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Robertson County




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County Co-Coordinator is Jean Huot Smoorenburg

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Colonel Sterling Clack Robertson

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History shows that early settlers in all of the southwest were made up of the hardy, courageous members of eastern families who wanted new and wider opportunities in the rising empire west of the Mississippi River.  The trek westward over the trails in the early days was a long and weary journey, with disease, outlaw attacks, and other hardships threatening daily.  It was no journey for the weak.  Only the brave would attempt the migration and only the strong could hope to survive.  Such sturdy manhood and womanhood made up the early pioneers of this section of Texas. 

The earliest known facts concerning the town of Hearne dates back to 1830 when a stagecoach line operating from the present site of the City of Houston ran through this section to north Texas, and for the convenience of the passengers of this stage line an inn was opened by an early settler by the name of Code Brown.  The inn was established at Brown Springs situated in the present city limits of Hearne on the Franklin highway and was known as Brown's Tavern. 

Sterling Clack Robertson, an adventure seeking Tennessean, for whom Robertson County, Texas was named, was born in Nashville, Tennessee October 2, 1785.  He received a liberal education and was reared in the occupation of planting.  During the War of 1812 he served as a Major and was honorably discharged in 1814.  After his military duty in the War of 1812 he engaged in agriculture in Giles County, Tennessee. 

Being enterprising and adventurous and being possessed of large means, in the year of 1823 he formed a company in Nashville to explore the wild province of Texas.  He penetrated as far as the Brazos River and formed a permanent camp at the mouth of Little River.  All the party returned to Tennessee, however, except Robertson.  He visited the settlements that had been made and while there, conceived the idea of placing a colony in Texas.  Filled with enthusiasm over this plan, he went back to his home in Tennessee and purchased a contract that had been made by the Mexican government with Robert Leftwich for the settlement of 800 families.  The colonial grant embraced a tract of land, and by the terms of the contract Robertson was given six years in which to introduce the 800 families.  He was to receive forty leagues and forty labors of land for his services. 

In 1829, at his own expense, Robertson introduced 100 families, who were driven out by the military in consequence of false representations made to the government in regard to Robertson and his colonists.  The matter was finally adjusted and in the spring of 1834 the colony was restored, and in the summer of the same year he laid out the town of Sarahville DeViesca (Marlin, Texas).  A land office was opened about October 1, 1834 and the settlements were rapidly made.

Robertson's Colony located in the upper Brazos country, north of the Old San Antonio Road, suffered reverses; Indians raided his settlements, the Mexican law of 1830 forced suspension of his contract and legal controversy caused delay.

In 1834, Robertson established Old Nashville, the capital of his colony, on the west bank of the Brazos River, near the mouth of Little River.  Here he erected a blockhouse, maintained his office for transaction of colonial business, and incoming colonist rested and sought information for making final locations.  Today only a few old gravestones mark the site of the old capital.

Robertson's wife died in Tennessee at the birth of a son, August 25, 1820.  The child was given his father's name and was reared by his grandmother, Mrs. Elijah Robertson.  In 1832, Robertson placed his son, Elijah, in a San Antonio Catholic School.  During the year of 18'05 Elijah S. C. Robertson participated in the not-unusual Indian forays, later serving as a regular soldier in his father's company during the Texas Revolution.

In the summer of 1835, Sterling C. Robertson visited Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Kentucky, making known the inducements to emigration.  He had been authorized by the Mexican government to offer to settlers who were heads of families one league and one labor of land, one-fourth of a league to single men, and to foreigners marrying native Americans, one league and a quarter of land.  Of the 600 families he introduced into Texas, fully one half of them were financed at Robertson's own personal expense.

Colonel Sterling C. Robertson was a delegate to the General Convention of Texas in 1836 and was one of the signers of the Texas Declaration of Independence.  He also was one of the signers of the Constitution of the Republic of Texas.  He commanded a military company in the spring of 1836 and received therefor a donation of 640 acres of land, having participated in the Battle of San Jacinto with General Sam Houston.  He was a member of the First Senate of the Congress of the Republic of Texas. 

It would require a volume to recount in detail all of the experiences, the adventures, trials and escapes through which Sterling Clack Robertson passed from the time of his coming to the Texas frontier.  He was a gentleman of rare culture and was esteemed, not only for the nobility of his nature, but for his commanding intellectuality and unselfish devotion to his country and the cause of constitutional freedom.  He was a leader among the band of heroes and statesmen who laid the foundation of Texas today.

Colonel Sterling Clack Robertson died in Robertson County, Texas on March 4, 1842 at the age of 57 years and is buried in the State Cemetery at Austin, Texas.

Used with permission of Norman Lowell McCarver, Jr.  These electronic pages may not be reproduced
in any format by other organizations or individuals. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material must obtain the written consent of McCarver family relatives.






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State Coordinator: Shirley Cullum
Assistant State Coordinators: Carla Clifton, Jane Keppler

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Page Modified: 26 January 2015

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