The Deweese Family

There are a number of families that married into the Robbins line several times.  One of those was the Deweese family.

There are three main connections between the Deweeses and the Robbins of which I am aware: Mary Margaret Deweese married John Robbins, Beverly Deweese married Mary Helen Robbins, and Jacob Deweese married Mary Ellen (“Polly”) Robbins.  Note:  the names Mary Helen, Mary Ellen, Mary, and Polly have been used for these two women almost interchangeably in records though I refer to Beverly’s wife as Mary and Jacob’s wife as Polly.

Also, I am going to discuss the two male Deweese families here, only briefly touching on Mary Margaret’s family.  I have not done research on the ancestry of the Deweese family and have relied on others work that has been shared with me in the past or is currently online, primarily Ancestry’s trees that look most well documented.  Also be aware research is still ongoing.

The proposed relationship outline is as follows:

Mary Margaret Deweese

Mary Margaret Deweese married John Robbins in 1826 in Decatur County, Indiana.  John was the son of James and Hannah (Jarrett) Robbins of nearby Jennings County.  The couple had five children that I’m aware of:  James Deweese Robbins, Isaiah Wilson Robbins, Mary Robbins, Hannah Robbins, and William Riley Robbins.  They lived in a variety of locations in Indiana, including Jennings, Clinton, and Fulton counties.  I will not add more here, as this post will focus on the two male Deweese connections.

Beverly Deweese

Beverly Deweese, born about 1813 reportedly in Pendleton Co., Kentucky, was married to Mary Helen Robbins in 1833 in Decatur County, Indiana, by Justice of the Peace, Nathaniel Robbins.  Polly was the daughter of Micajah Robbins, Nathaniel’s wife Nancy’s eldest brother.

They owned 80 acres in Decatur County, received from federal land patents in 1837 and 1843, generally between Letts and Gaynorsville.  About 1856 the Deweeses left Indiana and moved to Atchison County, Kansas, purchasing 160 acres of land in 1858 about seven miles west of the city of Atchison (it wasn’t officially patented until 1863 after Beverly’s death).  While Beverly died in 1862, Mary lived here until her death in 1905. 

Beverly and Mary Deweese had ten children:  Emily, Hardin, Rhoda, Nancy, John, Martha, Benjamin, Daniel, Lewis, and Hiram – many names which appear in Robbins family groups close to Mary.

Son John H. Deweese enlisted in Company D of the 7th Kansas Cavalry (Volunteers) in November of 1861 for three years.  Sadly he died of measles only two months later in January of 1862.  However, his death resulted in a pension application by his mother which provides a small snapshot into the lives of this Kansas family.

Mary Helen (Robbins) Deweese – “mark” on pension application

Among the information provided in the pension papers include that Beverly Deweese had been an invalid for five years prior to his death (so from about 1857 to 1862), and totally disabled since 1860 to his death.  Oldest son Hardin was also an invalid and he suffered from epilepsy.  Sadly, in the 1880 census 43-year-old Hardin, living at home, is listed as “insane”, a not-uncommon view of epileptics at the time.

The quarter section of land they owned (160 acres, being the SW¼ of Sec. 4 of Township 5 South, Range 19 East) was described as being “rough and unimproved” with only a small part being under cultivation.  The crops all across Kansas were said to be a failure in 1860 (reported in the pension application).  The farm was located about three miles east of the tiny hamlet of Huron, which wasn’t established until 1882. 

The Deweese quarter section was the area between the two marked corners – the small community of Huron is to the left

Young John Deweese hired out by day or month to neighbors to help support his parents and siblings from the age of 15 until his enlistment (he was only 18 or 20 at the time of enlistment and death).  He was the family’s sole source of support.  Upon his death, with an invalid husband (soon to follow him to the grave), an invalid son, and other, mostly younger, children, Mary had to run the farm, which resulted in approximately $50 income each year.  Tax assessments by the county placed the value of the land anywhere from $550 to $920 in the years 1862 to 1883, when Mary filed her application for a pension.

