The Robertson Genealogy Exchange

Colonel Harlee's Notes on 12243 Sterling Clack Robertson (Part Three)


With the exception of "Robertson Requests Appointment of Commissioner," which is from Brown's History of Texas, the following copies of documents are translations made under direction of Mrs. Mattie Austin Hatcher, Archivist, University of Texas, of original documents in the Spanish language furnished by "Gobierno Supremo del Estado Libre de Coahuila y Tejas," 26 May 1834 "To Citizen Sterling Robertson," and loaned by his granddaughter, [122431E] Mrs. Lela Robertson...., for use in this work.

Letter Transmitting Documents


By order of His Excellency the Governor I am sending you the enclosed certified copy of the contract for colonization made by this Government, October 15, 1827, with the Nashville Company, the same document you had sent together with etition to the Honorable Legislature on April 2 of this same year. Likewise I am sending you a copy of the decree which was issued by the Honorable Congress together with the provisions which the Supreme Government has seen fit to make in view thereof.

I am also including a copy of the decree which the aforesaid Supreme Government set forth on the petition concerning the commissioner, so that you may make use of such of these documents as you may see fit. I might also inform you that the other documents which you sent to this august assembly, demanding the execution of the contract made with said company have been put in the Archives of the Secretary's office for proper legal record by order of His Excellency the Governor.

God and Liberty. Monclova, May 26, 1834.
J. MIGUEL FALCON (rubric) 2d officer.
To Citizen Sterling Robertson.

Letter from Congress to Governor


Most Excellent Sir:

The Honorable Congress in session the twenty-fourth of this month has been pleased to command that Your Excellency, after considering the plea of the Empresario Sterling C. Robertson and the documents which he presents, shall make any disposition of the case which you may see fit, provided it is in agreement with the laws.

And by order of the same we have the honor of communicating it to Your Excellency for your information and other purposes, sending with it the petition mentioned and the documents which accompany it, reiterating our respect and appreciation.

God, Liberty, and Federation, Monclova, April 26, 1834. =Jose Jesus Grande, D(eputy) S(ecretary)=J. Maria de Uranga, D (eputy) S (ecretary) .
(To) His Excellency, the Governor of the State.

Decree of Congress

Gobierno Supremo del Estado libre DE COAHUILA Y TEJAS.
(Supreme Government of the Free State of Coahuila and Texas).

The Governor of the State of Coahuila and Texas to all its inhabitants: Know ye that the Congress of this State has decreed the following:

The constitutional congress of the free, independent, and sovereign state of Coahuila and Texas has seen fit to decree:

Art. 1. In the event that the resolution which shall be made in regard to the matter brought forward by the for. eigner, Sterling C. Robertson, on April 2 should be favorable to the party concerned, the term of his contract shall be extended for four years counting from the date of this law.

Art. 2. Likewise he shall be granted premium corresponding to the number of families which he brought in at his expense and were excluded by the General law of April 6, 1830, in observance of article 12 of the law of March 24, 1825.

The governor of the State will see that this law is fulfilled after ordering it to be printed, published, and circulated. =Augustin Viesca, President=Jose Jesus Grande, Deputy Secretary=Jose Maria de Uranga Deputy Secretary.

Therefore I command that this be printed, published, and distributed and duly observed. Given in the City of Monclova, 29th of April 1834.

Francisco Vidaurri y Villesenor (rubric)
Jose Miguel Falcon (rubric) Secretary

To Citizen Sterling C. Robertson (rubric)
Governor's Order

In fulfillment of the order of the Honorable Congress which was sent to me April 26 of this year, after a careful examination of the petition of the foreigner, Sterling C. Robertson, and the documents which accompanied it granted that the contract made by this government February 25, 1831, with the partners Austin and Williams was merely conditional, nor could it have been otherwise in the matter of the boundaries of the colony mapped out by the Nashville Company; and in virtue of the reports of Austin's council that they had introduced no fewer than one hundred families prior to the month of April, 1830, according to requirement of said Government I have seen fit to give the following order:

First: This Government is to consider null and void the contract made by the partners Austin and Williams on the 25th of February 1831 as far as it concerns the boundaries of the territory contracted for by the Nashville Company, to which Article 2 of the said contract refers. The interested parties establish the rights granted to them in both of these contracts, and, in consequence of this, the partners Austin and Williams, or their representative, may ask that other equivalent lands be designated for them in the unoccupied lands of the state, in case the lands left in their colony should not be enough for the introduction of as many families as they have obligated themselves to introduce.
Second: The families brought in under the contract of said company before the affixed time can and should settle in the aforesaid colony.

