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Robbins Family (Attributed to Kate Grayson)

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One of the more colorful Robbins descriptions of our past kin is by Kate Grayson.  It is listed below and is full of Indians, conflicts, murder and the challenges of settling South Alabama in the early nineteenth century:

Contributed by Mrs. Kate Grayson (Kate Grayson Link to Ancestory.com)

My father, Solomon Robbins, was born in Brunswick County, North Carolina, on January 14th, 1791. His parents were Benjamin and Sarah Robbins (nee Wells). My father served as a private soldier through the War of 1812. With a wife and babe, he came to Alabama about the year 1816, settled in Montgomery County, near Judkins Ferry on the Tallapoosa River. While living there his second child, Solomon, Jr., was born. The location proving unhealthy, he moved from there to Autauga County, settled near the Alabama River in the neighborhood of Coosawda. There his wife died, and he afterward married Mary Wilson, daughter of an old Virginia gentleman, Capt. Benjamin Wilson, who commanded a Company of Virginia troops during the War of 1812. Captain Wilson was born in Isle of Wight County, Virginia, September 3rd, 1773/ His father, James Wilson, was born February 14th, 1747, served as a private soldier through the Revolutionary War, and died April 12th, 1830. My father, Solomon Robbins, was married to his last wife, Mary Wilson, May 27th, 1822. In 1832 he moved with his family to Coosa County among the Creek Indians and was the first white settler to found a home in that county. As he moved from Autauga County, he opened up his road as he went. With the help of the hands who assisted in driving his wagons and stock, horses, cattle, sheep, hogs, etc., of which he owned vast numbers, they cleared the road heading from Wetumpka to Nixburg, via Central Institute, which road is in use to this day. He bought a large tract of land from the Indians, paying them in silver (they would accept no other kind of money), and having the entire county to select from, of course, he made a judicious selection and bought land unexcelled for fertility of soil, fine timber, most excellent range for stock, and watered by at least a dozen large, bold springs of never failing clear, cold, sparkling freestone water. Wild game was abundant, so plentiful indeed that father could go out any morning before breakfast and kill a deer or bring in as many wild turkeys as he could carry. I have heard my mother say she often had as much as a large washtub full of turkey breasts alone salted down at a time. I have often heard my father remark – even when 80 years of age – that if he knew of a country as fine as that when he went there, he would go to it even at his advanced age. He bought a great deal of land from the Indians, which he afterward sold to the white settlers as they came in, and realized from his land speculations, quite a snug little fortune.
He kept the first P.O. ever established in Nixburg, although it was then called Robbinsville, as can be seen by referring to maps of that date. The second man who sold goods there was named Nix, hence the change to Nixburg. The first merchant who sold goods there was murdered in his bed one night by an Indian. His name I have forgotten. An old Indian came to father at a late hour one night, and being able to speak a little English, succeeded in making him understand that he feared the merchant was killed, for a drunk Indian had come to his house with a bottle of whiskey, tobacco, and a lot of cloth, and there was blood on his clothes. Father told him to return home at once and keep the Indian there until he could go and investigate. On reaching the store, he found the merchant dead in his bed, having been knocked on the head with an iron wedge. He arrested the Indian and started alone with him to Talladega County to jail (there being no jail nearer), but the Indian got away from him and week or more elapsed before he recaptured him. He finally caught him, however, carried him to Talladega where he was hung. Just before the rope was adjusted around his neck, he insisted that another Indian take his place, proposing to give him two ponies if he would do so. The Indian refused, and he remarked lightly that he did not care, as he would be in Arkansas in three days anyway. While en route to the jail, the Indian told father he saw him several times while he was searching for him, and came very near killing him one day, raised his gun, took aim, and had his finger on the trigger, but happened to think how good and kind he had been to his people and would not shoot.

Father lived surrounded by “red men” and their families for three years on the most amicable terms. By the aide of linguists, he soon learned their languages and they his, sufficiently to converse with each other quite well. The old chiefs would often come to him to learn something of the “white man’s law”, as they termed it. On one occasion father was much amused at the remark a chief made. They had conversed for some time and the chief said: “Well, Robbins, we have talked enough, for if people talk too much, are might apt to tell some lies”. One of the chiefs had a very pretty daughter, as beautiful in form and features as any white lady. A white man, a lawyer, came into the neighborhood, fell very much in love with the chief’s pretty daughter and asked for her hand in marriage. The old chief was silent for some minutes, apparently in deep thought, then turned to the lawyer and said, “No, you can’t have her; if you were any account you would not want “Injun” wife, and if you are no account you can’t have her”.