John was buried in the Old Huron Cemetery but his mother Mary was buried in the Anderson Cemetery, located just across the county line to the north in Doniphan County.  We don’t know where Beverly was buried – Old Huron? or Anderson?

Several of the children remained in Kansas for the rest of their lives, including Emily (who was married to Thomas Stone), Daniel, and Lewis Franklin (“Frank”).  Frank was an interesting case as he traveled back to Breckinridge County, Kentucky, where many of his Robbins cousins were living, to marry one of them, Mary Elizabeth Robbins (daughter of Micajah Robbins Jr.), in 1888.  Two of Beverly and Mary’s children, Rhoda (who married Matthew Dorland) and Benjamin (who seems to have never married), ended up in Burlington, Skagit County, Washington.  What happened to several of the children remains unknown:  did Nancy or Martha marry?  Did Hiram survive to adulthood and marry?  Hopefully further research will give us answers.

Jacob Frederick Deweese

Jacob Deweese was born in 1819 in Grant County, Kentucky, and married Mary Ellen (“Polly”) Robbins in 1845 in Decatur County, Indiana, by Justice of the Peace, Nathaniel Robbins, Mary Ellen’s uncle.  Mary was the daughter of Nathaniel’s older brother, Marmaduke (see previous relationship chart).

This Deweese family lived in Decatur County, Indiana, until about 1866, when a deed is recorded for 180 acres of land in Clay County, Illinois.  They weren’t the only family members living in Clay County, as Polly’s sister Docia (Robbins) Travis had also moved there after Polly did.  The Deweeses lived in Illinois into the 1870s (until 1875 according to one of the children’s obituary) when they packed up and moved to Marion County, Kansas.

Jacob and Polly had at least eight children:  William, Abraham (“Abram” or “Abe”), Gerusia (or Jerusia or Jenny or Ellen?), Hortensia, Cyrus Holman, Laura, Mary Jane, and Jacob Jr.  One of the daughters, listed as Ellen, remained in Illinois where she married Franklin Henthorn.  Age-wise I believe it was probably Gerusia or Hortensia – both are listed in the 1850 and 1860 censuses in the Deweese family and both would have been old enough to marry in 1871 – and both might have wanted a simpler name like Ellen.  The only other unaccounted for daughter, Laura, would have been too young to marry in that year.

Back in the early 1980s I was given a copy of the research done by Robbins researchers Margaret Davis of Yakima, Washington, and Mary Kate Horner, of Kokomo, Indiana.  The two had collaborated for many years but by the time I started researching genealogy they had pretty much moved on to other things.  I was lucky to visit both of them several times over the years and they were pleased that I was continuing with their foundational research.  Mary Kate was also a descendant of Marmaduke Robbins so she had more access to other descendants and family records down that line of the family.  Included in the records of Davis and Horner were two transcribed letters written by Jacob and Polly to two of her siblings.  I do not know if the originals have survived, but I’ll include some excerpts here, with the exact spelling as was transcribed but with some fuller names in brackets.  As the originals are unavailable to me I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the transcription.

Letter from Jacob Deweese and family to Permelia (Robbins) Hopkins – Polly’s sister

Peabody, Marion County, Kansas

Jan 21, 1881

“My dear ould sister  it is with pleasure that I take this opertunity to answere your welcom letter that you give me great counfor to her from you but was sorry to her that William [probably son William M. Hopkins] was cripled but I hop he can make a living at and brother Founts boy [Dan Robbins, the two women’s nephew] has got his arms shot off and he is a criple and we have good health and that is a great blessing for us at this time……yo sister Polly Ellen is stout and harty and she hant any help now a twal the girls is all married and we have two children single with us now that is Holman and Jacob and Ellen lives in Illanoys and the last time I heard from her she had 3 children and Abram lives in Kansas and he has two children and Viney she has one child and the rest haven’t got any yet and sister Dotia [Travis] lives in Illanoys, Clay County….and Caroline [Robbins Hopkins] post office is Miami County New Lancaster Kansas…I want you to excuse me for my bad writing for I cant see any more without specks…”

