrounded it. A 'battened' wooden window shutter was opened a little above us and out of the window was thrust a head of an old yellow woman, turbaned with a gay bandanna handkerchief. She nodded a greeting, and as we passed on the nurse said in explanation, `That's yo' ole Aunt Robertson's maid, Hagar.'

"Many a nursery tale had made us familiar with the name of 'Old Aunt Robertson' and her maid, Hagar. She, Mrs. Dolly (Maclin) Robertson (should be Mrs. Sarah (Maclin) Robertson. WCH), had lived long in Nashville after her husband's death, passing away at a great age, within the memory of persons who were living in 1860. There were anecdotes told of the naive simplicity of her reception of General Andrew Jackson at such times, as the hero of Chalmette field was wont to honor the old lady with visits of respect, for she was essentially a pioneer woman, with unassuming, unpretentious ways, who challenged respect for herself and for the memory of her husband ...

"And there were amusing stories handed down of her behavior in her second childhood in church, First Presbyterian, where, accompanied by her young negro maid, Hagar, she regularly attended service, and as regularly retired from the congregation, when wearied, with the command to her maid, 'Come on, Hagar, let's go,' spoken aloud, without ceremony."

There is no doubt that the "Old Aunt Robertson" who lived on Third Avenue, then College Street, was Sarah (Maclin) Robertson, widow of [1224] Elijah Robertson. (Note by Dr. W. A. Provine: As to Mrs. Sarah Maclin Robertson's old home, I abstracted that location. When Elijah Robertson died his brother, [1221] Gen. James Robertson, bought in nearly all of his property and saved it for his family. He sold for them the old home place and in 1805 bought for Mrs. Robertson the lot on College St., now 3rd Ave. Here she resided until her death in 1846. The two graves on it were not of her children; they belonged to a family from which the place was bought; in the deed that family made reservation of the two graves when the place was sold to Mrs. Robertson).

Mrs. Sarah (Maclin) Robertson's husband, [1224] Col. Elijah Robertson, had been Andrew Jackson's commanding ofcer in Indian warfare as shown by the following extract from Haywood's History of Tennessee, Ch. VII:

"In this year (1789) the Indians came to [1221] Col. (James) Robertson's... station in the day-time and attacked him where his hands were at work in the field, in the latter part of June. They fired upon and shot him through the bottom of the foot as he ran towards the station. He ordered [1224] Col. Elijah Robertson, of Davidson County, to send men in pursuit of them.... Twenty men were ordered to the front.... Andrew Jackson, now (1823) Gen. Jackson was one of the twenty."


Mrs. Spain..., in a letter, writes the following:

At what is now the corner of College and Broad Streets in Nashville an Indian chief took "Aunt Robertson" off her horse and stole the horse. I have heard my grandmother relate it and laugh about it saying: "It certainly took the wind out of the old lady's sails and for once she did not have anything to say."


(Copied from Will Book 3-4, Clerk of Court, Davidson Co., Tenn.)

State of TennesseeDavidson County.
Know all men by these presents that I, William Maclin of the County of Blount in the State of Tennessee of the one part and Sarah Robertson of the County of Davidson and State aforesaid of the other part witnesseth for that whereas William Maclin borrowed from the said Sarah Robertson on the seventeenth day of January one thousand eight hundred and nine the sum of three hundred dollars which he the said William his heirs executors or administrators promise to repay unto the said Sarah Robertson her heirs twelve months from this date with legal interest from the day the aforesaid sum was borrowed. And in order to secure to the said Sarah the payment of the aforesaid sum of three hundred dollars at the time aforesaid with the interest thereon the aforesaid William Maclin his heirs do hereby bargain and sell to the said Sarah Robertson her heirs the two following negro girls, Alice & Sophia, the children of Jacob Hampton, formerly the property of Zackfield and James Maclin which said negro girls aforesaid are to be held as the property of Sarah Robertson for sum aforesaid and if the said William Maclin fails to pay the aforesaid sum with the interest due thereon at the time aforesaid then and in that case the aforesaid two negroes are to be considered as the property to the said Sarah Robertson to remain and inure to her, her heirs forever.

