A Historical Summary
by Rick Roberson
It is not known exactly when the Robersons first migrated to Eastern North Carolina, but family lore has it that the family initially came to Virginia and then later moved to North Carolina. Specific family records documented to date, as well as North Carolina history and actual migration patterns, support that view. Unfortunately, up to this point no records have been found to conclusively trace the family back to a specific area or family of Virginia or the United Kingdom. But, what is known is that based on land transactions and other legal records, my ancestors in the Roberson family most certainly have been in North Carolina for at least 270 years, and perhaps for as many as 320 years. Specifics on these recorded transactions and events are discussed later.
First, a little history is in order…. As we all know, the English settled lower Virginia starting at Jamestown in 1607 and then continued to settle the surrounding areas in the following decades. And what happened over time, based on many factors such as available land, rich natural resources, and government incentives, the English settlers began to migrate down into North Carolina via various southerly flowing rivers and land routes. A key point is that since there were almost no northern NC ports, (due to the existence of the barrier islands, etc.) there was essentially no direct ocean based migration coming from the New England area or Europe into northeastern NC in the first several decades of settlement.
It is also important to note that the vast majority of all settlers that migrated into northeastern North Carolina in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s were of English origin, which helps identify the Roberson family as English in heritage based upon when and where they appeared in NC. In addition, to get a sense of the migration pattern originating in Virginia, the English settlers who migrated from the Jamestown area and lower Virginia counties and cities, spread south and west in a way similar to a rock thrown into a lake, with ripples spreading out from the center, moving progressively deeper into NC with each passing year.
As with other English settlers coming to NC from Virginia, the early Robinsons/Robersons first moved into northeastern NC, especially into the lower Chowan river and Edenton areas, and continued to migrate out into surrounding areas, including the region that would ultimately become Martin County. There were very few English (or other European) settlers living south of the Roanoake river before the 1715 timeframe. Once the Tuscarora Indians living in that area were defeated in the Tuscarora Indian war (1711-1715), settlement quickly began in the area south of the Roanoake river and Albemarle sound – including the Smithwick Creek area of Martin county below current day Williamston, NC.
Another factor that provides insight into helping understand Roberson family history in earlier times is that the population of NC and the Albemarle Sound area was very small in the late 1600’s through the mid 1700’s. In fact, it’s interesting to see just how few people in total there were in all NC records in its earliest days. And, as a related point, it was common for several members of a family to migrate together or to eventually “follow the footsteps” of other family members. With that said, there’s a good to high probability that most of the Robersons moving into the Albemarle Sound area were related in some way. The early Roberson records included in this family history represent all records known to the author for families with the last name of Roberson or derivation, such as Robinson, Robison, Robason, and including any occurances for Robertson. While the exact family links between many of these early Robersons is unknown, bonds between them is nevertheless seen in several ways. For example, many of the Robersons acted as legal witnesses in each others land transactions, properties of one Roberson were next to or very close to another Roberson, they sold land to one another, and from early Court records, there are several examples of where one Roberson would go to Court in support of another regarding various disputes.
Several historical records lend support to family lore that the eastern NC Robersons initially lived in Virginia, with a good probability that they lived for at least some time in Nansemond County, Va. This county no longer exists, but at the time, it bordered NC directly above the Albemarle Sound area . For example, William Robinson is identified in a 1722 Court document as “William Robinson, late of Nansimond County”. He was sued by “Francis Pugh of Nansimond County in Virginia”. Also, in 1734, my first known direct ancestor, Henry Robinson, sold 100 acres on Plumtree Branch in Chowan precinct that he had “lately purchased” from “Richard Sumner as by deed upon public record of Nancymond Co Va”. The three witnesses to the transaction all lived in Nansemond County, Va. Based on several recorded events including land transactions and court records, William Robinson was almost certainly related to my 1st known direct ancestor Henry Roberson, perhaps his father or an uncle, but his exact relationship is unknown. More about William and other early Robinsons/Robersons is provided later.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect to arise from analyzing the early Roberson family is that the family name is not derived from Robertson as one would assume based on simple spelling (I have told literally thousands of people in my life “it’s spelled like Robertson without the t”). The name in all the early records is Robinson or a derivation, such as Robbinson or Robison. Robertson is seen very infrequently in documents, and even then the last name is usually also spelled a different way (in some form without the t) in the same document! The name Robinson appears on land transactions, court records, deeds, and other recorded documents for all of the earliest known family members. Over several decades, direct and related family members eventually began to use other name derivations such as Robason and Roberson. There are periods in which Robinson and Roberson are used for the same person in the same document, and examples of records alternating between the two derivations over time for the same person in land transactions. Eventually in the post Civil War era the name begins to be consistently reflected as Roberson. The history information provided above would support the Robinson origin, given that substantially all of the very early settlers to the Martin county area were of English descent that had come from lower eastern Virginia. Of course, Robertson is a common Scottish name and therefore many have thought the Roberson family had originated from Scotland. Robertson begins showing up in NC records a bit later and in other parts of the state where there was Scottish migration, for example, in the Wilmington area. Eventually, Robertsons begin to show up consistently in Martin county records, but long after the Roberson family discussed here had settled in the Albemarle Sound / Martin County area.
Another indicator that Robinson is the original name includes name searches in the United Kingdom. For example, the name Marmaduke is not common, and there is a prominent Marmaduke Roberson in early Martin County area records that is almost certainly related to Henry Roberson Sr., my earliest known ancestor. There were many Marmaduke Robinsons (and Henry Robinsons) in and around the Yorkshire area of England in the mid 1600s to mid 1700s, where the name Robinson is very common. Searches of records by the author or results of searches by others provided to the author yielded no Marmaduke Robertsons in Scotland or England in that time period.