Third: The limits set forth for the benefit of the Nash. ville Company are the same as those determined by Article 2 of the orders dictated by this Government October 15, 1827, in the presence of the representative Citizen Stephen F. Austin.

Fourth: The families which are introduced in the said colony at the expense of the partners Austin and Williams will be protected in the possession of the lands which they have legally acquired, without any of the empresarios' being able to count them in the number of families which each has obligated himself to introduce, unless they should make an agreement with any of them to change settlements.

Fifth: To send certified copies of these provisions to the interested parties so that they may be informed of this action.

Monclova, May 22, 1834.=Vidaurri.=Jose Maria del Valle 1st officer.

I certify that the preceding copy is from an original which exists in the Secretary's office, Monclova, May 26, 1834.

J. M. FALCON, (rubric) 2d officer.

Robertson Requests Appointment of Commissioner

(From Brown's HISTORY OF TEXAS, p. 333).

(To) Supreme Government of the Free State of Coahuila and Texas.

Most Excellent Sir:

The citizen, Sterling C. Robertson, a member of the Nashville Company, organized for the purpose. of establishing a colony in Texas, and agent of the empresario of said Company, with the most profound respect, represents to Your Excellency that having already introduced a considerable part of the families contracted for by our Company and desirous of rapidly fulfilling completely our contract made with the Government, and according to the last disposition made of this matter and to augment the industry and prosperity of the people, I entreat Your Excellency to appoint a commissioner to expedite the titles to the settlers as they properly are entitled to them according to the laws and our contract. I trust Your Excellency will confer said nomination upon Citizen Wm. H. Steele, if you consider him worthy the confidence of the Government. I hope Your Excellency will respond to my solicitation and that I may receive justice and favor.

Sterling C. Robertson. (L.S.) Agent of the Colony.
Monclova, May 22d, 1834.

Commissioner Appointed



Monclova, May 24, 1834.=With reference to the petition of the interested party, Citizen William H. Steele has been named by this Government commissioner of the colony con. tracted for by the Nashville Company. He will follow in the discharge of his commission the instructions which are set forth for the sub-commissioners and other subordinate officers in the law of March 26 of the present year and other regula. tions to be observed with respect to the Commissioner General of the Department of Bexar. Make copies of this order and send them to the petitioner and to the chief of the Department of Bexar, enclosing a copy of the aforementioned law. Also include this decree so that the Commissioner may receive notice of his appointment.=Vidaurri=Jose M". Falcon, 2d officer.

I certify that the preceding copy is from an original which exists in the archives of the Secretariat of the Government. Monclova, May 26, 1834.

J. MIGUEL FALCON (rubric) 2d officer.

Appointee Notified



On petition presented to this Government by Citizen Sterling C. Robertson I have under date of today rendered a decree whose contents are as follows:

"With reference to the petition of the interested party, Citizen William H. Steele has been named by this Government commissioner of the colony contracted for by the Nashville Company. He will follow in the discharge of his commission the instructions which are set forth for the sub-commissioners and other subordinate officers in the law of March 26 of the present year and other regulations to be observed with respect to the Commissioner General of the Department of Bexar. Make copies of this order and send them to the petitioner and to .the chief of the Department of Bexar, enclosing a copy of the aforementioned law. Also include this decree so that the Commissioner may receive notice of his appointment."

I am sending it to you for your knowledge and fulfillment and with like purpose am enclosing a copy of the orders decreed by this Government on the 22d instant and a copy of the law of March 26 of the same year, in which are set forth the duties of the sub-commissioners, which you are to follow in carrying out the commission which this Government has conferred upon you.

Trusting in your zeal and patriotism that this commission will be carried out with your customary integrity and efficacy.

God and Liberty. Monclova, play 26, 1834.
Vidaurri (rubric)
J. MIGUEL FALCON (rubric) 2d officer.
To Citizen William H. Steele.


(Brown's History of Texas thus continues:)

The version of [12243] Major Robertson has thus been given. He uses terms of bitter denunciation, which must be lamented. It has been stated that Austin's long detention in Mexico left Williams in charge. In fact, from April, 1833, to the beginning of hostilities in 1835, and, during that period, until the end of all colonial contracts, Austin had no means of participating in the management.

