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Richard W. Robertson



Richard W. Robertson was one of my great grandfathers.  Richard was born in July 1831, possibly in Amelia County, Virginia, and died in Richmond on October 16, 1918.


The Chesterfield County 1855 marriage register has a Richard Robertson marrying Mary A. (looks like) Eubank, on April 12, 1855.  Unfortunately, other information, usually provided on marriage registers during the 1800s, such as parents’ names, was missing from the Robertson-Eubank entry. 


The 1860 Chesterfield County, Virginia census, for the township of Manchester, lists a R.W. Robinson, age 28, born in Virginia.  His wife is M.A. Robinson, age 35, also born in Virginia.  Also in the household were: (looks like) M.A., age 4, female; (no first name), age 3, male; and (no first name), age 1, male (believed to be my grandfather, William).  R.W. Robinson lists no real estate value and personal property value of (looks like) $73.  R.W.’s occupation looks like couch maker; possibly he was working as a furniture maker.  Later, he would list his occupation as carpenter.


Virginia birth records for the period 1855 to 1860 shows a Mary A Robertson born in Chesterfield County, on January 23, 1856.  The father was Richard Robinson, and his occupation was listed as farmer.  The mother was Mary Robinson.  The informant for the information was the father.  This Mary A Robertson birth agrees well with the 1860 census data given in the paragraph above and later R.W. Robinson-M.A. Robinson census record data.  No 1855 to 1860 birth data could be found for other R.W.-M.A. Robinson children who would have also been born during this period.  Too often such records as birth, marriage, and death registers, currently available on microfilm, cannot be relied upon as a complete record for such reasons as: the original records were damaged and/or incomplete; the handwriting of the recorder simply cannot be read; or the original documentation could not be filmed will enough to be readable.


The 1856 birth of Mary A. Robertson, who is found in later Richard W. and Mary A Robertson census records, just after the marriage of Richard Robertson and Mary A. Eubank; the Richard Robertson – Mary A. Eubank Chesterfield County 1855 marriage; and 1860 census records suggest strongly that the R. W. Robertson and Mary A. Eubank marrying in 1855 are the same R.W. and M.A. Robinson of the 1860 Chesterfield County, and subsequent, censuses.


Manchester, which in 1860 was in Chesterfield County, was an energetic, bustling commercially-successful community across the James River from Richmond when Richard W. Robertson and Mary A. Eubank were married and started living in Manchester by the 1860 Census.  Manchester became a city in 1874.  By 1874, the population was 3,200 and in 1880 it was 5,730.


Manchester by the middle 1800s was both the terminus of the Chesterfield Railroad, a short railroad line hauling coal from the west, and the Manchester Turnpike.   The Manchester Turnpike, reportedly the first paved road in Virginia, was completed by 1808.   The Chesterfield Railroad, completed around 1831, reportedly was the first railroad in Virginia.  A primary reason for the Manchester Turnpike and Chesterfield Railroad was that Manchester was a thriving port from the 1600s into the later 1800s.  At the fall line, Manchester had access to that portion of the James River that flowed down into the Chesapeake Bay, a portion that could be navigated by ocean-going ships.  Being at the fall line, which accounted for a rapid flow of James River water, led to many flour mills, depended on water wheels, and large exports of flour from Manchester in the 1800s.   Manchester also had other exporting industries, such as furniture making.


Turnpike development in Virginia, getting started by 1800, was carried out mostly by private concerns, but, in some cases, by counties.  Early Virginian turnpikes, besides Manchester, included: the Alexandria-Fairfax Turnpike; the Staunton-Parkersburg (Parkersburg was then in Virginia, now in West Virginia) Turnpike; the Lynchburg-Salem Turnpike; and the Staunton-James River Turnpike.    Financing for these roads could only be achieved by collecting tolls (hence the name turnpike from the pike/gates that had to be turned to enter the roads). 


Most, if not all states, saw the development of turnpikes, with tolls, by private companies by 1845.  Turnpike construction and maintenance became an important business opportunity, because of the tolls that could be collected.  And, the development of these turnpikes likely contributed importantly to the economic development of the surrounding areas.  So, the Manchester Turnpike probably played an important role in the creation of jobs around Manchester, with such jobs possibly accounting for why Richard Robertson, who was born in Amelia County, further west, would be found in Chesterfield County marrying Mary A. Eubank in 1855.