There were many Robinson families in Southern Virginia during the late 1600s time period, several of which who could be the ancestors of the eastern NC Robersons. Many lower Virginia Robinsons who have more complete records from the 1600s/1700s time period can trace their ancestors back to the Yorkshire, England area. An analysis of the name Henry Robinson in the UK yields the highest concentration of occurances in the Yorkshire, England area, both in the 1600s/1700s and today.
Still another indicator of the Robinson origin is that there were families of Robinsons in the lower Virginia area in which branches of the family began using Roberson in the mid to late 1600’s. The prominent Christopher Robinson family of Hewick plantation located close to Urbanna Virginia on the Rappahannock River, and his descendants, are an example. There are several members of the Christopher Robinson family who migrated into NC in the late 1690’s that had used the last name Roberson in Virginia. Of these, some have the same first name as some of my earliest NC ancestors. Records gathered from the NC Archives, as well as from information provided by descendants of the Christopher Robinson family, verify that several of the family members, including several that commonly used the spelling Roberson, migrated into NC in the late 1600’s timeframe. I have long suspected that my NC Roberson ancestors are related to this family, but no direct proof exists at this time. See www.hewick.com for more info on this interesting family as a good example of contributions by Robinsons to our early United States history.
There are several indications that the first known Robersons in NC were from a more prominent, successful family in Virginia or England, such as the Christopher Robinson family discussed above. These include the significant number and size of early land transactions, early relationships, including marriage, with known prominent NC families such as the Smithwicks, and relatively large slave ownership achieved by the late 1700s vs. other county residents. This is in contrast to the many settlers who came as indentured servants, or to those who engaged in much more modest land acquisitions, or to those who owned no slaves either initially or throughout the 1700s and beyond.
A few current Roberson family members may some difficulty accepting that the family name is not derived from Robertson as has been commonly assumed for many, many years. But based on all available evidence, it is virtually certain that it was derived from Robinson & is English in origin, with a good possibility that our early US ancestors originated from the Yorkshire area in England.
Family lore has it that “Henry Roberson was born in 1710 in England, first went to Virginia and then came to NC.” The locations and migration pattern in the family lore is entirely consistent with the assessment provided above, and would seem to be sound except that the 1710 date together with Henry’s birth in England might be inconsistent with several recorded events presented later in this book. The next couple of pages give a few brief facts about each generation in my direct Roberson line to give some overall perspective about the family. A separate section with details on each generation follows this overall family summary.
My first known NC ancestors in my direct line lived along the eastern side of the Sweetwater/Hardison Mill/Smithwick Creek area of Martin County. This area is about two miles or so southeast of Williamston, NC. In the early 1700s, this entire creek system was known simply as Smithwick Creek. Two known generations of my direct Roberson ancestors lived in this area, Henry Roberson Senior and Henry Roberson Junior, with the Junior and Senior identification specifically used in many records, especially land transactions, in the 1730s through 1750s.
The first known NC ancestor, Henry Roberson Senior, was identified as a planter and as a cooper in different land transactions recorded in the 1740s. Currently, my best estimate of the location where the family first settled in Martin Co. is just west of the Holly Springs Rd, Big Mill Road Intersection, which is south of Williamston, east of Route 17. No will has been found for Henry Roberson Sr. Henry’s known children, based on land transactions, were Henry Jr., Daniel, and John. Henry Senior received a land grant of 400 acres in Martin County in 1742, and was subsequently involved in many land transactions in the same Smithwick Creek area. Other records place Henry in the general Martin/Bertie County area starting in the mid 1730s. He was in the North Carolina militia up until at least the mid 1750’s.
The second known generation of NC Robersons, Henry Junior, was identified as a cooper in at least two recorded land transactions. He also owned a mill and a millpond on Smithwick Creek. His children were James, Luke, Henry (my direct ancestor), Joshua, David, and Cloanah (Griffen). James is the primary ancestor of the Robersons that are still in the Smithwick Creek and Farmlife area of Martin Co. Most of the Farmlife area Robersons descended from two of James’ sons, Harmon and Noah. A transcription of Henry Junior’s will is included in a later section of this document.
The third generation of my known NC Roberson family, another Henry, moved a few miles west, to the Tranter’s Creek area about 4 miles south of Robersonville. There are several land transactions in the early-mid 1780s for both Henry Roberson (b.1747) and his brother Luke in this area. Henry is reflected as a Revolutionary war veteran in DAR records. The exact location of his home site is not known, but current information puts it on the right side going south on Race Track Rd about a half mile south of the Prison Camp road intersection. His children were Henry (“Elder Henry”), Collins, William, and Charles. Most of the Robersons currently in or from the Robersonville area descended from these four sons of Henry b.1747. William’s sons were primarily responsible for the formal establishment (incorporation) of the town of Robersonville. At the time of the 1790 U.S. census, Henry owned nine slaves. He was evidently a planter based on his relatively large slave ownership and the substantial acreage that he owned. A transcription of his will is also included in a later section.
The fourth generation of Roberson’s in my direct line, commonly referred to as Elder Henry, lived north of his father at approximately the intersection of Prison Camp Rd and Race Track Rd. He is often referred to as Elder Henry Roberson, as he was an Elder/Minister of the Primitive Baptist Church at Oak Grove, south of Robersonville on Route 903 just inside Pitt County. He was also a planter and owned nine slaves at the time of the 1860 census. Elder Henry and his wife Nancy Ann Baker had 10 children, one of whom was Henry Baker. No will is known to exist for Elder Henry.
