The colonization enterprise which eventually became known as Robertson's Colony had previously been referred to as the Texas Association, Leftwich's Grant, the Nashville Colony, or the Upper Colony, as will be explained below.
TEXAS ASSOCIATION (1822-1825). The term "Texas Association" was applied to a group of 70 individuals who, on March 2, 1822, in Nashville, Tennessee, addressed a memorial to the independent government of Mexico, asking for permission to settle in Texas. Robert Leftwich, their most active member, carried the memorial to Mexico City, but he was delayed three years in getting a colonization contract, and, by the time he finally did get one, from the State Government of Coahuila and Texas, on April 15, 1825, to introduce 800 families, the money advanced to him by the Texas Association had run out, so he got the contract in his own name. Returning to Tennessee, he sold his contract to the Texas Association, on August 6, 1825, on condition that the area covered would thereafter be called "Leftwich's Grant."
(Note: This Texas Association is not to be confused with the Texas Association  mentioned in Thomas W. Streeter, BIBLIOGRAPHY OF TEXAS, 1795-1845, Second Edition (Woodbridge, CT,: Research Publications, Inc., 1983), Entry 1365, nor with the Texas Association [1844- 1845], reported in Streeter, BIBLIOGRAPHY OF TEXAS, 1795-1845, First Edition [3 vols. in 5 bindings: Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1955- 1960], Part III, Volume II, 1960, p. 668.)
LEFTWICH'S GRANT (1825-1827). Actually the contract which Leftwich sold to the Texas Association on August 6, 1825, was not for a grant of land in fee simple: it merely gave permission to introduce colonists into an area covered by all or part of 17 present-day Texas counties: namely, Bastrop, Bell, Brazos, Burleson, Burnet, Comanche, Coryell, Falls, Hamilton, Lampasas, Lee, Limestone, McLennan, Milam, Mills, Robertson, and Williamson. That area was referred to as "Leftwich's Grant" until October 15, 1827, when Stephen Fuller Austin, acting as agent for the Texas Association, made a loose translation of their petition. referring to them as "the Company from Nashville," so the government granted a confirmation in the name of "the Nashville Company," instead of "the Texas Association."
NASHVILLE COLONY (1827-1831). The contract of October 15, 1827, extended the boundaries of the colony northwest so as to take in all or part of 13 more present-day Texas counties: to wit, Bosque, Brown, Callahan, Eastland, Erath, Hill, Hood, Jack, Johnson, Palo Pinto, Parker, Somervell, and Stephens. In the spring of 1830, Sterling Clack Robertson, one of the original stockholders of the Texas Association, acting under a subcontract with them, and assisted by his partner, Alexander Thomson, began to recruit families and brought them to Texas, but the Law of April 6, 1830, prevented them from settling in the Nashville Colony. However, those same families were allowed to settle in Austin's Colony. Since Austin was preparing to go to the state capital as Deputy for Texas in the legislature, Robertson asked him to intervene for him, and Austin promised to do so. Instead, he applied for that same area, and obtained it, for himself and his secretary, Samuel May Williams, BEFORE the Nashville Company contract had expired, on the grounds that the Nashville Company had not taken the first step toward settling the area. The Austin & Williams Contract was granted on February 25, 1831, and then the Nashville Colony area was referred to as the Upper Colony of the Austin & Williams Contract.
UPPER COLONY (1831-1834). The former Nashville Colony area was referred to as the Upper Colony from 1831 to 1834, but during that period Austin & Williams failed to get a land commissioner appointed, so they did not issue a single land title to actual settlers. However, they did sell permits to non-resident speculators to locate huge grants in that area. These grants, totalling 1,459,155 acres, later became involved in lawsuits and delayed the settling of Central Texas for many, many years. On May 22, 1834, the governor cancelled the Austin & Williams contract, insofar as it affected the Nashville Colony, and awarded a new contract to Sterling Clack Robertson as empresario. After that the area was called Robertson's Colony. (Austin & Williams did get a decree passed on May 18, 1835, returning the colony to them, but it turned out that the legislature did not have a constitutional quorum present when that decree was passed.)
