Thursday, February 13, 2014


                                  (including their public houses, families, and descendants)
This is by Marie Miller Maxie
Descendant of William Robinson and Moses Dorton
BethRobinson1958 originally shared this
04 Aug 2010 story
Sketch written by Marie Miller Maxie of William Robinson and Moses Dorton: Knox County, Ky Pioneers (including their public houses, families, and descendants. Marie Miller Maxie is a descendant of William Robinson Sr and Moses Dorton

     The Robinson name was among the first on the pages of history in America.  In Fact, John or Jahu Robinson's name was on the list of Captain John Smith as among those remaining in Jamestown when the ship returned to England.(1)
     Just as earlier the great Shenandoah Valley beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains lay waiting with its virgin forests, lush meadows, and sparkling waters-so was the land beyond the Holston-a wilderness to be conquered by those who peopled it as wave after wave of settlers came over the Wilderness Road.  To get a mental picture of what the Wilderness Road was like in the beginning, close your eyes and imagine a narrow path which was just wide enough for a man on horseback to ride through canebrakes higher than his head, with individual canes as large as his arm.  These canebrakes, along with the heavy forestation, provided cover for the marauding Indians which were an ever-present danger.
     Stations and forts were built along the road, just as forts had sprung up earlier when the great valley was being wrested from the Indians.  These shelters were usually scattered along the "back side" of the frontier and militia or soldiers were quartered there to protect the settlements.  The Wilderness Road stations were to protect not only the men who were working to widen the road, but also those families who were coming to settle in the Commonwealth.  Kentucky acted as a springboard for many who were to settle beyond the Mississippi.  As early as 1792, there were at least three stations in what is now Bell County, Kentucky.(2)  One of these stations was known as Robinson's Station.
     William Robinson, Sr., was living near Abingdon, Virginia, during the American Revolution where he was active in public service-serving as juror, appraiser and as a patriot.  He gave one hundred diets (meals) for the Washington Militia on the frontiers under Captain Robert Trimble, and five bushels of corn for the use of volunteers under the command of Colonel Morgan on their march to the Falls of the Ohio.(3)
     In 1792 he was operating a station on the Wilderness Road when Bishop Francis Asbury wrote in his journal, "We entered the wilderness and reached Robinson's Station.  Two of the company were on foot, carrying their packs; and women there are with children.  These encumberances make us move slowly and heavily."(4)  On the return trip he wrote, "Early the next morning we made our way to Robinson's Station.  We had the best company I ever met with thirty-six good travelers, a few warriors; but we had a packhorse, some old men, and two tired horses-these were not the best part."(5)  Then on April 9, 1793, on another trip into the wilderness he wrote, "I went to Robinson's Station, where the soldiers behaved civilly.  We gave them two exhortations, and had prayer with them.  They honored me with the swinging hammock (a bearskin) which was as great a favour to me as the governor's bed; here I slept well."(6)
     Robinson's Station was located at Cumberland Ford, across the river from the present town of Pineville, Kentucky.  He was probably there some time before the Bishop was a guest at the station.  William Robinson bought land from George Brooks in Claiborne County, Tennessee, in 1799, and was living there when he died.  His will was written the eleventh of December, 1802, and was probated the June term, 1804, in Claiborne County, Tennessee.  The following is a copy:
State of Tennessee
Claiborne County
June term 1804
The last will and testament of William Robinson deceased is herein immediately after recorded in the following words and figures.  (Viz)
     In the name of God, and state of Tennessee, being sick and weak of body but of sound mind and disposing memory, for which I thank God-and calling to mind the uncertainty of human life, and being desirous to dispose of all worldly estate as it has pleased God to bless me with-I give and bequeth the same in manners following, that is to say I bequeth unto my wife Charity the use and benifit of the plantation wheron I now live, therewith all the buildings thereon, during her life.
     I give and bequeth unto my son Absolom the tract of land containing 700 acres, whereon he now lives together with a tract of 400 acres on the north side of Wallens Ridge.  I leave to the said Absolom, his heirs and assigns forever. (Authors note-Absolom lived three miles north of Tazewell, TN (Cedar Fork) before moving to Sneedville, TN in his later years)
     I bequeth unto my son Jacob a tract of land on both sides of Clinch River, being at Anderson's survey, and running to the horse shoe, being in three surveys.
     I also bequeth unto my son William the tract of land whereon he now lives, containing 400 acres together with the 50 acres I lately purchased from Salathiel Martin.
     To my son Littleberry, I bequeth a tract of land whereon he now lives, containing 573 acres, in Cassels Woods, and whereas John Ballinger and myself are in equal partnership in 8500 acres of land in the state of Kentucky, I bequeth to my four sons before mentioned and my son-in-law Moses Dorton all my part of the said 8500 acres of land to be divided amongst them.
     I give and bequeth to my grandson, Joseph Dorton, a tract of land of Wallins Creek, containing 195 acres also to my grandson William Dorton, I bequeth 100 acres of land at the ford of Cumberland.