The next generation, Henry Baker Roberson, moved a few miles further north to a farm just on the southern edge of the town that would become Robersonville. His home was still standing until Sept. 1997. In his will, Henry Baker left farms to several of his sons. Henry Baker and his wife Gatsy Ann Rogers had 12 children. Tragically, Henry Baker lost three children in the 1883/84 time frame, evidently from sickness, perhaps from an epidemic. Two of Henry Baker’s sons, George & David, fought in the Civil War for certain, but evidence is unclear as to Henry Baker’s involvement. Henry Baker had seven children living at home during the war.
The sixth generation of my family, William Edwin Roberson, lived on Third St. (S.R. 1159) until right about the turn of the 20th century. His first home was practically across the street from his father’s old home, and was built on land that he inherited from his father. He subsequently moved into Robersonville, to the corner of Outerbridge and Railroad Streets. “Ed” in his early years was a farmer, but he evolved into a very successful landowner and businessman. Ed and his wife Mary Caroline Keel had 10 children, three of which died at the age of five or younger. The youngest of his children was my Grandfather Harvey Lewis Roberson.
The seventh generation, Harvey Lewis Roberson, lived in Robersonville on Roberson Street. He died from a stroke at the early age of 54. Harvey Lewis was a businessman & entrepreneur. He created and was involved in many business endeavors, including chicken production, salesman and tax return preparer, among others. Harvey Lewis and his wife Hattie had five children, the oldest being the author’s father, William Thomas Roberson.
The author’s children, Drew, Melissa, and Sarah, represent the tenth generation of known North Carolina Robersons in my direct line. They were all born in Raleigh, NC. I am quite proud of the fact that all of my children are native North Carolinians.
There are several early Robinsons that were in North Carolina prior to known family ancestors, but the relationship to my family line is unknown. The family has possibly been in North Carolina since as early as the 1678 time frame, when Cotton Robinson shows up in the earliest state records along with the Smithwicks and other families with strong ties to my known ancestors throughout the 1700s. Several other Robinsons start showing up in the NC records in the 1690s. In 1700, there were barely more than 10,000 settlers – men, women, and children - living in the entire state of North Carolina. There is a reasonable possibility that my family ancestors have been in North Carolina for over 320 years. Considering that the earliest known settler in North Carolina was Nathaniel Batts in 1655, my confirmed direct Roberson family line has been in North Carolina since its early days of settlement (1730s), and indeed may be one of the earliest families to have settled in North Carolina.
Information on Direct Roberson Ancestors
The following information about the author’s direct line of Roberson ancestors was gathered from various sources, including the notes and genealogy work of Myrtle Taylor Roberson provided to various family members, “the little brown book” of family lineage created by A.S. Roberson, information from the book Martin County Heritage published in 1980 by the Martin County Historical Society, discussions with family members, including William Thomas Roberson and Harry Clayton Roberson, Federal Census reports, and other sources.
William Edwin Roberson
Apr. 3, 1859 - Dec. 25, 1938
The following information about William Edwin gives a good perspective of his relatively large land holdings and business activities in the Robersonville area..
Most of the information presented first in this section on William Edwin came from discussions with Harry Clayton Roberson in June, 1997.........
William Edwin owned the land in the Academy - Outerbridge street area south down to railroad street. He sold the Baptist Congregation the land for the Robersonville Baptist Church.
In 1910, William Edwin donated the land for the Primitive Baptist Church located on Route 64.
The corner of Railroad & Outerbridge streets is where William Edwin lived in the mid-later years of his life. The house was a large one, but nothing remains of it - the lot is now empty.
The Green Street area on the North side of Robersonville was all farmland at one time. William Edwin at one point owned this farmland.
William Edwin also owned the land on which the old Robersonville Elementary School was built. The school has been torn down for many years. The area is now a park on the north side of Route 64 down from Outerbridge street and before Roberson street.
William Edwin built Harry Clayton’s Grocery store originally for Harry & Harvey Lewis for $4000. The building (Harry Clayton’s Store) is on the north side of Railroad St., about one block east of Main St.
William Edwin owned the land from R’Ville Baptist church to almost Main street on the north side of Railroad Street (west of Main St.).
In 1894, William Edwin, and brothers A.S. Roberson & T.W. Roberson bought the Henry Hardison Store on Main Street. It is the large tall one (currently blue, was Smith’s Mens Dept Store for many years) on the east side of the street in the middle of the block on the south side of Railroad St.
William Edwin owned much of the area behind Pope’s dime store (now a vacant lot on the NE corner of Railroad & Main St.s) , starting at the black pole on north side of railroad street (pole is still there - William Edwin put it in himself), across to Harry Clayton’s store and beyond to the old Ice Plant and all the land behind it toward Highway 64.
The Roberson Cotton Gin and the Saw Mill were at one time on the land behind Harry Clayton’s store. William Edwin and uncle Archie (A.S. Roberson) built the Hotel (2 story bldg.) on Railroad Street approx. across from Harry Clayton’s store. On Northeast corner of Grimes and Railroad Sts, William Edwin built a livery stable (on the corner) and next to that, he built the Ice Plant. William Edwin built an electric utility company ( See Lght & Mills Co. information later in this section) and later sold it to the town.
He owned all the land in “new town” east from Second and Smith Street area on east side of town. There was a large lake in this area, and much of it was drained to allow development. A small lake still exists in the middle of this area. Also in this area on the east side of town near the railroad tracks was where William Edwin built the electric utility - at approximately Railroad St. and Morton St.