On the 20th of April, 1833, on the eve of leaving for Mexico, Austin wrote James F. Perry, saying:

"I made an arrangement with John Austin and Williams as to the upper colony, above the San Antonio road, and what is made out of that colony is to be equally divided between us. Williams is to attend to the business, but nothing is to be done contrary to law or the true interests of the country. That is, there is to be no kind of wild speculation. My object in this is more to have the business attended to and that wilderness country settled, than to make a speculation." These were Austin's statements privately written to his brother-in-law at the last moment before his departure on that momentous mission to Mexico, in which be was to be so long immured in a dungeon because of his fidelity to Texas.

On the eve of Austin's departure for the United States, with his colleagues, William H. Wharton and Branch T. Archer, on the 17th of December, 1835, Austin wrote Mr. Perry saying:

"As regards the upper colony I have never received one cent. I have had nothing to do with it. My name has been used for the benefit of others, and I have received all the abuse and calumny. Williams knows all about it."

On December the 24th (same year) still detained at the mouth of the Brazos, he wrote Mr. Perry:

"****I have never received one cent out of any of the proceeds of the upper colony, and I know nothing about it and have had nothing to do with it:"

It must be borne in mind that from June, 1833, to September, 1835, Austin was in Mexico, over half the time an actual or quasi-prisoner suffering for Texas, and that his partner, Samuel M. Williams, in these complications with Robertson's colony, was in charge of the business and was present at the State capital during a part of the time. He represented his own case to the government, but they, as is shown, decided in favor of Robertson. The final result was that the settlers received their lands and the contractors their premium lands.


(Copy of original letter)


March 29, 1926.
Mrs. Cone Johnson, 435 Front St, Tyler, Texas.
Dear Madam:

With regard to Robertson's Colony, the Spanish Archives of this office contain the following:

  1. Copy of the Nashville Colony Company's Contract.
  2. Sundry official despatches between the General and State Govern. ments relative to the suspension of the settling of this colony and military orders to arrest and eject S. C. Robertson and others.
  3. The remonstrance of Samuel M. Williams vs. S. C. Robertson.
  4. The appointment of Wm. H. Steele as Commissioner for the Colony.
  5. The original titles issued to the colonists.
  6. English Field Notes to the surveys granted in these titles.
  7. A schedule or list of titles issued in this colony.
  8. A book containing a list of colonists received after the closing of the Land Office by the Consultation at San Felipe de Austin.

Copies of any or all of these instruments may be furnished you upon request and, if you will kindly indicate which of them may interest you, we shall quote you fees thereon.

Very truly yours, = J. T. ROBINSON — Commissioner.

Hon. J. H. Walker, Commissioner, General Land Office, Austin, Texas, wrote, 14 May 1935:

"The record of 'Military orders to arrest S. C. Robertson and others' and 'The remonstrance of Samuel M. Williams vs. S. C. Robertson' is in Spanish and consists of thirty-five pages."


(From an Abstract of Title to 40 Acres of Land out of the S. C. Robertson League No. 1, also known as the S. C. Robertson League No. 7, in Burleson County Texas in name of Mrs. Lela Robertson...).

(CAPTION:) COUNTY: Burleson PATENT: No. 1203 Vol. 15 date 12/24/1834 ORIGINAL GRANTEES S. C. Robertson. PATENTEES: S. C. Robertson.

Mexican Government to Sterling C. Robertson — Title Dated December 24 1834. — (Certified copy) - Filed for record Sept. 9, 1899 Recorded in Vol. 15 Pages 611-13. (in Burleson Co, formed 1846, from Milam Co, where deed was originally recorded. WCH).

SECOND SEAL: TWELVE BEALS. Validated by the State of Coahuila and Texas for the Biennial term of 1828 and 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 and 34. — JUAN DAREL.

The citizen Guillermo H. Steele, Commissioner appointed by the Supreme Government of this State for the distribution and giving possession of lands and extension of titles to the new colonists in the empresa of colonization of Nashville Company. Whereas, the Government concedes to citizen Sterling C. Robertson, as Empresario of the Colony of the Nashville Company five sitios and five labors of land in the class of premiums for every hundred families that settle in said colony. I have concluded to put the aforesaid Sterling C. Robertson in real and personal possession of a sitio of land which tract has been surveyed by the Surveyor, Alexander Thomson, appointed previously for the purpose under the following situation and boundaries:

(A description "embracing a sitio of land in superficies").