The first year after going to Coosa. father had to take all his grain to Autauga to have it ground, a distance of 36 miles, leaving mother with her little ones alone until he returned. Never once were they molested or treated with the slightest disrespect. Those were the days and subsequently when “Capt. Simon Suggs” (Bird Young) figured so conspicuously in that country. If Johnson Hooper could have seen my father before writing the history of “Capt. Suggs”, father could have given him material for a book twice the size of the one he wrote. He was often a guest at my father’s house, as he made that his stopping point to spend the night on his trips to and from Wetumpka. Often have I heard father tell of the tricks and schemes of the “Captain” to swindle not only the Indians but the whites as well. The man who came in contact with him and did not get “taken in”, congratulated himself on his extreme good luck. There was one praiseworthy trait in the Indians character that I must omit to mention since it deserves recognition and admiration. father said they, as a whole, were the most truthful people he ever saw in his life, until the white people (to their shame, be it said) came among them and learned them to drink whiskey and otherwise corrupted them.

My father was so fortunate as to witness the exhibition of the “stars falling”‘ as it was called – on the morning of November 13th, 1833. He and a negro man were camped out on the roadside between Central Institute and Wetumpka, on their way to the latter place with cotton for the market. The darkey was very much alarmed, thought “Judgment Day” had come and prayed for deliverance with all his might. Father, who was a very calm, quiet, self-possessed man, experienced not the slightest fear or excitement, but greatly enjoyed the grand spectacle, which was probably the greatest display of celestial fireworks that has ever been seen since the creation of the world, or at least within the annals covered by the pages of history.

Father and mother reared a large family, 12 children (11m I should have said, as one died in infancy), on the old home bought of the Indians, both died there and were laid to rest in the old cemetery at the Protestant Methodist Church in sight of their loved home. To me, that cherished old home is the most sacred spot on earth; endeared to me by ten thousand tender ties and hallowed association. The dear old home is now owned by W/H. Crawford, who married one of father’s granddaughters. He (Crawford) is a son of ex-Treasurer Daniel Crawford of Alabama.

The names and ages of my father’s children are as follows: Elizabeth was born in Brunswick County, North Carolina, March 20th, 1814. Married Esqr. R.L. Martin, and together they reared a large family near Equality, Coosa County, Alabama, and there both died. She was a member of the Baptist church. One son, D.S. Martin, is a prominent Baptist minister, and still lives in the neighborhood of their old home. The next child, Solomon Robbins, Jr. was born in Montgomery County, Alabama, April 9th, 1818. Was married to Amanda M. Funderburgh, was a member of the Methodist Protestant Church, died in Texas, October 7th, 1878. His eldest son, John W. Robbins, is serving his second term as State Treasurer of Texas. The next child, Martha Ann, was married to re. J.H. Mitchell, a Cumberland Presbyterian Minister. Was a member of the Methodist Protestant Church until after her marriage when she united herself to the C.P. Church. She was born in Autauga County, Alabama, February 16th, 1823, dies September 6th, 1853. The nest was John Wells, who was born in Autauga County, Alabama, July 29th, 1824. He married Frances Weaver, daughter of Wm. Weaver, one of Coosa’s first settlers. He was a member of the Methodist Protestant Church, died July 30th, 1863, while in the Confederate service. The next, Mary Jane, was born in Autauga County, December 27th, 1825. She married Alexander Smith, a prominent man of Scottish descent, of which blood he was very proud, was once, perhaps twice, was elected to the State Legislature. She was a member of the Methodist Protestant Church, but after her marriage affiliated with her husband’s church, old school Presbyterian. Died —–. The next, Eliza, was born in Autauga County, September 30th, 1828. Married W.D. Walden, a merchant of Nixburg, who was once elected to the State Legislature. He was Captain of a company during the Civil War and was killed at the Battle of Chickamauga. She was a member of the Methodist Protestant Church, and died August 2nd, 1853. The next was Wm. Peyton, who was born in Autauga County, April 18th, 1830. Was a member of the Methodist Protestant Church. Married Martha Freeman. Died November 17th, 1862 while in the Confederate service. The next, Thomas Clinton, was born in Autauga County, Alabama, on January 30th, 1832. Was a member of the Methodist Protestant Church. Was first married to Sarah Freeman, who died childless; after her death was married to Tampa E. Ellis. Two sons were born of this marriage, Wm. O. Robbins, the present sheriff of Elmore County, and his brother, Thos. S. Robbins, of Louisiana.
The next was Sarah Adeline, who was born in Nixburg, Coosa County, Alabama, on June 10th, 1834. Was a member of the Methodist Protestant Church, was married to Samuel Hill. Died in Texas, December 24th, 1903. The next, George Washington, was born in Nixburg, Coosa County, Alabama, on May 6th, 1838. Was a member of the Methodist Protestant Church, married Susan Caroline Jackson, and died July 10th, 1863, while in Confederate service.
The next, W. Kate, was born in Nixburg, Coosa County, Alabama, on March 18th, 1839. A member of the Methodist Protestant Church. Married Charles Oliver Grayson, resides now near Tyler, in Smith County, Texas, the only one of the 12 children now living.
The next was Laura Virginia, born in Nixburg, Coosa County, Alabama, March 24th, 1842, died October 13th, 1842.
Now, my dear boy, I have done the best that an old woman with defective memory and nervous hand could be expected to do, with my rambling reminiscences. There were many amusing incidents in connection with the Indians in Coosa’s early days, but time and space forbid. Your publishers can accept or reject as best suits them. But before closing, I wish to impress upon your mind the character of my father’s noble sons, your own dear father being one of them. My father was a remarkable man in many respects. He was noted far and near for his exemplary piety. His benevolence was such that no one in need ever called upon him for aid whose wants were not liberally supplied from his ever generous hand. His natural mental abilities were of the first order, far above ordinary. His disposition was the sweetest and most lovable I have ever seen in any human being. He was warm-hearted, broad-minded, gentle, sincere, pure and good, an ideal husband, father, neighbor, friend, and master, beloved by all who knew him, both white and black.