Letter from Jacob Deweese and family to William C. Robbins – Polly’s brother

Peabody, Marion County, Kansas

December 14, 1881

“Mr. W. C. Robbins

It is with pleasure that I take this opertunity to drop you a fu lions to inquire after you for I haven’t heard a word from you since you left my house….we hav plenty of wheat to do us and we hav corn nuff to get along with and hope that you hav the same so William I have bin very uneasy about you and have bin wating with patience to here from you…I wa[n]t you to give me history of your travil and evry thing in general and how long was away from home and whether you ever low to come to Kansas…”

“…we hav five head of milk cows and four head of calves and 18 head of hogs…Cyrus has got 3 good horses and I hav two horses so William we are plowing and discing for a crop and we havt had any cold weather her yet and wheat looks well and I have got 47 acres of wheat this year so William I will have to close my bad writing and spelling. This and from Jacob Deweese and Polly E. Deweese and family to William C. Robbins and family writ in haste.”

All of the children of Marmaduke Robbins seem to have dispersed widely over the years.  At the time of writing these letters Polly was in Kansas (Marion County), sister Caroline (Robbins) Hopkins was also in Kansas (Miami County); sister Docia (Robbins) Travis was in Clay County, Illinois; brother William Corydon Robbins was in Benton County, Iowa; sister Permelia (Robbins) Hopkins was in Wapello County, Iowa; while brothers Jacob F. and Fountain Robbins were back in Decatur County, Indiana.

And Jacob and Polly didn’t stay in Kansas either.  Sometime in the 1890s they made the move to the Pacific Northwest – settling near the town of Palouse in the very southeastern corner of Washington State.  At least three of the Deweese children also moved to Washington:  Abraham, Mary Jane, and Jacob Jr.

And so it was that Polly passed away near Palouse in 1899 and Jacob in 1901.  Both are buried in the Eden Cemetery, surrounded by the rolling Palouse wheat fields on all sides.  Note that Polly’s gravestone indicates her name as “P. E. Deweese” – Polly Ellen Deweese.


Oregon Robbins Reunion

There will be a Robbins Reunion on July 22nd, 2023, at Feyrer County Park just outside of Molalla, Oregon.  This is a one-off event, not part of a resumption of the previous yearly reunions, but will give those of us who attended the bicentennial reunion in Decatur County, Indiana, last year a chance to report on that reunion and allow Northwest family members – as well as any others who happen to be in the area – to come and visit and share family history.

Feyrer Park was the location of many of the Jacob Robbins descendants reunions over the years.  Jacob and Sarah (Spilman) Robbins, Oregon Trail pioneers of 1852, settled in Molalla, as did some of their children and further descendants.  It will be nice to return for a brief visit to the community where so many of our ancestors and relatives lived.

2023 Robbins Reunion site east of Molalla, Oregon

The park is located about 3 miles east of Molalla on S. Feyrer Park Road.  From downtown Molalla take E. Main Street to E. Mathias Road, travel south on that road a couple of blocks, and then turn left, east, on S. Feyrer.  That road takes you to the park.  Picnic area #2 is where the reunion will be held.  Be aware that there is an $8 parking fee.

Molalla is about 15 miles east of I-5 at Woodburn or 16 miles south of 99E at Oregon City.

1922 Oregon Robbins Reunion

Molalla is also the site of the Adams Cemetery, where Jacob and Sarah, many of their children, and other relatives are buried.  Located between Molalla and Feyrer Park it will make an easy side trip.  From S. Feyrer Park Road, almost halfway between Molalla and the park, turn right, south, on S. Adams Cemetery Road and follow that road south to the cemetery.  I’ll have a post about Adams Cemetery and some of the prominent family burials there in the future.

For more information about the reunion feel free to email me at “mittge @” or contact me through the comments on this blog.