The Robertson Genealogy Exchange

Colonel Harlee's Notes on 12241 Elizabeth Robertson

[12241] Elizabeth [Robertson] is mentioned first among the children of her father, [1224 Colonel] Elijah Robertson..., in...[his] will dated 17 Feb 1797. Presumably she was his oldest child.

Notes among the papers of [122431C] Mrs. Cone Johnson..., who for many years collected family history data, gives the following information stated as "data from an old Bible belonging to a descendant of [12241] Elizabeth (Robertson) Childress": "[12241] Elizabeth Robertson was born March 12, 1783 and married John Childress in 1799 and died Sept. 7, 1822. John Childress was born Dec. 13, 1773 and died Sept. 15, 1819. They had ten children—[122411] Jane Martin, [122412] Louisa Minerva, [122413] George Campbell, [122414] Elijah Robertson, [122415] Ann Maria, [122416] John, [122417] Elizabeth, [122418] James Robertson, [122419 Matilda Fountain,] and [12241A] Sarah Clack."

Their marriage is recorded in Marriage Record Book 1, p. 231, Clerk of Court, Davidson Co., Tenn., at Nashville thus: "Childress, Jno. to [12241] Elizabeth Robertson. Issued June 15th 1799. I solemnized the rite of matrimony between the within named parties on the (blank) day of (blank)." (The record is thus incomplete).

Miss Jane Thomas, in "Old Days in Nashville," informs us that the two daughters of [1224] Elijah Robertson both married lawyers, "[12241] Betsy" (Elizabeth) marrying Washington L. Hannon and [12242] Matilda (named as "Patsy" in her father's will) marrying Judge John Childress. She has the husbands confused. [12242] Matilda married Washington L. Hannum (not Hannon) and [12241] Elizabeth married Judge Childress. She also erroneously states that they were daughters of [1224] Elijah Robertson's brother Jonathan. They were daughters of [1224] Elijah Robertson as correctly stated by Col. Willoughby Williams in "Recollections of Nashville" in Clayton's History of Davidson County, Tennessee; he informs us that [12241] Elizabeth's husband, John Childress, was a devoted friend of General Andrew Jackson, and was U. S. Marshal and later a Justice of the Court in Nashville, and was a prominent lawyer and wealthy land owner.

John Childress "read law" after he became a Justice of the local Court and was admitted to the Nashville Bar in 1834, six years after his son, [122413] George C. Childress, was admitted.

Mrs. Bond, in her Kinship Book, tells us that "his home was the famous old mansion 'Rokeby,' still standing" (p. 485), and that he died there, and adds (p. 489) : "It was the handsomest residence in all the country around Nashville, and the five attractive daughters (the sixth, Sarah Clack, probably died young. WCH) of the house, who were all belles, made it the center of social pleasure for a number of years. Their mother's fine family connection, and their father's distinguished position of note, United States Marshal for the Western District, and a patron of learning in his capacity as trustee of Davidson Academy (University of Nashville) besides being one of the wealthiest men of his day, brought to its doors the most prominent men of the times. General Andrew Jackson was at times almost a member of the household. His room at 'Rokeby' was kept in readiness for him."


We have seen that John Childress witnessed, 4 Jun 1798, the conveyance of a negro to his wife's brother, [12245] James Robertson..., from his wife's grandfather, William Maclin..., also 14 Nov 1798 conveyance of a negro from the latter to his son.

The records of a supplementary inventory, of estate of John Childress..., dated 27 Jul 1820, shows that his son-in-law, Sam. B. Marshall [married 122411 Jane Martin Childress]..., was administrator, and that John Childress died intestate. Otherwise the executor of his will, instead of an administrator, would have attended to his estate.

No record of the regular inventory was found.

Provisions made for widow's support is recorded in Will Book 7, p. 377, Clerk of Court, Davidson Co., Tenn., as follows:


Woodland, Nov. 15th 1819. We the undersigned being appointed by the County of Davidson at their October Sessions 1819, as commissioners to lay off and set apart to Elizabeth Childress, relict of John Childress, deceased, one year's support for the use of herself and family, and being duly sworn according to law to set apart for the use of said Elizabeth & family:

Two hundred barrels of corn, one thousand pounds of flour, five thousand pounds of pork, one thousand pounds of beef, two hundred pounds of brown sugar, fifty pounds loaf sugar, fifty pounds of coffee, fifteen bushels salt, with all the provisions and other articles of consumption now on hand in the house and the use of four cows and calves for one year.

