DIO CLEASON ROBERTSON
(7 FEB 1804 S.C.-11 MAY 1891 SEVIER COUNTY, TN)
ROBERT S. ALLEN
SEPTEMBER 17, 2001
Much has been written, documented, and discussed about my great-great grandfather, Dio Cleason Robertson, and his descendants since he migrated to Sevier County during the 1820's. The documentation has centered around his life and the lives of his descendants because this was information that was known. What was not known, and, consequently, undocumented, were his origins. There has been much discussion of this over the years, and this mystery has haunted the Robertson's for generations.
As it has turned out, fortunately, there has been more documentation of Dio Cleason's ancestors than of his descendants. The missing link-the anonymity of his father-separated one from the other for decades. The ancestors and descendants were already in place waiting for the discovery of his father's identity. The purpose of this paper is to present the evidence I've found establishing the identity of Dio Cleason's father, and thus the Robertson lineage dating back to the 1660's.
The evidence compiled for this paper has taken me to the South Carolina Department of Archives and History, the courthouses and libraries in Union, Newberry, and Fairfield Counties in South Carolina, and the Sevier County Public Library. Of course, the Internet has been a primary source as well. In presenting this evidence I've incorporated references into the text rather than footnoting except in instances where information has been extensively documents already. This was true of the Internet in particular, but there are three Internet sites that should be referenced because of the extensive lineage and history presented concerning the Robertson's. These include the following:
Dio Cleason came to Sevier County sometime between the summer of 1823 and 1826, and settled in the 4th Civil District near what is now Pittman Center Road and Maple's Branch Road. Based on the information in the Carnes file in the Sevier County Library, he apparently was accompanied by an older sister, Dicy (2 Dec 1800 SC-1 Jan 1878, Sevier County); and older sister whose identity is yet unknown; and two younger brothers, John (bet 1810-15 SC-abt 1864), and Noah (1812 SC- ??). Dicy later married Hubbard Carnes and reared a family of 13 children. John died during the Civil War while an employee of the Union Army Quartermaster Department.
The Book of Ragan/Reagan, Donald B. Reagan, 1993, indicates Noah 1st married Rhoda Emert in 1831, and they had 8 children including a son named Cleason. Noah and Rhoda moved to Ray County, MO, in about 1844, where she died in 1848. Noah remarried in 1849 and was in the 1850 census in Caldwell County, MO. No more recent data has been located concerning Noah.
According to family tradition Dio Cleason was orphanced at an early age and was bonded through the courts in South Carolina to a Robert Coleman, not further identified. Dio Cleason was to stay with him until age 21, at which time Coleman was obligated to give a horse, saddle, bridle, and $21. The story my grandfather, L. D. Robertson, who was 17 when Dio Cleason died, always told, in a somewhat joking manner, was that Dio Cleason "stole the horse and ran off".
Since the South Carolina county where Dio Cleason had been born and lived was unknown, the 1800, 1810, and 1820 SC census records were reviewed to determine how many Robert Coleman's were alive between 1805 and 1820, the time frame Dio Cleason would have been orphaned. A total of 8 Robert Colemans's were identified as having lived in 5 different counties. After the Robertson populations in these areas was reviewed, the most probable Robert Coleman was either one of two in Fairfield County, or one in Union County.
Prior to reviewing any records at either the Fairfield or Union County Courthouses or libraries, Sam Maner, genealogist at the Sevier County Library, was researching a family at the Newberry County Clerk of Court, Newberry, SC, and happened across and old ledger marked "Bonds". While perusing the index of this old ledger, he came across Dio Cleason's bond to Robert Coleman. It made no reference to his father by name or did it mention any siblings. No note was made of the date of the bond; however, the book contained entries from the late 1700's well into the 1800's. (Two subsequent efforts to loacte this ledger to copy the bond were unsuccessful as it had either been sent to a book binder, the SC Archives, or misplaced).
Newberry County Probate records revealed the only male Robertson whose estate was probated between 1800 and 1825 was a John B. Robertson, who died intestate in 1816. There was no mention of any heirs in the estate papers, or was there any real property listed, only personal propery. An administration bond was filed 23 Dec 1816 by his appointed administrators-Curtis B. Atwood, Simon P. Gray, and William Pinchback-in the amount of $1,000. The sale was held on 2 Jan 1817 and the sale proceeds totaled $890.59. The most valuable items sold were two geldings that brought $145.00 and $190.50, and a gold watch that fetched $258.50. The horses were purchased by Christian and Henry Ruff, affluent members of a family of German descent from eastern Newberry County, while George D. Phillips, a resident of northern Union County, purchased the watch.
