James Roberson, of Lee County

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James Roberson

Also Known As: "James Robinson"
Birthplace: Virginia, United States
Death: Died in Lee County, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Roberson and Nancy Roberson
Husband of Catharina Roberson
Father of Mahala Crabtree; Catherine Roberson; Rufus Morgan Roberson; Benjamin Francis Roberson; Craig F. Roberson and 2 others

Occupation: Tavern Keeper
Managed by: Justin Swanström
Last Updated:

About James Roberson, of Lee County

James Roberson or Robinson (1769-1835), of Lee County, Virginia. He lived at Turkey Cove near Yokum's Station (or Yoakum Station) now Dryden, on the Wilderness Road, seven miles west of Big Stone Gap in Lee County, Virginia. Some sources say he was a tavern keeper.

His ancestry is uncertain. He might have been a son of John Roberson and Nancy, of Watauga, Tennessee. He was born between 1770 and 1775, calculating from census records. FamilySearch.org says he was born 3 November 1769 (in North Dakota!) but does not cite a source. The 1880 census record of his son Rufus says he was born in Virginia.

One of the eight congregations organized by Rev. John Craig in the western settlements and reported to Hanover Presbytery in 1769 was on Craig's Creek now in Montgomery and Botetourt Counties (45 families), of which James Robinson was one of the elders. Another was at New Derry near Shawsville and Ft. Vause now in Montgomery County (36 families), of which David Robinson and James Robertson were two of the elders.

  • AUGUSTA CO., Church, 1767: 1767 [Stoner's Seedbed of the Republic, pg. 351]: Craig's Creek -- 45 families, L28 to the Rev. John Craig, Presbyterian dissenter, to supply six sabbaths. Representatives of the families: Malcolm Allen, John Crawford, James Wilson, James Robinson, Samuel Lawrence.

He does not appear on the 1793 tax list of Wythe County, although there are several Robinsons on the list. He might have been related to one or some of them. None of them appear on the 1810 census there, which suggests they lived in the part of the county that was detached for form Tazewell in 1799, or they moved further southwest.

  • Roberson, William, 1 tithe, 4 horses
  • Robinson, John, 1 tithe, 5 horses
  • Robinson, John, 1 tithe
  • Robinson, Nicholas, 1 tithe, 3 horses
  • Robinson, Thomas, 1 tithe, 3 horses
  • Robinson, William, 1 tithe
  • Robinson, William & John, 3 tithes, 2 horses

He married Catharina Helvey, probably about 1810 in Sullivan County, Tennessee or Wythe County, Virginia. She had gone to the Watauga Settlement (Carter County, Tennessee) in 1803 after the false alarm over the death of her first "husband" Indian trader Joseph Barron, but perhaps moved with her uncle to Sullivan County and later returned to Wythe County. If James and Catharina were married in Tennessee as stated by Godspeed, they might have been married in Sullivan County just before 1810. However, Barron's 1815 will calls her Catherine Helbay and Catherine Hebbaley so she and James might not yet have been married, or Barron did not know they were married. The latter seems unlikely because both Joseph Barron still owned land in Wythe County, where Catherine Helvey was living.

The first certain record of James is the 1810 census of Wythe County, Virginia, where he appears with 1 male 26-45 (himself), 1 female 26-25 (wife Catherine), and 3 females under 10 (step-daughter Joanna, plus two unknowns). His age here shows he was born between 1765 and 1784. James was the only Robertson or Robinson on the 1810 census at Wythe County. His wife's cousins John and Adam Helvey appear on the same census.

He was perhaps an employee of Rufus Morgan, for whom he named his eldest son. Morgan also appears on the 1810 census at Wythe County, From about 1808 to 1811 Rufus Morgan owned an ironwork at Abingdon in Washington County, and about 1813 settled in Roane County, Tennessee. Joseph Barron and his brother Hugh were also at Abingdon in this period. This combination suggests James Roberson might also have gone from Wythe County to Abingdon, and finally to Lee County. " James and Catherine seem to have moved to Lee County, Virginia about 1813. He does not appear on the 1810 Personal Property Tax List of Lee County, although his wife's brothers-in-law Absolom Hobbs (since 1795) and John Casebolt (since 1806) were already living there, as well as other families such the Craigs, Redmonds, and Skidmores, along with Absalom Robertson from a different family.

James bought 67 acres on "Turkey Creek" [Powell's Creek] in Lee County from Jonathan Tipton for $180 on 22 March 1813 (recorded 27 April 1813), and bought 40 acres from Laurence and Barbary Feathers for $113 on 9 August 1814. The Tipton family had been pioneers of Watauga in Carter County, Tennessee. The Leathers family was living in Sullivan County, the same county as Catherine's uncle William Barron.

He and his wife might have been in Washington County, Virginia in 1816, when she re-recorded guardianship papers for her son Gale Barron, but probably there was another reason for recording there.

He appears as James Robertsom [sic] on the 1820 census of Lee County (p. 135), along with his brother-in-law Absalom Hobbs, and the unrelated Absalom Robertson. James household consisted of 1 male over 45 (himself), 1 female 26-45 (wife Catherine), 1 male 16-26 (step-son Gale Barron), 1 female 16-26 (step-daughter Joanna Barron), 1 female 10-16 (daughter Catherine), and 3 males under 10 (sons Rufus, Craig, and Benjamin). Three people engaged in agriculture. His age here shows he was born before 1775. Daughters Thursy and Regina must have been born after 1820.