Given under our hands and seals. Thomas Crucher (Seal) Edmond Cooper (Seal) Duncan Robertson (Seal).


Beginning on page 527, Will Book 9, in Clerk of Court's office, Davidson Co., in Nashville, Tenn., are records of four "Bonds of Indemnity" similar to the one here copied.

Bond of Indemnity
State of Tennessee, Davidson County.
Know all men by these presents that we Morgan W. Brown... (and his sureties) all of the County and State aforesaid are held and firmly bound unto Robert Hewitt, Chairman of the Court of Pleas and Quarters Sessions for said County and his successors in office as such or assigns, in the sum of twenty eight hundred and twenty four dollars to which payment well and truly to be made we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors, and administrators and each and every one of us and them both jointly and severally firmly by these presents.

Witness our hands, and seals this 12th day of January A. D. 1828.

The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas John Catron... acting administrator on all and singular the goods and chattels &c of John Childress and Elizabeth Childress, deceased, late of said County has this day delivered and paid over to the said Morgan W. Brown as one of the legal heirs and distributees of the estates of the said John and Elizabeth, deceased, the following property, to wit: slaves to the value of sixteen hundred and eighty dollars and other personal property to the amount of eleven hundred and forty four dollars, Ann Mariah Brown's, wife of said M. W. Brown, distribute share of the personal estate of the said John and Elizabeth, deceased, it having been more than two years since Letters of Administration were granted to the said John Catron on the said estate.

Now if the said Morgan W. Brown shall at any and at all times hereafter, when any debt or debts, due or demand well and truly owing by the said John and Elizabeth or either of them or either of their estates shall be sued for and recovered or in any other way or manner, made, appear legally against the said administrator in any way; in every such case will well and truly refund and pay over to such creditor or creditors h.s rateable part of such debt or debts out of the part or share so as aforesaid delivered or paid over to him, and well and truly save harmless and indemnify the said administrator for all damages, costs, charges, trouble and expense which he may in any way or manner incur or sustain in consequence of having paid over and delivered the said property and distributive share to be paid, then this obligation to be void, otherwise to remain in full force & virtue. M. W. Brown (Seal) Wm. A. Cook (Seal) Ephraim H. Foster (Seal).


The other three bonds were the same as the preceding one, except as noted below and the names of the sureties were different in each case and the last two were dated 14 Jan. instead of 12 Jan. 1828. They were executed by "Benjmn. Litton" (generally spelled Lytton) for share of "Louisa M. Litton..., wife of said Benjamin's," whose share was the same, (slaves to the value of $1,680.00 and other personal property to the amount of $1,144.00) ; "Geo. C. Childress"..."for the said Geo. C's distributive share," whose share was "negroes and other personal property to the value of $2824 dollars"; and "Elijah R. Childress"...."for the said E. R. Childress' distributive share," whose share was also "negroes and other personal property to the value of $2824 dollars."

These records show that as John Catron had become administrator of the estate over two years before 12 Jan 1828; he had replaced Sam. B. Marshall...who has been shown to have been administrator in 1820 (he had probably removed to Texas between 1820 and 1826) , and that Elizabeth (Robertson) Childress had died before 1826, and that her daughters, Louisa M. and Anna Maria, had married before 1828 and who were their husbands.

Her two eldest daughters had then probably married, Jane Martin to Samuel B. Marshall and Matilda Fountain to John Catron. Her sons, George C. (born 8 Jan 1804) and Elijah R., having received their shares, were evidently of age, and therefore born before 1807. Her other four children, John (born Nov 1812), Elizabeth, James Robertson, and Sarah Clack presumably were minors in 1828 and had not then received their shares.


The following affidavits inform us of John and Elizabeth (Robertson) Childress' sons, George Campbell Childress, Elijah Robertson Childress, and John Childress and daughters, Mrs. Jane (Childress) Marshall as well as Mrs. Ann Maria (Childress) Brown and Mrs. Maria (Childress) Catron who made the affidavits.

The affidavits were probably obtained for suit to establish title to land claimed by the heirs of John Childress...taken up by him in the process of the colonization operations of his uncle, Sterling C. Robertson..., empresario of the Robertson Colony in Texas.

