Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, May, 1996 Page: 66
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Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal
action he took in the congress, but by his almost immediate subsequent death at the hands
of Indians. Sometime in February 1837, Robison and his considerably younger brother
Walter, were killed near the family home in what was then far northwestern Colorado
County. The two men had set out the previous day for the home of James Stephens, both
to swear in Stephens as a justice of the peace and to retrieve some groceries that Robison
had purchased in Columbia during the congress but sent to Stephens' home. Robison's son,
Joel Walter Robison, who had served at San Jacinto and participated in the capture of Santa
Anna, left the house the next day to visit his girl friend, Anne Alexander. From there, he
headed for his home in Washington on the Brazos, but heard, when he arrived at John
Breedon's house, that Indians had stolen his horses the previous evening. Fearing for his
family's safety, he returned to his father's house, warned his mother that Indians were in
the area, picked up a gun, and set out to find his father. Perhaps a mile from the house, he
found his father's abandoned wagon, the groceries still inside. A gathering flock of
buzzards helped him to locate the bodies of his father and uncle, both of which had been
stripped, scalped, and otherwise mutilated. With help from neighbors, Robison buried his
relatives nearby. The following month, on March 11, 1837, the president of the republic,
Sam Houston, called for the citizens of Colorado County to elect a replacement for Robison.
The election was to be held on Monday, April 17. On the preceding two Mondays, the
county was to get its first tastes of the new court system.6
The earliest recorded district court business in Colorado County is a brief visit
to the county by Judge Robert McAlpin "Three-Legged Willie" Williamson. Williamson's
court probably convened on April 3, 1837. He apparently heard no cases. That spring,
Williamson, like a teacher on the first day of school, seems simply to have visited each of
the six counties on his circuit and made a speech asserting the authority of the just
established court. In Colorado County, he probably made a speech very similar to that
which he made in Washington County on the second week of his tour, a speech which was
printed in the May 16, 1837 issue of the Telegraph and Texas Register. He did, however,
6 Gammel, ed., The Laws of Texas 1822-1897, vol. 1, pp. 1069-1070, 1074, 1084, or Ernest Wallace,
David M. Vigness, and George B. Ward, eds., Documents of Texas History (Austin: State House Press, 1994),
pp. 100-102, 105-106; Journals of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Texas First Congress-First
Session (Houston: 1838); "Historical Reminiscences," Houston Daily Telegraph, June 16, 1870 or reprint in
James M. Day, ed., The Texas Almanac 1857-1873 (Waco: Texian Press, 1967), pp. 668-669; Texas Indian
Papers, vol. 1, pp. 20-21; James Hampton Kuykendall, "Reminiscences of Early Texans," The Quarterly of
the Texas State Historical Association, vol. 6, no. 3, January 1903, pp. 246-247; Amelia W. Williams and
Eugene C. Barker, eds., The Writings of Sam Houston 1813-1863 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1938-
1943), vol. 2, p. 68; "Die erste deutsche Frau in Texas, " or translation in The Golden Free Land, p. 3. Both
the site of the Robison home and of the murders are now in Fayette County. Nine months after the murders,
Joel Robison married the girl he had visited that day, and Stephens performed the ceremony (see Colorado
County Marriage Records, Book B, p. 7).
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 6, Number 2, May, 1996, periodical, May 1996; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151397/m1/6/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed May 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.