Roberson Family History
The Roberson Family of Robersonville

Most of the following accounts of the Roberson family of Martin County N.C. are narratives that have been excerpted from the many, and varied, family histories compiled in the Martin County Historical Society’s “Martin County Heritage”.  These generational snapshots, embracing the multiple spellings of the family surname, are presented as submitted by the publications contributors. They have been selected for relevancy and arranged in chronological order, for continuity and the sake of convenience, in order to illustrate the lineage of our specific family (as there are many branches to this family tree).

What’s in a Name?

When the English found it advantageous, in days of yore, to introduce surnames, there were many ways one could choose the new family name.  One method, for instance, was to use an individual’s profession as a surname (e.g. a baker became “Baker” or a cooper became “Cooper”).  Another common practice was to add “son” to the patriarch’s given name.  Thus, the surname for the sons of Robert became “Robertson”,  or “Robinson”  as Robin was apparently a popular nickname for Robert.  Over the centuries, and maybe even from the beginning, there have been many derivations of the Robertson and Robinson surnames - Roberson and Robason are just two such derivatives.  These two names, along with Robinson, are germane to the following Roberson family lineage. For example, Robinson appeared most consistently in early records and legal transactions, although the other variations did appear from time to time (sometimes in the same document).  The family eventually began using primarily the Robason spelling for a period in later years, followed by Roberson as the accepted spelling beginning in the post Civil War era.  

 - Tommy Roberson   

Henry Robason - the start of something big

The first Henry Robason (that we are sure about) was born in England in 1710, came to America, and lived in the Chesapeake Area of Virginia for a few years. He then moved to the area.  (He served as a member of the Tyrrell County Militia in 1754, and enlisted as a musician (drummer) in Dawson's Company of the 7th N.C. Continental Line in 1777.) His will was dated January 28, 1785 and probated in 1794 in Will Book 1, page 199, in the Clerk of Superior Couft office of Martin County. 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.  We have reason to believe that two of the brothers and the three girls settled in the general area of what is now Griffins Township of Martin County. His son, Henry born 1747, is the ancestor of most of the Robersons in the area of Robersonville.  

(source: Martin County Heritage, North Carolina)

Henry Robason (born 1747)

Henry Robason, born 1747, in what is now Washington County, was the son of Henry Robason (Roberson) who was born 1710; this Henry later came to Martin County and settled at the old Jesse Bynum Roberson farm in Cross Roads Township where he died in Martin County April 16, 1828. He was a member of the Committee of Safety for Martin County in 1775 (N.C. State Records 19-332). He also served as a soldier in the N.C. Continental Line from the Halifax District (Roster p. 407).  His Will was dated December 17, 1827 and probated June Term 1828 in Will Book 2, page 138 in the off ice of the Clerk of Superior Court of Martin County. He was first married to Sallie Collins in Tyrrell County onjune 25, 1783. She died February 16, 1793 at Buncombe Hall; and then he married Winfred Caroline Baker, who died October 24, 1825.
The children of Henry (born 1747) and Sallie Collins were: Henry B. January 3, 1785, married Nancy BakerCollins, b. September 30, 1786, married Polly Baker; William, b. September 8, 1790, married Sally Wynn 1813; Charles, b. February 4, 1793, married Betsy Caroline Baker.  These are the ancestors of practically all of the Robersons in the Robersonville area.  William Robason, born September 8, 1790, at Buncombe Hall, near Roper, Washington County, and died May I 1 845, was the son of Henry Robason, who was born 1747; he married "Sally" Wynn, born October 31,1792, and died October 8, 1872.  William Robason was owner of most of the land in what is now the town of Robersonville, as well as much other land in the outlying area.  He built his home about 1825 on what is now Third Street.  The first store of the village, which was built by William Robason, was located on the northwest corner of what is now Railroad and Roberson Streets.  And his son, George O., was in business with him.  This store burned on September 6, 1918.