The estate papers of John B. Robertson failed to establish any connection with anyone in Fairfield County. A subsequent search of Fairfield County Probate and numerous research materials at the library at Winnsboro, SC, the county seat, failed to link either of the two Robert Coleman's to the Robertson's. Research in Union County, however, proved quite different.
Much information is available concerning the Robert Coleman (1758-18 Jun 1823) of Union County, whether it be at the Union County Courthouse, in print in any number of libraries, or on the Internet. The Coleman's migrated from Virginia, to North Carolina, which later became part of Union County, South Carolina. Robert Coleman owned 600 acres on both sides of Mill Creek, which had been granted to his grandfather in 1766. Robert Coleman was, by all accounts, a good Christian man who was clerk at Gilead Baptist Church, Jonesvill, SC. Unfortunately, according to Rev. Robert A. Ivey, Gaffney, SC, retired Baptist minister and local historian, no church records are available prior to 1830.
The Robertson's that had settled nearby at Thickety Creek had followed a similar migration pattern from Virginia to Granville County, NC, then to Tyron County, NC (which became Union County in 1779). (An account of their migration can be gleaned from http://www.futuresouth.com/~muskrat/sitemap as previously noted.) The patriarch of the Robertson family was David Robertson (19 Aug 1728-Jul 1771), who, according to deed abstracts, purchased 400 acres on both sides of Thickety Creek on 25 Oct 1770. David and his wife, Frances (?) (1732-?) produced 11 children-8 sons and 3 daughters-and John Robertson (abt 1768- ?) was the last son. Frances married a neighbor, James Terrell, and they remained in the Union-Spartanburg area until at least 1792.
A History of Union County, South Carolina published by the Union County Historical Foundation (1977) lists persons receiving payments for duty done in Colonel (Thomas) Brandon's Regiment. Among those listed are Mathew, Israel, Isaac, James, and David Robertson, the oldest brothers of John Robertson, and Robert Coleman. This research book also mentions a tavern owned by Coleman's father, Christopher, located near Grindal Shoals called "Christie's". This tavern is also mentioned in the book titled "Horse Shoe Robinson" by John Pendleton Kennedy (1835), which is a fictionalized account based on the life of James Robertson, Dio Cleason's uncle. DAR records confirm the Revolutionary War service of Matthew, James, and David, as well as that of Coleman.
As a matter of interest, Grindal Shoals, located between Thickety Creek to the north, and Mill Creek to the south, was the most noted ford on the Pacolet River during the Revolution. General Morgan and his troops encamped for 20 days at Grindal Shoals prior to the Battle of Cowpens. In August, 1852, the mills and stores which had sprung up during the previous century because of its importance as a ford were destroyed by "the great Pacolet River flood." According to Rev. Ivey, "Christie's Tavern" was standing until early 2000 when it was destoryed by an arson fire.
For clarification, the northern area of Union County, which contained Grindal Shoals, Thickety Creek, and Mill Creek, is today located in Cherokee County, SC. This part of Union County, along with parts of Spartanburg and York Counties, were taken in 1897 to form Cherokee County. This area had been a part of Union County since 1779. Prior to that it was part of Tryon County, NC.
In 1786, Mathew Robertson, the eldest son of David, sold the 400 acres conveyed to his father. David, Jr. and James sold their grants in 1790. By 1792, most all the Robertson's had left Union County and moved to the Pendleton District (present-day Oconee County) where they lived for several years. Mathew and David moved on to Washington Parish, LA, in about 1808, and James moved to Tuscaloosa County, AL, in about 1822. At least one of David's sons died prior to the move to the Pendleton District. Spartanburg County court records reflect the James Terrell posted and administration bond for the estate of Israel Robertson in Apr 1791.
In 1792, a John Robertson sold Robert Cook 223 acres of land on the Chester County side of the Broad River; however, the deed was filed at the Union County Courthouse. Elizabeth Robertson and Ruth Robertson witnessed the deed. A John Robertson is referenced with a Mathew Robertson in Union County Court abstracts as late as 1798; however, there is insufficient evidence to conclude this John Robertson is the same named in the land deed. There is more evidence to conclude these John Robertson's are not the same, as this land is believed to have granted in about 1775 at which time Mathew's brother was about 7 years of age.