Although turnpike development and maintenance started primarily as private enterprise, it was not long before Virginia, and possibly other states, entered the development, maintenance, and ownership picture.


By 1820, Virginia established the Virginia Board of Public Works, dealing with the development of roads, canals, and railroads.  With this Board, the state began to play an ever increasing role in road building, and other transportation needs, in Virginia.  Turnpikes, because they were toll roads with better financing, were able to use gravel, broken stone, wood (logs), or macadam surfaces.   (Macadam, first used in Scotland in 1820, is layers of stones and other materials, which provide a stronger foundation.  Many Scots had migrated to the Virginia Piedmont regions by the 1820s and perhaps their continued connections with their homeland accounted for the migration of the macadam technology from Scotland to Virginia, so that Virginia could become an early adaptor of the technology.  More will be said about Scot immigration to Virginia later in this section.)   By the end of the 19th Century, Virginia and other states, would assume almost complete, if not complete, responsibility for roads. 


This will not be the only state “take over” of “large functions” in the 19th Century from private enterprise.  Another function taken over by the State of Virginia, and probably most states, during the 19th century was education.   


An 1865 photograph, named Manchester Virginia Factories 1865, shows several 8 to 10 story buildings.  Perhaps one of these buildings manufactured furniture and was where Richard W. worked as a couch and furniture maker, which his 1860 census record indicates he did.   Eventually, furniture making becomes a major Virginia industry, spread through areas south and west of Manchester.  More about Manchester’s contribution to the start of this industry would be interesting to know about.


Manchester was annexed into Richmond City in April 1910.  The present day area of Richmond, where old Manchester was located, is west and south of downtown Richmond, across the James River.


An 1870 census record for R.W. and M.A Robinson (Robertson) has not been found.  No explanation for this is apparent.  A search for a Richard W. Robertson (and Robinson), in the entire 1870 US census data base, using on-line Ancestry, did not find a Richard W. Robertson living either in Virginia, or anywhere else in the United States.


However, an 1869 Richmond City Directory shows a Richard W. Robertson as a carpenter living on Church near High.  The same directory also shows an Alexander Robertson, carpenter, living on High near Church. 


A R.W. Robinson appears in the Richmond, Henrico County 1880 census, age (looks like) 49.  R. W. is married and his occupation is carpenter.  Also in the household were:  his wife Mary, age 53; (looks like) Char (probably for Charles), male, age 23, carpenter, son; Wm., age 21, blacksmith, son (likely my grandfather); and Virginia, age 20, daughter.  City directory information indicates that Richard W. Robertson, carpenter, was living at 610 China Street in Richmond.


However, an 1881 Richmond City Directory shows a Richard W. Robertson as carpenter at 629 Howard and Alexander Robertson at the same address.  This information, along with much more, supports the connection between Richard W. and Alexander Robertson.


Richard W. Robertson, age 68, born July 1831, appears in the 1900 Richmond Census, living at 726 First Street, Richmond.  His wife is Mary A. Robertson, born February 1825.  They lived in a rented house.  Mary indicated she had given birth to six children, and four were still living.  Richard and Mary were married in 1855.  Both of their parents were listed as being born in Virginia.  Richard listed his occupation as carpenter, and both Richard and Mary could read and write.


In the 1910 Richmond census, R. W. (age 79) and M. A. (age 85) were living with Mary A. Owens.  A Mary A. Owens son, Vernon R., age 22, and a daughter, Gladys, age 16, were also living in the household.  The son is listed as a machinist.  Apparently, Mary A. Owens was without husband in 1910.  This Mary A. Owens is almost certainly the R.W. and M.A. first child, born in Chesterfield County in January 1856, described above.


No Vernon Owens could be found in the Virginia 1920 census, but a Vernon Owens, born in Virginia, and age 32 (birthplace and age agreeing with Mary Owens’ son, Vernon), was living, as a boarder, in Akron, Ohio.