But if the aforesaid William pay the aforesaid sum of three hundred dollars with interest thereon at or before the time aforesaid then and in that case this mortgage and every part thereof becomes absolutely void and of no effect and the said Sarah now agrees that if the said William should fail paying the aforesaid sum with interest on the day agreed upon afore. said that if the same is paid within the three months thereafter this mortgage becomes void and of no effect and the said two negroes .to remain the property of said William.

Witness my hand and seal this first day of February 1809

Wm. Maclin.

Test: B. Searcy
Sterling Clack Robertson.

Notes: Mrs. Robertson's father, William Maclin (7M7), was dead before 1809. The mortgagor, William Maclin, and also Zackfield (Sackfield) Maclin and James Maclin were brothers. of the mortgagee, Mrs. Sarah (Maclin) Robertson. Sterling Clack Robertson was her son. WCH.


(From original loaned by Mrs. Sarah (Maclin) Robertson's great granddaughter, Mrs. Imogene (Robertson) Gamel....

Know all men by these presents that we [12243] Sterling C. Robertson and [12244] Eldridge B. Robertson of Nashville Tennessee do hereby for and in consideration of the sum of thirty six hundred dollars to us in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged bargain sell and deliver to Sarah Robertson of Nashville, same State, the following described negroes viz: Washington called little Washington aged about six years, Mingo aged about forty years, Sam aged about forty years, Peter aged about forty five years, Reuben aged about forty five years, Harry aged about forty five years, Washington aged about thirteen years, Stephen aged about eight years, Hager aged about twenty years, Nancy aged about twenty years. We do hereby warrant the title of the aforesaid negroes against all claimants in the world, and also that they are sound and sensible, Harry & Peter excepted as to soundness.

Witness our hands and seals this fifteenth day of January A D eighteen hundred and twenty four.

Eldridge B. Robertson (Seal).
Sterling C. Robertson (Seal) by his attorney in fact
Eldridge B. Robertson.
Test: Nathan Ewing Jurat
E. S. Hall Jurat.

On the same day Sarah Robertson acknowledged that the negroes named in the bill of sale has been delivered and was then in her possession.

E. S. Hall.

State of Tennessee, Davidson County Court, January Session, 1824.-This Bill of Sale Eldridge B. Robertson and Sterling C. Robertson to Sarah Robertson (words obscured by fold in paper) and of the said Eldridge B. Robertson for himself and as attorney in fact for the said Sterling C. Robertson by the oath of Nathan Ewing and Elihu S. Hall the subscribing witnesses and ordered to be registered.

Eldridge B. Robertson (Seal).

Test: NATHAN EWING, Clerk of said Court.

State of Tennessee-Davidson County-Registers Office May 19th 1824.
I Matthew Barrow register for said county do hereby certify that the foregoing Bill of Sale and probate are duly registered in my office in Book Q, Pages 186 and 187.

M. Barrow by Nathan Ewing his Deputy.

Notes: [12244] Eldridge B. Robertson and Sterling C. Robertson were brothers. They were sons of Sarah Robertson. In her will she disposed of Washington and Hager (Hagar).

At this time Sterling C. Robertson had begun his operation for colonization in Texas and was probably there and was represented in Tennessee by his brother. WCH.


(Copy from Will Book No. 14, p. 34, Clerk of Court, Davidson Co., Tenn.)

Sarah Robertson, Deceased
Will-Recorded February 10th. 1847.

I Sarah Robertson of Nashville Tennessee having made various wills in the life time of my son [12244] Eldridge B. Robertson which are in great part in operation since his death, all of which will I hereby revoke.

First I hereby will and devise that my negro woman Hagar and my man Ishmeole, both slaves for life, be at my death the property of my executor, Vernon K. Stevenson, to be held by him as legated against all the other claimants to said slaves, but in trust for said slaves respectively, whom said Stevenson is to set free if he can, and if he cannot, that he give them the privilege of free sessions of color and that he see that said Hagar be provided for during her lifetime as compensation for her kind services to me in my old age.

