The Robertson Genealogy Exchange

Colonel Harlee's Notes on 1227 Ann Robertson

[Note by Tom Robertson: In Kinfolks: A Genealogical and Biographical Record, Colonel William Curry Harlee stated that 1227 Ann Robertson was first married to Nehemiah Johnston, but the Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions of Johnston County, North Carolina, Book 2, 1767-1777, page 173, establish that her first husband was named David Johnston.]

The following is from "Cockrill Genealogy, compiled by Granville Goodloe..., Arkadelphia, Ark.," published in American Historical Magazine, Nashville, Tenn., of October 1898.

"From the military records of the Dominion of Virginia, it appears that John Cockrill, who is said to have come to Virginia with Gen. Braddock, enlisted in Capt. Henry Harrison's company, October 8, 1756, being aged thirty years; height, five feet ten inches; a planter of Richmond County. This was under Lieut. Gov. Robert Dinwiddie's call for Virginia volunteers for the French and Indian war. There is very strong presumption that he was identical with the John Cockerell, or Cockerill, who came to Virginia and married Deborah Fox, before, or early in, 1757, which event he did not long survive, leaving a son John. His widow married David Collingsworth, who, dying, left a son Edmund. By her third husband, - - - Kells, she had no issue. She died at the home of her son, Edmund Collingsworth, in Davidson County, Tenn. She was descended from the English Fox family; her mother was an Allison.... There is doubt about her given name; it may have been Barbara or Thebia."

Second GenerationIssue of John Cockerill and Deborah Fox:

"John Cockerill II, born, presumably in Richmond County, Va., December 19, 1757; was in the body of Virginia troops who went to the relief of Fort Watauga, June, 1776, apparently in the command of Col. Wm. Russell, or Capt. Evan Shelby vide Haywood's `History of Tennessee'; was called into the service again' the next year, and was in the winter campaign under Brigadier Macintosh; in the fall of 1779, he repaired to Fort Patrick Henry, and joined the Robertson colony, bound for the Cumberland country, under command of Col. John Donelson. They reached the French Lick (Nashville) in April, 1780. A full account of this trip is found in the histories of the period.

"In this company of immigrants was a young widow, [1227] Mrs. Ann Johnston, relict of Nehemiah [actually, David; see note above; TR] Johnston, and daughter of [122] John Randolph [There is no reliable evidence that he had a middle name. TR] Robertson and Mary Gower. She and Cockrill were married in Robertson's Fort, in the fall of 1780. There were three children of the first husband: (1) [12271] Mary Johnston, wife of Gen. Isaac Roberts, who left issue in Maury County, Tenn.; (2) [12272] Elizabeth Johnston, wife of Daniel Evans, who left issue in Maury County, Tenn.; (3) [12273] Charity Johnston, wife of Reuben Parks, who moved to Mississippi or Louisiana.

"John Cockrill II, was engaged in all the battles against the Indians during their attacks on the infant colony, being severely wounded more than once. For this service he was mentioned in the acts of the North Carolina Legislature in 1782 (1784 WCH), and given three grants of land, one of them the Cockrill Spring tract, embracing the ground of the late Centennial Exposition. Vide Haywood and the North Carolina Military Grants.

"He lived at the spring till after the death of his wife, October 15, 1821, and moved to a brick house on Cedar Street, still standing, where he died April 11, 1837. He, his wife, her brother, [1221] Gen. James Robertson, and Mrs. Robertson, nee Charlotte Reeves, joined the M. E. Church, under Rev. Wilson Lee's ministry, in 1790. In a pamphlet, 'Familycraft vs. Schoolcraft,' published about twenty years ago, by Rev. C. D. Elliott, who has known the Cockrills well for many years, the statement is made that [1227] Mrs. Ann Johnston taught a Sunday and day school in Nashville, in 1780, before she married Cockrill. She was born in Wake County, N. C., in February 10, 1757, [Wake County, N. C. was not formed until 1771; she was born in Granville (now Warren) County, N.C. or Lunenburg (now Mecklenburg) County, Va. TR] and must have married Johnston before the war; he was killed by a falling tree in East Tennessee."

Mr. Granville Goodloe's article then furnishes list and data of three generations of descendants of John and Anne (Robertson) (Johnston) Cockrill, all of which are herein presented in the register of their descendants.

"Some of those who came with Col. Donelson (on the celebrated voyage, in 1779-80, of the 'Adventure' and other boats from the settlements in present East Tennessee to the `Bluffs of the Cumberland,' now Nashville)....John Cockrill and his family...Mrs. Robertson wife of [1221] Capt. James Robertson." (Haywood's History of Tennessee). [1227] Mrs. Anne (Robertson) Johnston, then a widow with three daughters, is not mentioned in this list. They were probably included in what the author describes as "John Cockrill and his family," although they had not then became part of his family...It is unlikely that he had any other family at that time. He was probably then unmarried. He does not appear to have been married more than once.

In another narrative of this is stated that "[1227] Mrs. Johnston, a sister of [1221] Captain Robertson, acted as pilot of the 'Adventure'" when they reached the Ohio River and some of the men left the party and proceeded down the Ohio River towards Natchez.

[1227] Anne (Robertson) (Johnston) Cockrill was a veritable heroine. Her services in defense of the fort at the Watauga settlement during an attack by Indians, when all the white men were absent at work in the fields, have already been thus described.... "A party of twenty five braves found lodgement under the walls of the fort and were making desperate efforts to fire it. The defenders could not reach them with their rifles, and matters were looking desperate when [1221] Captain Robertson's sister (then the widow, [1227] Ann Johnston WCH) was seized with an inspiration. It was 'wash day' at the fort. Seizing a bucket of boiling water and bidding the women supply more, she mounted a parapet amid a shower of bullets and directed a scalding stream upon the enemy. Thrice she was severely wounded, but held her position until poor Lo was forced to seek shelter in the woods. When the men reached the fort the battle was over, and although several of the women were injured, victory remained with them along with fifteen dead and many more wounded Indians."

The State of North Carolina, which then included Tennessee, recognized her services in the defense of the newly settled region and the services of her husband and others, by an act of the General Assembly of,1784 granting to a list of persons beginning "John Cockrill, [1227] Ann Cockrill, formerly the widow Ann Johnston" each 640 acres of land "without being required to pay any price to the State for the same." (State Records of N. C., Vol. XIX, p. 572 and Vol. XXIV, pp. 629-30).

Source: William Curry Harlee, Kinfolks: A Genealogical and Biographical Record, 3 vols. (New Orleans: Searcy & Pfaff, 1935-37), 3: 2566-2568.

Last updated: Monday, November 10, 2003

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