No Richard W. or R.W. or Mary A. (M.A.) Robertson could be found in the 1920 Richmond census.  Both died prior to 1920.


According to my Mother, her father, William Robertson, had two sisters and a brother:  Sissy, Mary Ann, and a name she could not remember for a brother.  Mary Ann married an Owens and had Glades, Jean, Ohma, and Vernon.  Sissy married a Charles Brown and had Richard and Allen.  The brother lived on Grace St. at some time and William, her father, lived on Laurel St. at some time, according to my Mother.  My Mother’s information is remarkably supportive of the rest of the information that is provided here on Richard W. Robertson and his family.


A death certificate shows that Richard W. Robertson died at age 87, on October 16, 1918, while at Grace Hospital in Richmond.  The certificate shows that he was born in July 1831, in Virginia.  His father was listed as Alex Robertson and his mother as Sallie Williams, both born in Virginia.  At death, he lived at 302 Laurel St., Richmond.  Apparently, from the certificate, the cause of death was an injury from a street accident involving a car.  Whether he was a pedestrian, hit by a car, or a car’s occupant during the accident is unclear.  The certificate informant was C. H. Robertson, one of Richard’s sons, who lived at 2218 Hanover Dr.  Richard W. was buried at Hollywood Cemetery.  The death certificate information is very consistent with other information provided here, in my family history.


The 302 Laurel Street address, which is very near the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, was almost certainly the address of Mary A.  Owen, Richard and Mary Robertson’s daughter.  From the 1860s until Richard and Mary’s death, one pattern that emerges is the frequent changes in their addresses.  This, along with the fact that they were living with their daughter at the time of death and that they are buried at Hollywood Cemetery without head stone markers, is consistent with the conclusion that Richard and Mary were likely very poor much of the time.  Frequent moving suggests they always rented their residences, and did not have a lot of stability in their living arrangements.  And, having no head stone at their burial site, which was known at Hollywood Cemetery in the late 1800s, very early 1900s, to mean a lack of funds for purchasing one, also suggests the Robertsons were poor. 


Richard and Mary Robertson is just one example of finding throughout my family ancestral history, from the 1860s into the 1900s, many poor economic situations.  And, I believe, because these families were all southern families that their poor economic status was in large measure a consequence of the Civil War 


The 1920 Virginia census has a Charles H. Robertson, age 63, living on Hanover Ave., with Sarah E. age 48, his wife.  Also in the household is a Charles H., Jr., age 26.  In the 1930 Virginia census, Charles H. and Sarah E. are living with a daughter.  The 1930 Virginia census has a Charles Robertson, age 35, living in Tuckahoe, Henrico County, involved in auto sales, and with two daughters.  Whether this Charles Robertson is Charles and Sarah Robertson’s son, Charles H. Jr., is not known.


The above information - the census and other records for Richard W. and Mary A. Robertson (Robinson) from 1855 to 1918, and my mother’s recalled information on her father’s sisters and brothers, as well my grandfather’s marriage register record of his marriage to Eva Luke Stokes, which lists his father and mother as R.W. and M.A. Robertson, and that he was born in Manchester, Virginia in 1859 (the marriage certificate information is presented in the William Robertson section to come) - are very consistent and supportive with one another, and show conclusively that Richard W. and Mary A. Robertson were William’s parents, and my great grandparents.


Richard W. Robertson’s middle initial W. possibly stood for William.   This is on the basis that William Robertson’s daughter, Ethyle Gladys Robertson, my mother’s sister, lists William Robertson’s (her father) father's first name on William's death certificate as William, even though William (her father) is listed as a senior.   Ethyle maybe did remember and associated her grandfather’s name as William.  Perhaps Richard W.  Robertson was called William, using his middle name.  


