Towns Of Robertson County" is a collection of interesting facts
concerning the earliest settlements in Robertson County.
Although all traces of these early towns no longer exist, their memory
is honored and preserved with Texas Historical Markers. This
booklet is published as a special edition for the 1975 Robertson County
Springtime Pilgrimage and in celebration of the bicentennial year.
of Old Franklin was the first county seat of Robertson
County. It was on the headwaters of Mud Creek about 1 1/2
miles southwest of the present town of Franklin, on land belonging to
Edward McMillan. McMillan was a San Jacinto veteran who was
born in Ireland in 1814, died in 1865, and is buried in Camp Creek
cemetery eight miles east of the present town of Franklin. On
July 25, 1841, McMillan gave a power of attorney to Thomas Jefferson
Chambers for receipt of land belonging to him. The land was
described as "being part of the town of Franklin." The first
town of Franklin was named for Francis Slauter, Chief Justice of the
county, who was the original grantee of the land upon which the present
town of Franklin is located. Old Franklin was in the days of
early Robertson County an outpost on the frontier constantly exposed to
Indian depredation. J. M. Tidwell was killed by Indians while
plowing in his field, his wife and children were taken into captivity
and were later found and purchased from the Indians by traders.
December 14, 1837, the Second Congress of the Republic of Texas created
Robertson County out of Bexar, Milam, and Nacogdoches
Counties. The new county was named for Sterling Clack
Robertson. The Chief Justice chosen by Congress was directed
to give ten days public notice of an election for a county
seat. First officers chosen by popular election were Alanson
Hardy and Robert Henry, Justices of the Peace; Harrison Owen, County
Clerk & Recorder; John D. Smith, High Sheriff; William C.
Watson, District Judge. The following officers had earlier
been chosen by Congress: Francis Slauter, Chief Justice; A.
W. Cook, County Surveyor; Thomas Dillard, President of the Board of
Land Commissioner; Alanson Hardy, first Postmaster; and John R. Henry,
first Tax Assessor of the county in 1838.
records of Robertson County show the county as a part of Milam County,
all probate proceedings and other courts were held at Old Nashville in
Milam County. Then, in 1838, at a site about 1 1/2 miles
southwest of the present town of Franklin, and now referred to as Old
Franklin. A house belonging to William Love was used as a
temporary courthouse. On June 8, 1838, a contract to build a
courthouse was awarded to Leander Harl. Harl died before the
building was completed and George W. Cox completed the building, which
was accepted by the county on August 17, 1839.
the days of its most active life, Old Franklin had a population of
several hundred people. It was a frontier outpost of a
primitive civilization where men lived by their wits, determination,
endurance, and strength. This Franklin was close to the El
Camino Real, along which much of the travel of central and southwest
Texas moved. This area was home to adventurous and
enterprising young men, stalwart and unafraid. Along the old
road to the south slowly moved the ox-wagon caravans of the strong men
and the unfailing and unflinching women whose progeny made Texas
great. Along this way traveled Sam Houston, who often stopped
for the night at Wheelock.
Franklin, the records of land surveys were kept and here lived the
locators, who were surveyors, and the most daring class of men on the
frontier. Land scrip and certificates were usually owned by
persons who did not care to risk their scalps to the Indians in
obtaining good locations. So, the paper was turned over to
the locaters who located land, surveyed it, and received for their
services one-third of the total acreage.
surveyors blazed the way for the settlers to follow, assuming without
hesitation but with caution the hazards of weather, frontier hardship,
and Indians. Among these intrepid men who were in the ranks
of the trail blazers were John Henry, John Karner, and P. P. Philpott,
who settled in Limestone County, R. M. Tyne, later of Freestone County,
and William M. Love. One of the bravest, Love lost his life
to an assassin's bullet in Navarro County as the result of a feud
growing out of a conflicting land location made thirty years
before. Among those who came a little later, but before 1838,
were Volney and Josephus Cavitt, David Cobb, Newton Duncan, and S. R.
the first schools in Robertson County was Franklin Academy located at
Old Franklin in 1838.
Slauter, an educated man, came to Texas with his family from Monroe
County, Tennessee. He organized the first school at Old
Franklin. He and his wife Katherine had seven children at the
time of his death in 1842. The five older children were sent
back to Tennessee for their education and to be with Katherine's
people. In 1847, Katherine married George W. Hill, also from
Tennessee and the first doctor to come to Texas. Hill was
Secretary of War under the Republic of Texas. They raised the
two younger children, Robert F. & Rosa Slauter. G. W.
Hill's land had been located in the northern part of Robertson's
Colony, now Hill County, which was named for G. W. Hill. He
and Katherine left Robertson County and moved to Dawson. In
his last will dated in 1860, he left one-half of his property to Robert
F. Slauter, together with his best horse, saddle, gun, and gold
watch. Speaking of Robert in his will as his "dutiful
stepson," he leaves the other half to Katherine, reserving two acres as
a perpetual burying ground.
Owen was the first County Clerk and Recorder of Robertson
County. He served from 1837 until 1851 and died at the age of
a frontier company of minute men was organized to guard the outlying
settlements between the Brazos and Navasota Rivers. Captain
Eli Chandler commanded the organization whose headquarters were at
probate records show that many were killed by the Indians.
Hugh Henry and William Fullerton, who came from Alabama with the
Cavitts and Dunns, were killed in 1839 at Morgan's Point by the
Indians. Probate proceedings were taken out on both Hugh
Henry and William Fullerton. Hugh Henry left his wife
Elizabeth and three small children; William Fullerton left his wife,
Margaret, and six small children. John Adams was also killed
by Indians in 1839 while in service.
Cooke, first surveyor of Robertson County, married Elizabeth Jane
Harlan from Old Nashville. Quite wealthy, she took her money
and along with August Cooke opened a general merchandise store in Old
Franklin. A list of their merchandise included: mole skins,
pantaloons, candle snuffers, tobacco, nails, calico, linen, suspenders,
thread, candlesticks, knives, bridles, saddles, hymn books, testaments,
and Mitchell's Map of Texas. Mr. Cooke was also the
undertaker; the undertaker's fee being listed at $10.00.
owning or operating saloons in Old Franklin were: George W.
Cox, Leroy Boggus, Thomas Eaton, Alfred Eaton, Samuel W. White, and A.
District Court was held on December 22, 1836 at Old Franklin.
Officers were: R. M. Williams, Judge of the Third Judicial
District; H. C. Hudson, District Attorney; John D. Smith and George W.
Hill, Deputy County Clerk. The first grand jury called
included: Isiah Harlan, Henry Fullerton, H. Reed, R.
Wheelock, William Henry, John Chamblee, Joseph Webb, William Fullerton,
A. F. Moss, Edward McMillan, and Jesse Webb. The first
indictments returned by the grand jury were for excessive drinking,
assault and battery, and several murder charges.
town of Franklin still has some land marks and has been located on our
county map used today by Gus. T. Bogan, Abstractor. In 1850,
by two-thirds vote of the people, the county seat was moved from Old
Franklin to Wheelock.