William Edwin owned much land in the area generally south of his father’s (Henry Baker) home east of Route 903 and south of Route 64 along Kearney Road. Ed also owned much of the land in the Crisp road-Kearney road intersection area........ (end of information from Harry Clayton in June, 1997)
It is widely believed that at one point William Edwin was one of the richest men in Martin County. Based on the information above, this assertion would seem reasonable.
The following is from Martin County History, Vol 2 (Manning & Booker), included in a summary of recorded business ventures. See pages 260 & 266 for the following two entries:
The Robersonville Real Estate Company, Robersonville, NC., chartered Feb. 21, 1902.
Objectives: To buy, sell, build, and improve real estate. Authorized capital Stock, $25,000. Incorporators: A.S. Roberson, J.H. Roberson, W.E. Roberson, J.B. Rawls, and James Bullock.
The Light & Mills Co., Robersonville, NC, chartered Jan 5, 1922.
Objectives: To construct, operate, and maintain an electric light plant, to furnish electric or other kinds of lights for streets, private homes, public places, buildings, and business houses of all kinds in the town of Robersonville and elsewhere in Pitt and Martin counties. Authorized capital stock, $45,000. Stockholders: W.E. Roberson, B.F. Coburn, and W.W. Taylor.
The following is from Martin County Heritage, pg. 527. “Ed Roberson....attended school under Professor Stephen Outterbridge, noted educational leader. In addition to farming, he became involved in and worked in various business ventures including cotton gins, saw mill and timber buying and selling, mercantile business and the first electric system for Robersonville. He was a very talented person in all his undertakings and particularly in carpentry work”.
There is a house at the junction of Lee House and Third St.on the north side of Third St., facing the street. This house is where William Edwin spent a good portion of his adult life. Jay Edwin, Ann Elizabeth, Nathan Russell, Robert Herman, and Walter Edgar were born here. William Edwin sold his farm about Dec. 12, 1899 and moved in town. The rest of William Edwin’s children were born in Robersonville at his house on Railroad & Outerbridge streets.
William Edwin was married to Mary Caroline Keel on Jan 16, 1889 by Elder George Daniel Roberson (William Edwin’s older brother), in the presence of J.B. Rawls, G.H. Everett, and Archibald Staton Roberson (brother of William Edwin).
The following obituaries were published in “The Weekly Herald”, Robersonville, NC in Sept. 1938 and Dec. 1938 respectively.
“Mary Caroline Keel Roberson, member of a substantial and prominent Martin County family, was highly regarded by neighbors and friends throughout the community. In her home she was a devoted wife and mother, possessed of understanding and thoughtfulness. She was always willing to assist others along life’s way, her Christ-like character served as a beacon of light for others to be guided by her Christian spirit, instilled deeply through patient teaching, still lives in the hearts of a fine group of children, and by her having passed this way in accordance with the Almighty's plan, this community is a better place for others to live in. She was long a faithful member of the Primitive Baptist Church, her religious life fitting beautifully into the scheme of creation, that brought her untold peace and happiness through the years. She enjoyed a large circle of friends in all walks of life.”
“William Edwin Roberson was a highly respected citizen and a pioneer in the early development of Robersonville NC He was held in high esteem by all who knew him, and in the home he was a devoted father and husband. He was thoughtful of others and walked humbly in the sight of the creator. A member of the Primitive Baptist Church, he was loyal to the faith and ably supported its activities. His life was devoted to the welfare of the town and community and few men worked harder and more earnestly to make this a better town in which to live. He was a valuable citizen.”
Both William Edwin & Mary Caroline Keel Roberson are buried in the Robersonville cemetery on Route 64. The cemetery is on the right side of the road right after entering Robersonville from the west.
William Edwin and Mary C. Keel Roberson‘s home was a haven to numerous young people who lived in their home as a member of their family. Among them were:
Rosa Baker Carroway; Heber & William Baker, children of her sister Emma Baker; Lyna James Taylor, daughter of her sister Sallie Keel James; Fannie Mae Whichard (later married Robert Roberson); Gertie Whichard Turner; Mary Lee Gurganus Tucker; Runice Roberson; and later Roy, Vivian, and Jimmy, children of Runice Roberson. This info from notes of Myrtle Taylor Roberson provided to several family members.
Henry Baker Roberson
May 24, 1819 - Mar 12, 1893
While it is unclear whether or not Henry Baker served in some capacity at some point during the Civil War, Henry Baker’s two oldest sons definitely did serve in the Confederate Army and saw much action - George Daniel and David Franklin.
George D. was about 19 and David F. was only 15. Both of them served in the 17th Regiment, David in Company D, and George in Company E. This regiment saw much action right up to the war’s end. A history of the 17th Regiment can be found in McCallum’s Martin County During the Civil War, 1971, pg. 51-75. The war affected George D. to the point that he became more involved in religion and in 1869 became an Elder in the Primitive Baptist Church. David F. was Martin County’s last surviving Veteran of the Confederacy and died in 1935. There were seven other children at home during the war. The youngest of these children was William Edwin, who was just two at the outbreak of the war.
The Confederate soldier database on the National Park Service (NPS) website reflects Henry B. Roberson in the 17th regiment ( second organization), the same regiment in which many others in Martin County had enlisted, including his two sons and a significant number of other Robersons. Also, records indicate that approximately 1,000 men from Martin county enlisted, from a county with only 1,176 families and a total male population of 2,676 total males, including boys and the elderly ( McCallum, 1971, pg. 27 ) . Given the large number of children in families at that time, this would seem to indicate that virtually every able bodied adult male enlisted. Based on these two pieces of information, and his age of 42, it appears reasonable to speculate that he must have at least enlisted and served in some capacity. One additional interesting piece of info – across all of NC, the NPS website shows that there were 29 Robasons and 268 Robersons signed up for the Confederate side.