The 1850 census for Amelia County, Virginia lists an Alex Robertson, age 43.  In the household is Sarah A. Robertson, age 38; John (looks like) L., age 15; Alex W., age 12; Mary (looks like) L., age 10; Ann (looks like) E., age 8; and Robert, age 5.  Sarah’s name will later appear as Sally and Sallie.  That the parents name here are Alex and Sarah (Sally, Sallie are also found for Sarah), the same as later identified on R.W. Robertson’s death certificate as R.W. parents, and that later Alex and Sarah are found in the 1860 census as living in Manchester, Chesterfield County, where Richard W. and Mary A. Robertson had been married five years earlier and are still living according to the 1860 census, suggests that Alex and Sarah (Sally) A. Robertson were Richard W. Robertson's parents, the same Alex Robertson and Sally Williams, listed on his death certificate. 


1854 Amelia County deed information shows that an Alex Robinson was bonded due to his being elected a constable.


Amelia County is just west of Manchester, less than 40 miles from the Amelia County line to Manchester.  In 1840, Amelia County’s population was about 10,000 with 3074 white, 7023 slaved, and 223 free colored.  There were no villages of any significant size in 1840.


That no village of any significant size was found in Amelia County in 1840 was a very characteristic demographic throughout the antebellum south (the south prior to the Civil War).   After the Civil War, this demographic characteristic would change, and throughout the south a much greater concentration of people in towns (villages) would come about.  The growth of the size of Manchester and its development of manufacturing and other forms of commerce other than agriculture, as indicated above, is a representation of the transformation of life in the antebellum to the post-reconstruction (post-1875) south.


One of the benefits I have gained from delving deeply into my family history is a much greater insight and appreciation of history.  An excellent source that describes the changes between the antebellum and post-reconstruction south is the book entitled “The Promise of the New South – Life After Reconstruction” by Edward L. Ayers.


The 1860 census shows Alex Robinson (now changed from Robertson), age 53, as living in Manchester, Chesterfield County.  Alex is listed as a wheelwright.  In the household is S.A. Robinson, age 48; J., a male, age 24, carpenter; A. W., a male, age 22, wheelwright; M.S., a female, age 19; A.E., a female, age 17; R.H., a male, age 14; (looks like) I.W., a female, age 9; (looks like) SRR, a female, age 7; and Ruth, age 5.  No real estate or personal property value was listed for Alex on the 1860 census.  No places of birth were given.   What took Alex and Sarah from Amelia County, where they were in 1850, according to the census of that year, and which Sarah’s death certificate indicated was her birthplace, to Manchester, in Chesterfield County, is not known.  Alex lists his occupation as a wheelwright, and perhaps it was employment behind their move, or maybe it was simply that Richard W., one of their sons, was in Chesterfield County.  But, apparently, sometime after 1850, and possibly before 1855, when Richard W. Robertson, possibly Alex and Sally's oldest son and not living in his parents home in 1850, marries Mary A. Eubank in Manchester, Chesterfield County, the move was made.


Wheelwrighting was a job requiring skills in carpentry, blacksmithing, design, and measurements.  The job of a wheelwright was to build and repair wooden wheels.   Wagons, carriages, and other vehicles used wooden wheels into the last years of the 19th Century, and wheelwrights were needed to keep the vehicles working as intended.


The local wheelwright was an important service provider in the community.  Effective and lasting wheels were not easily made.  At least three types of wood generally were used in a wheel:  elm for the hub, or center, section to which the spokes inserted into; oak (because of its hardness) for the spokes; and ash for the outer wooden rim.  In addition to the wood used, the circular wood rim was protected by a metal rim.  Blacksmithing skills were required to efficiently and effectively mount the metal rim around the wooden rim.   The metal rim needed to be brought to a sufficiently hot temperature for it to expand so that it would fit on the wooden rim.   Then, once fitted, the hot metal had to be quickly cool with water to shrink the metal around the wood, so that the metal would be securely fastened, correctly in place, tightly fitting the wood.  Good design and measurement skills were required to bring this process together in order to end up with an adequately round, sturdy wheel, with a design that would ensure long-lasting and maintenance-free use.


Wagons, carriages, and other vehicles were critical passions for individuals, family, and businesses and competent wheelwrights were in demand.  As wooden wheels were no longer needed, the wheelwright would become mostly obsolete by 1900.


The 1870 census shows an Alexander Robinson, age 63, living in Richmond City.  In the household is Sally, age 58, keeping house; Mary, age 30; Robert, age 23, laborer; W., a female, age 20; Rebecca, age 17; and Ruth, 13.