The aforesaid tract belongs to the agricultural class in four twenty fifth parts, which will serve as a classification to determine the price that he must pay the State in accordance with Art. 22 of said law and under the penalties therein provided, he being under notice that within one year he has to construct permanent monuments at every angle of the tract and that he must populate it and cultivate it as provided by the law.

Therefore, in exercise of the power conferred upon me by the said law and consequent instructions, I issue the present instrument and order that testimonio be taken thereof and deliver to the interested party in order that he may possess and take the benefit of the tract he, his heirs and suc. cessors or whoever of him or them cause or right may have.

Given in the Town of Viesca on the 24th of Dec. 1834 — Guillermo H. Steele (William H. Steele WCH).

Of Assistance: Man:l Valdez Flores — J. G. W. Pierson

Agrees with the original title which exists these archives whence it is ordered copied for the interested party, this day of the date in the former provided by law. - Given in the Town of Viesca on the 24th of Dec. 1834. — Guillermo H. Steele — Of Assistance: Man:l Valdez Flores.

Republic of Texas — County of Milam — I, W. D. Thomson, Clerk of the County Court and County Recorder in and for the County aforesaid do hereby certify that the foregoing instrument was presented and duly recorded in my office at Nashville the 3rd day of June 1839. — Witness my hand and private seal, having no seal of office, this day and date above written. — W. D. Thomson, C. Recorder.

Deed for one league of land upon the water of Brazos River. — Recorded 3rd June, 1839. Book C. Pages 159-160-161. Cert. 25 Fee :1.25 W. D. Thomson, Co. Recorder.

Deposited in the General Land Office of the State of Texas by Elijah S. C. Robertson previous to 4th July, 1846.

Austin, Texas, Sept. 7, 1899. — I, J. H. Walker, Spanish Translator of the General Land Office of the State of Texas, hereby certify that the foregoing two pages contain a true and correct translated copy of the title testimonio of Sterling C. Robertson as the same appears in Vol. 15, page 1203 of the Spanish Archives of this office, together with the endorsements thereon, the interlineations of the words "Of this State" and "Art. 22 of" page 1, were made before signing this certificate. J. H. Walker, Spanish Translator.


(From original letters preserved by [122431C] Mrs. Johnson).

(Folded and addressed:) Majr. S. C. Robertson — Viesca — Care J. R. Lewis — San Felipe. (Stamped:) BEXAR.

Bexar, Apl 20, 1835.

Dear Sir:

I arrived here in safety on last night and am of opinion that all the reports about our affairs and the Colony are entirely false. I sent yon a letter from San Felipe from Chambers, and from what I can see and here at this place I believe all is yet well. I ask of you to believe no report whatever until you hear from me, and assure the people. I honestly be. lieve there is no danger. Anything the opposition may circulate is entirely for effect on the people.

I believe it is all important for you, myself & the Colony that I go to Monclova as you will see by Chambers' letter which I enclosed to yon from San Felipe and I have recvd information here which urges me on. I will leave in the morning.

On my arrival in Monclova I will write you and if anything takes place for or against us definitely you shall hear it by express, and as soon as the matter is finally determined you may look for me.

It would be wholly useless for me to return from this place. I can only procure about 30 sheets of paper here.

A few days before I passed 4 Spaniards and 1 Frenchman. Mr. Greesier were murdered by the Indians at Castleman's House, after a fight of 20 hours. Castleman has abandoned his place. The citizens of Gonsales followed the Indians and killed five.

Yrs Respy — W. H. STEELE

(Sometime after 20 Apr 1835 when Steele's letter was addressed to him at Viesca—Sarahville de Viesca, his settlement in Texas—Robertson made a trip to Nashville; Tenn., where Steele addressed a letter to him, 31 1u1 1835) .

(Folded and addressed:) Major Sterling C. Robertson, Nashville, Tenn.

Viesca, July 31st 1835
Dear Sir:

I recvd yours last night from Trinity pr my Brother, and Mr. Allen starts this morning I embrace the present oportunity of writing you.

I am truly glad to bear that Texas is determined upon a Convention, and hope it may result in favourable prospects for Texas.

The Indian excitement is up and very great. A few days ago news reached us that the Whacos (Waco Indians. WCH) had returned to their old village and taken possession of it and were destroying the corn, etc. We immediately raised a company and went up but found no Indians but a great deal of sign.

