Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Charlotte Reeves Robertson ~ Tennessee


Was the wife of James Robertson, one of the settlers on the Holston River, friend and companion of General Bledsoe. Charlotte Reeves was the second daughter of George Reeves and Mary Jordon, and was born in Northampton County, North Carolina, in January, 1751. Her husband was one of the pioneers who went with Bledsoe to explore the Hudson Valley, and in February, 1780. Mrs. Robertson joined her husband in the new country. This little party consisted of herself and four small children, her brother, William Reeves, Charles Robertson, her husband's brother, her sister-in-law, three little nieces, two white men servants, and a Negro woman and child. They were conveyed in two small, frail, flat boats.

Captain James Robertson commanded the party traveling by land, driving the cattle and bringing the few belongings of this little expedition. The perils which they encountered and the difficulties which beset them, traveling through an unexplored country, were beyond anything we of the present day can appreciate. When the little band of travelers reached the Ohio River, the ice was just breaking up the water rising, and everything so discouraging and dangerous to the small boats, that many became so disheartened they bade adieu to their companions, and sought homes in Natchez. The others, led by Mrs. Robertson, and the only two men of the party living, her brother and brother-in-law, lashed the boats together, and Mrs. Johnson, the widowed sister of Captain Robertson, undertook to serve as pilot and manage the steering oar, while Mrs. Robertson and Hagar, the colored servant worked at the side oars alternately with Reeves and Robertson. By this slow and most laborious process they made their way up the Ohio to the mouth of the Cumberland, and finally reached their destination, landing in April at what is now the site of Nashville.

For years after their removal to this new country, they suffered great privations, and were compelled to live most of the time within the shelter of forts, subjected constantly to attacks by the Indians. Two of Mrs. Robertson's sons were killed, and at one time she suffered the horrible experience of seeing brought from the woods the headless body of one of her beloved sons. It is difficult for us to appreciate the nerve-racking danger which these poor settlers endured, when we read that if one went to the spring for a bucket of water, another must stand watch with his ready gun to protect the first from the creeping stealthy Indian hidden in the thicket ready to take off these settlers one by one. How they ever tilled their fields, or raised their crops under such conditions, is little less than a miracle, and what the life of these poor women must have been, when they could not carry on the common duties of domestic life without seeing the stealthy enemy lurking in the bush, is beyond our conception.

In 1794, Mrs. Robertson went on horseback into South Carolina, accompanied by her eldest son to bring out her aged parents who had removed to that state with some of their children. Both lived beyond the eightieth year of their lives in peace and comfort in the home of this devoted daughter. Mrs. Robertson was the mother of eleven children, and lived to an advanced age notwithstanding these experiences, which one might think would have shortened her days. Her manners were always modest and unassuming. She was gentle, kind, affectionate, open-hearted and benevolent, of industrious habits and quiet self-denial, an example to all who knew her, and retained her faculties to the close of her life which occurred in her ninety-third year, on June 11, 1843, at Nashville, Tennessee. General Robertson's death occurred in 1814.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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