In 1880, a Richmond city census record for William Carter, age 30, head of household, shows an Alex Robinson, father-in-law, age 73, living in the household.  Julia, age 28, William’s wife, and probably one of Alex’s daughters, is in the household.  Two daughters are listed.


The Amelia County marriage register of 1828 lists a marriage between Alexander Robertson and Sally A. Williams, taking place on December 11, 1828.  Samuel Williams was listed as Sally’s father.  We know that Richard W. Robertson was born in 1831, consistent with this Robertson-Williams marriage date.


A Samuel Williams is in the 1820 Amelia County census, age 26 to 45, with four males, age less than 10; one female, less than age 10 (probably Sally A. Williams, who was born in 1812); and one female, age 26 to 45.  Samuel was engaged in agriculture.


From Amelia County marriage records, Samuel Williams marries Polly Noble in 1810, two years before Sallie (Sarah) A. Williams is born.   Other Amelia County records identify a Samuel Williams as serving in the US-British 1812 War as a musician.   He was in the 1st Regiment of Virginia Militia, County of Amelia, under the command of Capt. Tilman E. Jeter.  An 1839 Amelia County deed identifies a Samuel W. Williams as a son of Samuel Williams.   The parents of Samuel Williams have not been identified.


Military musicians were important participants in battles fought in the War of 1812, as they were in previous wars, and would continue to be up to, and through the US Civil War.   The musicians provided signals during battle that represented commander orders to the soldiers.  By the War of 1812, bugles were beginning to be used, in addition to the traditional fifes and drums.  Not only was the music provided by the military musician an important communication system during engagements, musical instruments were used in non-combat situations to signal wake-up, retirement, meal, and other events during the course of the military day.  Military musicians were also important for providing inspirational and ceremonial enhancements.


The War of 1812, I believe, represented a significant shift in the young United States country’s perspectives about federal government.  The War helped to cement the need for increased involvement of the federal government in the affairs of the country.  At the time of the 1812 War with Britain (and Canada), the standing federal army was small, perhaps 12,000 troops.  On the other hand, state militias continued to be huge as they had grown to be doing the revolutionary days, totaling in number at perhaps 700,000.  The 1812 War showed that such an allocation between federal and state military power was probably a bad system to continue, when national defense and external relationships was thought about.  I suspect views on national defense greatly changed as a result of the 1812 War and, with these changes, a changed in the role of the federal government.


As a musician in the Amelia militia, Samuel Williams would be paid more than a private, e.g. perhaps $6 a month versus $5 a month.  Sergeants might be paid $8 a month.  Internet resources also suggest that perhaps as many as 12,000 Virginia militiamen saw action in the 1812 War.  Areas of engagements included: northern Virginia; the Richmond area; and the Norfolk-Hampton area.  Some Virginia militias are known to have been sent to the Ohio Western Frontier areas.  It would be interesting to know what engagements Samuel might have been in and what his instrument was.


Samuel Williams dies in 1823.   Polly then marries Amos C. Meador.


Amelia County Will Book entries in 1818, 1829, and 1831, dealing with a John Noble estate, identify a Polly Williams as John’s daughter.  The same entries also identify a Samuel Williams as a beneficiary of John Noble’s estate.  The Polly and Samuel Williams identified are very likely the Polly Noble and Samuel Williams who marry in 1810.  This Will Book information values John Noble’s estate at more than $60,000, a substantial amount for the 1820 to 1830 time period.   The same Will Book information identifies Susannah Noble as John’s wife.  Wrights are referred to in the Will Book information in a way that suggests that Susannah was a Wright.  John Noble had several sons and daughters in addition to Polly.   The Will Book information indicates that John is dead by 1820.


A will in the 1788 Amelia County Will Book for John Wright identifies a Susanna Noble as one of John’s children.   1773 Amelia County Will Book information shows a Thomas Wright selling land to both a John Wright and a Thomas Wright Sr.  This suggests that John Wright was the son of Thomas Wright Jr., who was the son of Thomas Wright Sr.