Things are about as they were when you left, business at this time tolerably brisk but money very scarce. However I detain no man's deed for want of money; settlers is what we want.

If the Convention should be called I will try to have some person in it who will guard our interest.

There is some excitement arisen again upon the subject of the bottom lands you reserved. You had not left here two hours before Mr. M. Lyman came and applied to me to clear him out a league of land there. I refused to do it. He afterwards got some person to promise to do so, and says he is determined to have it. Some of your friends in this place say they will put settlers on all the vacant lands there and will have it. However rest satisfied upon that subject for no man shall have a title to it. Rest assured that in any compromise I may make with Hoxey &c, I will strictly guard your interest as well as that of the colonist, and in your absence I will in every point guard your interest, for I do not think that if it is neglected by me, that others have it in their power to do it.

I have not heard from the Political Chief. Mr. Hood & myself will start below tomorrow, Hood for Matamoras, and while below I will do what I can. Chambers is in custody at Bexar.

It is with pleasure I can say to you that Sterling has abandoned that House, and all that resorted there, and now attends strictly and closely to business. He now keeps none but the best of company.

I hope you may have a speedy & pleasant trip and also a profitable one. Money is much needed here for speculation.

Graves returned a few days since with a large number of surveys. I have given Pierson further orders to wind up his business. He says he can complete it in one month. He has nearly finished a plot of all the work. Bring me some drawing paper of the longest size and best quality.

Yrs Respy — W. H. STEELE.


"Sterling C. Robertson returned to Nashville (Tenn.) from his colony in September 1835 and in discussing the situation in Texas stated that 'it must, before long, come under the government of the United States and be independent, as the present state of affairs can not last long'." (Footnote, p. 242, South. western Historical Quarterly, April 1927).

He had returned to Texas before 27 Oct 1835 when he issued a notice to the public, copy of which will follow.

The mode of travel then was horseback. Robertson's trips between Tennessee and Texas and between Texas and Mexico through hundreds of miles of wilderness or barren country, infested by hostile Indians, stamp him as a man of stamina and courage.


The following copy of a notice to the public is from a copy in [122431C] Mrs Johnson's papers bearing the subjoined certificate signed by her father, who was son of [12243] Sterling C. Robertson:


Having just seen a publication signed by P. F. Jack, agent for Austin and Williams, that an office is opened in San Felipe for the letting out of lands in the upper Colony; I deem it my duty to inform the public that said Austin and Williams have no right legally or equitably acquired to colonize any family in the limits assigned by the government to the Nashville Company until the expiration of the contract of said company which will expire in May 1838; that formerly Austin and Williams by false representation procured a contract from the government for the lands comprehended in the limits designated to the Nashville Company, that afterwards on the 22nd day of May, 1838, upon the representation of the agent of said company the said contract of Austin and Williams was solemnly declared null so far as it comprehended the lands designated in the contract of the Nashville Company, and the contract of said company prorogued for four years, that the decrees in favour of said company have not been in any wise repealed or annulled, that the attempts of Austin and Williams to colonize said section of country is contrary to equity or law, unfounded in justice, principles or good faith and calculated alone to deceive the public.

The affairs of the Colony are regularly progressing under my charge as the agent and empresario of said Nashville Company and all persons wishing to procure land in said Colony will apply at my office in Viesca and not at the office of Austin and Williams in San Felipe.

In a short time a full and fair exposition of the transactions relative to the Colony will be laid before the public for their inspection together with a translation of the papers so that the public may judge for them selves and not be liable to be imposed upon by the false representation of Austin and Williams, or any other person.

Sterling C. Robertson.
Viesca Oct. 27, 1835.

The above is a true copy taken from the original by me.


Robertson's "exposition of the transactions relative to the colony" which as stated in his notice to the public, 27 Oct 1835, "will be laid before the public," etc., is included in the following extract from a clipping (date not shown) from the Dallas (Texas) News of an article, Notable Texan, by James T. De Shields.


In 1829 Robertson introduced at his own expense 100 families or more into the colony and made extensive arrangements, at great trouble and expense, for the fulfillment of the contract but by the law of April 6th 1830 these families were driven from the colony by the Mexican military authorities, as a consequence of false representations made to the Government in regard to Robertson and his colonists. This necessitated several trips by him to the Mexican capital, and finally in the spring of 1834, his rights as a contractor were restored to him.

