The Robertson Genealogy Exchange

Draper Ms. 6XX49
[12216] Dr. Felix Robertson

Mailed Nashville T. Apl. 12th 1854.

1st & 2nd. My grandfather John Robertson was a native of Ireland. His father a native of Scotland. My grandfather died in Wake County N. Carolina but the date of his death I cannot ascertain, leaving a widdow with seven or eight children. My grandmother died several years after her husband, but when I am not able to say. When they first moved from Virginia they settled low down in N. Carolina, & in a few years moved up to Wake County. My grandmother was Mary Gower, of an English family. My father was born in Brunswick County, Virginia on the 28 June 1742, died 1st Sept. 1844. My mother was born in N. Carolina on Jany. 2nd 1751, died the 11 June 1843. They were married in Wake County, N. C. They were married, I think, in 1767 or 8, but I have no means of ascertaining precisely. My mother was Charlotte Reeves, of an English family.

3rd. I am unable to state the time of my grandfather's removal to N. Ca. & of course my father's age at the time, but he was quite young. My impression is that my father never went to school and that my mother after their marriage was his sole teacher. His education was very limited. He was, when I can first recollect, quite a ready writer, but he wrote a bad scrawl & spelled badly.

4th. I have been unable to find anyone who can give me certain information about the author of the pamphlet, but my own recollection points to Moses Fisque Esqr., an intelligent New England gentleman who I recollect seeing occasionally at my father's when I was a lad. I took my notes from my mother's dictation and have no doubt they are correct. I have no information of whether or not my father had heard of the Watauga Country which led him to visit it, but I think it very probable as hunters were always making hunting excursions far beyond the white settlement. Honeycutt set off from Holston with the movers to Cumberland. He went with the party who left the company at the mouth of Tennessee & went to Natchez. From there he soon went into the Choctaw Nation and resided until his death. I have no knowledge of the persons who moved with my father to Watauga.

5th. I have no doubt the person was Bean, for I know there was a family of that name there with whom my father was intimatelyacquainted, and they were a bold, active set of men. I met one of them living on the bank of the Sabine in Texas in 1826.

6th. I do not know whether or not my father found Boone on Watauga when he went there, but I know he lived there while my father resided there. I recollect hearing my mother say that Boone always stopped with them for some days on his out & return route from his western hunting excursions. My sister nine years older than myself says that Boone & several of his children were baptised or christened with her & her three brothers at my father's house. She was young at the time, but such events are rarely forgotten.

7th. I have no information on that subject.

8th. Black Charles Robertson was my father's cousin. He died in East Tennessee at a good old age, but where I am unable to say. A son of his some ten or twelve years ago was here in our legislature representing Lincoln or Bedford County. He died within a year or two past. He told me at the time he was here that he had a brother living in West Tennessee. I am nearly certain that Black Charles was not a son of my grand-uncle Charles.

9th. Lucas came from Holston with the first company that came down that river to this country.

10th. I am not able to ascertain who is the author of the pamphlet. My father started from Holston on his first trip to this country in the winter of 1778, but my impression is he did not reach the French Lick before very late in the winter or early in the spring. It is possible he reached here in December but I never understood it so. My father went on to Illinois for the double purpose of exploring the country and to procure some Spanish brood mares. He always had a great passion for stock raising. Wm. Neely, Mark Robertson, Zachariah White & Wm. Overall were killed in this neighborhood at an early day. Edward Swanson married the widow of —— Carvin who was killed three miles from Nashville on the opposite side of the river. Soon after the Indian purchase on Duck River Swanson moved out beyond Franklin where he died some twenty years since. As yet I can obtain no certain account of the others.

11th. I think Haywood's date is correct, it was in April 1781.

12th. Colo. James Ford died in 1807 near Clarksville in Montgomery County.

13th. I do not believe it was ever certainly ascertained the number of Indians killed & wounded, but one was left dead on the ground, a chief called Tunbridge who was under the walls attempting to kindle a fire when he was shot from the port hole above. Watts their chief was pretty badly wounded but recovered, no white man in the fort was touched by a bullet, one man had his face cut some by splinters from the port hole, a bullet knocking them off while he was looking out. An Irishman, James 0'Connor, was a good deal bruised by the kicking of a blunderbuss which he fired while standing on the top of a ladder, it knocking him off onto the floor below. Major Buchannan a short time before his death related to me the circumstances. Jemmy had no gun of his own & Buchannan gave the blunderbuss and told him to go fire it amongst the Indians. Jemmy was gone but a moment when he came running to Buchannan to load his piece again. The Major told him he had not fired, but Jemmy swore by Jesus he had & tanned their red hides for them. It was no time to hold a long parley. Buchannan poured down a handful of rifle balls and Jemmy scampered off in a hurry. Buchannan said it was not long before he heard the blunderbuss in good earnest, and Jemmy found himself on his back on the ground floor, with his shoulder so bruised that he was not able to use his arm for weeks. It was said that the discharge of the blunderbuss caused a sudden change in the yell of the Indians. Jemmy swore he made a lane through them, but Buchaiinan did not seem to think he retained his position on the steps long enough after the discharge to make very accurate observations. From appearances on the ground it was thought a good many Indians were killed.

14th. I have searched in vain for a copy of Bradford's Museum.

15th. I have three sisters & one brother living. My oldest sister Delilah Bosley, widow of John Bosley, 80 years old, is living in Cannon County 50 or 60 miles off. Charlotte Napier, widow of Richard Claibourne Napier, 71 years of age. She is living with her son Leroy Napier on Duck River in Hickman County. Lavinia Craighead, wife of John Brown Craighead, summer residence four miles west of Nashville, spends the winter on a sugar plantation in Louisiana, her age 66. John McNairy Robertson the youngest child of the family, 64, lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I was born Jany. 11th 1781.

16th. Wm. Donaldson, Thos. Eaton & wife, Wm. Mattock are dead. The others named are living, also Colo. Jos. Brown is living. I never could procure Hickman's daguerreotype.

George Boyd died in Nashville. He lived to a good old age altho always an intemperate drinker of ardent spirits. I think he was the first distiller of whiskcv in this countrv. His last surviving child Wm. Boyd is living at Cockrill's Spring two miles from Nashville. His wife is a daughter of Colo. James Ford.

I have lately come in possession of some notes dictated by my sister Craighead which I send you. Altho not in every particular correct they may enable you to settle some points not made certain from other sources. I think but two persons left here with my father in the further prosecution of his explorations, Mark Robertson and someone of the balence, & that the other person stopped on the route giving rise to the idea in my sister's notes that the whole company with the exception of two deserted him. I recollect perfectly of hearing him say he left four here. If it should be in my power to get the necessary information so as fully to answer your enquiries I will send it to you. In the mean time I forward what I have in possession. Do not be backward in calling for information, it always gives me pleasure to furnish it, but requires a little [-----].

Your friend,


Source: William Curry Harlee, Kinfolks: A Genealogical and Biographical Record, 3 vols. (New Orleans: Searcy & Pfaff, 1935-37), 3: 2498-2502.

Last updated: Sunday, August 24, 2003

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