William Robason's Will was dated April 19, 1845 and probated July Term 1845 in Will Book 2 at page 320, in the office of the Clerk of the Superior Court of Martin County.  From the Will, and the records of Martin County, William Robason conveyed practically all of his real estate before he died to his children and that part on which most of Robersonville now lies to his three sons, William, Henry and George, for who Robersonville was named.  From the number of slaves mentioned in his Will, he must have been quite wealthy. 

William Robason and wife, "Sally" Wynn Robason, were the parents of: Harriett, b. June 24, 1815, d. 1892, married Aldridge Andrews 1833; Caroline, b. June 23, 1838, married Linier Daniels; Elizabeth, b. January 10, 1827, married Kannie Daniels; Sally Ann, b. April 10, 1834, married (1) John Page, (2) Randolph Whichard; and parents of the three brothers for whom the Town of Robersonville was named, to wit: William Wynn, b. September 1, 1819, married Lucinda Chance; George Outlaw, b. December 1, 1821, married Drewpina Andrews 1857; Henry Daniel, b. October 10, 1824, married (1)Martha Page, (2) Basha Piver.

(source: Martin County Heritage, North Carolina)

Elder Henry and Nancy Baker Robason

Elder Henry Robason (1785-1872) married Nancy Ann Baker (1791-1874) in Gates County on March 20, 1814.  They had ten children; their names were  Henry Baker (1819-1893), Sallie Ann Collins , Stanley Baker (1817-1824), Harvey Baker (1820-1852),  Julia Baker (1822), Martha Curtis (1824-1887), Edwin Baker (1826-1878), William Albert (1828-1907), Nancy Ann (1831-1892),  and James Redding (1835-1914).

(source: Martin County Heritage, North Carolina)

Henry Baker and Gatsy
Ann Rogers Roberson

Henry Baker Roberson (b. 5-23-1819 d. 3-12-1893) was the son of Elder Henry Robason (b. 1-3-1785 d. 2-25-1872) and Nancy Ann Baker Roberson (b. 11-29-1791 d. 9-4-1874).  He was born in Martin County, one of ten children.  His paternal grandparents were Henry Robason (b. cl747 d. 4-18-1828) and Sallie Collins Robason (d. 2-16-1793).  His maternal grandparents were James Abraham Baker and Absilla Jane Trotman Baker.

Henry Baker was a great-grandson of Henry Robason 
(b.1710 in England) who came to Martin County in 1743 and settled in the Smithwick Creek area. Henry Baker married Gatsy Ann Rogers (b. 6-6-1823 d. 8-21-1893) on December 27, 1842.  Gatsy was the daughter of Elder Pompey William (Billy) Rogers (b. c. 9-1779 d. 3-1878) and Dollie Coburn Rogers.  She was born in Martin County, one of eight children. Henry Baker and Gatsy lived on a large farm about 1/2 mile east of Robersonville on Rural Road #1159.

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 men of his day, made many pieces of furniture for family use.  Several of these pieces have been passed down to the present generation. During the Civil War the spelling of Henry Baker's last name changed from Robason to Roberson.

Henry Baker and Gatsy had twelve children:

1.George Daniel Roberson (b. 11-13-1843 
d.6-19-191 1) married 1 st Margaret Smith and
2nd Sarah Louvenia Smith.
2.Ann Margaret (or Miriah) Roberson (b. 1-21-1846 d. 
3.David Franldin Roberson (b. 11-27-1847 d.
12-11-1935) married 3-20-1873 to Julia F. Smith 
at the home of Louisa Smith.
4.Lewis Henry Roberson (b. 12-26-1850 d. 6-6-1884) 
married Mary Ross.
5. Joseph John Roberson (b. 9-22-1849 
d. 12-30-1849).
6. James Lawrence Roberson (b. 8-4-1852 
d. 3-9-1937) married 1 st Mandy Ross and 2nd 
Mary Cooper.
7.Timothy Walton Roberson (b. 7-29-1854 
d.4-18-1947) married Harriet Ann Everett 
(b. 2-28-1856 d. 12-14-1908).  They were married 
on 3-2-1879 at the home of Eli Everett. (see 
8.Rufus Licurcus (Kirk) Roberson (b. 6-6-1857 
d. 2-20-1914) married lst on 5-41887 to Delia M. 
Smith at R. B. Smith's home and married 2nd on 
11-17-1891 to Moneffa Cora Ayers at Plymouth, 
9.William Edwin Roberson (b. 4-3-1859 
d. 12-25-1938) married on 1-16-1889 to Mary
Caroline Keel (b. 11-16-1867 d. 9-2-1938).
10.Susan Adelaide Roberson (b. 8-151861 
d. 8-27-1883).
11.Julius Quinton Roberson (b. 1-10-1864
12.Archibald Staton Roberson (b. 5-31866 
d. 11-3-1955) married Betty Purvis (b. 11-5-1872 
d. 10-26-1946). At his death, Henry Baker left 
each one of his sons a farm.  He and Gatsy are 
buried in the family cemetery on their farm.

(source: Martin County Heritage, North Carolina)

William Edwin and 
Mary Caroline Keel Roberson

William Edwin Roberson, son of Henry Baker and Gatsy Ann Rogers Roberson, was b. 4-3-1859, d. 12-25-1938.  His grandparents were Elder Henry and Nancy Ann Baker Robason and Pompey Billy and Dolly Coburn Rogers.  His great grandparents were Henry and Sally Collins Robason of Martin County and James Abraham and Absilia Jane Trotman Baker of Gates County and William Rogers and wffe of Martin.
He married (1-11-1889) Mary Caroline Keel, daughter of William Tillmond and Jane Elizabeth Everett Keel.  She was b.11-16-1867, d. 9-2-1938.  Her grandparents were Jonathon Cartright and Sally Ann Cherry Keel of Pitt County and Henry (Harry) and Elizabeth Manning Everett of Martin County.  Her great grandparents were Samuel and Susan Carroway Keel and Orman and Clementinae Cherry all of Pitt County, and Simon and Milly Magnolia Staton Everett and Reuben and Sally Manning all of Martin County.

Ed Roberson, with brothers George, David, Lewis, James, Licurcus, Timothy and Archibold and sisters Ann and Susan spent their early years on their father's farm near Robersonville.  He attended school under Professor Stephen Oufterbridge, noted educational leader in 1893, by his father's will, he received a, portion of the family farm and he built a home there.  He farmed until 12-12-1899 when he sold this farm and moved to Robersonville.  He built his second home there on Railroad Street. In addition to farming, he became involved in and worked in various business ventures including cotton gins, saw mill and timber buying and selling, merchantile business and the first electric system for Robersonville.  His life was devoted to family and to the welfare of county, town and its community.  He was a very talented person in all his undertakings and particularly in carpentry work.  He was a valuable citizen.

Mary Ed, as she was called, was born in Martin County but her parents moved to Pitt County when she was very young and she lived there with her family members, Sally, Emma, Hattie, Allie, Jimmy, Johnny and half brothers Rufus, Cartright and sister Myrtle, until she married.  She was a devoted wife and mother to her own children, and in addition, several other children who lived with them as members of their family.  She had many friends and was regarded highly for her willingness to help others who were less fortunate than she by sharing her love, her substance and security with all who needed encouragement and a helping hand.

Both of them were faithful, devout members of the Robersonville Primitive Baptist Church.  Their home was a haven to many friends and church members.  On 1-27-1910 they gave the land for their church to be erected on and they attended and supported it as long as their health permitted.

William Edwin and Mary Caroline Keel Roberson's living memorial to history is the number of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren who have been and today are serving in careers of many valuable and distinguished professions.