A search of land records in Union and Newberry Counties as well as the 1800 and 1810 South Carolina census failed to conclusively identify a John Robertson (or any of the usual various spellings) as the John B. Robertson whose estate was probated in Newberry in 1816-17.
Aside from the unknowns associated with Dio Cleason's bond to Robert Coleman, after whom Dio Cleason named his last son, other unknowns almost as intriguing have been the origins of the names of his first two sons-Tillman and Tipton. There was no known connection between Robertson and these two surnames. Following are the connections established during this research.
Dio Cleason's gg grandfather, Nicholas Robertson, married a Jane Tillman about 1703. Nicholas' first wife was Sarah Marks, daughter of Mathew Marks, who is generally credited with bringing the first "Anabaptist preacher," Robert Norden, to Prince George County, VA, in 1715. That same year Marks' housed was the first to be authorized to hold Baptist meetings; Nicholas Robertson's house was the second so authorized. Nicholas and Sarah Marks, who died before 1703, were married about 1691 and had three sons- John, Israel, and Edward.
The Record of Genealogy of the (Tilghman-Tillman-Tilman-Tilmon) Family by Major Stephen F. Tillman, 1939, disclosed Jane Tillman was the daughter of Roger Tillman and Susannah Parram (or Parham) and that she had two brothers- John (1682-1738), and George (abt 1683-abt 1756). John married Margaret Harrison, and they had one child, a son, John born 20 Apr 1734. John married Mary Simmons, and they had one son, Edward Tillman (1761, Brunswick County, VA-1815, Abbeville, SC). Edward Tillman served as Lieutenant in Brandon's Regiment.
Abstracts of Old Ninety-Six and Abbeville District Wills and Bonds by Pauline Young, 1950, p. 314, lists the will of Edward Tillman dated 15 Jul 1814, recorded 18 Jan 1815. The will indicated he owned land on Fannings Creek in the Union District.
According to the above-mentioned Tillman book, George Stephen Tillman, grandson of George Tillman and great nephew of Jane Tillman Robertson, born 1725 in Prince George County, VA, moved to Edgefield District, SC, in about 1771. He died in 1781 at the Siege of Ninety Six, SC. His wife and five sons remained in SC until at least 1810.
David Robertson's brother (and Dio Cleason's great uncle) was Colonel Charles Black Robertson of the Watauga Settlement in Washington County, TN. (Black may be the middle name of Dio Cleason's father.) Colonel Robertson had a daughter named Keziah (1753- abt 1806) whose second husband was Maj. Jonathan Tipton III (1750-1833). This marriage produced 5 sons, the oldest of which was Joseph B. Tipton (?-30 Jan 1847), who is buried in Ellejoy Cemetery in Blount County, TN. Keziah was first married to Capt. Robert Sevier, younger brother of General John Sevier, who died at the Battle of King's Mountain in October 1780.
Summary of Evidence Substantiating John B. Robertson as the Father of Dio Cleason
Family tradition held that Dio Cleason was born in South Carolina, was orphaned at an early age, and was bonded through the courts to a Robert Coleman.
Bond located in "Bonds" ledger containing entries from late 1700's into 1800's at Newberry County, SC, Clerk of Court.
The only male Robertson whose estate was settled in Newberry County Probate between 1800 and 1825 was John B. Robertson, filed in Dec 1816.
Reserach eliminated all 8 Robert Coleman's alive in SC during the time period Dio Cleason bonded-except Robert Coleman of Union County.
The Robertsons and Robert Coleman lived and farmed in the same Union County community between 1770 and 1790.
Five of John Robertson's brothers fought in the Revolutionary War with Robert Coleman.
Robert Coleman died when Dio Cleason was 19, which may have prompted Dio Cleason to leave, thus prompting the "stole the horse and ran off" story.
Dio Cleason named his first son Tillman, maiden name of the 2nd wife of Nicholas Robertson, whose lineage (Edward Tillman) also migrated to Union County and fought in the Revolutionary War with the Robertson's and Coleman.
Dio Cleason names his second son Tipton, the surname of the second husband of his 2nd cousin, who was from Washington County, TN and whose oldest son is buried in Blount County, TN.