All land in the area of the junction of Lee House Road (SR1150) and Third Street (SR1159) was owned by Henry Baker Roberson. This includes land on the north side of Third St. , currently Southern Apparel Company property, to the railroad tracks / Route 64 area behind Southern Apparel. HBR also owned the land on the south side of third street, on both sides of Lee House Road. Henry Baker gave this land to his sons in his will. Timothy ended up with all the land south of third St. and west of Lee House Rd, Archie was willed all land south of Third street and east of Lee House Road, and William Edwin was willed all the land on the north side of third street.
William Edwin was born in the Henry Baker house, which was located on Third Street. The house was on the south side of the street, facing the street. The house was approx.. one quarter mile east of the intersection of Third St. (SR1159) and Lee House Rd. - toward Route 64, and about 0.6M from Route 64. The Henry Baker house sat about 100 yards off the road. The house was visited in Sept. 1997 by the author and his son Drew a short time before it was burned down - it was abandoned and in disrepair. But, one could still explore around inside and see the size and layout of the rooms, walk the hallway and look up the stairs to the second floor. The house was destroyed about two months after the author’s visit.
Behind the house site, a couple hundred yards slightly to the left, is a small hill overgrown with brush & weeds. This is the family cemetery where Henry Baker, Gatsy Ann, and probably other family members are buried. Current thinking is that the cemetery land is still owned by the Roberson family. It is approximately one acre in size.
Behind Henry Baker’s house, down Lee House road, was the home & farm where HBR’s wife, Gatsy Ann Rogers, was born and raised. The home was built in the 1800-1820 time frame, is one of the oldest in Martin county and is currently in a state of disrepair. It will probably be torn down or fall down in the near future. It is typical of homes from that period - it has a separate kitchen building. While it is one of the oldest homes in the county, the house is on Lee House Road, which up until the late 1990’s was actually unpaved starting from a short distance (1 mile or so) down from where it starts at third St.., past the Rogers home, and stayed unpaved all the way to Route 903, where it stops.
Henry Baker was born at his father’s (Elder Henry Roberson) house, which was on Prison Camp Road.
“ A granddaughter, Cora Roberson Page, lived with Henry Baker and Gatsy for a few years when she was a child. She remembered many of the activities such as seeing apple cider being made from apples grown in the large orchard, material being spun, woven, and dyed for quilts and clothing. Cora remembered that when there was a wedding in the family, Grandma Gatsy prepared a large wedding supper for the guests with as much perfection as was possible.
Henry Baker, like many men of his day, made many pieces of furniture for family use. Several of these pieces have been passed down to subsequent generations”......Tim Walton Roberson, one of Henry Baker’s sons, was a young boy during the Civil War, and he “remembered the time that it was rumored that the Yankees were coming and his father told him to take the brandy from the brandy house to the woods and hide it”. From Martin County Heritage , pg..511 and 525.
On April 27th, 1861, with the start of the Civil War barely two months away, the Martin County Militia and others, including notable speakers such as Judge Asa Biggs and Elder C.B. Hassell, gathered at a site in Williamston. After much discussion, the group adopted several resolutions in preparation for the war everyone thought was surely coming. Among these 10 resolutions was Number 6:
“Resolved that the following persons be a committee in each district who shall see that the families of volunteers called into service are comfortably supported in their absence, viz:”
Of the 9 districts in the county, Robersonville was district 7, and is listed as follows...
“District No. 7: Henry B. Robason, Henry D. Robason, William W. Andrews, Wallace Andrews, and Henry T. Brown.” From Martin Co. During the Civil War, McCallum, pg.. 9 and 10.
The 1850 Census of Martin County listed:
Henry B. Robason, 31, farmer, $300, Gatsy 28; G.D. 5; Ann M. 3; David F. 2.
The 1860 Census of Martin County listed:
Robason H.B. 41, farmer, $1000 real estate, $3500 personal property, Gatsy 38, wife;
George 17, in school; Ann 15, in school; David 13, in school; Lewis 9, in school;
James 7 ; Timothy 5 ; Licurcus 3 ; William 1 ; 4 slaves.
The 1880 Census of Martin County listed:
Robersonville Township - Roberson, Henry B. 59, farmer ; Gatsy 58; Ann M. 34 ;
Rufus L. 24 in school ; William E. 21 in school ; Susan A. 17 ; Archibald S. 14 in school
Elder Henry Roberson
Jan 3, 1785 - Feb. 25, 1872
Elder Henry Roberson, the son of Henry and Sally Collins Robason, was born at Buncombe Hall in Washington County on Jan 3, 1785. Buncombe Hall is today marked by a NC historical marker at the edge of Roper, NC He died Feb. 25, 1872 in Martin County. His birth and death is recorded in the old James Redding Roberson (his son) Bible that was at one time in the possession of the late Mr. & Mrs. C. Abram Roberson of Robersonville, NC
His funeral was preached by Elder Standly Ayers, using the 6-7-8 verses of II Timothy.
Henry married Ann Baker in Gates County on March 20, 1814 with two Bondsmen as witnesses, Henry Gilliam and W.C. Brooks. This record is in the Gates County marriage bonds in the NC State Archives in Raleigh, NC Nancy Ann Baker was born Nov 29, 1791 in Gates County and died Sept. 4, 1874 at age 82 in Martin County. She was the daughter of James Abraham and Absilla Jane Trotman Baker of Gates County. She was the sister of Elizabeth (Betsy) Caroline Baker, the wife of Henry’s brother, Charles Robason.