Their children:

1. Jay Edwin, b. 1-8-1890, d. 10-8-1890.
2. Ann Elizabeth (Betty) b. 3-18-1891, married 6-15-1913 to
William Warren Taylor, Sr. b. 9-24-1893, d. 1-14-1967.
3. Nathan Russell, b. 8-5-1892, d. 10-171967, married 
5-12-1923 to Myrtle Elizabeth Taylor, b. 11-3-1903.
4. Robert Heman, b. 9-20-1897, d. 4-301958 married 1921
to Fannie Mae Whichard, b. 5-26-1905, d. 7-6-1964.
5. Walter Edgar, b. 9-10-1898, married 1231-1919 to Sarah 
Elizabeth Davenport, b. 327-1901.
6. Nicklus Ernest, b. 7-15-1900, d. 11-161902.
7. Dennis Alton, b. 4-28-1903, d. 10-171972, married 
8-12-1935 to Margaret Velma Ross, b. 9-11-1910, d 
8. William Adrian, b. 6-18-1905, d. 8-181910.
9. Harry Seward, b. 12-23-1907, married 12-16-1945 to 
Flora Belle Roberson, b. 10-31916.
10 Harvey Lewis, b. 12-19-1909, d. 3-1-1964, married 
1-16-1935 to Harriett (Hattie) Eleanor Ross, b. 
9-11-1910, d. 11-10-1976.

(source: Martin County Heritage, North Carolina)

Harvey Lewis and 
Dennis Alton Roberson

Harvey Lewis Roberson and Harriett (Hattie) Eleanor Ross were married in January of 1935 and had five children. Here are details on each of their lives:

Harvey Lewis Roberson

- Youngest child of William Edwin and Mary Caroline 
- Spent his entire life, from birth to death, in 
Robersonville, a town with a population of less than 
1500 people when he died
- Was nicknamed STICK by his friends in childhood,
presumedly because, being younger and slower 
than his buddies, he couldn't keep up with them 
(i.e., stick in the mud)
- Attended business school in Richmond, VA
- Owned/ran a number of businesses, such as:
*chicken buying business and hatchery 
(two different times)
*grocery store
*woodworking shop
*hardware store
*tax preparation and bookkeeping services
*wholesale vendor of candies and small sundries 
to small "Mom and Pop" stores
- Excellent carpenter and woodworker, who loved to
made wooden toys for his grandkids
- Talented sign maker, who made handpainted signs 
for local merchants to place in their store windows 
- Very active in the Baptist Church and served as a
deacon and lay preacher
- Despite having a growing family of his own, provided 
a temporary home for one of his brothers as well 
as one of his nephews.

Hattie Roberson

- One of twin daughters of Minnie and John Thomas Ross
- Survived polio as a child although it left her with a limp 
for the rest of her life
- Attended East Carolina Teacher's College (ECTC) which 
is now known as East Carolina University (ECU)
- In later years ran the lunchroom program for the entire
Robersonville school system
- An avid member of the local book and bridge clubs
- Active in the Baptist Church
- Loving Mom to five kids, including having to raise 
the two youngest on her own after the death 
of Harvey Lewis
- Loved to take afternoon and Sunday rides in the 
countryside but most especially when she could 
include her grandchildren in the jaunts

Dennis Alton Roberson and Margaret Velma Ross were married in August of 1935 and had two children.  Dennis was once Justice of the Peace of Robersonvile and Margaret was a beloved school teacher.

(soruce: Tommy Roberson)

see Our Families page for further details

Harvey Lewis and Hattie Roberson in younger days
Children of William Edwin and their spouses (Harvey Lewis deceased)
Harvey Lewis and Hattie Roberson
The children of William Edwin and their spouses.
Geneology is an art, not a science. The above generational acounts are from a variety of non-professional authors and accuracy of each is not necessarily exact.  Most of the information above was excerpted with permission (and then chronologically arranged) from Martin County Heritage, North Carolina, an exhaustive resource containing over 1100 family, church and community histories with many pictures.  Indexed with over 40,000 entries.  9 x 12, hardcover, 878 pages. Published 1980.  US $60.00. 

