Tuesday, April 9, 2013

James and Charlotte Robertson

  James Robertson was called the" father of middle Tennessee" and he is known as the founder of Nashville. He was born in Virginia in 1742. He married Charlotte Reeves Robertson in 1768 and they would eventually have thirteen children. Two died in infancy. Charlotte Tn. and Charlotte Ave. are named for her. James and Charlotte are buried in Nashville's old City Cemetery. They crossed the Appalachians into the Upper Holston region of East Tennessee called the Watauga settlement in 1769. In 1777 Richard Henderson, a wealthy land speculator, who Hendersonville is named after, negotiated for a large track of land, that supposedly belonged to the Cherokee's, and included Middle Tennessee. The only problem was that they did not legitimately lay claim to the land. It was not their's to sale. Complicating the situation was the fact that the Nashville area was considered a sacred hunting ground. It was called the French Lick after a salt deposit that was created from a sulpher spring that was located where the Werthan Bag Co. is today on Rosa Parks Ave. The area swarmed with buffalo, deer, elk, and a variety of wildlife.

  Henderson commissioned Robertson to lead an expedition into the area and report back to him. In the spring of 1779 Robertson's group arrived and they not only scouted the area but planted crops. The area along the river was rich bottom land where the corn grew over nine foot tall and that area was eventually named "black bottom" which it was called until the 1950's. After Robertson's return to East Tennessee he organized settlers that would move into Nashville or Nashboro to build settlements. Nashboro was named after his friend Francis Nash who fought with him at the battle of Alamance in 1771. In early 1779 two parties of settlers were organized for the trip. John Donelson would bring the women and children on a thousand mile trip by water in winter-time. They would endure Indian attacks and disease. Charlotte and Donelson's young daughter Rachel, who would eventually marry Andrew Jackson, were in Donelson's party. James Robertson's led most of the men overland. They would arrive on Christmas day 1779 crossing the frozen Cumberland River on ice from what is now Edgefield over to the area near the present day Stockyard Restaurant. The Donelson party arrived in April.

  The Chickamauga Indians belonged to the Cherokee tribe and they were determined to keep the settlers out of their sacred hunting grounds. The settlers established a group of stations or forts of which the largest was Ft. Nashboro. Some settlers would stand guard while others would plant crops. Robertson was shot on two different occasion by the Indians. Once through the foot and another time through both wrists. Robertson lost two sons to the Indians. One was killed and scalped on present day capital hill while Charlotte watched in horror from the fort. One other son was scalped but survived. James Robertson eventually developed a surgical treatment for scalp victims. In 1781 James Robertson led a group on men on a hunting trip near the fort and they were cut off by a band of Indians at what today is lower Broad & 1st Ave. Charlotte could see their predicament and she opened the gates to the fort allowing all of the dogs to attack the Indians which enabled Robertson to lead his men back into the fort. The 1780's were a dark time for the settlers. Many settlers left and it is estimated that at least half of the remaining settlers were killed by the Indians. After Congress established Tennessee as a territory in the early 1790's Robertson was made a Brigadier General in the U.S. Army. At the end of the American Revolution the Indians, who were allies of the British, decided that it was best to negotiate peace treaties and Robertson negotiated several. The last Indian attack in Nashville occurred in 1792 at Buchanan's station on Elm Hill pike. Robertson would die on September 4, 1814 and Charlotte would die in 1843 at age 92.

James Robertson

Charlotte Robertson

Grave of General James Robertson

Grave of Charlotte Reeves Robertson

Statue On The cumberland

Robertson House in the Early 1900's/ White Bridge Rd. & Robertson Ave.

Entrance To Graves At Nashville City Cemetery

Cumberland Frozen Over in 1940 As It Was On Christmas Day 1779 

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