John Noble is on the Amelia County 1787 tax list (which serves as a census).  An 1808 Amelia County deed identifies a Joseph Noble as having a son John.  The deed grants 70 acres to John.  A witness on the deed was a Polly Noble.  


A 1759 Amelia County deed shows a Joseph Noble buying land there.  Joseph Noble was also on the Amelia County 1787 tax list.  Joseph Noble was an ensign in Capt. Edmund Booker’s Company (militia) as of June 22, 1780.  The 1810 census shows a Joseph Noble living in Amelia County.  The same census shows John Noble living adjacent to Joseph Noble, usually a sign of a family connection.  A 1826 will was recorded by Joseph Noble.  He dies in 1826.


Several Nobles came to the colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries.


In summary, based on the above information, Sallie A. Williams, who becomes Alex Robertson’s wife in 1828, was the daughter of Polly Noble Williams and Samuel Williams.  Samuel’s parents have not been determined, but Polly was the daughter of Susanna Wright Noble and John Noble.  Susanna’s father (mother unknown) was John Wright who descended from Thomas Wright Jr. and Thomas Wright Sr.   John Noble’s father was Joseph Noble (mother unknown).  Noble and Wright ancestors of Sallie A. Williams lived in Amelia County going back to at least the 1770s and perhaps earlier.


The Richmond 1880 death register shows that a Sallie A. Williams Robertson died on January 29, 1880, at age 65.  Information indicates she was born in Amelia County.   She was married at the time of death.  This name (Sallie A. Robertson), that a Sally A. Robertson is not found in the 1880 Richmond Census, although a Alex Robertson is (see above), and the closeness of the age for the two Sallies strongly suggest that this Sallie A Robertson is one and the same with the S.A. Robinson/Robertson in the above census data, and is one of my great, great-grandmothers.


The Richmond 1882 death register shows that an Alexander Robertson dies on June 29, 1882, at age 75.  He was a widower at the time of death, and was born in Cumberland County, adjacent to Amelia County.  His occupation was listed as wheelwright.  This information, very consistent with the Alexander Robinson/Robertson census data provided above, shows that these Alexander Robertson’s are almost certainly one in the same, and that this Alexander Robertson was very likely one of my great, great-grandfathers.


Although Alex’s 1882 death certificate indicates he was born in Cumberland County, no information at the Cumberland County Courthouse, or elsewhere, could be found to support this.  Cumberland County did have many Robinsons (Robertsons) living there in the 1700s and early 1800s, but nothing could be found that connects Alex to one of these Robinsons, although this lack of evidence does not preclude the possibility.


However, information is available that shows Alex living in Amelia County, which is adjacent, and east, of Cumberland County.  For example, we know that Alex marries Sally A. Williams in Amelia County in 1828.  Also, Alex is in the 1850 Amelia County census.  More information is needed about where Alex is living in 1830 and 1840.


So, who Alex Robertson’s parents were have not been determined.


Prior to 1900, a last name was sometimes spelled differently, from census to census.  A good example of this is the surname Robinson/Robertson.  Robinson was frequently found in censuses in the 1800s, only to eventually become Robertson, in later censuses, where it remained.  No better example of this could be found than with my Robinson-Robertson ancestors where Robinson was clearly the used spelling in the early documents, e.g. prior to 1850, and then Robertson began to be the preferred spelling.  For example, Richard W. Robertson’s father, Alexander Robinson (Robertson) has his name as Robertson in the 1850 census, only for it to become Robinson in the 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses.  But, then the name returns to Robertson on Alexander’s death certificate.  What prompted this change is not known.  Perhaps it was nothing more than the record’s recorder using either spelling based on assuming it did not matter, or not recognizing a spelling difference, or recognizing a pronunciation difference.  Why Robertson might be eventfully settled on, in later generations, rather than Robinson, is not clear, but an interesting question.  One explanation might be that Robinson seems to have appeared much more frequently, earlier in the 1800s, than Robertson, and perhaps the Robertson spelling was a way of gaining uniqueness, or status.  Robinson (and to a lesser extent Robertson) was a very, very frequently occurring name in Richmond, and surrounding areas, in 1800s' censuses and other records.  Another variation of the Robinson/Robertson spelling is Roberson.