     And further, I dispose of my moveable estate, in manners following Viz:
     I give the use of three negros, Bob, Tom and Hannah, to my wife, Charity, during her life; Nat and Doll, I give and bequeth to Jacob, my son; to Littleberry, my son, I give and bequeth a negro wench, called Jean; To William, my son, I ----? I bequeth a negro fellow named Bob; a little negro girl called Jane, I give and bequeth to my grand daughter, Edy Robinson; I give and bequeth unto my son Absolom, a negro wench called Big Rachel, Sammy, and Little Rachel.
     I also give for the use of my wife, during her life, and at her decease the negros left to her use, and their increase, to be disposed of in the following manner: To my daughter Dicy Dorton, I bequeth Tom and Hannah; To Nelson Robinson, my grandson, I bequeth Sandy, and to Littleberry, I bequeth Little Rachel.
     The claims of land I have on Yellow Creek, I leave to be divided equally between my son William and son-in-law Moses Dorton.  All the rest of the estate, both real and personal, of what nature and kind soever, (excepth three work horses and cows and hogs sufficient for the support of my wife, Charity, during her life) I desire may be sold and equally divided amongst my daughter and fours sons herein before named, and at the decease of my wife all the property remaining, together with the household furniture of all kinds, to be sold and divided as aforesaid.
     I also bequeth to my granddaughter, Edy Robinson, one mare colt.
     The land before mentioned in partnership with Mr. John Ballinger the number of acres in the whole, amount to 17000 acres, my part of which is 8500.
     Lastly, I do hereby constitute my old friend David Chadwell and my sons, William and Littleberry, my executors of this my last will and testament.
     In witness, whereof, I hereinto set my hand and affixed my seal this eleventh day of December, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and two.
(signed with an X)
Signed, Sealed, Published and Declared as for the last Will and testament of the above named William Robinson in the presence of us:
     This will was found in the Bell County Court Clerk's office.  It was transcribed and recorded the 20th day of June, 1893, in connection with a land sale-the grantor was a member of the Dorton family.
     The Knox County, Kentucky, Court Records contain the following information concerning William Jr.  He was married to Margaret Wharton and lived on the land bequeathed to him: which was at Gap Creek, in Claiborne County, TN.  Like his father, William Sr., he was a leader and Pathfinder of his time.  For these people, distant horizons were always calling.  When Madison County, Alabama, was still a part of Mississippi Territory, William Jr and Margaret were among those settling in Huntsville.(7)
     It is interesting to note that a William Robertson was listed in the 1830 census of Claiborne County.  His age was 70-80.  The name was often spelled both ways, even in the will of William Sr.
     On September 30, 1820, Absolom Sr purchased two tracts of land containing four hundred and sixty acres of Mulberry Gap in Claiborne County.(8)  One of the wintesses was Absolom Jr, who was born in 1803 (according to the 1850 census) and Married Eliza Rose.  Their children were:
John            married       1st Lurinda Hurst; 2nd Rebecca Jones
Nelson             ""            1st ______ Jones; 2nd E.M. Henderson
Sterling           ""            Ann Jones
Reuben           ""             Lucinda J Burch (settled in Texas)
James K          ""             Mollie Baylor
Elizabeth         ""             Joseph B. Neil  (Moved west) (Waco, Tx)
Sally              ""              C. W. Hargreaves (settled in Sneedville, TN)
Henry            ""               Lettie Jane Baylor
Absolom Sr.'s family was published in "Old Time Tazewell.(9)  At this time nothing is known about the families of Jacob or Littleberry.
     Laodicea (Dicy) married Moses Dorton (also spelled Dalton and Daulton) about 1784 near Abingdon, Virginia.  It is not known just when they came to Kentucky.  According to a genealogical sketch written by a grandson, David Hogan, on his eighty-second birthday as a gift for his daughter in the year 1892, he stated this his grandfathers Hogan and Dorton were in the same immigrant train on the second trip of Daniel Boone into Kentucky.  Mr. Hogan went on to Bryant's Station near Lexington while Moses Dorton with a number of men was stationed at Cumberland Ford as Indian spies, for the safety of emigrants; and when the protection was no longer necessary, Moses Dorton started back to the border of Virginia, near Abingdon, and married Dicy Robinson in 1784, and immediately settled in one mile of Cumberland Ford, his old spy station in Kentucky (Robinson Station).  He also stated that Laodicea (Dicy) was of Scotch, Irish and Indian extraction and was a relative of Pocahontas and of John Randolph.  This information is contained in "Knox County Kentucky Kinfolk Quarterly," a publication fo the Knox County Ky Genealogical Society, Inc.(10)  It was also interesting to find John Randolph among the descendants of Pocahontas.  The author (Robertson) said that some had "slipped through the mills of time unnoticed."(11)
     Moses Dorton owned eleven tracts of land totalling three thousand one hundred and forty-three acres in Knox and Harlan County, Ky.  Two thousand acres were sold in 1838 by his sons William and James B. to Mount Pursiful.(12)  This land was on the Cumberland River and embraced all the territory from Wasioto to Varilla. 