Elder Henry Roberson’s house was on Prison Camp road, one mile (almost exactly) east of where the road starts at Route 903, a couple miles or so south of Robersonville. The house, which is no longer in existence, was on the left side of the road going east on Prison Camp road from Rt. 903. There is a large tree not far off of the road (approx.. 100 yards) in the middle of a field that is near where the house stood. At the base of this tree, there is a small cemetery where at least one person is buried, Annie Roberson, which at the time of this writing is believed to be the wife of James Redding Roberson. Further investigation is needed to determine if any additional family members are buried there. This may be where Elder Henry Roberson is buried as well...…
Elder Henry owned a substantial amount of land around his home. In fact, there is a bridge (crosses Collie Swamp) just west of the homesite that has been referred to as Roberson bridge due to its close proximity to the Roberson home site and property. Deed records indicate that Elder Henry Roberson’s father (born 1747) owned land in the Turkey Creek / Tranters Creek area, which includes the area down (south) Race Track Road. This road is not far from Elder Henry’s home site.
It appears that other family members had come with Elder Henry’s father to this area of Martin county at (about) the same time and settled on what is now Race Track Rd. Luke Roberson, the brother of Elder Henry’s father, also owned land in the area., but apparently left the county before the 1790 census.
The 1850 Census of Martin County listed:
Henry Robason, 66, Baptist Preacher, $1,000; Nancy, 57; Martha 24; Edwin 23, Laborer; William A. 20, Laborer; Nancy 17; James R. 16.
The 1860 Census of Martin County listed:
Henry Robason, Senr, 75 farmer, $1,000 Real Estate; $6,000 Personal Property; Nancy 68, wife; Nancy E. 27, Seamstress; James R. 25, School Teacher; 9 Slaves.
The following is from “A History of the Disciples of Christ in NC” by Charles Ware. Part III, Early Times in Early Churches. Chapter XXVII, pages 250 to 255:
This Church in Pitt County was formally organized on Oct. 25, 1834. It is apparent from the Church Minutes that the church had been functioning as an organized group for some time…
“We whose names are underwritten being called by the grace of God as we trust and formed into a church.” Henry Roberson and 13 other names are listed.
Their first officers were:
Jeremiah Leggett, Pastor; Henry Roberson, Clerk; George Britton and Nathaniel Keel, Deacons. It was requested that Henry Roberson “draw rules of order and decorum for the government of this church”. It mentions that Henry did so and they were adopted.
They provided for the ordination of the first minister from their group in November 1836, as follows:
“Ordered that Jeremiah Leggett, John Leggett, and Daniel Leggett be requested to attend our quarterly meeting for the purpose of ordaining Bro. Henry Roberson, a minister of the gospel.”
The following information is taken from “Tar Heel Disciples”, 1841-1852, published by Charles Crossfield Ware in 1942:
Minutes of the Bethel Conference and Union Meeting of the Disciples of Christ, held at Mill Creek M.H., Johnson County, NC, Nov. 1848..…
Friday Nov 3rd.
On motion agreed, that the Church of Christ at Oak Grove in Pitt County, be received into this conference. On motion agreed, that the name of Elder Henry Robinson be enrolled on the list of Preachers of this conference.
Minutes of the Bethel Conference held at Oak Grove Meeting House, Oct.. 16-19, 1851. Saturday Oct. 18...…
On motion of Elder Henry Robinson, agreed that we recommend a religious periodical within the bounds of this conference believing in the utility and expediency of such a measure; and that it will greatly promote the spread of the gospel, tend to the edification of the brethren, and promote the glory of God
Among the letters of James Redding Robason in
the Duke University Library is found the following letter to James Redding (Elder Henry’s son):
My dear Bro. Robason,
Yours of the 17th is just received..............…
..............I had expected years ago to hear of the departure of dear father Robason, for he was well stricken in years and full of grace, a ripe sheaf ready for the garner, and I have heard him say that he was ready for the summons. He is not dead, but sleepth in the dust and doubtless in the first resurrection will awaken to everlasting life. Till then, age worn soldier! Farewell.
Note: J.J. Harper was an early minister at Oak Grove Church.........
Elder Henry must have been a very influential person throughout his life. His name, and two of his sons, Henry Baker and Edwin B. Robason were included in the handwritten list of Judge Asa Biggs that is in the Martin Memorial Library in Williamston, NC Judge Biggs was one of Martin County and North Carolina’s most distinguished citizens of the 19th Century.
In 1833, Elder Henry Robason became a charter member of the Oak Grove Church which was organized during that year, and he was appointed the 1st clerk of the new church. Three years later in November 1836 he was ordained into the ministry. Oak Grove Church was a Primitive Baptist Church for the first 14 years of its existence. He must have been a hard working man, and a successful saver/investor, for in the 1850 Census Henry had property value of $1,000 and was considered well off. He was also listed as “Baptist Minister”. This is 14 years after his ordination, which indicates that he had spent those years in Christian service to his church and his fellow man. In the 1860 Census, he had $1,000 real estate and $6000 personal property.
