Stephen Robertson Family


Much speculation has taken place as to the ancestry of Stephen Robertson who, with his large family, settled in southern Indiana in the early 1830's and were already in Brown County when it was formed April 1, 1836.  Recent DNA results may provide help answering that question.  Those results show that Stephen shares a common ancestor with known descendants of James and Mary Fuqua Roberson.  With these web pages I look at the possibility that Stephen's parents were James and Mary Fuqua Roberson.

Much of what I have been guided by in previous research of Stephen's history came from material written in December 1956 by Fred Robertson, a descendant through Stephen's eldest child, Lazarus Robertson (as am I).  His information came from submissions of other Robertson family members, published material, and personal research.  As many of us may have already encountered in our ancestry research, information obtained through family traditions and/or from publications like the vanity press county histories popular during the late 1800's/early 1900's often contains some kernels of truth but also information that is often times more wishful than factual.  One of the problems faced by Fred and anyone else researching Tennessee and Virginia records of the 1700's is the limited number of primary records available from which to draw decisive conclusions.  I present data here with the understanding there may not be agreement, but with the hope that it spurs further research that can improve the accuracy of the information presented.

Some of the pertinent points in Fred Robertson's written work include the following family traditions related to the Robertsons that Stephen was a part of:

"They were active in the Revolutionary War, in Virginia."

"They were descended from a Robertson (probably James) who was with Boone at Boonesborough."

"They were kin to the James Robertson who was called the Father of Tennessee."

"A branch of the family, the Tar Heels, came from North Carolina."

"Alexander Robertson was a son of James Robertson who with his father of the same name arrived in America from Ireland in 1737.  He lived in Augusta Co. Va. until 1772, in Fincastle Co. until 1777, in Montgomery Co. until 1779.  In December of that year he took a company of settlers through the Cumberland Gap to Boonesborough.  James Robertson of Tenn., Alexander Robertson and Daniel Boone all passed through the Cumberland Gap in the same month.  They were probably in the same party."  [Note: It is unlikely there is any connection between these groups.  First, Boone's large party left the Yadkin (North Carolina) in September 1779.  Boone himself reached Logan's Station (Kentucky) by October 14 and Boone and his large party of new settlers reached Boonesborough in late October 1779 ("Boone, A Biography"; Robert Morgan; Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; 2007).  Settlement of the area that would eventually become Nashville took place in 1779.  James Robertson's (of Tennessee fame) group of 200 men left the Watauga settlements in early November 1779.  It followed a citcuitous overland route that took it through the Cumberland Gap and into what is now central Kentucky, and then south to the Cumberland River ("Touring the Middle Tennessee"; Robert Brandt; John F. Blair, Publisher; 1995).  With the close proximity of the Watauga settlements to the Cumberland Gap, it is likely Robertson's group traveled The Gap in November.  Either way, it is highly unlikely the groups met each other.]

"George Robinson was known to have been in the stockade at Boonesborough.  Margaret Robinson married Alexander Robertson who arrived there in Dec. 1779.  With him were James, James Jr., John, Matthew and Wm Robertson.  This James Robertson is different from the ones previously mentioned.  Tradition implies we are descended from a James Robertson who was living in Fincastle Co. Va. where Stephen Robertson was born about 1775."

"Stephen Robertson was born in Fincastle Co. Va. (now Montgomery Co.) about 1775.  He came through the Cumberland Gap in Dec. 1779 with the party of Alexander Robertson.  Sometime before 1790 they moved to Mercer Co. Ky. near Harrodsburg."

"About 1793-95 Governor Wm Blount was forming the capitol of the territory at Knoxville Tenn.  Stephen went there about that time.  On May 26, 1800 he married Winnie Chitwood.  They had thirteen children.  We know Lazarus 1801, Robert 1803, Elizabeth 1804, John, Pleasant 1814 and Joseph 1822.  In May 1802 they were living on Beaver Creek across the Clinch River east of Oak Ridge Tenn."

"About 1815 they moved a few miles north to that fractional part of Claiborne Co. which was detached to form part of Campbell Co.  Stephen left here for Indiana in 1828.  The family stopped in Ky. (one year) and proceeded to Dubois Co. in Indiana and on to Brown Co. Ind.  The earliest record they were in Brown Co. is Dec. 29, 1835 when Stephen and Shadrach patented land in adjoining sections in Jackson Township.  Their land had a common boundary.  Stephen died here about 1837."

In addition to the above is the biographical sketch of Joseph Robertson found in "Portrait And Biographical Record of Johnson, Poweshiek and Iowa Counties Iowa"; Chapman Bros.; Chicago; 1893.  The pertinent clips include, "Our subject is a native of Campbell County, Tenn., where he was born in 1822.  In 1828, his parents removed to Brown County, Ind., where their son Joseph grew up to a self-reliant and industrious manhood.  The father and mother, Stephen and Winnie (Webb) Robertson, were the parents of thirteen sons and daughters.  Stephen Robertson was a native of Virginia, and was born about 1775.  The paternal grandfather was during the Revolutionary War obliged to leave his Virginia home and with his wife and eleven children seek shelter from the enemy in a fort."

Part of what is presented on these pages is a significant amount of research I did on the Robertson families in Augusta, Montgomery, Amherst, Albemarle and Fincastle counties in an attempt to verify the information related to Stephen's migration from Virginia to the western Virginia region that would become Kentucky.  Part of that work was also an attempt to link Stephen to the various Jameses found in these counties.  While I was able to verify this migration in the 1779 timeframe for several Robertson families, I was unable to find any linkages to Daniel Boone or to Tennessee's James Robertson, and most importantly I did not find anything that would suggest that Stephen came from these counties or the Robertson families therein.  These research results are contained within the links under the topic heading "Early Research to Find James Robertson" in the left navigation frame.

The left navigation frame contains links under the topic heading of "Notes on James Roberson Family" that look at the family the DNA results say Stephen is related to.  The intent of this information is to look at how this family fits the charateristics identified above by Fred and Joseph Robertson, how/if Stephen fits in, and finally a review of some of the family traditions related to this family.  Unfortunately no primary records have surfaced yet that would serve as the smoking gun to prove Stephen is the son of James and Mary.  Currently the DNA results serve as the starting point with other information serving as supporting information that does not refute that relationship, but, alas, does not provide the definitive positive link.  Any contributed information that can solidify this relationship will be welcome and the contributor properly identified.

Note: Adding to the complications in trying to locate records continues to be the various forms of the documented surname, sometimes within the same document - Robertson, Roberson, Robison, Robeson, Robinson, etc.  That, along with the number of families present with this surname, makes for challenging research.

Use the links in the frame to the left to navigate to your topic of choice among the Robertson research topics.

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