He thereupon issued to the world the following letter, published in the newspapers far and wide, and mailed directly, in the form of circulars, to the parties mainly interested:—


Land in the Colony of the Nashville Company:—

This splendid country, known by the name of the Nashville Colony, which has been so long the object of a legal contest, has at length beets restored to its rightful owners, and although this interesting section of Texas has for a long time been kept a wilderness by fraud and chicanery, justice has at last gained a triumph over perfidy and the country is now open for settlement according to the terms of the contract of the Nashville Company and the laws of Colonization of March 24th, 1825.

Therefore all those who are interested in the company, who hold scrip or certificates of membership, and those who have contracted with the company or its agents to settle in the colony, are hereby notified and required to come without delay and establish themselves upon their land according to the private constitution of the company, the contract with the government and the -laws upon the subject, or otherwise they will forfeit their rights and the land will be given to others by virtue of the law. For settlers are crowding in, daily applications are made, and the lands will not be held.

As much has been said with respect to the right which another has pretended to exercise over this colony, and many exertions have been made and are still being made to deceive and impose upon the public by the most scandalous calumny and misrepresentation with regard to that pre. tended claim and the present state of that disgraceful affair, and thereby still to prevent the settlement of the colony, I will briefly touch upon that subject in order to correct a false impression which may have been made and place the matter in its true light.

In the month of April 1825 Robert Leftwich, for the company, celebrated a contract with the government of this state to introduce 800 fami lies into the colony and settle them according to the laws of colonization of March 24th 1825.

Having encountered some difficulty in settling the colony in consequence of the law of April 6th 1830, I engaged an agent, who had been elected a member of Congress, to attend to the matter, and he pledged himself to use his best exertions to effect these objects. He proceeded to the capital and, in violation of the pledge he had made and of every principle of good faith and honor, falsely represented to the government that no exertion had been made to settle the colony, that no families had been introduced, and that the company had abandoned its right, and in this manner he entrapped the government into a new contract, which it celebrated with himself and his partner for the same colony previous to the expiration of our contract. On his return, ashamed of his treachery, he denied for sometime having obtained the colony under a new contract for himself and partner and intrigued with the authorities for my expulsion from the country.

The hardships and sufferings which I have been compelled to endure on account of this act of treachery would fill a volume with their history and I forebear to repeat them. The facts above stated are established by authentic documents and the testimony of witnesses upon oath, and having laid the whole matter before the government and received a final hearing, the colony was restored by a solemn, deliberate and authorized decision, to the Nashville Company, its rightful owner.

This decision founded upon the plainest principles of common sense, justice and law, sets forth that the contract of the agent and his partner was obtained on their part by fraud and celebrated on the part of the government by error, that the company had not forfeited the colony and that the terms of their contract now having expired the government could not grant it away while it belonged to the company by the contract which had not expired and that, therefore, the contract with the agent and his partner was not only voidable, but null and void ab initio.

But the same parties, inexorable in their persecutions and malice, seem disposed to do every injury in their power to the colony by the active propaganda of falsehood and misrepresentation, stating that it had not been restored to the company, and that the decision of the governor was spurious and unauthorized. The most conclusive and triumphant answer that can he made to such malicious misrepresentation and calumny will be to lay before the public the subjoined acts and decrees of the Government and Congress upon the subject as translated from the Spanish language by Thomas Jefferson Chambers, Superior Judge of Texas.

Sterling C. Robertson.

This letter was followed by the acts and decrees in question, and, taken in connection with said agent's actions in relation to Hayden Edwards at Nacogdoches, did much to lessen the influence of the agent and circum. scribe his political career at a later date.


An account of Robertson's notable part in the founding of the Republic of Texas would be incomplete without reference to his conflict with Stephen F. Austin and Austin's partner, Williams.

Robertson's version of the difficulties which beset him and his colonists is not presented with any purpose to detract from the fame of Stephen F. Austin, a notable pioneer and patriot of Texas, whom Texas has honored, along with Robertson, among its foremost founders.

An excellent and creditable biography of that illustrious Texan, Austin, appears in Judge Fulmore's HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY OF TEXAS AS TOLD IN COUNTY NAMES.


The following copy of original letter in Mrs. Johnson's papers, shows that its writer, Judge Thomas Jefferson Chambers, was out of the custody at Bexar mentioned in Steele's letter, 31 Jul 1835. Robertson appears to have been at San Felipe, Texas, at the time, 17 Dec 1835.