ROBERTSON'S COLONY (1834-1835). The decree of May 22, 1834, awarding the colony to Robertson confirmed the boundaries as they had been defined in the Nashville Company's contract of October 15, 1827. Beginning at the point where the road from Béxar (San Antonio) to Nacogdoches, known as "the Upper Road," crossed the Navasota River, a line was to be run along that road on a westerly course, to the heights which divided the waters of the Brazos and Colorado Rivers; thence on a northwest course along that watershed to the northernmost headwaters of the San Andrés River (Little River), and from the said headwaters, northeast on a straight line, to the belt of oaks extending on the east side of the Brazos, north from the Hueco (Waco) Village, known as the "Monte Grande" ("Great Forest"), and in English as "the Cross Timbers," and from the point where that line intersected the Cross Timbers, on a southeast course along the heights between the Brazos and Trinity rivers, to the headwaters of the Navasota, and thence down the Navasota, on its righthand or west bank, to the point of beginning. That included all or part of the 17 counties listed above, under Leftwich's Grant, plus the 13 additional counties shown under the Nashville Colony, constituting an area 100 miles wide, beginning at the San Antonio- Nacogdoches Road and extending northwest up the Brazos for 200 miles, centering around Waco.
In that 1834 session of the legislature, Robertson was recognized as the empresario of the colony, and he was to introduce the rest of the 800 families into the colony before April 29, 1838. Each family that dedicated itself solely to farming was to receive one LABOR (177.1 acres) of land; those who also engaged in ranching were to receive an additional SITIO (1 league, or 4,428.4 acres) . Single men were to receive 1/4 league (1,107.1 acres). For each 100 families introduced, Robertson was to receive 5 leagues and 5 labors (or a total of 23,027.5 acres) of premium lands. William H. Steele was appointed Land Commissioner of the Nashville (or Robertson) Colony on May 24, 1834, and he appointed John Goodloe Warren Pierson as Principal Surveyor, on September 17, 1834.
The capital of the colony was laid out at the Falls of the Brazos (near present Marlin, Texas) and named Sarahville de Viesca: "Sarah" for Empresario Robertson's mother, Sarah (Maclin) Robertson, who had loaned him the money for the project, and "Viesca" for Agustín Viesca, the Mexican official who was presiding over the state legislature when it granted the contract to Robertson. All the Robertson Colony land grants were issued in Viesca, Texas.
The first land title was issued on October 20, 1834, but all the colonial land offices were closed, by the Provisional Government of Texas, on November 13, 1835, because of the outbreak of the Texas Revolution, thus preventing Robertson from completing the full quota of 800 families. However, according to a ruling handed down by the Supreme Court of the State of Texas, in December of 1847, Robertson was given credit for having introduced a total of 600 families.
Following the Texas Revolution, the Robertson Colony area was broken up to form all or part of the thirty present-day Texas counties which have been listed under Leftwich's Grant and the Nashville Colony.
Introductory Volume. ROBERT LEFTWICH'S MEXICO DIARY AND LETTERBOOK, 1822-1824. ISBN 0932408-00-1.
I. 1788-1822. THE TEXAS ASSOCIATION. ISBN 0932-408-01-X. The entire volume (over 567 pages) is reproduced here and the index is searchable by your web browser.
II. 1822 through September, 1826. LEFTWICH'S GRANT. ISBN 0- 932408-02-8.
III. October, 1826, through April, 1830. THE NASHVILLE COLONY. ISBN 0-932408-03-6.
IV. May through October 10, 1830. TENOXTITLAN, DREAM CAPITAL OF TEXAS. ISBN 0-932408-04-4.
V. October 11, 1830, through March 5, 1831. THE UPPER COLONY. ISBN 0-932408-05-2.
VI. March 6 through December 5, 1831. THE CAMPAIGNS AGAINST THE TAWAKONI, WACO, TOWASH, AND COMANCHE INDIANS. ISBN 0-932408-06-0.
