William Robbins Sr. and Family

This is the first in a series of blog posts about major Robbins family groups in anticipation of this years’ Decatur County, Indiana, bicentennial reunion.

The eldest son of Jacob and Mary Robbins appears to be William Robbins, who was born on 21 September 1761 in Rowan county (now Randolph), North Carolina (Randolph county not being established until 1779).  William served in the North Carolina militia during the Revolutionary War (you can read about that here:  https://robbinsroots.blog/2017/07/01/william-robbins-teenager-in-the-american-revolution/) and was married to Bethiah Vickrey, a daughter of Marmaduke and Elizabeth Vickrey, on 27 February 1779.  (Vickrey may also be spelled Vickery).

There is a family tradition that Bethiah Vickrey was married to two separate men named William Robbins.  I’m not sure that I believe this account.  I won’t go into all the reasoning here but the marriage date above comes from Bethiah’s application for a pension based on the service of this William Robbins in the war.  All of the known children were born after this date.  Therefore, either Bethiah was married to one William and not two, or she lied on the application.  Without any further evidence, one way or another, except for oral family tradition, for the purposes of this post I’m assuming one marriage to one William Robbins.

Following the Revolutionary War, which devastated parts of North Carolina with partisan, brother-against-brother violence and destruction, William and Bethiah moved to Franklin County, Virginia, with other members of the Robbins family.  One marriage bond there in 1791 lists William as a witness to the marriage of his sister Mary to Valentine Chastain.  Another marriage record in 1795 has William, along with his brother Absalom serving as a bondsman for the marriage of their sister Martha (called “Massey”) to Rene Chastain.  I have not found William in any land records in Virginia, either Franklin, nor nearby Montgomery county where others of the family lived.

William and Absalom Rob[b]ins witness the marriage of their sister Mary Robbins to Valentine Chastain

William Robbins does appear in Henry Co., Kentucky deeds, and he appears in that county’s tax lists beginning in 1804 and continuing through 1825. He also appears in the 1810 and 1820 censuses there in confusing census entries, and in 1822 was a bondsman along with John Herren to Herren’s marriage to William and Bethiah’s daughter Theodoshia.  At some point after that he moved to Decatur County, Indiana. 

On 26 May 1826 he was a granted a federal land patent to 80 acres of land in Decatur County, located in Section 9 of Township 9 North, Range 9 East, about half way between todays Greensburg and Westport.  Others in the same section were his son Nathaniel Robbins; nephews Micajah, George, and Henry Robbins; and son-in-law Abraham Anderson.  Surrounding sections were also full of family members. 

Location of William Robbins property in Decatur County, Indiana

Later, in 1831, William and Bethiah deeded the property over to their son-in-law Abraham Anderson, who was married to their next to youngest daughter Charlotte.  The deed entry records that “for and in consideration of the natural love and affection which he the said William Robins hath and beareth unto the said Abraham Anderson as also for the better maintainance support livelihood and preferment of him…” and that further “…it is express[ly] understood that the said William Robins is to have the use and possession of the above granted premises as long as he lives, and at his death the above deed to be of Full Force and virtue in law.”  The closeness of the parents to Charlotte and her husband is also underscored in the 1850 census where the widow Bethiah is listed living in the household of the couple.

Signature of William Rob[b]ins from his pension application

William applied for a pension based on his service in the North Carolina militia on 31 October 1833.  Following his death, his widow Bethiah applied for her portion of the pension, with a supporting affidavit from William’s brother Absalom.

William died on 11 September 1834 and is buried in the Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Decatur County.  His widow Bethiah survived until 8 December 1850, living until she was 90-years of age.

William Robbins gravestone installed by the D.A.R.

The three oldest children of William and Bethiah were born in North Carolina before the parents had left the area.  All of the remaining children were born in Virginia, with exception of the youngest who was born after they arrived in Kentucky. 

Below is a list, believed to be complete and accurate, of the children of William and Bethiah Robbins. This list of names comes from miscellaneous family records, county histories, and the occasional other document that provides a relationship.

  1. Abel Robbins (1779-1866) – lived his entire adult life in Henry county, Kentucky.
  2. Charity Robbins (1780-c1832) – married Buell or Boal Wooden and lived in Henry and Oldham counties, Kentucky.
  3. Benjamin Robbins (1781-1841) – said to have gone to Tennessee.
  4. Marmaduke Robbins (1786-1838) – settled in Decatur county, Indiana.
  5. Jacob Robbins (1786-1873) – lived first in Decatur county then moved to next-door Bartholomew county, Indiana.
  6. Elizabeth Robbins (1788-1877) – married Jesse Watkins and they settled in Scott county, Indiana.
  7. Mary (aka “Polly”) Robbins (1791-1851) – married John Kirkpatrick and they lived in Decatur county, Indiana.
  8. Nathaniel Robbins (1793-1863) – married his first cousin Nancy Robbins – they lived in Decatur county, Indiana, and then traveled to Oregon in 1852.
  9. John Robbins (1795-1881) – lived out his life in Decatur county, Indiana.
  10. William Robbins, Jr. (1797-1868) – lived out his life in Decatur county, Indiana.
  11. Charlotte (Lottie) Robbins (1799-1874) – married Abraham Anderson and they lived out their lives in Decatur county, Indiana.
  12. Theodoshia (Dosha) Robbins (1804-1881) – married John Herren; they lived in Decatur County until they moved to Missouri, and then finally on to Oregon in 1845.

Of these children, the only one known, for certainty, to have descendants today in Decatur County is William Robbins Jr.

Some of the children had descendants in the county for many, many years, but over time they moved elsewhere in Indiana, elsewhere in the U.S, or, in a few cases, moved internationally.  A few of the family lines just petered out in recent decades.  I believe that the last descendant outside William Jr.’s family (in fact a descendant-in-law – is that a term?), was Dorothy (Meek) Gannon who died in Greensburg in 2007.  She was the wife of William Emerson Gannon, a descendant of Polly (Robbins) Kirkpatrick.  The descendants of William Jr. in Decatur county were prolific, as were the family members who moved elsewhere.

However, William Sr. wasn’t the only child of Jacob and Mary to settle in Decatur County and leave descendants; my next post will discuss their son Absalom Robbins, who also has descendants there today.

[Jacob Robbins-William Robbins]

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