Frontiersman Samuel Robertson, c1755-1826

Samuel Robertson was another of my husband’s ancestors that didn’t stay long in a settled area as he was reportedly born in the highlands of Scotland, living in Caswell County, North Carolina in 1790 and in Madison County, Kentucky before 1800.

Yesterday, I wrote about Allen Robertson’s interview in 1898 in Clay County, Kentucky. Besides talking about the Baker family, he spoke about both is father, David Robertson, and his grandparents, Samuel Robertson and Elizabeth Harris. He thought his grandparents might have been married before arriving in North Carolina, but he wasn’t sure.

I think perhaps Samuel married in either Virginia or North Carolina, as he purchased some land from one Christopher Harris in Madison County, Kentucky. Although Christopher was old enough to be the father of Elizabeth Harris Robertson, he left a will in 1794 naming a boatload of children, but none named Elizabeth or with the married name of Robertson.

It is possible that the Harris surname was just a coincidence or that Christopher was perhaps an uncle or cousin. The Christopher Harris family lived in Albemarle County, Virginia before they removed to Kentucky. Albemarle is a long way from Caswell County, North Carolina, which is said to be Samuel’s home before Kentucky. If they are related, then perhaps a branch of the Harris clan migrated to the area around the Virginia-North Carolina border before heading into Kentucky.

Although Samuel Robertson was likely in his 60s when he died, his death was accidental, per the notice in the Lexington Reporter, published on 28 August 1826:

DIED, In Madison County – Mr Samuel Robertson, by a fall from his horse

The next part of the story is a bit strange. Samuel was purported to have written a will, which was NOT recorded by the Madison County court because one witness had died and the other had removed to “the Missouri.” There is a static webpage with the contact email no longer working that contains the text of the will with the citation that it is from FHL film #183267, Probate Records Madison Co., Kentucky 1787-1959. That film is now available digitally and, for the life of me, I can’t find this will on it. The only Samuel Robertson entry is for the inventory and appraisement of his estate.

In any case, here is the text of the purported will and court commentary:

“In the Name of God amen I Samuel Robinson in the county of Madison and State of Kentucky being in a low state of health but thanks be to God in my proper senses and soundness of memory and knowing the certainty of death and that there is a time for all men once to die . I do constitute and appoint this my last will and testament by justly revoking al other former wills by me made and after all my just debts are paid and funeral charges are paid it is my desire that with what worldly blessings the Lord hath blessed me with be disposed of and in the following manner
To wit. I give my body to the ground from whence it was taken looking for the day of judgement when I must appear before the great tribunal of God almighty to make answer for my sins committed in this world where I hope through the merrits of my blessed redeamer Jesus christ to have pardon and remission? for all my sins and to be buried at the discretion of my executors hereafter mentioned-
Item I give and bequeath to my well beloved wife Elizabeth all my estate real and personal during her life unless she should cause to give any thing away to her children after my death
Item I give and bequeath to my two sons David and John the tract or parcel of land that I purchaised from Christopher Harris being 132 acres more or less to be equaly divided between the two David and John to them and their heirs forever
Item I give and and bequeath to my son James the negro boy named and called Bill to him and his heirs forever
Item I give and bequeath to my son William the negro boy named and called Austin to him and his heirs forever
Item I give and bequeath to my son Alexander all the land with the plantation whereon I now live and likewise fifty acres adjacent to the place over otter creek the deed made by Zacheriah Winburn adjoining Owen Herndon’s line
Item I also give and bequeath to my daughter Jane the negro by name and called Lewis to her and her heirs forever and also one feather bed and furniture and all the rest of my estate real and personal to be divided amoungst my five daughters Ester Baker, Mary Medkiff, Sarah Gorden, Henrietta & Patsy Robinson Only my five sons to have a bed and furniture apeace which is David, John, James, William, and Alexander to wit My three exteste? daughters has had their beds Esther Baker, Mary Medkiff, and Sarah Gorden. Lastly I constitute my wife Elizabeth and my son David & John executors of this my last will and testament

Witness my hand and seal this first day of July 1806
Test Delaney

Delaney
Joseph S Delaney\t\t\t\t\t\tSamuel Robertson seal

Which purports to be the last will of Samuel Robinson and was produced in court by the exors therein named and it appearing to the court that Joseph Delaney Sr is dead that Joseph S Delaney has removed to the Missouri and that Frances Delaney has intermarried with Patrick Woods and removed to the State of Missouri, It is therefore and the motion of John Robinson, Alexander Robinson and David Robinson and ordered that a commission be issued by the clerk of the court annexed to said will, directed to the presiding judge of any court of law in the State of Missouri and to the County where they reside empowering him to take and certify their attestations.And it is further ordered that John Robinson be and he is hereby appointed curator to collect inventory and preserve the estate of said Samuel Robinson dec’d until probate of said will or administration of said dec’d estate shall be abtained or until the further order of this court whereupon the said John Robinson took the neccesary oath as such and entered into and acknowledged bond in the penalty of $150 with David Robinson and John P Gentry his security conditioned as the law directs.

Notice, too, that this transcription included the date “this first day of July 1806,” not 1826, which means this will was written twenty years previous to Samuel’s death. As the estate of Joseph Delaney was probated in 1814 and the court noted in 1826 that one witness to this will, Joseph Delaney, had since died, that date seems to be accurate.

This other website also has further commentary from court records (which I also have not been able to find on the film cited) that Alexander Robertson came to an agreement with David, John, William, Mary and Jane Robertson whereby they paid him $600 in silver out of the estate to drop his attempts to have the will recorded. Instead, the estate would be divided as if there was no will with Alexander receiving an equal portion on top of the $600 silver payment.