2nd. My negro man Washington now in Texas I will and bequeath to my said executor Vernon K. Stevenson in full property, but to be held in trust by him for my (grand) daughter [122411] Jane Marshall as her separate individual property and to be used and disposed of by her with the consent of my said executor, as if the said Jane was an unmarried woman, but to be exempt from all control of her husband.

3rd. Having a claim against the estate of my son [12243] Sterling C. Robertson late of Texas the one half of which I contracted to give to Samuel B. Marshall [husband of 122411] for obtaining the same, the amount to be obtained is not to exceed five thousand dollars, and which might be obtained in land in Texas - this agreement I hereby confirm and wish vested in said Marshall and his heirs and executors, the one half of said claim he may obtain before my death or afterwards and to the other of said claim, I hereby will and devise the same as follows: one third thereof to [122441] Marcellus Robertson another third thereof to [122442] James Oakley Robertson and the other third thereof to Vernon K. Stevenson the two first named being sons of [12244] Eldridge B. Robertson. And it shall be the duty of said Steven. son to attend to the interest of the said [122441] Marcellus & [122442] James Oakley Robertson, the three to hold as devises of one third each and to them and their heirs forever and in common with the said Samuel B. Marshall and his heirs of his half until a division is made.

The rest and residue of my property real and personal I give to the said Vernon K. Stevenson to hold to him and his heirs forever, as compensation for his trouble and kindness to me in life, and for his trouble and expense in executing this will.

And I hereby constitute and appoint said Vernon K. Stevenson my only executor of this my last will.

Given under my. hand and seal this the 17th day of May 1845.

Sarah Robertson.

JACOB McGavock

State of Tennessee, Davidson County Court, November term, 1846. A paper writing to be the last will and testament of Sarah Robertson, deceased was produced in open court for probate and proved thus J. Catron one of the subscribing witnesses thereto being first duly sworn depose and says he become such in the presence of and at the request of the said Sarah Robertson deceased in the presence of Jacob McGavock the other subscribing witness and that he vienly believes she was of sound and disposing mind and memory at the time of executing the same. Ordered that said paper writing be admitted to record as such will and testament of the said Sarah Robertson deceased. Thereupon Vernon K. Stevenson, the executor named in said will, came into court and gave bond in the sum of twenty five hundred dollars with J. Catron and Volney S. Stevenson his securities and qualified according to law. Ordered that he have letters testamentary granted to him.


Vernon K. Stevenson, devisee and executor of her will was husband of her granddaughter [122417] Elizabeth (Childress) Stevenson.

[122411] "Jane Marshall" was her granddaughter the daughter of [12241] Elizabeth (Robertson) Childress and wife of Samuel B. Marshall.

"J. Catron" who witnessed the will was husband of her granddaughter [122419] Matilda Fountain (Childress) Catron. He was the first Chief Justice of Tennessee and later was appointed by President Andrew Jackson a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and served as such for many years.

Her signature "Sarah Robertson" appears written as a witness to the will of her father, William Maclin....

The "claim against the estate of my son [12243] Sterling C. Robertson late of Texas" is explained by the following paragraph from his will....

"Item 2nd: I will and bequeath unto my mother, Sarah Robertson Sr., so much of my lands which are to be sold as will bring Five Thousand Dollars, for her support, and to indemnify her for the many sacrifices she has so generously made for me; twenty five hundred dollars worth of the lands to be sold as soon as practicable after my death, and the money to be delivered to her by my executors hereinafter named, the balance to be sold and proceeds to be given to her, as soon as the lands can be sold without making too great a sacrifice."

Source: William Curry Harlee, Kinfolks: A Genealogical and Biographical Record, 3 vols. (New Orleans: Searcy & Pfaff, 1935-37), 3: 2569-2589.

Last updated: Friday, November 14, 2003

All original material Copyright ©2003 Tom Robertson. All rights reserved including those of electronic transmission and reproduction of the material in any format.

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