In the early 1800s, several Robertsons are found in Amelia and Cumberland Counties censuses.  For example, about 15 Robertsons appear in the 1820 Amelia and Cumberland County censuses.


Richard W. Robertson (Robinson) might have descended from Scottish immigrants to the piedmont region of Virginia, west of Richmond in such counties as Cumberland and Amelia.  During the 1700s, e.g. from 1750 to 1775, there was much Scottish immigration into the piedmont region of Virginia.  Scots were seeking their fortunes, especially in tobacco.  Scottish landowners, and other aristocrats, were actively investing in the new world during this time.  Many Scots went to the new world, fully with the intention of returning to Scotland after fortunes were made, only not to make these fortunes, and not returning to Scotland.  Many Scottish-owned ships went up the James River in the 1700s.  These ships would return to Scotland with tobacco.  Several Scottish communities existed in the Virginia Piedmont region to support this trade.  Scotland imports of tobacco from Virginia reached its peak during this period, e.g. around 1775.


The Scots apparently established what seems like a unique and interesting business system in the Virginia Piedmont regions, and perhaps elsewhere around the Chesapeake Bay where Scots would migrate to.  The system centered on “Stores”.  These stores were operated by Scots – Scots who were not growers.  The stores, which had close business arrangements with firms in Glasgow (Scotland), would purchase tobacco from the growers and shipped it to Glasgow for the Scottish market.  The ships carrying the tobacco would then return to America with items needed by the growers, and others, and the items would be sold out of the stores.  This could have been a system unique at the time and providing certain efficiencies and effectiveness and thus represented new ideas in business practices.  The stores apparently employed mostly Scots, indicating that many immigrant Scots were not growers (farmers).  Some estimates that I have seen suggest perhaps as many as 60 stores existed in the Virginia Piedmont regions employing maybe as many as 2,000 Scots.  Could Alex Robertson have been a descendant of one of the store employees?


In the Virginia 1782 census, Amelia County had a population of about 5,500 whites and 8,800 Africans.  Cumberland County had about 2,700 whites and 3,800 Africans.  There were Robertsons in both counties in the 1790 census.  Deed information shows a Robertson living in Amelia County early as the 1740s.


Amelia is adjacent to Chesterfield County (southwest).  Cumberland County is further west, about 50 miles to Chesterfield County, but not adjacent. All three counties were settled during the 1700s by immigrants coming up the James River, from the British Isles, especially from the west and south of England, and from Scotland.

Another possibility is that Alexander Robertson (Robinson) was descendent from the group of immigrants called Scotch-Irish in America and frequently Ulster-Irish in Britain.  During the period 1720 to 1775, estimates are that more than 200,000 immigrants came to the colonies from the Ulster area of Ireland.   Many of the “Ulster Irish” were themselves immigrants to Ulster from both sides of  what was then the Scotland-England border.


Although some Scotch-Irish arrived at Chesapeake Bay ports, or possible up Chesapeake Bay rivers such as the James, most arrived further north in Philadelphia and nearby ports along the Delaware River.  Then, from there these Scotch-Irish would migrate west into central and western Pennsylvania and then some south down Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, from where they would cross the Appalachians and settle in the Piedmont region just east of the Appalachians.  Alex Robertson’s wife, Mary A. Eubank Robertson, showed in her ancestral past the possibility of just such a history.  More will be told about this history in the next section dealing with Mary A. Eubank.


Almost certainly, Richard W. Robertson had in his ancestral past, an ancestor from Scotland.  I will discover in my research for the following sections that for my other 7 great grandparents, with reasonable certainty, some ancestors came from: England; Wales; the present day Switzerland Cantor of Grisons; France; the Prussia section of Germany; and the Baden-Wurttemberg section of Germany.  All of my 16 great, great grandparents were born not later than the early 1800s either in the American colonies or the United States.   Of these 16 great, great grandparents, I was able to show with reasonable certainty that 11 of their parents (my great, great, great grandparents) were from one of the above European locations.  For the other 21, I was unable to reach any certainty about their European origins.

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