VII. December 6, 1831, through October, 1833. THOSE ELEVEN- LEAGUE GRANTS. ISBN 0-932408-07-9.
VIII. November, 1833, through September, 1834. ROBERTSON'S COLONY. ISBN 0-932408-08-7.
IX. October, 1834, through March 20, 1835. SARAHVILLE DE VIESCA. ISBN 0-932408-09-5.
X. March 21 through July 25, 1835. THE RANGER RENDEZVOUS. ISBN 0-932408-10-9.
XI. July 26 through October 14, 1835. NASHVILLE-ON-THE- BRAZOS. ISBN 0-932408-11-7.
XII. October 15, 1835, through January 14, 1836. THE MUNICIPALITY OF MILAM. ISBN 0-932408-12-5.
XIII. January 15 through March 17, 1836. THE CONVENTION AT WASHINGTON-ON-THE-BRAZOS. ISBN 0-932408-13-3.
XIV. March 18 through July 22, 1836. THE BATTLE OF SAN JACINTO AND THE FALL OF FORT PARKER. ISBN 0-932408-14-1.
XV. July 23, 1836, through August 9, 1837. THE GENTLEMAN FROM MILAM. ISBN 0-932408-15-X.
XVI. August 10, 1837, through November, 1838. THE CREATION OF ROBERTSON COUNTY. ISBN 0-932408-16-8.
XVII. December, 1838, through August 10, 1840. STERLING C. ROBERTSON vs. SAM HOUSTON, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS. ISBN 0-932408-17-6.
XVIII. August 11, 1840, through March 4, 1842. THE END OF AN ERA. ISBN 0-932408-18-4.
The 19-volume series, compiled and edited by Malcolm Dallas McLean, entitled PAPERS CONCERNING ROBERTSON'S COLONY IN TEXAS, which used to sell for $35.00 a volume, has now been put on sale at a 50% reduction. You may order from Mr. Larry D. Minor, Director, UTA Bookstore, Box 19075, Arlington, TX 76019-0075. Phone: 1-817- 272-2785. FAX 817-272-5007. He will accept American Express, Master Card, Discover, or Visa.
Sterling Clack Robertson was born on October 2, 1785, in Nashville, Tennessee. His father was Elijah Robertson, a brother of General James Robertson, the "Father of Middle Tennessee," and his mother was Sarah (Maclin) Robertson, for whom he later named the capital of his colony in Texas. His education was placed in the hands of Judge John McNairy, with instructions that he should have "as liberal education as the circumstances will admit of."
On November 13, 1814, he enlisted under Major General William Carroll, who was going to New Orleans to fight the British, and he was assigned the position of Assistant Quarter Master General. During that campaign he was detached from New Orleans to Natchez to furnish supplies for the hospital at the nearby town of Washington, and for the sick who were left at the Choctaw Agency on the return march to Tennessee. He was granted an honorable discharge on May 13, 1815, with the rank of Major.
By October 24, 1816, he was living on Richland Creek in present Giles County, Tennessee, on a 2,027 acre plantation. This was due south of Nashville, on the Alabama border. There, on August 21, 1820, he and Frances King became the parents of a son known in Texas history as Elijah Sterling Clack Robertson. This son was the Robertson who founded Salado, Texas, and Salado College. His home still stands there just west of Highway I-35.
Returning now to the father, Major Sterling C. Robertson was one of seventy members of the Texas Association who on March 2, 1822, signed a memorial asking the Mexican Government for permission to settle in Texas. They finally received a contract in 1825, known as Leftwich's Grant, and Robertson came to Texas with the party sent to explore the territory, leaving Nashville on November 21, 1825, and remaining in Texas at least until August 24, 1826, on which date he made a deposition in San Felipe de Austin concerning the wife of Ellis Bean..
On October 15, 1827, this colonization project became known as the Nashville Colony, but nothing was actually done toward bringing settlers to Texas until April 26, 1830, when Robertson began to sign up families. The area assigned for settlements by the Nashville Company was transferred to Austin & Williams on February 25, 1831, and remained under their control until May 22, 1834.
