Hardin Robbins: Breckinridge County Patriarch

After leaving Kentucky for Indiana in the early 1800s, most of the Robbins families remained in Indiana or moved to states further west.  A few families, for some reason, returned to Kentucky, settling in Breckinridge County.  Two of the leaders of this move, Absalom Robbins Jr. and Hardin Robbins, became the patriarchs of large Kentucky families.

Hardin Robbins was the eldest child of Micajah and Elizabeth (Vickrey) Robbins and was born in 1813 in Henry County, Kentucky.  The family remained in Henry County at least through the 1830 census, but by 1834 were in Decatur County, Indiana, where Micajah received a 40 acre land patent from the U.S. government (at least it was awarded in 1834, he may have claimed the land earlier).

Hardin and Elizabeth Robbins

Hardin and Elizabeth (Stevens) Robbins (photo courtesy of “DJ” on FindAGrave)

On June 16, 1836, Hardin Robbins was married to Elizabeth Stevens.  The justice of the peace who performed the marriage was his uncle, by marriage, Nathaniel Robbins.  Nathaniel’s own eldest son, William Franklin Robbins (my ancestor), was married just three days later. I can imagine large celebrations over several days as family members gathered from miles around to celebrate these weddings. Hardin and Elizabeth went on to have twelve children. From all these children there are many descendants in Kentucky and elsewhere.

Like all of the Robbins family, Hardin bought and sold land in Decatur County, and was awarded a federal land patent of 80 acres which he also later sold.  Most of his acreage was northeast of Westport in the Pinhook neighborhood along today’s So Co Rd 60 SW.  All of the land was sold by the mid-1850s.

Hardin and his family moved to Breckinridge County by 1854, joining his uncle Absalom Robbins Jr. who was already there.  Absalom was actually only three years older than Hardin, as Hardin’s father Micajah Robbins was twenty-two years older than his youngest brother (that’s what comes of having large families over many years).  Later records indicate that Hardin and Absalom were friends from boyhood.

Hardin chart

Many of the family in Indiana visited their relatives to the south, as evidenced by family members getting married in Breckinridge County but never seeming to have lived there.  The gravitational pull of aunts and uncles, cousins, and later grandfather Absalom Sr., in Kentucky must have been strong.  We also know from Decatur County land records that Adam Robbins, one of Hardin’s younger brothers, was living in Breckinridge County in 1854 when he and Hardin sold land together and both were listed as residents of Breckinridge.  Adam was married to Mary Stevens, younger sister of Hardin’s wife Elizabeth.  Adam later returned to Indiana, living in Posey County, and then moving to Oregon in the 1890s.

We wouldn’t have much information about Hardin Robbins and his life in Kentucky if his son Thomas hadn’t died while in the Union Army during the Civil War.  The resulting paperwork from Elizabeth’s successful attempt to obtain a pension based on Thomas’ service provides insights as to Hardin’s life.  Thomas enlisted in the Union Army with his elder brother Micajah and almost immediately came down with typhoid fever which took his life in March of 1862.

In the 1880’s when Elizabeth Robbins applied for a mother’s pension, the records stated that Thomas “was a help to his parents … at least four years previous to his death [1862].”

Absalom Robbins Jr. stated that “the claimants husband [Hardin] is seventy four years of age, and is the eldest son of my brother Micajah Robbins. I am acquainted all the line of time down to date, were boys together and have lived as neighbors most of time acquainted. Hardin Robbins is an unsound man not able to labor at manual labor since 1882.”

Hardin in pension

Absalom & Jemima Robbins affidavit in support of Elizabeth (Stevens) Robbins application for a pension

Dr. A. M. Kinchloe, stated that he had “been Hardin Robbins family physician since 1879. I knew of his disability previous to this. He has paralysis agitans [Parkinson’s disease] which has been progressing for twelve or fifteen years…”  Further statements report that “…the claimants husband in 1862 was a sufferer of bronchitis and paralysis slightly….also he was prostrated by having typhoid fever, increased his paralytical affliction, that his personal manual labor was not worth more than fifty dollars for year 1862.”

Most of the sworn witnesses stated that Hardin and Elizabeth’s land was not very productive.  One report says that “the land owned by the claimant & her husband in year 1862 was thin land and unproductive except some small part of fresh ground.  They may have had 10 acres in corn and 4 acres of wheat, about 2½ tobacco 2 of hay and had some stock consisted in cattle hogs & sheep.”  The tax assessor’s records from 1863 through 1887 give a summary of the land and livestock that the family owned.  Acreage ranged from 80 to 319 acres, with a land value ranging from $150 to $1120.  Livestock occasionally included one mule, up to seven sheep, and up to seven cattle.  The total taxable property ranged from $150 to $1270 during this time period.

Thomas Robbins’ help on the farm was needed up to 1862 because in that year the family unit included, according to Elizabeth’s pension application, the two parents, Hardin and Elizabeth, and their children Micajah N., Thomas, Lucinda, Elizabeth Ann, William H., James R., Caroline, Charles E., Mahaley Emeline, and Lutitia F. Robbins.  The two older girls Louisa and Mary were already married and out of the house.  To make matters worse, when Micajah N. Robbins returned from his service in the war it was reported that his health was ruined (though he did live into his 80s).

Hardin Robbins may have had health issues but he lived a very long life.  Consider this:  he suffered illnesses and disabilities, including typhoid and Parkinson’s disease, since at least the time of the Civil War, when the enlistment of his sons Thomas and Micajah resulted in severe hardship for the family.  And yet he lived to be 87-years-old, passing away in 1900, his wife Elizabeth predeceasing him in 1895.  Both are said to be buried in the Jolly (also called Sample) Cemetery in Breckinridge County.

(Jacob Robbins-Absalom Robbins-Micajah Robbins-Hardin Robbins)

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