How Many Absaloms?

We sometimes find that the story that gets passed down from generation to generation is incorrect.  One of the stories that I have seen passed down in family notes was there were three generations of Absalom Robbins – who I will call: Sr., Jr. and III.  I have found evidence that this is incorrect and this post is a report of my research.

The Story

Family notes state that Absalom Robbins Sr. was born in 1765, was married to Mary Ogle in 1787, had eight children, with the second eldest being Absalom Robbins Jr.  Absalom Jr. was married to an unknown woman, had one child, Absalom III who was born in 1810.  Absalom Jr. later married an Elizabeth Anderson in 1823, and then he died early, perhaps around 1839.  His son, Absalom III, married Jemima Hanks, and moved to Breckinridge County, Kentucky, where his grandfather Absalom Sr. joined him in the 1850s.

Three Absaloms in Oral History

The Records

We know that Absalom Robbins Sr. was born on 11 September 1765 as he stated so in his sister-in-law Bethiah’s application for a pension for William’s service in the American Revolution.  We know from the marriage record that he was married to Mary Ogle on 13 March 1787 in Franklin County, Virginia.  In letter from Ogle researcher William McIntosh, the year of 1824 is given for the death of Mary.  There is no other record to confirm this date.  Absalom was married to Susannah Huffman on 20 August 1842 in Hendricks County, Indiana.  According to the 1860 Mortality Schedule of the U.S. Census, Absalom died at “age 100” in June 1859 in Breckinridge County, Kentucky.

Absalom Robbins III was born, according to census records, in approximately 1810.  He was married to Jemima Hanks on 28 December 1831 in Decatur County, Indiana.  He died sometime between 1885 and 1893 in Breckinridge County, Kentucky, where he and his family moved before 1840.

The story of an Absalom Jr. (between Sr. and III) indicate he was born about 1789, which would have made him 21 years of age in 1810, when his single child was born.  As such, you would expect to find a marriage record by or before 1810, and you would expect to find him as an adult in the tax records of Kentucky where the rest of the Robbins family were living.  We do not.

Tax records list one Absalom Robbins living in Shelby County, Kentucky, from 1800 to 1805.  He then appears in Henry County, Kentucky, beginning in 1806 and continuing until 1829.  There are a couple of years in the 1820s where there is more than one Absalom Robbins listed in the tax records, which could support an intermediate Absalom.  There are two listings for Absaloms in 1825 and 1828, and in 1826 and 1827 there is a listing for both a Sr. and a Jr.  Absalom Robbins III was only 16 and 17 in the latter two listings, so theoretically was not to be listed.  However, there are no earlier or later tax listings for another Absalom.  Absalom Jr. should have shown up by 1810 and continued on, either to his death, or his later appearance in census records, as his father and the rest of his siblings do.  Only one Absalom appears in the 1820 Kentucky census and that is Senior.  No Absaloms appear in Indiana or Illinois, where other family members were living or had lived, either.

We have a marriage record in 1823 in Shelby County, Kentucky, for an Absalom Robbins to an Elizabeth Anderson.  If the year of 1824 for Mary (Ogle) Robbins’ death is correct, then this could not be for Absalom Sr.  But if the undocumented year of death is wrong, could Absalom have remarried after Mary’s death?

The marriage record and the very few tax listings for two Absaloms could still provide doubt as to how many Absalom’s there were.  But we have further information, found in an unlikely source.

Affidavit (portion) by Jemima (Hanks) Robbins in support of the mother’s pension application of Elizabeth Robbins

In 1862 a young man named Thomas F. Robbins died while serving in the Union Army during the Civil War.  His parents were Hardin and Elizabeth Robbins, and his mother later applied for a pension based on his service.  Elizabeth provided a number of affidavits from relatives stating the relationship of Thomas to her and she and her husbands dependence on him for support.  One of the affidavits was written by Jemima (Hanks) Robbins.  Jemima states that Hardin Robbins, Elizabeth’s husband, was the son of Micajah Robbins, the brother of Jemima’s husband Absalom.  We know that Micajah Robbins was the eldest son of Absalom Robbins Sr. and this statement indicates that Jemima’s Absalom was not Seniors’ grandson, but his youngest son.  This statement negates the existence of an intervening Absalom.

Conclusion

Absalom and Mary (Ogle) Robbins were the parents of eight children, the youngest son being Absalom Robbins, born about 1810.  There was no older Absalom born about 1789 and having a son Absalom III born in 1810.  The tax records suggest the presence of another Absalom but that could have been two listings for the same person, a totally different Absalom (though no other Absalom Robbins appears in any records at that time in Kentucky or Indiana), or a listing for the young Absalom, named before he reached the age of maturity.

Two Absaloms Documented

As for the two years a Senior and a Junior are listed, I believe the young Absalom was recorded.  We don’t know when Mary (Ogle) Robbins died but I suspect it was before 1824 and that the 1823 marriage of an Absalom to Elizabeth Anderson is a second marriage for Absalom Senior.  He has not been found in the 1830 census so we cannot check for any older females counted in his household.

The surprise affidavit in a Civil War pension application, in the absence of any contradictory evidence, concludes that there were only two Absalom Robbins, Senior and Junior.

(Jacob Robbins-Absalom Robbins Sr.-Absalom Robbins Jr.)