(Folded and addressed:) "Major S. C. Robertson, San Felipe.
(Inside:) "Major S. C. Robertson — Decb 17th 1835.
"Dear Major: Please pay the bearer, Juan, thirteen dolls which I owe him, as I am out at present and you will oblige — Yours — T. J. CHAMBERS


About 1835, [122413] George Campbell Childress...and [122416] John Childress..., sons of Robertson's sister, [12241] Elizabeth (Robertson) Childress..., q.v., joined his colony in Texas....


(From article by Marjorie Rogers in Dallas (Texas) News, 30 Nov 1931).

Sterling C. Robertson began the colonization of Falls County in 1834...J. G. W. Pierson was appointed agent to divide the land And establish a capital for the new colony...William H. Steele was appointed commissioner to issue titles to the land. All land titles were required to be written in the Spanish language.

Colonel Robertson left for the East to induce the immigrants into the new colony, leaving Mr. Pierson in charge of the affairs of the colony and the erection of a suitable building for the officials of the colony and the laying out of the town.

The west bluffs, overlooking the Brazos Valley, of the Brazos River about half a mile southwest of the spot where the river prior to 1866 roared over the "old falls," was selected as the site of the capital. Robertson named the place Sarahville de Viesca, in honor of his mother and Viesca, the Governor of Coahulia and Texas. Viesca grew to be a town of 300 or more inhabitants. ...Around the falls were the Indian trails and it was known as a stopping post for travelers. In 1866, however, the Brazos changed its course and the falls occur lower down its way.

Viesca and "the falls of the Brazos" were recognized as being on the extreme frontier, and, according to the distance from the principal towns and habitations that composed the true colonial Texas, were on the frontier. For this reason there was established a fort at the falls of the Brazos....

At this fort thirty or forty soldiers were kept all the time to protect the colonists from the Indians. Rangers, who were kept out as spies, would frequently come in and report to the colonists that they had seen smoke on the west side of the river answered by smoke on the east side of the Brazos. The soldiers protected the colonists as they worked the fertile lands of the bottom.

Provisions had to he hauled to the town of Viesca by ox teams from Nacogdoches, which was a distance of 300 miles.

The war with the Indians began in August of 1835, and with Mexico about two months later. At the time of the invasion of Santa Anna and the fall of the Alamo, the people began to leave. This exodus was known over Texas as the "runaway scrape." The fall of Parker's Fort and the constant Indian troubles kept the Viesca country unsettled. A battalion of rangers was organized during the year 1839 and one company under the command of Capt. T. H. Barron was stationed at "The Falls of the Brazos" near Viesca.

These colonists on the frontier and in the town of Viesca at the time when Texas was in the struggle for her independence were in danger of the Mexicans on one side and of the Indians on the other. Viesca was a town then of about 200 population, and being the capital it did not take long for the settlers about the Falls of the Brazos to leave for the more populated districts south and east for protection. Many who deserted their new found homes never returned, thus leaving the historic Viesca to the Indians and the Mexicans and to ruin.


(From "Historical Sketch of Old Nashville" by Mrs. Jeff T. Kemp, Historian of Sarah McCalla Chapter, D. A. R., in The Rockdale (Texas) Reporter, 27 Oct 1927).

Sterling C. Robertson, empresario, and Alexander Thomson with numerous families from Tennessee and other states settled on the Brazos in 1830 in what was originally Leftwich's grant-later known as the Nashville Company, and finally as Robertson's Colony....

Upon his arrival he established his headquarters at a point (Sarahville de Viesca. WCH) on the Brazos near the present town of Marlin. He also established a settlement lower down on the Brazos and located a townsite which he called Nashville in honor of his birthplace. This was to be a point from which settlers were to be distributed to such sections of the Colony tract as they might choose. This village was located on a bluff on the west bank of the Brazos river just above where the International-Great Northern railroad crosses the Brazos south of Hearne. Here he built substantial forts, etc, as protection against Indian assaults and it soon grew to be an important point. Supply depots were also erected and supplies were distributed from this point....

Large grants of land were secured by members of the Company upon certificates like the following:

"This is to certify that William Reed has this day applied to me by my authority as empressario of the Nashville Colony to become a member of said Company of Colonization of Texas and be further pledges himself to settle in this Colony as a Colonist as a member of said Company, so as not to interfere with any previous selections given under my. hand this day and date above stated. — S. C. ROBERTSON, Empressario. — By T. A. GRAVES, Agent."