At that time, he was a relatively wealthy man based on comparison to others in the 1860 census. As late as 1910, evidence of his financial success could be seen in the home of his Granddaughter Lydia R. Jenkins, who inherited it from her father, James Redding Robason, who was Elder Henry Robason’s son.
abt. 1747 - Apr. 18, 1828
Typically referenced as born in 1747,
but some info, like DAR index, reflects a different date ( Aug. 12, 1746)
Henry b. 1747 was born and raised in the Smithwick Creek area, and he eventually settled at the old Jesse Bynum Roberson farm in Cross Roads Township. His brother Luke also settled in that area. See the Recorded Events section of this book for the many land transactions in which Henry and Luke were involved, often together. Luke left the area before the 1790 census and settled further south, in the Aurora, NC area.
Henry Robason served as a Private in the Continental Line of NC during the Revolutionary War period. Henry Roberson, Jr. listed in the DAR Patriot Index - Centennial Edition, see Part 3, pg. 2487.
Includes following info: b. 8-12-1746, d. 4-18-1828.
Wife 1) Sallie Collins, and Wife 2) Winifred C.
Also, he was listed as a member of the Committee of Safety for Martin County in 1775 (NC State Records 19-332).
In addition, all of Henry’s known brothers ( David, Joshua, James, and Luke), and several uncles are Revolutionary War veterans. See Martin County Heritage, entry #811, on pg. 501.
Henry didn’t marry until after the Revolutionary war era. His marriage may have been delayed because of the time he spent in the service of his country. He married Sally Collins in 1783 at the age of 36. At about this time (1781-1784), there are several deed recordings of land purchases by Henry Robason in the Tranters Creek & Turkey Creek areas, which are a few miles south of Robersonville near the Pitt Co. line. There are also deed entries for his brother Luke in this area as well. Henry’s house was located a short distance (approx few hundred yards) down Race Track Rd, on the right-hand side after turning off of Prison Camp Rd. Elder Henry Robason, Henry’s oldest child, was born shortly thereafter in 1785.
All of the Robersons in the Robersonville area descended from three of Henry Robason’s (b.1747) sons - Elder Henry, William, and Charles. A fourth son, Collins, is believed to have had no children. William’s sons include the brothers that established the town of Robersonville from a “legal entity” perspective, and Charles is the great-grandparent of Myrtle Taylor Roberson. Myrtle has played a key role in researching and recording the Roberson family history. The entire Roberson family is greatly indebted to Myrtle for all of her fine work in this area. Also, Myrtle’s mother’s brother, Bynum Roberson, was the last owner within the family (known to the author) of Henry Robason’s (b.1747) home and surrounding farm.
Henry’s (b.1747) other brothers, primarily James and his sons including Harmon and Noah, are the ancestors for all of the Roberson’s who are currently living in the Farmlife/Smithwick Creek area just south of Williamston. So, all of the Farmlife area Robersons, who are all related, are certainly related to the Robersons in the Robersonville area, who are all related to one another as well......
Henry Robason’s father (“Henry Jr.”), born approx. 1710, and his grandfather (“Henry Sr.”), born approx.. before 1689, lived in the Sweetwater / Smithwick / Hardison Creek area of Martin County just south of the Roanoke River near Williamston.
Henry was a evidently a prosperous man - if one uses slave ownership as a proxy for total property value. In the 1790 US census, the Country’s first, Henry is listed as owning 9 slaves. There were 798 heads of families in the 1790 census in Martin County. There were only about 45 heads of families that owned greater than 9 slaves. That would put Henry in the top 10%, close to the top 5%, of slave owners. Roughly, about half the families in the county owned slaves at this time, with the large majority of those owning only 1, 2, or 3 slaves.
Henry Roberson (Jr.)
Abt. 1710 - 1794
Henry identified himself as a “cooper” in a 1744 land purchase and again in a 1763 land sale. A cooper is a barrel maker. At that time, coopers also made items such as wooden buckets and tubs . It also appears that Henry owned a mill & a mill pond. The mill & mill pond are used as reference points in several land transactions/deeds in the 1769 -1774 time frame.
It has been common thought that this Henry was the one who came to Martin County in 1743, received a 400 acre land grant, “settled in”, and was the original father of the Martin County Robersons. However, based on all available records ( from sources such as the NC Archives in Raleigh, NC and other documents), this Henry had a father who was already settled in the area before 1743. Indeed, “Henry Sr.” ( estimated born in 1689 timeframe) looks to have already owned property in Chowan County and then sold it in 1734. In 1739, Henry Sr. records with the Court his mark (brand) for his cattle. In 1746, Henry Sr. gives 300 acres to two of his sons, Daniel and John, and also sells another 100 acres to Charles Hardison. Henry Jr ( b. 1710) in 1744 buys his own land (75 acres) from Higason King. Based on these and other entries, it looks like Henry Sr. already had and continued to keep, some amount of other property in the Smithwick Creek area, and actually gave away and sold the 400 acres he received in the 1743 land grant. However, Henry Sr. looks to have lived on the 400 acres he sold at the time he received it, as the grant mentions “being the plantation he now lives on”. Other land owned by Marmaduke Roberson, in addition to Henry Sr’s, is often referenced in subsequent land transactions, but the original timing and source of their property ownership is unknown. William Roberson received 100 acres from E. Smithwick in 1729, but his son William Jr. sold that land back to Smithwick in 1747.
There are several land transactions in the 1740s thru the 1770s in which it is difficult if not impossible to determine exactly which generation of Henry Roberson is involved in the land transaction. There are a large number of transactions where this Henry (b.1710) and his father are referenced as Henry Jr. and Henry Sr. since they were both involved in a land transaction, or land bordered one Henry’s land or the others - or when both were referenced in a deed. Based on the usage of “Senior” and “Junior” in these land transactions, the author likes to refer to Henry born abt. 1710 as “Jr.” and Henry born abt. 1689 as “Sr.” throughout this book.