There are two men named James Robinson on the 1830 census of Lee County, Virginia (p. 318), but he is easy to distinguish by the ages of his household. James' household consisted of 1 male 50-60 (himself), 1 female 40-50 (wife Catherine), 1 female 20-30 (daughter Catherine), 2 males 15-20 (sons Rufus and Benjamin), 1 male 10-15 (son Craig), 1 female 5-10 (daughter Thursy), 1 female 0-5 (daughter Regina), and 1 female slave under the age of 10. Step-daughter Joanna was married and in the household of her husband John Collier. Daughter Catherine, who married a Crabtree, probably married one of the Crabtree men on this census. This census shows James was born 1770-1780.

The identity of the other James Robinson is unknown. He was much younger, born 1790-1800. The other Robinsons in Lee County in 1830 are Abslum (Absolom Jr.), Jerusy (Absolom Sr.'s widow Jerusha), John (son of Absolom Sr.), and William (unknown, but perhaps a brother of Absolom Sr.).

James Robinson, Morgan Robinson, and Winston Robinson appear on the 1835 tax list of Lee County (East District, page 12), each with one male over 16 in his household. Gale Barren, James' step-son, was living also in the East District (page 2). The family of Absolom Robinson also appear but living in the West District.

James Robinson made his will on 15 January 1835 (Lee Co. Will Bk. 2:19-21). He signed his will with a mark, indicating that he could not write, whether due to illiteracy or disability. The will was witnessed by John B. Collier, Francis Gilley, and Isom Collier. It was proved at Lee County on 21 March 1836 (Lee Co. Will Bk. 2:24, Sale of Property). The will devised several tracts of land on both sides of "Turkey River" [Powell River] to his sons, and stated that his daughter Regina was underage. John B. and Isom W. Collier, witnesses to the will of James Robinson in Lee County, Virginia, were brothers. Their sister Anna married William Barron, who was James Robinson's brother-in-law. John B. Collier married James Robinson's step-daughter, Joanna Barron


Lawrence Feathers and Barbary his wife to James Robinson made 9 Aug 1814, recorded 18 Aug 1814, 40 acres in Lee Co, boundaries mentioned; Collier's line. S.S./ Lawrence Feathers, Barbara Feathers; wit. in Court. Lee Co, VA Deeds; Deed Book 3:92

Lawrence Feathers and Barbary his wife of Sullivan Co, State of Tennessee, to John France and Mary Ann his wife, Margaret, Joseph, Julian, Catherine, Ealsy, Emila, and Saml A. Duff, Heirs of Samuel Duff deceased. Made 15 Aug 1811, recorded 17 Apr 1832, 50 acres in Lee Co, in Turkey Cove, on the waters of Powells River - land on which Saml Duff resided and which Feathers purchased of Capt. Joseph Head and bounded by lands of Randle Collier, James Robinson, and others. Part of a larger tract of 150 acres granted by State of Va to Joseph Head and Christopher Plank by patent dated 2 Apr 1810 ; S.S/ Lawrence (x) Feathers, Barbary (x) Feathers (Deed Book 6:324). "The entire deed appears on page 443 of my book "Bonds of Union, vol I" published 1980."


James Roberson belonged to the generation of Ulster Scots ("Scotch-Irish") whose grandparents moved down from Pennsylvania through the Shenandoah Valley into southwestern Virginia and western North Carolina. Because Roberson (Robinson, Robertson) is such a common surname it will be difficult to identify his ancestry.

  • Do not confuse him with James Monroe Roberson (1763-1819), of Bledsoe County, Tennessee.
  • Do not confuse him with James Robertson (c1795-?), of Franklin County, Virginia. James was probably not the son of Thomas Robertson. Thomas' son James Robertson had a wife Catherine, but he would have been born about 1795, about 20 to 25 years after this James.
  • Do not confuse him with James Robertson, a member of the Robinson family at Gibson Station, Virginia who was killed by an Indian near Arthur, Tennessee in 1784. Although there is some confusion about the identity of that James he seems to have been a son of William Robinson and Charity Kennedy, but he did not sign the 1785 petition to form Russell County, Virginia with his father and brothers Jacob and Absolom, nor was he named in his father's 1802 will.
  • Do not confuse him with James G. Robertson (1792-1852), of Grainger County, Tennessee, who married Catherine Mann.
  • Do not confuse him with James Robinson, of Russell County. That James died before 1809 when his widow Priscilla appears on the Russell County Tax List.
  • Do not confuse him with James Robinson, of Cove. That James was a relative of Absolom Robinson.

FamilySearch.org says he was a son of John Roberson (1780-1830), who died at Crawford County, Missouri. The dates are impossible. FamilySearch identifies this John as the John Roberson (c1758-1819) who was son of James and Mary (Fuqua) Roberson although the dates are very different.

Because James named one of his sons Craig, he might have been connected in some way with the family of John Craig or the family of Capt. Thomas Craig, both of whom lived near Abingdon.


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James Roberson, of Lee County's Timeline

November 3, 1769
Virginia, United States
Age 34
Lee County, Virginia, United States
Age 40
Virginia, United States
Age 41
Wythe County, Virginia, United States
March 1, 1813
Age 43
Lee County, Virginia, United States
Age 47
Lee County, Virginia, United States
Age 50
Lee County, Virginia, United States
Age 52
Lee County, Virginia, United States
October 15, 1835
Age 65
Lee County, Virginia, United States