     The exact site of Moses Dorton's station or tavern is probably lost forever because of construction in the area through the years.  The tavern was across the river from the settlement of Cumberland Ford in what is now the community of Wallsend, and his property extended from the ford of the Cumberland down to Four Mile Creek, on the northern bank of the river.
     In 1805, Moses Dorton is found operationg a tavern or inn on the Wilderness Road when Bishop Asbury was a guest at the tavern on two different trips into Kentucky.  This entry is recorded in the Bishop's journal of 1805, "We took the path about five o'clock in the morning, and came eighteen miles to dinner with Mr. Freeman.  We reached Johnson's upon Richland Creek.  On the Sabbath day we were under the necessity of moving forward slowly, to Ballinger's, where we dined.  The evening brought us to Dalton's (Dorton's)-crowded with company, but we kept good order.(13)  Then on October 19, 1807, he was again a guest of Moses Dorton at the tavern on the Wilderness Road.  The Bishop traveled with an armed guard, and some think that he himself was armed, because he once wrote, "We go armed."(14) (My note: same station/tavern of his father in law, William Robinson, Sr (Robinson Station?)
     Tavern rates were fixed by counties, as a protection to the immigrants and travelers.  The tavern keepers were required to have licenses, and the maximum rates that they could charge were set by the counties.  The first tavern prices in Knox County, Ky which included most of Southeastern Kentucky, were as follows:
     For wine by the gallon or smaller quantity  $6.00
     For rum or French brandy by the gallon or smaller  $6.00
     Whiskey by the gallon or smaller quantity 12 shillings
     Gin by the gallon or smaller quantity 24 shillings
     Cordial by the gallon or smaller quantity 24 shillings
     Brandy made of peaches by the gallon or smaller quantity 16 shillings
     Diet (meal) for a warm dinner, supper, or breakfast, one shilling and six pense
     For a cold breakfast, supper or dinner one shilling
     Lodging per man for one night six pense
     Corn or oats by the bushel or smaller quantity six shillings
To these rates were added charges for keeping of hogs and sheep, and down through the years were subject to change.  Thus it can be seen that tavern keepers did a flourishing business.  The foundations of several fortunes were laid during this time.  Hunters also profited from the venison and turkey, bears, and coons that they furnished the tavern keepers.(15)
     Moses Dorton served in the American Revolution and was in the Battle of King's Mountain.  Moses and Laodicea (Dicy) Robinson Dorton were the parents of twelve children whose names, spouses's names, and dates of marriage are listed below:
     Joseph William          married         Mary ______
     Elizabeth                     ""             David Hogan          15 Apr 1816
     Sally                           ""             Reuben Woods                            later divorced
     Patsy                         ""             John Patton           12 Jan 1814
     James B                     ""              Sarah McRoberts     6 Apr 1829
     Laodicea                     ""             Peter Wilson           2 Oct 1823
     Lucretia                     ""              1st John Herndon     20 Sep 1815    
         ""                          ""              2nd Dr Jess Taylor   21 Sep 1820
     Nancy                        ""              John Woolum          24 Mar 1824
     Lucinda                     ""               Felix Gilbert             7 Feb 1828
     Moses, Jr                   ""               Maria Fortney         10 Nov 1831
     Emily                         ""               Willie Hibbard           1 July 1828
Assorted data on the above includes: James B. was a pioneer legislator from Knox County, Ky; Lucinda Dorton Gilbert died 27 March 1859,  Emily Dorton Hibbard was born 28 August, 1810, died 1 September 1873, and is buried in the Jackson Cemetery, Baileys Switch, Knox County, Ky.
     By the year 1826, when Moses Dorton died, the Indians had been dispersed, his children were grown, and he had become a rich man for his day.  It is believed that he is buried in the Wallsend Cemetery near where his tavern was located.  His wife went to live with her youngest daughter, Emily, and her husband, Wylie Hibbard, in Clay County, Ky about 1832.  She died there in the 1840's.
     A request for a highway marker commemorationg Moses Dorton's Tavern, Robinson's Station, and their guest, Bishop Francis Asbury, has been made to the Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, Ky.  No action has been taken to this time.
(1) Stith, William.  "The History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia", 1965
(2) Asbury, Francis.  "The Journals and Letters of Bishop Francis Asbury"  1958
(3) Summers, Lewis Preston.  "Annals of Southwest Virginia 1769-1800"  1970
(4) Asbury.  Op.  cit.
(5) Ibid
(6) Ibid
(7) Madison County, Alabama.  Deed Book
(8) Claiborne County, Tennessee.  Deed Book F, Vol 1
(9) Hansard, Mary A.  "Old Time Tazewell"  1979
(10) Knox County Kentucky Kinfolk, April  1981
(11) Robertson, Wyndham.  "Pocahontas and her Descendants"  1887
(12) Harlan County, Kentucky  Deed Book C,  Page 164
(13) Asbury.  Op. cit
(14) Asbury.  Op. cit
(15) Dyche, Russell  "Laurel County Kentucky"  1954

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