His sons were all that such father could have desired. They were reared in a village where whiskey drinking, gambling, horse racing and other evils common in such places are usually practiced, yet such was their training, and the influence and example of the Christian parents, that of the five sons no one ever heard an oath from the lips of one of them, never saw one enter a saloon, any place of vice or immorality, or be guilty of any act that could the hearts of their beloved parent’s a moments pain. There were honest, honorable, upright, high minded men, pious, well-to-do prosperous farmers, who had the confidence and esteem of all who knew them, worthy every way the good man who was proud to call them sons. Not a blot or stain ever tarnished the name or character of one of his children, and it is a source of great pride and gratification to me to be able to say the same of his numerous grandchildren. You may well feel proud, my dear boy, of the distinction of being a grandson of such a model man, whose equal I have never yet seen. I cannot find language to do justice to his worth.

Affectionately your aunt,

Kate Grayson

P.S. In glancing over what I have written, I see that I failed to give the dates of the deaths of several of the family which can be inserted in the proper places. Solomon Robbins, Sr., died May 19th, 1879. Mary Robbins, his wife, died June 28th, 1878. They were both members of the Methodist Protestant Church. The date of the deaths of your aunts, Jane Smith and Elizabeth Martin, I have not got. You can collect them by writing to you cousins, S.S. Martin at Equality, Alabama, and L.K. Smith, Nixburg, Alabama. In a short time after my father moved to Coosa County, his brother, Daniel A. Robbins, and family also settled near Nixburg and there reared a family of nine children. His wife and my Father’s were sisters, both daughters of Capt. Benjamin Wilson. He remained there until most of his children were grown, and then moved near the old town of Socopatoy, where he and his wife died, both at an advanced age. One of his sons, Howell R. Robbins, still lives with his family at the old homestead, and is a man of upright unblemished character, enjoying the confidence and esteem of all who know him. He has been honored with the office of Sheriff of Coosa County and has served one or two terms in the State Legislature.

B.B. Bonner, Zacharia Powell, Wm. Townsend, Wm. Weaver, Izer Wilson, Mark E. Moore, Wm. Moore, —– Carrol, Ped Crumpler, Mr. Suttle, and many others whose names I cannot recall were among the early settlers of Coosa. The latter, Suttle, was shot and killed, they supposed by an Indian while digging and cleaning out a spring. His wife was with him but never knew from whence the shot came. Suttle’s was the first body ever laid in the old grave-yard at Nixburg, my father making the coffin and superintending the digging of the grave.

For simplicity sake, the gallery to the right includes photos and images with some “age” on them so anyone just checking for images will easily see what’s available.  Many, of course, are of my closest family but would love any relatives, near or far, that have additional photos to please add them to the collection.
Just shoot me an email attachment and description to grayson@5robbins.com!

Origins of the Robbins Name

I would be the first to state that I am by far no means a genealogist.  However, with the technology of today, I find it intriguing to look back and investigate the origins from which I/we came.  I assume we all have this curiosity and offer my novice research those of with the mutual interest or of ancestry.  Anyway, that being stated, from what I have uncovered via the internet is my lineage goes back some twenty-two generations to before the “Dark Ages” of humanity.

Should, by chance this lineage be correct, then here are some interesting details regarding the Robbins family:

  • John Robbins appears to be the family member to bring our lineage to America.  He was born in 1581 in Long Buckby, Northamptonshire, UK, crossed the Atlantic with his family at some point (as his son was also born in the UK), and returned to the UK where he dies in 1622.  He would be considered my Great-(10) Grandfather.
  • His son, also a John was born in Long Buckby and died in Gloucester County, VA around 1655.  He would be considered my Great-(9) Grandfather.  He is the first observed family member to have taken the spelling of Robbins with two “b’s”.  Possibly, coming to a new world brought along with it a new name!
  • John’s son, Thomas had the title of “Dr.” and is the last ancestor using the spelling of “Robins”.  Why he reverted back to the previous spelling of our name is unknown.  However, from his children forward, the Robbins name has been unchanged.
  • Although there is conflicting information, it appears the spelling changed from Robyns in the late 1400’s, possibly after Edward, my Great-(14) Grandfather, born appx. in 1460.