Gen. James Robertson, of Nashville

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James Randolph Robertson

Also Known As: "The Father of Tennessee", "Explorer and Pioneer", "Tennessee", "Friend of Daniel Boone"
Birthdate: (72)
Birthplace: Brunswick, Virginia
Death: September 1, 1814 (72)
Chicasaw Agency, Chicasaw Nation
Place of Burial: Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Robertson and Mary Robertson
Husband of Charlotte Robertson
Father of Delilah Bosley; Jonathan Friar Robertson; Henderson Robertson; William Blount Robertson; Peyton Henderson Robertson and 7 others
Brother of Rhoda Patience Castleman; John Robertson; Elizabeth Robertson; Col. Charles Robertson; Colonel Elijah Robertson and 3 others
Half brother of Charles Robertson

Occupation: Explorer, Founder of Nashville, General at Fort Watauga 1776, Elizabethon, TN founded Nashville TN, American explorer, soldier and Indian agent
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Gen. James Robertson, of Nashville

A Patriot of the American Revolution for NORTH CAROLINA with the rank of COLONEL. DAR Ancestor #  A097204 

Founder of Nashville, "Father of Tennessee." Robertson, leading a group of settlers from North Carolina to Tennessee, founded Fort Nashborough on Christmas Day of 1779. Named for Revolutionary War General Francis Nash, the name was changed in 1784 to Nashville. Robertson became well respected by the Indian tribes of Tennessee and worked to create many peace treaties with them. He is called by many historians "The Father of Tennessee."


Godspeed's History of Carter County (1887) says James Robertson came to Watauga in 1770, and the next year settled beyond the bluff opposite the mouth of Doe River. He remained there until 1779, when he removed to the Cumberland. His brother Charles Robertson lived on Sinking Creek on the farm now (1887) owned by Robert Miller.

The settlers at Watauga thought they were settling in Virginia, but a survey showed the settlement to be in North Carolina. They petitioned North Carolina for a government on 5 July 1776. They had settled their lands under a treaty with the Cherokee, then discovered that the area was not within the "Virginia line." North Carolina created the Washington District, which later became Washington County, Tennessee. Among the signers of the Watauga Settlement were Charles Robertson, James Robertson, Elijah Robertson, Wm. Roberson, Mark Robertson, John Robinson and Julius Robertson. According to the petition, the settlers had organized a militia company under the command of Capt. James Robertson.

James Robertson and Charles Robertson were among the first magistrates appointed in Washington County, Tennessee in 1777. In 1795 Carter County was created from Washington County. John Robertson was one of the men elected as constables in 1795.

Godspeed also relates the story of an Indian attack: "One of the first forts built in this section was the Watauga Fort, erected upon land owned by John S. Thomas, about half a mile northeast of the mouth of Gap Creek. In 1776 this fort was attacked by a large body of Cherokees. At that time it contained 150 settlers, including the entire garrison from Gillespie Station on the Nolachucky below Jonesboro. The attack was made on the 21st of July at daybreak. The women had gone outside to milk the cows and were fired upon, but made good their escape to the fort. The Indians were twice repulsed, but remained before the fort for six days, at the end of which time the approach of re enforcements from the Hoiston put them to flight. The fort was defended by Capt. James Robertson and Lieut. Sevier, with about forty men. Near this fort was built a rude courthouse and jail, erected by the Watauga Association."

"Treaty of Long Island, July 20, 1777: Hostilities due to Encroachments of white settlers, and the usual land greed, led to this treaty. A definite boundary was needed or as the Raven said "a wall to the skies." Negotiations began on the 20th of June and ended on July 20th, 1777 with the signing of this treaty. The Middle and Upper Cherokee ceded all lands east of the Blue Ridge and the disputed lands on the Watauga, Nolichucky, upper Holston and New Rivers. Captain James Robertson was appointed agent for the Cherokee with his residence at Echota. He was to watch their movements, recover captured property, and prevent their correspondence with persons unfriendly to the American cause. The whites were very uneasy as Dragging Canoe, Young Tassel, The Raven of Chota, Judge Friend and Lying Fish weren't in attendance and opposed to the treaty."


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Gen. James Robertson, of Nashville's Timeline

June 28, 1742
Brunswick, Virginia
June 13, 1769
Age 26
Wake, North Carolina, USA
December 11, 1771
Age 29
November 30, 1773
Age 31
North Carolina, USA
February 11, 1775
Age 32
Davidson, Tennessee, USA
Age 35
January 11, 1781
Age 38
Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee, USA
March 11, 1783
Age 40
Davidson, Tennessee, USA
January 15, 1785
Age 42
Nashville, Davidson, Tennessee, USA