If we assume that 21 was the age of majority and that no one could buy or own land before that age, then most of the transactions can be identified to one generation or the other. For example, in 1755, both Henry Sr. and Henry Jr. were identified in a NC listing of taxpayers, so it’s straightforward that both were alive at that time. But, in 1763, Henry Robason and Henry Robason Jr. are referenced in the same deed, which would seem to indicate that Henry Robason Sr. , born est. 1689 time frame is still alive and a landowner. Henry Jr.’s son Henry (b.1747) would only be 16 so this would imply that the Henry and Henry Jr. in the deed are Henry (b.1689) and Henry (b.1710).........
The author has been unable to validate many assertions regarding Henry b.1710, including the names and number of his children, etc. that one might come across in books such as Martin County Heritage (Martin Co. Historical Society, 1980), or other genealogy documents. For example, the following passage from the Martin County Heritage book mentions several children that to this point have not showed up in any records of any NC County nor in NC State records - see Recorded Events section . Perhaps there are family documents or other records that are currently unknown to the author that will eventually validate this info. All known State and all relevant Court/County records indicate only James, Luke, Henry, Joshua, David, and Cloanah as his children.
“From his Will, and other sources, we find that he had ten sons named: Henry, Luke, Joshua, James and David; we do not know whether his sons named John, Harrison and Jesse, and two other sons whose name we do not know died before he wrote his Will, or if they had moved to other parts of the country. Henry's daughter Clonah married a Griffin, another daughter married a Peal, and we think his third daughter married a Lilley or Perry.”
Henry b. 1710, his brothers, William Jr., and Marmaduke were in the North Carolina militia in 1754. This is at the time of the French and Indian War, in which the North Carolina militia participated. However, the extent of their actual involvement in the conflict is unknown.
Other Early Robinsons/Robersons
There are several Robinsons in the late 1600s and early 1700s whose specific relationship to Henry Robinson Sr. and his descendants is unknown at this point in time.
It is important to note that the population of the Albemarle Sound region of NC was very small in the 1700 time frame, and the population of the Smithwick Creek area was much smaller still. So, any Robinson/Roberson referenced in this geographical area has a possible ( indeed, probable) relationship to Henry Sr. and his descendants.
1) Land Grant abstract taken from Sec’y of State’s Office for Chowan Precinct.
Apr. 17, 1697; 300 acres on the Pocosin of Mattacomack Creek.
This creek name, used prior to 1712, is now known as Pembroke Creek, on the west side of Edenton Bay just below Edenton, and also as Queen Anne’s Creek, on the east side of Edenton Bay just below Edenton.
May 15, 1697; 500 acres on Old Town Creek. Location is unknown at this time.
Note, Edward Smithwick, also on Apr. 17, 1697, 270 acres on Mattacomack Creek Swamp.
Several entries for Ed. Smithwick on Mattacomack Creek, for ex., one in 1681, and two in 1694.
2) Rent Roll of Land in Albemarle County: Chowan 300 acres and 500 acres.
Listed with Edward Smithwick, et. al. Rent Roll listing undated but before 1700.
3) Copy of an oath signed by 15 men including Cotton, Wm. Swann, Sr., et.al. found in the court records of Chowan County in Edenton. Oath is not dated, but before 1706. This oath was required of all officers upon their qualification to office.
4) John Wheatley Will, Dec.. 1706, references a “plantation given me by Cotton
Robinson, dec’d.” It is interesting to note that there is a Hardy Wheatley listed
a few names before Henry Robason in the NC State Census of 1787 (he lived close to Henry).
5) Land Grant to John Jordan Dec. 12, 1712, 604 acres on Indian Town Swamp,
adjoining lands of Richard Sowell and Cotton Robinson.
William Powell sold 100 acres to John Robeson. Oct. 8, 1734. Location not
indicated. From Register of Deeds of Chowan County in Edenton.
William Robinson Sr. and Jr.
See “The Roberson Family - Chronology of Recorded Events”.
1733: Witness in a legal dispute involving Higginson King. King was a friend
of Henry Robinson family (Henry Jr. was executor of his Will).
Marmaduke (Duke) Robinson
See “The Roberson Family - Chronology of Recorded Events”.
Robert Robinson (& son/relative named for him?):
1728: Indicted for participation in The Everard Riot in Edenton.
1734: William Powell (see John Robeson above) sold 240 acres on Rockyhock
Branch to Robert Robinson. April 18, 1734. Rockyhock is about 4 miles NW of Edenton and empties into Chowan River. 1734 is also the year that Henry Robinson, listed as “of Bertie County” sold 100 acres of land on Plumtree Branch.
1786: A Robert Robinson sold land to Joshua Robason.
“Dec. 4, 1742: William Kennedy of Tyrrell County, for 200 pounds sold to Francis Roberson 320 acres on north side of mouth prong of Flat Swamp. John Anderson, Francis Kennedy, and Edward Ward, witnesses.” This from Martin County History, Vol I, by Manning and Booker. In addressing another land transaction, Manning & Booker state that it was “located about three miles southeast of Robersonville, on the north side of Flat Swamp”. Several other transactions mention “north side of Flat Swamp” as well.
Planter of Southhampton Co., VA - sold land he owned on Smithwick Creek in 1765 adjoining Henry Roberson Sr.. William Robason Jr. had a son Thomas (from 1798 Will); this could be the same Thomas.
Witness in a 1786 land sale from Smithwick to David Roberson (son of Henry).
Copyright 2005, by Richard M. Roberson