Things seemed to have calmed down some in the family by 29 October 1828 when the following was ordered recorded by the court:

This Indenture Made and entered into this 18th day of October 1828 by and between David Robertson as Commissioner appointed by an interlocutory Decree of the Madison Circuit Court made at their June term 1827 in the suit in chancery therein pending in which John Robertson Guardian was complainant and Samuel Robertson heirs are defendants of the one part and William Goodloe of the County of Madison and State of Kentucky of the other part Wittnessth that the said David Robertson as commissioner aforesaid and by virtue of the power and authority in him vested by the Decree aforesaid and in the consideration of twelve hundred and nine dollars paid to him by the said William Goodloe the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged hath on behalf of David Robertson, John Robertson, Alexander Robertson, William Robertson, James Robertson, Jane Robertson, Robert Gordon and Sally his wife, George Baker and Ester his wife, Kimbell Midkiff and Ritter his wife, Molly Midkiff, William, Thomas and Clifton Moberley infants by John Robertson their Guardian all heirs and legal representatives of Samuel Robertson dec’d bargain and sold aliened and confirmed and by these presents doth bargain and sell alien and confirm unto the said WIlliam Goodloe the tract or parcell of land in the Bill and proceedings mentioned called the homeplace supposed to contain one hundred and fifteen acres. To have and to hold to the said WIlliam Gooloe his hiers and assigns forever and the said David Robertson as commisioner aforesaid and on behalf of the aforementioned heirs and legal representatives of Samuel Robertson dec’d Doth convenant to and with the said Wm Goodloe to warrant and defend the title to the aforesaid tract of land against the claim or claims of all and every person claiming by through or under the said Samuel Robertson dec’d to the said William Goodloe his heirs and assigns forever In Testimony whereof the said David Robertson as Commisioner aforesaid hath hereunto set his hand and seal this day and date above written

David Robertson Commis. Seal
Kentucky Madison Circuit Ct

I David Irvine clerk of the court for the circuit ass’d? do hereby certify that this deed was produced in open court on the 29 day of October 1828 and acknowledged by David Robertson as Commisioner to be his act and deed which was examined and approved of by the court and ordered to entered of record and the same has been duly recorded in my office. Att. David Irvine Cty Clerk

However, from Allen Robertson’s statement naming his grandparents and the non-recorded will and recorded land deed, the family of Samuel Robertson can be pieced together.

Children of Samuel Robertson and Elizabeth Harris:

  1. David, born c1780, near Moraviantown (possibly the Winston-Salem area where the Moravians had established a large community), North Carolina; died 18/20 June 1872, Clay County, Kentucky; married Ailey Allen, c1811. Ailey was born c1790, North Carolina; died after 1860, probably Clay County, Kentucky.
  2. Esther, born 11 December 1781, Caswell County, North Carolina; died after 1850, Linn County, Missouri; married George Washington Baker, 14 July 1800, Garrard County, Kentucky. He as born c1779; died August 1846, Linn County, Missouri of cholera.
  3. Mary, born c1782, North Carolina; died after 1850, probably Shelby County, Indiana, where she was living with her son’s family; married William Midkiff, 14 June 1803, Madison County, Kentucky. He died before 1830, probably Shelby County, Indiana, when Mary was enumerated as head of the household.
  4. Sarah (Sally), born c1786, North Carolina; married Robert Gordon, 18 April 1805, Madison County, Kentucky. Allen Robertson said they removed to Mississippi, but
  5. John, born c1788, North Carolina; died July 1859, Jackson County, Missouri of a fever, per the 1860 mortality schedule; married Nancy Cox, 16 April 1816, Estill County, Kentucky. She was born c1799, Kentucky; died after 1850.
  6. William, born c1790, probably Kentucky; no further record.
  7. James, born c1792, Kentucky; died 10 November 1878, Shelby County, Kentucky; married (1) Nancy Wheeler, 24 July 1817, Madison County, Kentucky. She was born 27 December 1796, Madison County, Kentucky; died 1 September 1841, Shelby County, Indiana. (2) Susan, probably Susannah Myers, 30 June 1842, Decatur County, Indiana. She was born 8 January 1802/05; died 14 October 1885, Shelby County, Indiana.
  8. Martha, born c1794, Kentucky; died c1824, Madison County, Kentucky; married William Moberly, 24 December 1818, Madison County, Kentucky. William was born 1776-1794; also died young as John Robertson became guardian of the Moberly children.
  9. Alexander, born 27 April 1797, Madison County, Kentucky; died 17 October 1834, Morgan County, Indiana; married Nancy Grisham, 14 August 1817, Estill County, Kentucky. Nancy may have married (2) John Dillinger, 12 July 1835, Morgan County, Indiana.
  10. Henrietta, born c1801, Madison County, Kentucky; died between 28 October 1828, when she was named in a land deed filed in Madison County, Kentucky and 31 May 1829, when her husband remarried; married Kimble Edgeman Midkiff, 4 February 1819, Estill County, Kentucky. Kimble was born 10 April 1800; died 10 October 1867, Shelby County, Indiana. Kimble married (2) Ellen Montgomery, 31 May 1829, Shelby County, Indiana.

3 thoughts on “Frontiersman Samuel Robertson, c1755-1826”

  1. Dear Linda
    You probably got this misinformation from me indirectly. Sorry!
    If you still have not found it:
    correction: will is found in court order books 1786-1928; film 183276
    which now also has film number 007646920
    its page 467,468,469 also its image 273.

    The agreement with Alexander is in Deed Book R pg 195.
    film 007899080 image 626 out of 826 .

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