To get your copy, write to:
The Martin County Historical Society
PO Box 468
Williamston, NC 27892

To see a list of related publications, visit:

An Authorized Website
ROBERSONS .us  home page
Roberson family history
Robersonville, NC information and weather
Please sign the Roberson guest book
Families of Harvey Lewis & Dennis Alton Roberson
Footnotes to History
by Tommy Roberson

With the advent of digitization and the internet, along with expansive publication of original source documents, the extent and scope of data readily available to genealogists, both professional and amateur, continues to grow at an explosive rate.  Given the disparity of information assessable to today’s researchers and those of yesteryear, the efforts of earlier Roberson family chroniclers like Orlando Roberson, between 1905 and 1914, and Myrtle (Taylor) Roberson, later on, are remarkable.  These two, among others, laid a firm foundation in compiling and recording the family’s pedigree and history. It is now up to the modern generation of Roberson genealogists, using all the new tools and data sources at hand, to build on, refine, and enrich the legacy of those who came before and did so much with so little.

Family lore has it that the Henry Robason, born in 1710 in England, is the earliest member of the family to settle in the Martin county area.  Based on review of currently available documentation, especially land transactions, it appears almost certain, however, that this Henry’s father, also named Henry, had already settled in the area prior to 1743.  The three known sons of this elder Henry (Henry Sr.) and his wife (name unknown) were Henry Jr., Daniel, and John. 

Family lore also has it that the Roberson family lived in Virginia before settling in North Carolina.  Relevant studies, indeed, suggest that such a stop-over would fit the prevailing emigration pattern of English settlers into northeastern North Carolina in the early 1700s.  A likely itinerary would be England -> Virginia (probably Nansemond county) -> Bertie County, North Carolina (vicinity of the Cashie River) -> Tyrrell / Martin County, North Carolina (south of the Roanoke River and primarily along Smithwick Creek).  Movement of some family members westward to the Robersonville / Cross Roads area would come in later years.  
In his rendering of the Roberson family history, Orlando Roberson stated that Henry Robason, born in 1710, enlisted as a musician (drummer) in Dawson’s company of the N.C. Continental Line  n 1777.  According to  Revolutionary  War  service  records in  the  National Archives,  however,  Henry Robertson, the drummer who enlisted in Dawson’s Company in 1777 for a three year term,  died of casualties on February 6, 1778.  This information, along with the fact that our Henry would have been 67 years old in 1777, suggests that Henry Robason (b. 1710) did not serve as thought, although his son Henry did.

Despite continuous refinements to our family history, there are still some questions yet to be resolved.  For example:

1)  Where did the family come from in England? Could it be Yorkshire?  Maybe name distribution provides clues to the answer.  The surname ROBINSON is, and was, most prevalent in northern England, especially in Yorkshire.  MARMADUKE, given name of an early Robinson/Robason/Roberson settler living in proximity to our family, seems to be more common to Yorkshire at the time than elsewhere in England.

2)  When did the family actually migrate to America?  Was it aboard the vessel SEAFLOWER which sailed from Whitehaven, England to Virginia in December 1714 with a “Henry Robinson & Co.” aboard?  Should our family, indeed, come from Yorkshire, or environs, Whitehaven would be a convenient port of departure for the New World.  

3)  How was the decision made to change from ROBINSON to ROBASON and why?  How was the decision made to change from ROBASON to ROBERSON and why?  Amazingly, how did the family, with one exception, execute the latter change almost simultaneously?  Did the dissenting branch, who adopted ROBERTSON, do so based on a firm historical fact, personal preference, or political motivation?  Given this change was made right after the Civil War and the fact that certain surnames, at least elsewhere in North Carolina, were held in higher regard by Republican reconstruction administrators, the latter point at lease merits passing consideration.

- A birth certificate proves you were born...
a personal history proves you lived.

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