Samuel Robertson & Elizabeth Harris: Finding Documentation for Peripheral Data

It is time to head back to the colonial frontier tracing some of my husband’s family lines.

Samuel Robertson, by all (undocumented) accounts, appears to have been the immigrant ancestor of this Robertson family.

From a few published sources, it is evident that descendants began documenting the story of the Robertson family in the later part of the 1800s, interviewing old timers who were youngsters and knew Samuel Robertson in his old age. However, the information collected is pretty much heresay, as little documentation has been found.

My goal is to uncover proof for some of the statements and assumptions made for the migratory path of Samuel Robertson and his family in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

I have written about the descendants of this couple in posts several years ago. Today, I am hoping to be able to find documentary evidence that the Samuel Robertsons mentioned in my timeline (below) either are my man or definitely are not. Tax lists and land deeds might help determine whether there are two men of the same name that other researchers have latched onto and merged into one person.

Samuel Robertson was born c1755 to unknown parents, likely in Scotland. His Scottish origin is also unproven. It is thought that Samuel married Elizabeth Harris c1778, probably in Virginia. Other researchers have placed Samuel on the 1777 tax list of Goochland County, Virginia, along with Thomas Harris, who may be the father of Elizabeth. Both lived in Richmond District at the time.

However, Samuel was a young man on the move, headed west. It is thought that Samuel’s first child, David, was born in Rowan County, North Carolina about 1780. In 1787, one Samuel Robertson, who may be my husband’s Samuel, along with a William Robertson, possibly his brother or father, appears on the Goochland County, Virginia tax list.

Whether or not that Samuel is my Samuel is uncertain. It is certain that Samuel and Elizabeth migrated to Kentucky via North Carolina, as Samuel was taxed in Caswell County, North Carolina in 1790 and might be the Samuel Roberson taxed in Bourbon County, Kentucky in 1791. The family was probably living in Garrard County, Kentucky in 1800, as Samuel’s daughter Esther married there that summer. What is also certain is that by 1810, the Robertson family was well settled in its new home in Madison County, Kentucky.

Little is known about Elizabeth (Harris) Robertson. The 1810 Kentucky census includes a female over the age of 45, which would fit Elizabeth. By 1820, the eldest female was in the 26-44 age range so Elizabeth had apparently died. It’s possible that the female could be an unmarried daughter of Samuel’s, but it is also possible that Samuel married a second time after Elizabeth’s death. If so, the name of his second wife is unknown.

Because of the many moves this family made, a timeline is helpful to track them:

1755 – Samuel reportedly born in Scotland
1777 – A Samuel Robertson on the Goochland County, VA tax list with Thomas Harris
1780 – Samuel’s son, David, reportedly born in Rowan County, NC
1781 – Samuel’s daughter Elizabeth reportedly born in Rowan or Caswell County, NC
1787 – A Samuel Roberts with a William Robertson on Goochland County, VA tax list
1791 – Samuel Robertson taxed in Bourbon County, KY
1800 – Daughter Elizabeth married George Baker, 13 July 1800 in Garrard County, KY
1810 – Robertson family living in Madison County, KY

Samuel and Elizabeth were the parents of ten children born roughly between 1780 and 1801:


  1. David, born c1780, reportedly Rowan County, North Carolina; died after 1870, probably Clay County, Kentucky; married Allie Allen, 25 June 1811, Madison County, Kentucky.
  2. Esther, born 11 December 1781, Rowan or Caswell County, North Carolina; died after 1850; married George Baker, 13 July 1800, Garrard County, Kentucky
  3. Mary, born c1783, North Carolina; died after 1850; married William Midkiff, 14 June 1803, Madison County, Kentucky. William died before 1830, after the family migrated to Shelby County, Indiana.
  4. Sarah, born c1785; married Robert Gorden, 18 April 1805, Madison County, Kentucky. This family moved to Warren County, Tennessee.
  5. John, born c1787; died July 1859, Jackson County, Missouri; married Nancy Cox, 16 April 1816, Estill County, Kentucky
  6. James, born c1789; married Nancy Wheeler, 24 July 1817, Madison County, Kentucky. It is thought that James migrated to Shelby County, Indiana with the Midkiffs.
  7. Alexander, born c1795; died after 1820; married Nancy Grisham, 14 August 1817, Estill County, Kentucky.
  8. Martha, born c1797; died after 1830; married William Moberly, 24 December 1818, Madison County, Kentucky.
  9. Son, born c1799; died young
  10. Henrietta, born c1801; about December 1828, Shelby County, Indiana; married Kimble Edgeman Midkiff, 4 February 1819, Estill County, Kentucky.


3 thoughts on “Samuel Robertson & Elizabeth Harris: Finding Documentation for Peripheral Data”

  1. I am a Direct Descendant of David Columbus Robertson. I found Samuels Will I believe in Richmond and it has a wealth of info.. My Mamows mom is a Moberly. So I was on all the Mobley / Moberly Gen sites.. Everyone was stooped over 3 lost Moberly boys.. Just so happens Samuels Daughter Martha m. a Moberly and they were killed in a carriage accident leaving 3 young Moberly boys that disappeared.. When I found Samuels Will years ago He mentions his 3 grandsons Moberly who when their Mom and died passed away went to live with their Uncle James Robertson in Shelby Indiana. I posted Samuels Will on the Moberly Website and it unlocked decades of Mystery.. Samuel mentions a lot of his children in the Will.. Also, The Dicky Diaries have an article about Samuel.. There is also a News Paper Article written by Allen E Robertson David’s son writing about his Grandfather Samuel one of Kentucky’s early Settlers.. Hope this helps, Margaret Robertson.

  2. I Found A Sarah Robertson Coale Who had two Children Samuel Robertson Coale and Elizabeth Coale… It says she is the daughter of Samuel Robertson and Elizabeth Harris Robertson.. She Died in Jan of 1766.. All this is in Quaker Records Called Gun Powder.. It notes below Samuel Robertson and Elizabeth Harris Parents of Sarah in Parinthases ( Caldwell, N.C.). I made snapshots of all this info if your interested..
    Margaret Robertson ( Direct line of Samuel & Eliz

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