They were made 9 Nov 1858 at Nashville, Tenn., and are recorded in Vol. 15, p. 110, Deed Records of Brazos Co., Texas.

Affidavit of Mrs. Ann Maria Brown....
In answer to the first interrogatory I state that I am the sister of late John Childress...; he was two years younger than me; we were born and raised in Davidson County, Tennessee; he emigrated to Texas or went there with his brother, George Childress...about 1834 or 1835, leaving his wife behind him a young girl whose maiden name was Mary Goode. I think they had one child when he first went to Texas whose name was John. Mr. Childress became 21 years of age in 1833, he having been born in 1812 Nov. After he married, he settled nowhere, but he and his wife staid with their relations generally. He was seeking a home in Texas in the colony of his maternal uncle, Sterling C. Robertson...; John Childress with his wife and two children, John and George, removed to Texas in the fall of 1836 and Mr. Childress died there in the fall of 1837 in September as his family was informed. He and his wife and children were inmates of my husband's, Judge Brown's house, when they left here for Texas. After John Childress' death, his widow and her two children returned to Tennessee late in 1837 or early in 1838 and were again inmates of our family. Mrs. Childress afterwards resided with her brother, John Goode, removed from Tennessee to upper Alabama where Mrs. Childress married again with a Mr. Johnson. I never knew him. She was the mother by this marriage of a daughter. I never saw the mother or child after Mrs. Childress' second marriage. The two boys of the first marriage resided with their uncle, John Goode, who removed from Alabama to Memphis, Tenn., and died there. John is about 25 years of age, and George about 23 years old. George was here at Nashville last, month. John is a printer by trade, has no permanent home so far as I know, nor do I know where he now is, nor do I know if the girl child, Mary Johnson, is living or dead.

Of the matter propounded in the other nine questions, I am unable to state anything further than I have already done in answer to the first and second interrogatories. The cross interrogatories I cannot answer better than I have done above.

I have known the two boys, John and George Childress, from their early infancy and know they were the only children of my. deceased brother, John Childress.

Ann Maria Brown.

Affidavit of Mrs. Matilda Catron....
I am the sister of John Childress. He was born in November 1812, his father died in 1819 and his mother died in September 1822. I took him to raise and he made one of my family for eight or nine years after 1822 . My brother, Elijah Robertson Childress..., became his guardian, and he (John) was absent in Giles County, Tennessee, occasionally with his brother. About 1832, John Childress married Mary Goode, this took place before he was twenty-one years of age; he and his wife stayed among his relations in Tennessee till he went to Texas. John Childress never had any home of his own in Tennessee. He left his wife behind when he went to Texas; his object was to settle there in the colony of his uncle, Sterling C. Robertson; John moved his wife and two children to Texas about December 1836, and settled at Matagorda as appeared by letters, etc. He died there in September 1837 leaving his wife and children destitute, and I sent money to bring her back to Tennessee, and my sister Marshall...went to New Orleans and met Mrs. Childress and her children there, and brought them here to Nashville. The children's names were John and George. John is said to be a printer by trade, where he now is I do not know. George was here at Nashville last month. I saw him at my home. Neither of the boys have any permanent home and are both single men.

Matilda Catron.

I, Egbert A. Raworth, Commissioner as aforesaid, do hereby certify that the foregoing answers were sworn to and subscribed by the witnesses (and written by them) said Anna Maria Brown and Matilda Catron before me.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed my official seal at office in Nashville, this 9th day of November, 1858.

(SEAL) Egbert A. Raworth, Commissioner.

Court of Claims, Austin, (Texas), Jany. 16th, 1861.
I, W. S. Hotchkiss, Commissioner of claims of the State of Texas, certify that the foregoing is a true and correct copy of the original testimony of Ann Maria Brown and Matilda Catron now on file in this office in the case of the heirs of John Childress vs. The State of Texas.

In testimony whereof I hereunto set my hand and affix the impress of the seal of said office, the date last above written.

W. S. Hotchkiss, Com. of Claims

Source: William Curry Harlee, Kinfolks: A Genealogical and Biographical Record, 3 vols. (New Orleans: Searcy & Pfaff, 1935-37), 3: 2599-2604.

Last updated: Sunday, November 9, 2003

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