However, on May 22, 1834, after Austin & Williams had made a huge speculation of the area by allowing non-resident land owners to locate eleven-league grants there, but had failed to introduce any actual settlers, the State Government of Coahuila and Texas recognized Sterling C. Robertson as EMPRESARIO, and immediately he began to bring in families in large numbers, many of them at his own expense. He had introduced 600 families before the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. The area covered by the Nashville Company Contract was transferred back to Austin & Williams on May 18, 1835. Nevertheless, William H. Steele, Land Commissioner for Robertson's Colony, was in Monclova on the day when that decree was passed, and he knew that no constitutional quorum was present when the staste legislature took action, so he went right on issuing land titles in Robertson's Colony until all the Texas colonial land offices were closed by the Consultation, meeting in San Felipe de Austin, on November 13, 18 35.
The Robertson Colony occupied an area in the Brazos River basin, about 100 miles wide and 200 miles long, beginning at the point where the road from Nacogdoches to San Antonio crossed the Navasota River; thence southwest along that road, crossing the Brazos and continuing to the ridge between the Brazos and the Colorado; thence northwest along that ridge to the extreme headwaters of Little River; thence northeast to the Cross Timbers; thence southeast along the watershed between the Brazos and the Trinity, to the headwaters of the Navasota, and thence down the Navasota to the point of beginning. After the Texas Revolution, that area was broken up to form all or part of 30 present-day Texas counties, as follows: Bastrop, Bell, Bosque, Brazos, Brown, Burleson, Burnet, Callahan, Comanche, Coryell, Eastland, Erath, Falls, Hamilton, Hill, Hood, Jack, Johnson, Lampasas, Lee, Limestone, McLennan, Milam, Mills, Palo Pinto, Parker, Robertson, Somervell, Stephens, and Williamson.
Meanwhile, Robertson had become Captain of a Ranger company what was mustered into service on January 17, 1836, and command of this company was taken over by Captain Calvin Boales on September 11, 1836. With the outbreak of the Texas Revolution, Robertson and his nephew, George Campbell Childress, had been elected as delegates to the Convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos (March 1-17, 1836), where Childress drafted the Texas Declaration of Independence. Both Robertson and Childress signed that Declaration and the Constitution of the Republic of Texas.
Robertson participated in the Battle of San Jacinto (April 20-21, 1836), and joined in the pursuit of the Mexican Army as it fled across country toward the Rio Grande. From the fall of 1836 to the spring of 1838 he served as Senator in the First and Second Congresses of the Republic of Texas, helping to lay the foundation for the new nation. During that time he served as Chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, and as Chairman of the Committee on Roads, Bridges, and Ferries. This latter committee had to organize the justices' courts and create and define the office and power of the commissioners of roads and revenue. He was also a member of the Committee on Military Affairs, the Committee on Private Land Claims, the Committee on Finance, and the Committee on Naval Affairs.
However, his most important contribution of all was his sponsorship of the bill creating the General Land Office, which controls every inch of land--and water--in Texas. In 1838 he retired and devoted his time to raising fine race horses, becoming the first known Texan to keep written records of horse breeding in Texas. He had an Arabian stallion named Black Douglass, sired by Leviathan, from the Royal Stables in England, a direct descendant of the Godolphin Arabian, and he named the colts after characters in Sir Walter Scott's novels.
He died in Robertson County, just across the Brazos River from Nashville, Texas, on March 4, 1842, and in 1935 his remains were removed to Austin, Texas, and reburied in the Texas State Cemetery.
(Dr. McLean is the compiler, translator, and editor of the 19-volume series entitled PAPERS CONCERNING ROBERTSON'S COLONY IN TEXAS, which can be purchased from The UTA Press, Box, 190929, The University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX 76019-0929 U. S. A. ) This series of PAPERS is also available in The University of Texas at Austin Library, the Texas State Library, the Texas General Land Office, and the John Henry Faulk Public Library, in Austin.)
Robertson Colony links:
Robertson's Colony Records at the Texas General Land Office
Lone Star Junction has a dandy biography of Sterling C. Robertson and other Texas heroes.
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