The original of this certificate issued to her grandfather, William Reed, is now in possession of the writer of this article.

In 1831 Robertson had trouble with the Mexican authorities about his contract and it was necessary for him to go to Saltillo, Mexico. On April 29; 1834, his contract was renewed. He is said to have spent about forty-five thousand dollars in this enterprise of colonization. He lived and died a Texas hero....

The village of Nashville consisted of an aggregation of small log and board houses erected near the river bluff. Some of the log dwellings were double pens, without hall between, some with halls (dirt floor) ; others single pens, some were hewn, others unhewn logs. A few were framed and weatherboarded with whipsawed siding, and openings between loge were chinked and daubed....

At the present time not a house stands to mark the site of Old Nashville. It has been a deserted village many years....

In 1839 Nashville was in the competition for the State Capital when the city of Austin was selected....

An early Baptist preacher, Rev. Z. N. Morrill, thus speaks of Nashville, in his "Fruits and Flowers or 46 Years in Texas."

"In 1837 our crop on the Brazos (he lived near Marlin) was cultivated under a guard of soldiers. I ventured down to Nashville and all the people in the settlement that could, turned out to preaching in a little log cabin, with dirt floor. Just about the time we closed the services on Sunday the Indians dashed upon us and killed two men in sight of the congregation. Preachers and people carried weapons with them to the house of God in those days. We instantly changed the services into war with the Indians. Every man was immediately mounted and off with gun in hand on Sunday evening in full pursuit of the Indians but they escaped up Little River...."

One of the most honored citizens of Nashville was the author of the Texas Declaration of Independence, George Campbell Childress, a cultured lawyer and nephew of Sterling C. Robertson, founder of the town.

Recognizing their obligation to preserve historic spots, Sarah McCalla Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution asked the Milam county commissioners court to place a beautiful bronze tablet on the new bridge with this legend:


Here was located the Capital of
Sterling C. Robertson's Colony
The home of George C. Childress,
Author of Texas Declaration
of Independence
First County Seat of Milam County


(From letter, 27 Mar 1935, from Mrs. Jeff T. Kemp, Cameron, Texas) .

Sarah McCalla Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution of Cameron, Texas, recently bought two and one-tenth acres of land near the site of the old town of Nashville, once the Capital City of Empressario Sterling C. Robertson's colony. In co-operation with the Texas Highway Department preliminary work has begun for the opening of a State owned park on this site.

The park tract is triangular in shape. It is located in Milam County near where the International and Great Northern Railway Bridge and the State Highway Bridge on Highway Number 43 span the Brazos River, the boundary line between the counties of Robertson and Milam. The ideal location of this park site lends itself to plans for beautification and for historic interest.

The one remaining landmark on the site of Old Nashville, a huge cistern, and the fallen debris of two old rock chimneys, have been donated to Sarah McCalla Chapter. Of these stones a special memorial will be erected by the chapter. An imposing marker is contemplated to fittingly mark this seat of pioneer civilization in Texas.


This letter shows that Robertson began early to summon help for the Texas Revolution.

(From original letter in [122431C] Mrs. Cone Johnson's papers).

Tuscaloosa, Oct. 27, 1835.
Mr. S. C. Robertson, Texas
Dear Sir:
I received your letter dated Nashville, Oct. 12, which gave me much valuable information, and I was glad to hear that all matters were amicably adjusted between the colonies and the Mexican Gov.

I was sorry to learn from the next New Orleans Bulletin that war was inevitable in that country. This subject has engrossed the most of my attention ever since I have concluded that help you I must and will if help is necessary.

Write to me on the receipt of this, and if it is desired I will come with as many volunteers as I can raise, which will be no small number, or at least as many as my funds will bring to your assistance. I will start on receiving your answer.

Write me all the news of the times immediately as I will anxiously wait for the summons to your assistance in that noble cause—liberty.

I would advise you to receive no terms of compromise short of entire liberty and all your rights.

Respectfully your Obt. Servt — G. H. HARRISON

Source: William Curry Harlee, Kinfolks: A Genealogical and Biographical Record, 3 vols. (New Orleans: Searcy & Pfaff, 1935-37), 3: 2835-2850.

Continue with Part Four

Last updated: Wednesday, March 10, 2004

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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